Sparky’s Tip of the Week #7 – Outdoor Clothes
Sparky has decided to write his own outdoor column called “Sparky’s Tip of the Week”. He hopes you enjoy some of his insights. And now some more timely Tips from Sparky.
This is tough subject for Sparky to discuss because he is not much of fashion icon. He only has one coat and he has had it since birth. Consequently, he has asked me to share some of my thoughts. I will start from the bottom up.
Shoes: Shoes maybe the most important item in terms of comfort and safety. Often when in the forest in the autumn on Mt Hood it is raining or as we like to say ‘dumping on us with liquid sunshine’. Be that as it may, you need knobby or lug sole that do not slip for safety. Waterproofness is a real bonus to comfort. Ankle support is beneficial climbing over blown down trees and uneven ground.
Rubber boots can keep you dry but they offer little or no support.
Rain gear: Do you want day in the woods to be a short miserable trip or an all day blast walking in the rain finding many golden treasures. Even if it is not raining, the foliage is often wet because it just stopped raining. If don’t have rain gear, you will soon be soaked to the bone.
Gloves: I could write a book about this topic. I must have twenty different kinds of gloves for different jobs and occasions. I have cotton, leather, rubber, coated cotton, rubber-dipped cotton, gardening, dress, winter, GORE-TEX ®, nitrite gloves, fingerless, wool, and more.
Hats: This is another favorite subject and everyone has an opinion. I used hats with wide brims all the way around and a chinstrap if in heavy brush. I use wool in the winter, cotton in spring & summer.
Pants: In dry weather, denim cotton is fine but in wet weather, you are miserable and subject to hypothermia. Wool pants are good but heavy. We live in a blessed time with many new synthetic fabrics that resist water and wear as well as being lightweight.
Shirts: Stay away from cotton except in the warmer weather. Synthetic fabrics are better and dry faster.
Underwear: Do not forget this important piece of personal equipment. Again stay away from cotton. It is comfortable to wear in the warm summer weather but not in the fall and winter when you will be exerting yourself and sweating. Having wet clothes next to you skin tends to cool your body. Not a good idea when it is cold and wet outside.
Sparky’s recommendations: Dogs have it made in the shade. When they get wet, they just shake the water off….on me. Stay away from cotton fabrics as much as possible, including underwear. There is wonderful wicking and quick drying clothes fabrics available today. Invest in your comfort and safety.
Boots: get leather boots with lug soles and waterproof the heck out of them. It works!
Rain Gear: GORE-TEX ® is great stuff and lightweight. GORE-TEX ® waterproofing needs to be renewed occasionally.
Gloves: get cheap nitrite gloves at the pharmacy because it will protect your fingers and keep them warm plus get fingerless wool gloves to put over the nitrite gloves to keep your hands warm. Wool even when wet will keep your hands warm. Using the combination keeps your hands warm, protected and dry but allows good tactile dexterity to touch and feel.
Hats: Whatever works for you works for me. I use an old Pendleton felt wool hat with wide brim in wet weather. It keeps my head warm and dry. In the warmer, dryer weather, I found this hat at the Army surplus store. It is a camouflage hat with brim to keep the sun off my neck for $3.50.
Pants: After years of looking for the perfect pants, I found in L.L.Bean catalog the upland briar pants. They have a GORE-TEX
version that is perfect for fall and winter excursions into the forest.
Shirts: Use synthetic fabric; my preference is for Patagonia brand clothes. Much of what I have, I purchased I have used continuously for over 23 years and it still look almost new. Amazing clothes!
Sparky Says: Use synthetic fabrics as much as possible to wick away moisture from your skin. Wool is a second best. With cotton fabrics, you will not often notice the wetness until you have to stop. When wet a chill followed by hypothermia. This can happen very quickly. Proper clothes are very important for personal safety. One mistake could be fatal.