Staying Comfortable with Hiking Clothing
March is that special time of year where we can at least start to think about spring’s arrival. It would normally be dangerous to do so any sooner than now, but this strange winter of warmer-than-average temperature swings has got many people thinking about spring full blast right now. If you’ve been thinking about getting out to enjoy some spring-like weather yourself, you’re going to need the right spring hiking clothing first.
Recreational Opportunities This Spring
Depending on where you live, there are loads of great outdoor activities you can do this time of year. If there is enough ice left, there’s some fantastic ice fishing to be had in March, primarily because the weather is much nicer and the fish can be very aggressive. If you have access to a few maple trees in your yard or on some family hunting land, you could tap them to make your own maple syrup out of the sap. You could also scout some potential ambush spots for turkey hunting later in April. Of course, you could always get out for some more shed hunting opportunities while the antlers last. But one of the few outdoor activities that unite all of these is hiking.
Hiking might seem like it is just glorified walking, but that’s only partially true. There are actually lots of benefits that make it a very enjoyable way to spend a late winter or early spring day. First, it’s a good form of exercise. Hiking will often take you up and down hillsides, forcing you to bend, stoop, and stretch along the way. You’ll also usually be carrying a backpack, which increases the load you’re carrying. This is a phenomenal workout because it is so practical and translates over into hunting or everyday life so easily. Hiking also generally takes you into some beautiful and scenic areas. But the best part about hiking this time of year is getting out and enjoying the first glimpses of warm weather. You can hear the birds chirping away in delight and feel the warm breeze on your face as the last remnants of snow disappear. After a long winter spent mostly indoors, it’s a welcome change of pace. But you need to have the right hiking clothing to do it well.
Hiking Clothing Tips
In order for you to thoroughly enjoy a day of hiking, you’re going to need to take a few precautions first. The most important part of any outdoor recreation, especially in late winter or early spring, is to utilize performance clothing while you’re active. Performance clothes are designed to help your body regulate its temperature. It does that by wicking moisture (i.e., sweat) away from your skin and to the outside of your garment to evaporate. Why is that important? Think about two people: one falls in a near-frozen lake and struggles back out, while the other doesn’t fall in. Which person’s future looks kind of grim? Obviously the soaking wet person, because moisture steals us of our body heat much faster than if we were dry. While spring weather should generally mean warmer weather, sweat is a killer if it gets cold and should be avoided as much as possible. To help you get started, Moon Shine Camo® has hiking clothing for men, women, and children.
But to get the most out of these performance garments, you need to also use an outdoor clothing layering system. Start by keeping a snug performance base layer next to your skin, which will pull the sweat out and away. This layer should be constructed of fine merino wool or synthetic polyester as they make the best moisture-wicking clothes. Wool also keeps you warm when it gets wet and doesn’t collect odors, which makes it a good choice for cold weather hiking clothing. But if you’re using enough insulating layers (below), you can just as easily use a polyester shirt. The Harvest Moon camouflage® short sleeve shirt is a great option because it is soft, tagless, and constructed of moisture-wicking polyester.
The next hiking clothing layers should include insulation to keep you warm, whether in the form of wool, fleece, or synthetic polyester. But you should focus on having multiple light layers versus one lofty puffy garment. That way, you can adjust your hiking clothing as you warm up or cool down. Hiking is full of bursts of energy while on the trail followed by rests at scenic viewpoints. If you can’t add or remove your clothing layers, you will get too hot and sweaty to be comfortable the rest of your hike. Moon Shine Camo® has several polyester options that work great for insulating layers. Using a combination of the Harvest Moon lifestyle camo® performance hoodie and Protek vest, you can adjust your body temperature easily while on the trail.
Finally, you’ll need a hiking shell layer to keep the wind and rain away. You never know what conditions you’ll face out there on the trail (e.g., rain, snow, wind, etc.), so it’s best to be prepared. Carrying a light wind breaker or rain jacket is a good option because they don’t take up much space or weigh much, but they can quickly be added if the conditions deteriorate. As long as you stay dry with your performance clothes and have enough insulation layers, the shell layer will protect you from the weather.
While they don’t quite fit in the hiking clothing category, you’ll also obviously need a good pair of hiking boots if you’re going to have any fun while hiking. If your boots are too small, they will constrict your feet. If they’re too big, you’ll get blisters from all the rubbing and shifting. If they’re too heavy, your legs will get tired much faster. After finding a pair of boots that work for you, take time to break them in a little bit on shorter walks before you go on any huge treks or tackle elevation changes. This will also prevent blisters and help you pinpoint any trouble spots before they’re really put to the test.
Spring Hiking Tips
If you haven’t hiked much in the past, don’t try to become an expert in one day. After a winter spent indoors, we all have to build our hiking stamina back up a bit each spring. It takes time for our bodies to get back in the groove and build up the strength and endurance you need for hiking. So for the first few trips, take it easy. Plan on doing some training hikes through a local park that’s only slightly challenging for you, and then build up from there. As your hikes increase in length and difficulty, you might want to start bringing a backpack with. Not only can you pack snacks, water, hiking gear, and various layers of hiking clothing in it, but it also challenges you to build your physical strength too. Make sure to let family or friends know where you’re going, especially if it’s a really long or strenuous hike.
If you’ve been looking for a fun activity to keep you outdoors these last days of winter, look no further than hiking. It’s a great activity for the whole family to get involved as long as you have the right outdoor clothing. Plus, it has the side benefit of helping you train for other outdoor activities throughout the rest of the year.