August 25, 2015
Record numbers of Americans are getting into the outdoors. About 142.6 million participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2013, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation report. And those Americans spent a considerable amount of money on their pursuits. In the state of Florida alone, outdoor recreation generated $38.3 billion in consumer spending, according to an Outdoor Industry Association study, so it’s safe to say people want to be outfitted properly. For a beginner, the amount of gear associated with something like camping, hunting, kayaking or fishing can be overwhelming. So let’s start with something basic to so many outdoor pursuits: adventure clothing.
Yes, adventure clothing can be found in many regular department stores, but the clothing found at a reputable outdoor retailer will likely function much better for you. Here are five things to consider when purchasing adventure clothing:
Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. That means having clothes that help you stay cool when it’s hot and clothes that keep you insulated when it’s cold. For example, ExOfficio makes a line of warm-weather clothing called Sol Cool with Ice-Fil, in which the fabric is treated with xylitol, an ingredient that, when activated by your sweat, helps lower your skin surface temperature during activity. If you will be in the sun quite a bit, check the garment tags for the ultraviolet protection factor. You’ll want something with rating of at least 30. And don’t forget the bugs. Some pants and shirts are treated with products such as Insect Shield, an insect repellent that is added to the fabric and effective for as many as 70-plus washings.
Do I have the right layers?
Being comfortable is all about regulating your body’s core temperature in relation to the conditions and your activity level. Experienced travelers layer their adventure clothing as a way of adjusting to changing conditions. Essentially, you add layers to warm up or shed layers to cool down. These layers break down to the base layer (a lightweight garment against your skin that wicks moisture away), the insulating layer (a compressible and breathable garment that allows airflow, such as vest or pull-over) and the outer layer (a shell layer against the elements, such as waterproof/windproof jackets or pants).
Does it dry quickly?
Garments worn close to the skin should draw moisture away so it can evaporate. Many dry-fit style shirts, and wool and synthetic socks accomplish this task easily. And because these clothes are lightweight and dry so quickly, they allow you to launder them easily on extended trips, thus reducing the need for so many clothes.
Will it take up a lot of room?
Many adventurers, especially backpackers, face a space crunch before ever leaving home. You can get durable clothes designed to provide warmth without a lot of bulk when you choose garments made with high-quality synthetic materials. Insulating layers with down filling are highly compressible and lightweight yet still provide excellent warmth. You may pay a little more, but the comfort and space savings will prove worth it.
Is it breathable?
Well-made adventure clothes strive to give you comfort through breathability, meaning the fabric allows airflow. Many manufacturers of raingear use performance fabrics that allow air molecules to pass through but not water molecules. Essentially, they breathe but remain waterproof.