Backpacking Tip of the Week

The weather is changing, getting colder and wetter as we approach winter.
It is time again to look at the clothing that we wear on our outings, whether it is a backpacking trip or a close to home camp out, we need to be aware that what we have on is just as important, if not more important that what we carry.

Layering is the tried and true way of making sure you stay warm and dry in the fall and winter. Come to think of it, it will keep you cool in the summer too… but lets focus on the Fall and Winter.

First of all… remember that cotton kills.. so get cotton out of you pack now. It absorbs moisture and traps it against the body. Cold!
Now that your cotton clothing is gone.. lets look at your layers.

You will have 3 layers.
A Base layer, which is against your body and manages moisture.
A Mid layer, which insulates you and keeps you warm.
And a Shell layer, which protects you from the weather.

Your Base layer consists of clothing against your skin. Your next-to-skin layer should be materials such as silk, wool or synthetic fabrics such as REI MTS®, Patagonia® Capilene®, Polartec® PowerDry® and CoolMax® polyester. Rather than absorbing moisture, these fabrics transport (or “wick”) perspiration away from your skin, dispersing it on the outer surface, where it can evaporate. The result: You stay drier even when you sweat, and your shirt dries faster afterwards.

Your Mid layer, the insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Polyester fleece vests, jackets and tights are classic examples of insulation ideal for outdoor activities. They not only trap air but are also made with moisture-wicking fibers to help keep you dry.

The shell (outer) layer protects you from wind, rain or snow. Shells range from spendy mountaineering jackets to simple windproof jackets, but most are designed to block the rain and hold in your body heat while allowing water vapor to escape. This is an important piece when you’re active, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to cool off. Without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell.

Dress in layers and you will stay warm and dry this winter. As you get warm, loose a layer, as you get cold, put them back on. Loose in layers will ensure that you have great camping experiences in the fall and winter.

Have a Great Scouting day!


  1. This is a simple life skill many seem to forget often. I have been layering clothing since very young. I do the same in both hot and cold climates. In cold climates, I always carry layers with me. I wear as few layers as I can and be comfortable. Back before I turned E-3 in the Air Force we had a Tampa, Florida resident that was wearing Artic weather gear in October to keep warm in Wyoming. She had already ran out of layers to add. The weather continued to get colder until sometime in February.In Warm Climates such as South Texas Where I currently live. I wear as many layer as I can Until I get comfortable. I am often wearing jeans and long sleeve shirts on 80+ degree days, Some times because thats required, but others because I save my t-shirts and shorts for the 95degree plus days that we often have. There is nothing worse than having to stay at home in the Air Conditioning because all you can bear to wear outside is your skivies.


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