The Hiking Club easy day hikes for beginners
We hike in a RAIN FOREST.
Most web sites and books do not take this into consideration.
Do not be mis-lead by other sources.
Anything 100% cotton is a mistake. Cotton Kills! It quickly gets soaked with rain, or sweat, and takes way too long for it to dry.
The problem with cotton is that when it gets wet it loses 100 percent of it's insulation properties. Wet clothes wick heat away from the skin. You are better off going naked in a cold rain than wearing wet cotton. You risk hypothermia if you wear cotton. Hypothermia is the #1 killer in the outdoors.
Don't wear jeans. We are hiking in a rainforest, not in the desert with cowboys. Jeans are heavy, restrictive, and do not insulate when wet. Cotton sweatpants are just as bad and just as dangerous.
Choose Synthetic fabrics
Your clothes should be made out of synthetic fabrics that wick sweat away from your skin, insulate when wet, and dry rapidly. Unlike a cotton T-shirt, for example, a sweat soaked syntheitic T-shirt can dry out during a rest break. Synthetic fabrics, like fleece, are hydrophobic, meaning that they do not retain water easily and thus dry out faster than other fabrics.
Dress in Layers
Dressing in layers, instead of one bulky "do everything" garment, can help prevent uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations, such as hypothermia. Layering is the relatively simple concept of dressing in a way that allows you to adjust to a wide range of conditions.
For warmth, several synthetic layers are more effieicent than a single parka. Your body temperature varies constantly on the trail in response to the weather and your activity level. With only one warm garment, it's either on or off, roast or freeze. Layers allow you to fine tune for optimal comfort. Never hike in 'down' clothing, it'll get soaked with sweat and be useless.
1st layer should be a thin synthetic T-shirt and shorts.
2nd layer a fleece jacket and/or a fleece vest, and a pair of long pants.
3rd layer your rain gear and a touque and pair of gloves.
Baked Potato Effect
A common mistake made is not bringing a pair of shorts. Even if the tempeture is cool outside you will still warm up when you hike. Thus the importance of wearing layers. By being able to take off a layer or two you avoid becoming a BAKED PATATO. You should always wear a pair of shorts under your clothes so you can avoid this problem. At the very least, keep a pair of shorts in your daypack so you can change when you are convinced that the baked patato effect is for real.
Rain gear is necessary even when it's not raining. A rain jacket, worn over insulating layers, like a fleece jacket, will shed wind, retain body heat, and keep you much warmer. Rain gear is not just for the rain!
For the beginner a brand new and expensive Gortex fabric rain jacket is a waste of money. You can easily buy a used Gortex rain jacket for one tenth the price and re-water proof it with a product such as Revivex.
More important than the fabric is having pit-zips. Pit-zips are zippers in the sleeves of clothing that open up under the armpits. They make hiking much more comfortable by making it possible to cool down without needing to take everything off. This is especially useful when hiking in the rain.