Essential #1: Layered Clothing
You could just step out the door wearing anything that won't get you arrested, but to walk comfortably you should learn to layer
- Base layer: The base layer is next to the skin and should be of a fabric that draws sweat away from the skin so it can evaporate and cool you without making you feel wet and clammy. Cotton should be avoided as it retains your sweat and doesn't release it to evaporate. For cold weather, look for polypropylene (Capilene, Thermion, Thermax and Thermastat) or silk undershirt and long johns. For warm weather, look for CoolMax, Supplex, or polyester microfiber.
- Insulating layer: In cooler weather, this layer adds warmth and allows you the option of removing it as you warm up. This layer could be a shirt and pants of wool, fleece, pile, or down. Don't overdo it - you will be warming up as you walk, so save the down vest for truly cold days.
- Outer layer: This layer protects you from the elements, and can also be removed as you warm up. A windproof and water-resistant jacket worn loosely is a good outer layer. For rain gear, look for fabric treatments that still allow your body to breathe, such as Goretex or Ultrex. These are more expensive than a rain slicker, but when out walking you will discover you are as wet from your own perspiration as from the rain unless your outer garment breathes. A breathable jacket allows the sweat to evaporate and keeping the rain from penetrating through the jacket.
Top Picks for Jackets
You should start your walk feeling cool but not cold.
As you warm up, remove the insulating layer.
Still too warm? Remove the outer layer.
You stopped for water and restroom and now feel cool? Put on the outer layer again.
By layering you are assured of having enough clothing but not too much. Choosing fabrics that are breathable and wicking, you allow your body to shed excess heat and sweat while feeling dry.