Dressing for Unpredictable Weather

The outdoors presents a large variety of physical activities to participate in, everything from hiking, backpacking, snow sports, water sports, hunting, fishing, and more. However, outdoor recreation can be challenging in the fall because of the weather. Fall weather is often unpredictable, changing from sunny skies to rain or wind at the blink of an eye. Temperatures can drop suddenly without any warning, and the days get shorter as winter approaches. There have been many cases of people dying because they were not prepared for sudden changes in weather, like this dad and his two sons in Missouri.

Dressing for unpredictable weather appropriately  is critical when spending time outdoors. The best way to do this is to layer your clothing. That way you can adjust what you are wearing to both your activity level and the weather, and you will be able to simply add or subtract layers. Experts recommend you have three layers of clothing and each perform a different function: a base layer, an insulating layer, and an outer shell layer.

  • The Base Layer – This layer, the one closest to your body, manages moisture. It is the layer that will keep you dry and regulates your body’s temperature by drawing sweat and moisture away from your skin. This is critical in the summer in order to keep you cool and in the winter to keep you from getting too cold. The best base layers are not made from cotton but synthetics like merino wool, polyester, or silk. Examples of base layers include things like a sports bra and thermal underwear in the wintertime.
  • The Insulating Layer – The insulating layer is the next layer that goes on top of the base layer. The Insulating layer does just that; it traps air close to your body and therefore helps you retain heat. The best insulating layers are those made out of wool, goose down, or fleece. Fleece is typically preferred because it is breathable, lightweight, and works even when wet. Insulating layers also come in a wide variety of weights to that you can choose one according to both your activity level and the weather.
  • The Outer Shell – The third and last layer is one that will protect you from the elements. It provides a barrier from the rain, snow, and wind. Most outer shells have some degree of water and wind resistance. Of course, outer shells come in a large variety, everything from waterproof, breathable coats to soft shell jackets that provide some of your insulation too.

As you find yourself outdoors, you can add or remove layers according to the weather. If it is a sunny day and a sudden storm moves in, you can then add your outer shell for extra warmth and protection. If the sun comes out and the temperature warms up, you can then remove your shell and insulating layer. Plus, this layering system works for both your upper body and lower body. It also never hurts to bring extra warm clothing like a hat and gloves just in case. How you dress is a critical component of spending time outside, especially in unpredictable weather.

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