The Many Layers of a Backpacker

When getting ready for any type of trip I have a method for insuring I don’t forget any clothing; I work from top to bottom – visualizing what needs to go on my head all the way down to what goes on my feet. For backpacking all fabrics are either synthetic or wool – NO COTTON. Cotton does not dry quickly nor wick away sweat.

Peel the layers of the backpacker onion

Peeling the layers of the backpacker onion

Hat – I used to just wear a bandanna to protect the top of my head from getting burnt, until my dermatologist gave me a talking to about more sun protection for my face.

Bandanna – I wear this at night in place of a beanie, I couldn’t seem to find one that stays on while sleeping but my bandanna does!

Buff – If you haven’t heard of a buff, it’s a tube of fabric that protects my neck from the sun. It can also be worn many other ways.

Sports Bra –  One that is comfortable and supportive for a weekend trip or a week-long trip.

Tank Top – Be sure it covers enough skin so your pack straps don’t chafe your shoulders.

Sun Shirt – Breathable and light is a must to avoid overheating while protecting your arms from the sun.

Wool Long Sleeve – Keeps me warm.

Puffy Jacket – Keeps me really warm.

Rain Jacket – I won’t go into the mountains without one, always expect unexpected thunderstorms. Plus it’s another layer of warmth that cuts the wind.

Gloves – I love my glomitts – finger-less gloves with a mitten cover that comes on and off.

Underwear – Two pairs, wear one while the other is drying from a wash.

Pants – I’m a fan of the ones that roll into capris and don’t need a belt. Belts and backpack hip belts don’t get along.

Long underwear – Keeps me warm and on cold nights they’re great to sleep in.

Light-weight Shorts – Great for hot days with on-trail travel. Not great for cross-country through brush.

Handkerchief – Because carrying a box of tissue around in the wilderness is not realistic. I realize a handkerchief and bandanna are the same thing, but for my purposes they have very different functions.

Wool Socks – Two pairs, wear one while the other is drying from a wash.

High-top Boots – I appreciate the ankle support when I have a heavy pack.

Camp Shoes – These are lighter to pack than my Chacos, plus the soles are flat which minimizes my impact in camp – fashionable and leaves no trace!

Do you have any other clothing essentials you won’t leave home without?


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