Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dressing for the Season

 The following is a guest blog by Outdoor Look:

The cooler than average August gives an early reminder of just how close fall is. The weather report shows lows in the mid 70s during the day, and dropping into the low 50s at night. As well as being a reminder of the rapidly approaching autumn weather, park visitors should take heed that the typical August packing list may leave you shivering in the evenings and early mornings. Aside from being simply uncomfortable, the cooler weather can prove to be hazardous to those that are unprepared. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s can easily lead to hypothermia, particularly if wet weather clothing isn’t suitable, or ample dry clothing isn’t available.

The key to a safe and comfortable trip into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is found in understanding that weather conditions change rapidly and vary greatly throughout the course of the day. Appropriate attire will provide more than just a fashionable outdoor look. Dressing in layers, having suitable wet weather gear available, and choosing clothing made from suitable materials choice ensures both comfort and safety.

Dressing in Layers

All outdoor activities should be prepared for by dressing in layers with a specific purpose. Dressing in layers allows you to add or remove clothing as needed to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Typical layers include:

• base layer which should be of a breathable material that will help whisk perspiration away from your body to keep you dry and comfortable

• outer clothing of long sleeve shirts and long pants to protect you from both the sun and underbrush

• outerwear to include a light jacket or vest for additional warmth

• wet weather gear to stay dry and warm

By dressing in this way instead of simply wearing a T-shirt and a jacket you can more thoroughly regulate your body temperature. Most clothing loses 70% or more of its insulating ability when it becomes wet. Wool is a natural fiber that maintains its insulating ability even when wet. It doesn’t matter if that is a result of perspiration or because of a passing rainstorm. If your clothing becomes wet during a late afternoon hike it will not have time to dry before the much cooler evening air settles. Using a base layer that whisks water away from your body will allow it to evaporate and dry much faster.

When choosing wet weather gear there is a strong preference towards improved fabrics such as Gore-Tex which allows you to stay dry while still providing adequate ventilation to prevent overheating. Adding a pair of waterproof boots and a hat will keep you ready for both cold mornings and nights, as well as long trail hikes.

Hiking in the Smokies

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