Before you pack for your great outdoor adventure, make a camping clothes checklist that will address the area you’re going into. Some areas have a wide degree of temperature and weather variance, making it a challenge to pack the right clothes. The best approach for areas like this is to dress in layers.
When you wear the right clothes, you can make weather much less of a factor. For example, the ‘breathable’ fabrics described below can help reduce the effects of a hot and humid day in the woods. And outer layers can reduce the impact of rain, wind, and a chilly morning hike in the woods. Here are some layers and clothing items that you’ll want to consider when making up your camping clothes checklist:
The Base Layer
Synthetic Fiber T-shirts
A synthetic/tech shirt is a great first layer as it will wick the moisture from sweat away from your skin and help keep you dry and cool. Synthetic fabrics are made from a patented polyester fiber that’s quite effective at wicking moisture away from your body to keep you dry and cool. It’s also a ‘breathable’ fiber, meaning that air is able to easily permeate the fabric. Examples of synthetic micro-fibers are CoolMax, Under Armor, DryFit, DryZone, DryLite, etc… Cotton fibers tend to soak up the sweat and will make your clothes heavier, more abrasive, and it keeps the damp clothing against your skin. It’s nice having a moisture wicking fabric as a base layer for summer campouts and hikes.
Depending on the season of your campout or hike, you might want to consider two layers of socks. As a runner, I switched from cotton socks to moisture-wicking socks and it’s been a lot more comfortable for the same reasons as mentioned above. The moisture-wicking fabric keeps my feet dry and less susceptible to blisters. This can be an important factor if you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Socks are the one item that I would not ‘skimp’ on. Having a nice pair of dry, clean socks will keep your feet dry & happy…and happy feet make happy campers.
For the summer campouts, I like wearing athletic-style clothes that have a micro-fiber liner. Even if the temperature dips, you can add some additional layers. On really hot days, the traditional cotton underwear can be very uncomfortable when moving around and sweating a lot (chaffing). If bringing cotton underwear, try packing it in Zip-lock bags to keep them dry. Another tip for cold campouts: put your socks in underwear for the next day in your sleeping bag with you…it’s much easier to put warm skivvies on than cold ones!
The Middle Layer
Sweat Shirt & Pants
Cotton may not be the fabric of choice for the layer against your skin, but nothing beats a nice warm cotton sweatsuit as the sun goes down and the campfire’s crackling. A lot of times, I’ll mistakenly wear a sweatshirt in the morning chill and it’ll get sweaty as the sun comes up…try to keep your sweats reserved for the low activity times. It takes a long time for cotton to dry, especially in humid areas.
Wool Sweater or Shirt
If you’re camping in the cold weather, a wool sweater or shirt is a great middle layer to have on your camping clothes checklist. Wool keeps the heat in, has a natural wicking ability, and naturally resists odor retention. Wool also makes a nice fabric for the outer socks layer, if it’s really cold outside.
A nice thin, nylon windbreaker is probably the most versatile and useful item on this camping clothes checklist. It can keep you warm in the morning as you make breakfast; It can keep you dry if you get an unexpected shower; A lightweight windbreaker folds up compact and weighs just a few ounces. It’s well worth the packing space!
A knit cap is a nice thing to pack if you’ll be camping in cool weather. Like the windbreaker, it’s compact and can be used for the cooler parts of the day, and it’s for your head where we lose most of our body heat! If the low temps will be below 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, pack a hat!
It’s nice having a lightweight pair of gloves for the cold and even for oven mitts to handle hot campfire pots. Sometimes a pair of polyester-mix glove liners are sufficient enough to keep your hands warm on a cool morning.
Shoes / Boots
When camping, I like to bring a couple of pairs of shoes: One for hiking, walking, and exploring…the other for lounging and relaxing. For example, a good pair of waterproof and rugged hiking boots are essential for trekking through the woods, but nothing feels better than wearing flip-flops or sandals around camp when the sun’s down!
Another item to consider is a clothesline. Let’s face it – no one ever intends to fall in a creek or step in a swamp hole…but we all do. It’s nice having a means to hang your wet clothes out overnight to dry! I hope this helps as you pack for your next outdoor adventure. As you make up your own camping clothes checklist, try to pack with layers in mind. It’ll save you lots of time and space!