What to Wear Camping

You have camp gear organized and placed aside, along with a strategy to stuff provisions in your new waterproof cooler backpack come morning. Now, what else is there to pack? Oh, right! Your clothes. But before you roll your Bermuda shorts and pick out your favorite sunglasses, understand that there’s a little more that goes into it. From your head to your toes, here is what to wear camping.

Think Seasonally and Dress in Layers

When it comes to packing, common sense goes a long way, but it pays to know your environment, too. Paying attention to the weather and being prepared for snow, rain or hot summer evenings can make for a more comfortable camping experience. Even New Mexico’s deserts can fluctuate from scorching 80-degree days to below-freezing nighttime temps, so pack accordingly. Of course, in extreme winter conditions, a four-season tent is a must, the same way a rolling cooler is necessary for hot summers.

When it comes to packing your clothes for a camping trip, think in layers – especially for cold-weather winter camping! Dressing in layers will allow you to insulate and regulate your body temperature. When choosing layers, focus mainly around your torso, bundling up in base layers and outerwear with an inner base layer, middle layer and outer shell.

Tops and Outerwear

think seasonally

You have camp gear organized and placed aside, along with a strategy to stuff provisions in your new waterproof cooler backpack come morning. Now, what else is there to pack? Oh, right! Your clothes. But before you roll your Bermuda shorts and pick out your favorite sunglasses, understand that there’s a little more that goes into it. From your head to your toes, here is what to wear camping.

While considering what to wear camping, keep your torso and upper chest area warm or cool by covering it in several layers. A sleeved lightweight shirt can protect your arms from the sun, while protecting you from wind on cooler fall days. Let’s dive deeper into the types of layers you should look for to cover your upper torso:

  • Inner Base Layer – Choose a good base layer that offers a snug fit and is made of a moisture-wicking material like polyester or wool (never cotton!) that will pull sweat away from your skin. Base layers also come in several thicknesses: lightweight for mild temperatures, midweight for colder temps and heavyweight for below freezing.
  • Middle Layer – This layer should be a thicker fleece or heavyweight synthetic materials that will insulate and help retain your body heat. Alternatively, you can also find fleece-lined pants and coats that add an extra layer.
  • Outer Layer – Your outer layer should protect you from the elements. Think of a windbreaker or waterproof coat of some sort with a slick coating that repels rain while breathable enough not to leave you soaking in your own sweat. An outer layer can protect you from winter snow and summer downpours.

Pants, Leggings and Thermals

On a cold fall or winter camping trip, you’ll need to layer up your legs as well. Follow the same principles with the three layers, wearing base layers or long johns on chilly nights. In the summer, you can get away with a pair of breathable leggings. Jeans offer a rugged denim material, but use caution as the cotton can become damp and challenging to dry out.

Overall, try to wear long pants or leggings, even on a hot day. Not only do they protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, but can save you from thorns, ticks and poison ivy. The good news is that there are plenty of breathable, lightweight pants you can find at a local outdoor rec store.

Footwear and Socks

While it’s tempting to wear sandals in summer, a good set of rugged boots can protect your feet from rocks, sharp objects and even the potential bite, so don’t head out without them. Ensure they have a proper grip for snow or ice if you’re camping in the winter. If not, pick up a pair of cleats! Your boots should also be supportive for your arches and ankles, too. Under your boots, slip on a pair of wool or synthetic socks.

Hats and Headgear

While it’s a common myth that you lose most of your body heat from your head, it’s still a good idea to keep it warm and cover your head with a fleece or wool beanie during cold camping trips. For summer, make sure to have a broad-brimmed hat or baseball cap. At the very least, keep a bandana on hand, but something with a brim will keep the sun out of your eyes. When you choose your hat, make sure your LED headlamp rechargeable flashlight fits over it nicely, allowing you to walk around hands-free while staying warm.

Pajamas and Nightwear

Designate a separate pair of clothing for your pajamas. Even in summer months, make sure they are long enough to keep you warm all night long should temps unexpectedly drop. Pack a wool or synthetic sweater, as well as a pair of sweatpants. If the night gets too balmy and hot, you can always find other ways to keep your tent cool, but it’s easier to cool off than it is to warm your body.

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