Glyn Dodwell's guide to essential items of clothing for Autumn and Winter.
With autumn then winter rapidly approaching it is time to think ahead to the essential gear you will need before heading up into the hills. Although this has not been the best summer in the world, it has been reasonably warm and, for the most part, I was walking in shorts and t-shirts.
What I submit to you here is what I feel is the five essentials to be worn, or carried, throughout the autumn and winter.
- Base Layer – now this can mean many things from thermal long Johns and long sleeved vests to a good quality technical shirt. Either way it has to be able to keep you warm but more importantly wick away any sweat generated.
- Mid Layer - Good pair of trousers, preferably designed for walking. Most definitely not denim in any form (when it gets wet it offers no insulation and will never dry). A good quality fleece, preferably with a weight to suit the climate. Generally made from man made synthetic fibres that trap air and keep you warm. Ideally look for 100% polyester.
- Top Layer - This is your wind/waterproof layer. The jacket should be long enough to form a good overlap with your trousers and should have an attached hood. Ideally, they should be made of a breathable material such as Goretex or similar. Waterproof trousers are as essential as the jacket (though sadly often forgotten). Go for one with full length zips up the outsides of both legs to aid donning quickly over boots etc. Ideally, they should be double zips to allow the top to be opened for ventilation.
- Hat and Gloves - A large amount of heat is lost through the head (especially if you lack hair like me!). The classic woollen hat will suffice though I prefer one made with 100% acrylic fine knit and double layered for extra insulation. You can do very little to help yourself if your hands become cold and wet. I recommend a two-layer system with a thinner insulating glove next to the skin covered by a heavier duty waterproof glove.
- Quilted Jacket - when you walk any distance you will generate heat which can be regulated by the removal or addition of layers. However, when you stop after an extended period of exercise your body will start to cool very rapidly. On a recent summer trip to Snowdon I was shivering within 5 minutes of reaching the summit! Therefore, I always carry a quilted jacket which I don as soon as I stop. This will help maintain the heat you have generated.
Whilst they may be my five essentials, do not be tempted to put everything on at the car park because it feels cold and wet. Remember you will quickly start to generate heat and you do not want to overheat or have to stop to de-kit. Dress for how you will feel in 10 minutes time, not for how you feel now. Remember it may be wet but warm so just don a base and outer layer or if it is cold and dry then the base and mid layer.
Think climate - think clothing