Hiking clothes share a lot of common purposes with normal everyday clothing. While clothing in general is supposed to keep you warm, dry, and protected, the purpose of hiking clothes is very similar, but with added protection against weather conditions, terrain conditions, and other situations you might encounter on your hike.However, this does not mean that you should choose your hiking clothes without even the semblance of care. Your attitude should not be, “as long as I carry lots of extra clothes with me, I should be okay”, because the general rule about travelling light must be applied.
Just like hiking boots, hiking tents, and all your other equipment, weight and bulk are serious considerations when it comes to hiking clothes.Below are some of the basic purposes of having appropriate hiking clothes to wear while in the great outdoors:Maintaining your Thermal EquilibriumPeople often refer to hiking clothes like jumpers and jackets as “warm clothing” when actually, the purpose of hiking clothes such as these is not to increase your body temperature but to help you keep and maintain a thermal equilibrium.
What does thermal equilibrium mean?
The term simply means that your body is generating as much heat as you are losing. That way, your body does not have to produce additional heat and nor does it have to lose excess heat through sweating. Producing extra heat or sweat can be very taxing on your body, sapping away at your energy levels.
By wearing hiking clothes that help maintain your thermal equilibrium, you thus save your body’s energy to last you for the entire duration of your hike. Keeping the Dry One obvious function of hiking clothes is to keep you dry. If your skin is dry, your body is able to preserve more of its heat. Not only that but dry skin increases general comfort. Face it, no one wants to feel all sweaty all the time.Hiking clothes that help keep you dry have two parts:
- First, protection from outside moisture. Your hiking clothes should be able to protect you from rain, snow, and other possible sources of water.
- And second, protection from body moisture. Your hiking clothes should move body moisture (sweat) away from your body.
The process of protecting against outside moisture while keeping body moisture away from your skin is a difficult combination that requires your hiking clothes to work in a waterproof but breathable way. That’s why choosing the right set of hiking clothes is very important.Protection and PaddingThe third important aspect of hiking clothes is their ability to provide you with protection from environmental factors other than moisture through padding. While the human skin is an absolute marvel, it is not very strong. It can easily get cut by anything that’s sharp or moving in high velocity. It could get bruised, dried, and break.