The Science Behind Outdoor Clothing

The Science Behind Outdoor Clothing

The great outdoors can be breathtaking, but because of the fickle weather, you might find yourself drenched with rain or chilled to the bone by an unforgiving wind. To fully enjoy the outdoors, you should pick the right outdoor clothing. Outdoor clothing is specifically designed to keep you comfortable even in extreme weather.

Most outdoors enthusiasts go by the three-layer principle to thrive even in the most difficult weather conditions. Outdoor clothing designers have researched the kinds of fabric that best serves the needs of the outdoors person. Knowing the principle behind fabric choice will help you choose the perfect outdoor clothing for your needs.

Base Layer

The base layer consists of clothing that is in direct contact with your skin. Outdoor activities tend to make you sweat and cool down in intervals. For this reason, the fabric of your base layer should allow you to cool down quickly but moderately. That’s why cotton is not the best choice for your base layer because it encourages “after-exercise chill.” Wet cotton cools your body down continuously after you sweat. Because you remain cool, your body generates heat to keep your comfort level steady.

To prevent “after-exercise chill,” your base layer’s fabric should absorb moisture and keep it away from your skin. The best base layer fabrics must absorb a small percentage of the weight in moisture. Because of this, the fabric retracts the moisture away from your skin and dries very quickly. The fibres must be lightweight but be durable enough to withstand several hiking trips. Some fibres are even treated with chemicals to prevent fungi growth and body odour.

Insulation Layer

After the base layer is the insulation layer. Its main aim is to retain body heat by trapping air between the base layer and the insulation layer. This still air wrapped all over the body is to decrease the heat being exchanged between your body and the outside world.

Most insulation layer fabrics are polyester with treated fibres which allow the fibres to trap air in between them. These fabrics are fleece, bunting, or pile. Fleece is a type of polyester that is densely knit. A napping machine threads fabric loops resulting to a tight solid weave on one side and a fluffy surface on the other that retains air. Bunting and pile fabrics are also fleece, but bunting is napped at both sides to create a solid weave while pile undergoes another set of napping for a thicker fabric.

Outer Layer

The outer layer’s job is three-fold. First, the outer layer protects the wearer from wind, rain, or snow. Second, the outer layer also prevents body moisture from the body and third, it protects the wearer from being cut or scraped from outdoor threats.

Outdoor clothing technology has come up with modern fabrics that are waterproof and still breathable. Some even absorb shock for the most comfortable experience.

To ensure the waterproof qualities of the outer layer, the fabric should have about 40 pounds per square inch or psi of water pressure. This measurement shows how waterproof the fabric is. The zippers must also be waterproof or shielded with waterproof fabric as well. Outdoor clothing seams must be sealed and coated to prevent leaks.

Protecting yourself from the elements must be foremost in your list so that you are safe as you hike mountain trails. Knowing about the science behind outdoor clothing lets you decide which kind of clothing you need.

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