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Camping Clothing Guide

Wondering what to wear when you are camping. This compreshensive Camping Clothing Guild will help you to find the most suitable clothing for your next camping trip.

Camping Footwear

Keeping your feet dry and happy is one of the most important things that you can do when traveling outdoors.

Footwear could possibly be the most important piece of equipment you take with you on any outdoor adventure. I recommend taking your time in finding a pair of shoes or boots that fit well and fit comfortably. If you are looking for best work boots you can check this link – best work boots for men.

It uses to be if you wanted a good pair of hiking boots you would spend a fortune on a good solid pair of all leather boots, and another fortune on first aid supplies to patch up your blistered feet during the 2 – 4 weeks it took to break them in.

Boots can still be fairly expensive, but now they come in a wide variety of designs made for all kinds of uses and skill levels. The following is a basic guide to help you find the right outdoor footwear for you.

Because there are so many varieties of footwear on the market today we first need to determine what you will be doing, this will help us narrow down our search.


If you will be hiking along with a regularly maintained local trail system or just general outdoor activity a simple ankle-high shoe should do.

Footwear for this kind of activity does not need to be too technical. A lightweight shoe with a good sole should work just fine.

Although outdoor name brand shoes can be much more expensive they are well worth the cost. Sunlight, water, soil, abrasions, and general twisting, stretching, and wear and tear can destroy a cheaper pair of shoes very quickly.

Most shoes designed for outdoor use are constructed with much sturdier and sometimes waterproof material. The soles on outdoor shoes are sturdier to protect your feet from small rocks, and they are designed for better traction.

Outdoor activities tend to create the need to tighten up our shoelaces more often. Most shoes designed for the outdoors are equipped with re-enforced eyelets for your shoelaces. Like most anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Plan on spending at least $60 to $70 for a good pair of outdoor shoes.


If you plan on hiking more than a couple of miles you should take the time and spend the money to get a good pair of hiking boots, you won’t regret it.

A good pair of hiking boots should provide adequate ankle support as well as a sturdy sole. Most hiking boots these days are made of heavyweight Cordura material. Many boots feature Gore-Tex or some other kind of waterproofing material.

In most cases, these types of boots will be sufficient. If you plan on hiking off the beaten trail, however, I would suggest purchasing an all leather boot. All leather boots are not too common any longer with all the new high-tech material out there. All leather boots are still the most durable and long lasting as long as they are well maintained. The advantage to all leather is their rigid and durable construction. They will protect your feet better from sharp rocks and logs as well as snake bites or any other wild thing you may run into while wandering off the beaten path. Leather boots will cost more and you will need some time to break them in, but if you are serious about getting out into the wilderness, I say it is well worth it.


In most cases, these boots will be a secondary boot to be used for more extreme outdoor activities. This type of boot can be made of extremely durable leather or even hard shell plastic. With a thick insulating interior, these boots are generally used for wintertime activities such as ice climbing, or mountaineering. These boots also have very stiff soles that hardly flex at all, as well as special divots on the heels and toes for attaching crampons. I would not recommend these boots for any other use other than extreme mountaineering or ice climbing.


WATER RESISTANT: In most cases, water-resistant foot-wear will do just fine, as long as you don’t plan on exposing your feet to wet conditions for prolonged periods of time. Most water-resistant footwear has been treated with a sealing chemical that makes it water resistant; it is not, however, waterproof.

Even the best water-resistant footwear will wear down eventually. You can, however, purchase water-resistant treatment that can be applied to your footwear simply by spaying it on. Exposure to sunlight and ground in dirt will decrease the life of your water resistant ability. Proper maintenance will prolong the life of your new footwear.

WATERPROOF: Waterproof means that no water should get into your footwear, even if you are standing in a puddle of water for an hour. The exception to this, of course, would be if the depth of the water happens to be higher than the top of your boot. If the manufacturer has claimed that the product is “waterproof”, then this would usually mean that the material itself would not allow water to flow through it.

Waterproof material does not need to be treated with water-resistant sprays. Footwear that is claiming to be “waterproof” will most likely cost quite a bit more. I would only recommend spending this extra money if you think you might be crossing shallow streams or hiking for long periods of time in the rain or otherwise wet terrain such as the American Northwest or tropical rain forests. Hiking through Spring and early Summer snowfields is also a good time to have waterproof footwear.


For years Gore-Tex had the leading patent on waterproof, breathable material. Because this company held the patent for the top of the line waterproof, breathable material for so long, we have come to recognize the word “Gore-Tex” to mean anything that is waterproof. Although Gore-Tex is still the leader in waterproof, breathable material, it’s patent expired several years ago and there are now several other companies making good quality waterproof, breathable products. The advantage to Gore-Tex and other waterproof, breathable material is not just that it is waterproof, but that it is also “breathable”. What this means is; although no water can get in, moisture such as perspiration, can get out. If you are interested in reading more about the technical design of Gore-Tex products just click on the highlighted text. If you plan on hiking anywhere that will expose your feet for long periods of time to water or snow I would definitely suggest spending the money on waterproof Gore-Tex, this is one purchase you just can’t afford to cut corners on.


No matter how much money you spend on footwear if you don’t get the right fit you’ve wasted your money. When purchasing any footwear you should always try it on first. Although most outdoor clothing stores can provide socks for you to try on with your footwear, it is best to wear or at least bring with you, your own socks. I highly recommend wearing the same type of sock that you would be wearing when wearing the footwear you are about to purchase. Because of the rugged construction of most outdoor footwear the shoes or boots may not feel comfortable at first. Get up and walk around the store for a while. Pacing back and forth in front of the little floor mirror a couple of times is not enough. When trying on outdoor footwear you need to take a few laps around the entire store. Feel free to jump up and down, kick a wall, run down an aisle and stop real fast. Here are a couple of important tests when trying on hiking boots:

Take one step forward leaving your rear foot on the ground. With you feet apart rock back and forth on the toes of your rear foot. You are checking to see you your heel is slipping in and out of the boot. If your heel is sliding up and down excessively the boots may be too big and you are likely to get some pretty painful blisters on your heel. There are a few things you can do to fix this. The first of course is to try on a smaller size. If the size is correct and you can’t go smaller, try using a padded or gel insert. You can use an insert just for your heal or the entire length of your foot. If you just love the boots and can’t live without them, you may also try putting on a thicker pair of socks. Although I don’t recommend letting the comfort of your footwear rest entirely on your socks, thicker socks may help.

The downhill test. Good outdoor clothing stores will have an elevated and angled platform that you can walk up and down on. The reason this is important is to make sure you have the right ankle to toe fit. While standing on a sloped platform facing downhill, keeping the sole of your boot or shoe on the platform, try to push your toes as far forward in the boot or shoe as possible. If your toes are pressing against the very front of the boot or shoe, they are too small. You will not be able to notice this if you only walk on a flat service. Most of us when outdoors will spend some time walking up and downhill. If your feet are sliding forward in your shoe or boot so that your toes are getting smashed into the front of your boot or shoe, well then they are too small. Boots especially should be designed so that the front of your leg (even with your ankles) is pressing against the boot preventing your foot from sliding any further forward. Not all shoes and boots will fit you the same way, try several pairs on, even ones you don’t like just to see how they feel. I cannot stress it enough – NO MATTER HOW COOL YOU THINK A PAIR OF SHOES OR BOOTS ARE, IF THEY DON’T FIT PERFECTLY, DON’T PURCHASE THEM!


Socks come in a wide variety of fabrics, designs, colors, and even functions. Most people think their socks are simply a comfortable barrier between your feet and your shoes, but they are so much more.

Your socks should be able to perform the same three functions as the rest of your clothing; provide warmth, wick away moisture, and be comfortable. In the past, the way to accomplish all three of these things has been to wear two pairs of socks. The inner pair was a lightweight sock intended to help wick moisture away from your foot, and a larger outer pair to provide warmth and comfort. This combination worked well for years except that after a couple of days or even just a long hike, the socks would slide and begin to bunch up giving you at least a hot spot on your heel or sometimes even a blister.

Socks today have been designed to provide for all three of these important elements in a single pair. These high-tech socks cost about as much as two pairs of socks (sometimes 3 or 4 pairs), but they are well worth it and will last years longer than the double pair combination. WARNING: These high-tech socks are not immune to getting lost in the dryer with your other miss matched socks, so check the washer and dryer carefully when doing the laundry to make sure you have all your expensive, high-tech socks!


Synthetic Materials—Several materials are often combined for better comfort and fit. Nylon and Lycra® spandex helps the sock retain its shape and create a snug fit. Thermastat® and CoolMax® polyester wick moisture to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. Most high-tech, expensive socks contain synthetic material along with a wool and cotton blend.

Wool Blend—Wool is usually combined with synthetic materials such as nylon or Lycra for a better fit. Wool has some advantages over synthetic materials alone because it retains its shape and keeps your feet drier better than synthetic materials by themselves. Wool is breathable and wicks moisture to keep your feet cool in warm temperatures. It also insulates to keep your feet warm in cool temperatures. For wool socks that don’t itch, look for Merino wool, which is made up of long fibers that create a softer, itch-free yarn.

Cotton Blend—When combined with synthetic fibers that wick moisture, cotton can be a comfortable choice for less intense activities. However, 100% cotton is not recommended as a stock material for most activities because it absorbs sweat and dries slowly. Socks made of 100% cotton do not hold their shape well. Generally, cotton socks will tend to lose their snug fit after their first use.

IMPORTANT! No amount of high-tech will work if you don’t get the correct fit.


You could find the best pair of wicking socks in the world, but if they don’t fit they won’t do you any good. Make sure you get the right size (look for manufacturer-specific sizing information on the product pages) and pay attention to how they fit in the toe and the heel. Extra fabric in these areas can bunch and lead to blisters, so choose a smaller size if necessary.

If the socks have a lot of padding, try them on with your shoes to ensure they fit comfortably without making your shoes too tight. Unlike your old 100% cotton socks, these newer combination fabric socks will not stretch as easily if at all. So be sure they fit well the first time you put them on and be comfortable in knowing you’ve made a wise choice in spending a little extra money on a great pair of socks.


Get The Right Fit

As with all other aspects of clothing, fit is the most important thing. There are 4 essential categories to getting a good fit in a pair of pants.

  • Waist
  • Length
  • Inseam
  • Flexibility

TIP: Avoid the need to wear a belt while being active outdoors, especially when wearing a backpack or anything around your waist.


A proper fit in the waist means that your pants should be able to stay up without a belt. Of course, you will need to breathe so make sure they are not too tight. A lot of outdoor clothing is made with an elastic waistband. Depending on the type of elastic, a good fit should allow you an inch or two of stretch around your waist. Some pants are made with elastic only on the sides or in the back. This is simply to allow you extra movement during outdoor activities.

Elastic waistbands are common in outdoor clothing to allow for greater freedom of movement and to eliminate the need for a belt. Wearing a belt can restrict your movement and they are extremely uncomfortable if you are wearing a backpack with a waist-belt. One item to look for when purchasing pants with an elastic waist is a “drawstring”. This is the chord or string that is woven into the waist so that you can tie the pants snug around your waist, serving the same function as a belt but much more comfortable.

Often times when enjoying outdoor activities you may become wet or have your clothes pulled on. In either case, you will be glad you had the extra support of a drawstring to keep your trousers up, where they belong. One thing to remember about drawstrings, they tend to come out in the wash. The way to avoid spending hours trying to feed your drawstring back into your pants is to tie one or two overhand knots on the ends of the drawstrings so that they cannot slip through the holes in the waistband during the wash.


If you are purchasing pants specifically for outdoor use you should look for a fit slightly longer than what you would normally wear. The reason for the longer fit is to allow for greater movement and flexibility. When trying on pants, squat down as far as you can and check how high up off your ankles the pants come.

You should also be checking for the amount of stretch or “give” the pants have in the knee area. If you feel they are too tight or too short, try on another pair. A slightly longer pair of pants can also provide a little more protection from dirt, stickers, bugs, ants, and other critters that may want to crawl up your leg.


The inseam is where you check to make sure your pants fit well in the crotch area. There are several things you should do to ensure you have a good fit in this area. A good way to start checking the fit in this area is to take very long forward steps.

You should be able to do this without feeling like the pants are going to rip or be too tight on you. Next, you can sit down in a yoga style position with the soles of your feet touching each other. Slowly bring your feet in closer to you while gently pushing down on your knees. This movement will truly let you know just how much room you have in this area. The type of activities you will be doing will determine just how much room you will need.


This area of fit is an overall combination of waist, length, and inseam. Think about what you may be doing in the pants you are trying on and then simulate the movements. I can see how this may attract some curious looks from other shoppers, but it’s better than having your pants rip out on you while jumping across a stream and then hiking 3 miles back to camp with your bum exposed.

SIMPLY PUT: Try on the pants you like and move around a lot to make sure they fit well in all categories before purchasing them.



The best way to decide what kind of clothing to take with you when going camping is to be prepared for almost anything. In most cases spending a few minutes checking the weather forecast can give you a good idea of what to prepare for, but remember that the weather person is not all ways correct and weather changes quickly in the mountains. Of course, you cannot take your entire wardrobe so you will have to make some decisions.

The best thing to remember when choosing clothes for outdoor activities is layering. Layering will make it easier to adjust to changing weather conditions as well as help you cool down or warm up while being active outdoors.

Outdoor clothing can be grouped into 4 basic categories: an inner layer, mid layer, insulation layer, and outer layer. Each type performs a specific task within a clothing system. Whether or not you need them depends on your camping activities.


Inner layer clothing is worn right next to your skin. Its job is to keep you comfortable by wicking the sweat from your skin and providing an extra layer of insulation. Inner layer clothing is usually worn in moderate to cold conditions when a little extra insulation is needed and the chance of aerobic activity is high. It’s available in a variety of thicknesses for different activities and weather conditions.


Mid layer clothing consists of the items you use every day: shorts, T-shirts, lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirts. The primary function of mid-layer clothing is to provide basic insulation and protection in warm conditions. Mid layer items are often worn alone on short trips in good weather conditions. The pieces you choose should be comfortable, lightweight and built to last.


Insulation layer clothing is designed specifically to provide additional warmth. It’s typically worn whenever mid layer and/or inner layer pieces are not warm enough for the current conditions. The insulation layers you use should be warm, lightweight and as non-bulky as possible. They should also breathe well to let sweat and body heat escape.


The primary job of outer layer clothing (both tops and bottoms) is to protect you from the wind, rain and snow. But it needs to be somewhat breathable as well, to let sweat and body heat escape. Backpackers should always carry protective outer layers.



Cotton – Cotton is comfortable when it’s dry, but it absorbs sweat and holds it right next to your skin (which can lead to significant heat loss). Cotton also takes a long time to dry, which can cause discomfort. For these reasons, cotton is not recommended for inner layers used in cold conditions.

Silk – Silk is an effective wicking and insulating material. It’s extremely comfortable and lightweight, but not as durable as the options below. Some silk layers require special care when washing and drying.

Polypropylene – One of the very first man-made wicking materials, Polypro wicks sweat away from the skin effectively. Early versions tended to retain odors and become scratchy after repeated washings. Newer Polypro fabrics have overcome these difficulties. MTS 2® (Moisture Transport System) – MTS 2 is a durable, reliable polyester-based fabric that wicks sweat like polypropylene–without its drawbacks. It’s comfortable like cotton, and it’s available in a variety of “weights” for different conditions. Capilene® – Capilene is another comfortable, reliable polyester-based wicking fabric. It performs like MTS 2®, with a special chemical treatment to help spread sweat throughout the fabric so that it evaporates quickly.


Cotton – Cotton is a common choice for warm-weather backpacking clothing. It’s comfortable, lightweight and it keeps you cool. Cotton is best for warm weather uses because it takes a long time to dry and is an ineffective insulator.

Nylon – Lightweight, durable and (generally) non-absorbent, nylon is great for backpacking shorts, pants, and shirts. It is available in a variety of styles, for both warm and cold weather uses. Most modern nylons are soft and comfortable against your skin.

Wicking materials – Some backpackers wear wicking inner layers like MTS 2® and Capilene® as mid layers. Why not? These layers help you keep dry and comfortable and they provide good insulation.

Wool – A great natural insulator, wool is perfect for moderate- to cold-weather backpacking clothes. It’s available in full-sleeve shirts, pants, over-shirts, sweaters, jackets and more. Wool insulates well when wet but it can be somewhat scratchy and/or bulky.


Wool – Wool is a great natural insulator. It’s available in knickers, pants, long-sleeve shirts, pullovers, sweaters and jackets. It insulates when wet but can take a long time to dry. Can be heavy/bulky.

Pile/Fleece – These popular man-made insulation materials are available in a wide variety of styles and thicknesses. They are comfortable, warm (even when wet), fast drying and lightweight (half as heavy as wool). Pile/fleece products are available in shirts, pants, vests, jackets, pullovers, and sweaters. Traditionally, pile/fleece layers have provided only minimal protection from the wind. But new pile/fleece garments are available today with wind- and weather-stopping liners built right in.


Outer layer clothing can be divided into 3 basic categories (see below). Each has its own set of characteristics, and each protects backpackers from precipitation, wind and sweat build-up to different degrees. To choose the right outer layer clothing, focus on the general category that sounds best for your needs. Then consider the design features listed at the end of this section to choose a specific model.

Water-resistant/breathable fabrics

Positives: These repel wind and light precipitation while providing excellent breathability. They tend to be less expensive than other options.

Negatives: They are not waterproof enough to protect you in harsh weather conditions or extended periods of rain.

Typical Uses – Water-resistant/breathable fabrics are perfect for backpackers who travel in arid and/or warm conditions where good breathability is important and the chance of heavy precipitation is low. They are popular among backpackers who plan short trips in good weather and those who enjoy strenuous activities like trail running.

Waterproof/Non-Breathable Fabrics

Positives: These are completely waterproof, and they’re less expensive than waterproof/breathable fabrics.

Negatives: They provide very little breathability, which can be extremely uncomfortable it’s hot or if you’re working hard on the trail. To let moisture out, layers using waterproof/non-breathable fabrics have to be cut extremely loose (like ponchos) or they must have special vents or openings built in to let the heat and sweat out.

Typical Uses – Because of the lack of breathability, most backpackers stay away from waterproof/non-breathable outer layers (unless temperatures are very low or the chances of heavy precipitation are very high). They are used occasionally in moderate conditions in inexpensive rain pants and emergency ponchos.

Waterproof/Breathable Fabrics (e.g.Gore-Tex®)

Positives: These fabrics are both waterproof and breathable (to a degree). They are good performers in a wide range of weather conditions.

Negatives: Even waterproof/breathable fabrics heat up and trap sweat during strenuous backpacking. Exact performance depends on the specific type of fabric used, the outside temperature, the amount of activity and other factors. Waterproof/breathable fabrics are more expensive than other types of outerwear.

Typical Uses – More and more wilderness enthusiasts are choosing waterproof/breathable fabrics for their outer layers. These fabrics are comfortable in a wide variety of situations and conditions. And performance levels keep improving all the time.


There is more to choosing the right outer layers than just deciding on a type of fabric to use. You must also consider the designs features included in different jacket and pant models. When you start comparing different styles head-to-head, consider the following:

Fit – Outer layers should be roomy enough to fit over your clothing layers but snug enough to cinch down tight in nasty conditions. They should also allow for a full range of motion.

Access – Full-zip jackets and full-zip pants are easier to get in and out of than pullover tops or pull-on pants. However, more zippers mean a higher chance of leaks.

Specific Features – Specific features can have a significant effect on an outer layer’s performance and comfort:

Adjustable Openings

The waist, cuffs and neck should seal tight for bad weather but open easily for extra ventilation.

Vents – Vents enhance breathability no matter what type of fabric an outer layer is made of. Larger vents are typically more effective than small ones, but they may leak more. Typical vents include under-arm zips, side zips, mesh-lined pockets, and draft flaps.

Pockets – The more pockets an outer layer has, the easier it will be for you to store essential gear items. But keep in mind that pockets increase the weight of the layer. Pockets should be easy to reach, easy to open and close, and well-protected against leaks.

Hoods – Any outer layer top you use for backpacking should have a hood to keep your head dry. Integral (permanently attached) hoods offer the best resistance against leaks. Hoods that can be rolled up and/or folded away when not in use are easier to deal with in changing conditions.

Storm Flaps – Storm flaps cover zippers, pockets and other openings to protect against leaks. They are commonly found on front zippers, under-arm zips, and external pockets.

Sealed Seams – Sealed seams are a must for any waterproof outer layer. They’re not necessary for water-resistant ones.


This is the layer of clothing that will be directly against your skin. For this reason, it is important that you find something that is soft and comfortable. If you plan on being physically active it is also very important to find the right kind of fabric that will allow for moisture wicking and quick drying.

A Good Fit

Like all our other layers, underwear can perform several functions. In order to get the best performance out of our underwear, we need to ensure we have a *proper fit. Sizing underwear is fairly simple. Both your top and bottoms should fit snug but not tight. There are a few variations in underwear style the most important thing to remember is that all the parts that you wish to keep covered remain covered during outdoor activities.

*Because most of us prefer not to take the time to try on underwear when we are shopping, be sure to save your receipt in case you need to return the item for another size.

The Right Fabric

In today’s high-tech world even underwear is not free from modern technology. We have long passed the days when 100% of the cotton was the only thing you wanted next to your skin. In fact, because of the high moisture retention of cotton fabric, 100% cotton is not recommended when you anticipate getting wet, either from the elements or physical activity. If you are certain that you will not be getting wet from rain, snow or any other outdoor element (like falling in a lake) then if you must, cotton will do fine. However, if you think there is a slight chance that you may get caught in an afternoon thunderstorm, or you may break a sweat trying to be the first one to the top, then continue reading about the variety of underwear fabrics and their multiple uses.

Cotton – Cotton is comfortable when it’s dry, but it absorbs sweat and holds it right next to your skin (which can lead to significant heat loss). Cotton also takes a long time to dry, which can cause discomfort. For these reasons, cotton is not recommended for inner layers used in cold conditions.

Silk – Silk is an effective wicking and insulating material. It’s extremely comfortable and lightweight, but not as durable as the options below. Some silk layers require special care when washing and drying.

Polypropylene – One of the very first man-made wicking materials, Polypro wicks sweat away from the skin effectively. Early versions tended to retain odors and become scratchy after repeated washings. Newer Polypro fabrics have overcome these difficulties. MTS 2® (Moisture Transport System) – MTS 2 is a durable, reliable polyester-based fabric that wicks sweat like polypropylene–without its drawbacks. It’s comfortable like cotton, and it’s available in a variety of “weights” for different conditions. Capilene® – Capilene is another comfortable, reliable polyester-based wicking fabric. It performs like MTS 2®, with a special chemical treatment to help spread sweat throughout the fabric so that it evaporates quickly.

Wool – Yes, I said wool. Normally I would never recommend wearing wool directly against your skin, it’s too itchy and many people would have an allergic reaction. Once again because of today’s modern technology we have more and better options. Although the sheep of New Zealand would not consider this modern technology, the ability to use their wool in underwear and socks is. This incredibly soft wool is used in all products made by a company called Smartwool?. To read more about this amazing wool and other products by this company, follow the link to the right of the page or go to www.smartwool.com

One last suggestion for purchasing long underwear. Because it is common for folks to sleep in their comfortable long underwear, be sure to check the elastic area around your wrists and ankles. As we lie down and begin to fall asleep our heart slows down. As a result of our hear slowing down our pulse begins to slow and become weaker. I know, you may have had an exhausting hard day, but you are not dying. This natural slowing down of the human body happens to us all and it is the reason why many of us wake up in the middle of the night with cold feet. Whether you have decided to go to sleep with your favorite pair of socks on or your most comfortable set of long johns, any restriction around your feet caused by elastic in your clothing will slow the flow of blood to your feet. The flow of blood in your body is what helps to heat and keep you warm as you rest. If your socks or your long johns create even the slightest restriction around your ankles or feet, you may end up waking up in the middle of the night with cold feet and no amount of added padding will help to keep them warm. You need to keep the blood flowing freely.

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