Gone are the days when you could hike the hills in a tweed jacket and matching trousers, with socks that came up to your armpits. These days, never venture out inappropriately clad unless you know you’ll be in thick fog for the duration of your walk, and thus won’t be seen.
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Learn it now. Cotton, denim and flimsy shoes scream ‘City dweller trying to look cool on the hills on a bank holiday Monday’. It’s not what your outdoor clothing says about you that counts, it’s what it does for you that matters. Hikers frequently remind themselves quietly, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.’ So, to avoid bad choices, bluffers should digest the following topics carefully.
When your granny told you to put a jumper on because you were cold and she was too mean to put another lump of coal on the fire, she was actually training you to be a hiker. Keeping warm on the hills is all about layers, of which there are four:
3. fleece or soft shell
4. waterproof or outer shell
The base layer is the most frightening. It hugs your skin – all of it. Rolls of it adhere to your midriff, clinging so as not to get lost.
Hiking can generate half a litre of sweat in an hour. Hike hard across the landscape and this volume of sweat trebles, so technically you’re not hiking, but swimming. The base layer shakes off this excess moisture quickly, which is a good thing because you don’t get that wet, cold clammy feeling when you put your rucksack back on after a break.
If out on the hills without a fleece, don’t worry: there are always a few spare sheep wandering around.