When it’s time for the fall season, outdoor enthusiasts can expect two things. They can expect a change in the tree’s leaves color, and they can expect the weather to become a little bit more unpredictable. During the summer months, the weather is pretty stable—except for the occasional thunderstorm. As autumn comes around, however, that pattern begins to change. Depending on where you live, temperatures can swing widely along a 30-degree arc and hikers can find themselves subjected to everything from drenching thunderstorms to life-threatening snowstorms. And that’s the reason why autumn hikers always need to be prepared for whatever is thrown at them.
Since autumn weather is so unpredictable, we decided that it would be appropriate to write an article about what hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts need to think about while enjoying the great outdoors during this season. That’s how we decided to come up with this article that you’re reading. We hope that it proves to be a comprehensive guide to dressing for the autumn season so that you’re never unprepared for whatever Mother Nature might toss your way.
The Art Of Dressing In Layers
Although most hikers probably already know that they should be dressing in layers, we’re going to err on the side of caution and reiterate the importance of layering your clothing. Wearing layers of clothing can allow you to stand up to just about any weather conditions that might unexpectedly occur. It will allow you to withstand snow, or remove layers to handle warmer weather conditions.
Let’s Start With The Base Layer
The most important layer for any outdoor enthusiast is their base layer. A proper base layer should have moisture-wicking capabilities so that your sweat doesn’t stay on the skin. That not only makes it more comfortable on the wearer but also helps protect the wearer against hypothermia.
It’s extremely important that hikers avoid having a base layer made of cotton clothing. While cotton does absorb perspiration, that perspiration doesn’t dry quickly, so cotton tends to hold it against the skin. This can make you chilled and expose you to hypothermia. Remember, “cotton kill” and should be avoided for outdoor activities.
We recommend a base layer of Merino wool. This material is lightweight, absorbs moisture from the skin, and dries quickly It’s also odor-resistant, so hikers don’t have to worry about “funk” developing as they blaze a trail across the wilderness.
The Middle Layer Is Also Important
The next layer that the hiker should concern themselves with is the middle layer. The middle layer should also absorb moisture, but it should also provide the hiker with warmth. Most base layers are designed to be lightweight, so the middle layer is where added warmth is mixed into the equation. Middle layers might include down jackets, woolen sweaters, fleece jackets, or fleece sweaters. If using fleece, just be sure that it uses a synthetic insulation layer and not a cotton one.
Now, Let’s Talk About The Top Layer
The top layer is called the shell layer and it’s called that for good reason. This is the layer that’s going to shield you from wind and rain. It’s a crucial layer that can protect you from weather conditions and can easily be taken off and stuffed into a hiking pack if the weather is too warm to consider wearing it. Outer layers include breathable waterproof shells for heavy rain protection or soft shells that provide light wind and rain protection with light insulation.
Choosing The Best Hiking Boots
Another part of your attire that you should consider before hiking is hiking boots. Finding the right hiking boots will not only determine your comfort level but will also help to protect your feet. Below are some things that hikers should think about before purchasing a new pair of hiking boots.
Styles Of Hiking Boots
The first step is choosing the right style of hiking boots. The following boot styles are some of the styles that hikers have to choose from.
- Hiking Shoes: These are low-cut shoes with flexible midsoles. Good for ultralight backpackers.
- Day Hiking Boots: These are mid to high-range boots that are intended for day hiking. They usually break in easily, but they aren’t very durable.
- Backpacking Boots: These boots are designed for multiday trips and for rugged terrain. They have a higher than average cut that protects the wearer’s ankle. They are also extremely durable.
Hiking Boot Materials
The next thing to think about is the materials that the hiking boots are made from. Some of the best materials for hiking boots include Full & Split-Grain Leather, Nubuck Leather, and Synthetics. Let’s take a look at a small cross-section of these materials to see what they offer.
- Full-Grain Leather: Offers the best durability. It’s abrasion-resistant and water-resistant as well. Used for rugged terrain or long hikes. It usually requires a long break-in period to be comfortable.
- Split-Grain Leather: Usually paired with a synthetic to create lighter boots that are less expensive than full-grain leathers. Unfortunately, they also have less water-resistance than full-grain leather, which is why they’re paired with synthetic inserts.
- Nubuck Leather: This is just full-grain leather that’s been treated so it has a suede look to it. It offers the same resistance to water and abrasion as full-grain leather. It also has a lengthy break-in period.
- Synthetic Materials: These can be lighter than leather, and can also be less expensive. They also tend to dry quickly and break in more easily. However, they also tend to wear quicker and may have to be regularly replaced.
Other Hiking Boot Considerations
Below are some of the other things that the hiker is going to want to think about before buying a new pair of hiking boots.
- Hiking Boot Midsoles
- Hiking Boot Support
- Hiking Boot Outsoles