The essential function of your clothing is to customise your body for optimum heat loss (though of course it preserves modesty too!). Your body is astounding in its ability to adapt, but when you’re putting it through its paces or testing its limits there’s only so much to what its thermostatic functions can cope with. Too much heat escaping wastes precious energy; keep too much heat inside your clothes and you’ll quickly start to feel impaired. The sweet spot is often small and, incessantly changing with the conditions and your level of activity, requiring constant monitoring.
Experience is key to knowing what your body needs for each combination of weather and activity before you get there. If you don’t yet have that experience, never fear – our outdoor experts are available to point you in the right direction. Obviously it’s impossible to predict exactly what’s going to happen while you’re out, so adaptability needs to be built into your outfit, preferably into your individual garments.
A traditional layering system of wicking base, thermal mid layer and shell is a good starting point, but nowadays the choice is vast and many garments no longer fit neatly into these categories. Instead, ever-improving technical fabrics can be worn in wider ranges of conditions and overlap each other in function.Clothing design is evolving too, allowing greater freedom of movement and better coverage with less excess fabric.
It’s all come a long way from wool jumpers and cagoules and there’s no longer the necessity to be uncomfortable when exerting yourself outside. So there is no ‘one size fits all’ combination of garments or types of layer - to a great extent building your outdoor wardrobe is a process of trial and error. But as long as you have the capacity to release excess body heat and prevent excessive loss, block precipitation and avoid the build-up of condensation, you’ll be pretty well-prepared for whatever your trip will bring.