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With so many wonderful products available to the 21st century walker, it should be possible to find the right combination of clothing to suit the climate you are going to. Without wanting to recommend any products in particular, the following points apply whichever brand you go for.
Use a wicking base layer. These products draw any moisture away from the body, keeping you cool and comfortable. If you don’t believe the benefits, try using a wicking product, then a conventional cotton T-shirt and feel the difference! You can also buy underwear made from wicking fabrics – these can help keep you comfortable in extreme heat.
Take clothing which has sleeves as well as short-sleeved or sleeveless tops. Many products provide high UV protection (look on the labels, and ask the retailers), and you may have days when you need long sleeves and even trousers to protect your whole body.
Shorts and trousers can also be found in a variety of fabrics which will help keep you cool, protect you from the sun, and stand up to the rigours of walking day after day. Some trekking trousers convert into shorts, while others have built-in ventilation sections which can be un-zipped to reveal a mesh inner layer – very useful if the weather is changing but you still want to protect your legs.
Socks are a matter of personal choice. We all have opinions about the socks we believe will be comfortable and keep our feet free from blisters or problems caused by the heat. Consider products such as ‘1000 mile’ socks if you’re prone to blisters, or perhaps ‘cool-max’ socks may work well for you.
If you’re buying gear, try to resist impulse purchases. Do some research on manufacturers’ websites, check the features the products claim to have and make a short list. Then go to your favourite outdoor store – the best one you can find (look on our website for some suggestions in your area), and get the advice of the sales team there, as well as trying things to see how they suit your needs.
Here are some suggested manufacturers for baselayers, trekking and summer lightweight clothing – not a definitive list!
Craghoppers, Lowe Alpine, Montane, Mountain Equipment, North Face, Odlo, Paramo, Rab, Rohan.