Exercising in the outdoors is invigorating and often it is the weather that makes the experience, but to enjoy your time out to the fullest, you have to be comfortable whatever the weather gods throw at you. Outdoors people often say that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
But… what is the right clothing?
Wear layers. When you wear multiple garments on top of each other, you can easily adjust to changes in temperature. I much prefer to stop and remove a layer when I am getting too warm, over being too cold at the beginning or end of the walk. The air trapped between the layers has an extra advantage: it forms an extra insulation, which really helps to maintain body temperature.
The purpose of the first (base) layer is to draw the sweat away from the skin to the next layers, so that you feel warmer and more comfortable. In technical clothing this is called ‘wicking’. Good base layers are available in all good sports shops.
- Synthetic materials such as polyester and microfiber-based fabrics are good choices as they do not absorb moisture but transfer it well. Some also carry specialist finishes, such as anti-bacterial agents which reduce odours, and insect repellent. But beware the stink: there is a reason they use these anti-odour treatments!
- Wool has fairly good wicking properties and it doesn’t start to smell so soon. We really love the Merino wool baselayers from the New Zealand brand ‘Icebreaker’. They don’t itch, feel very comfortable on the skin, and did we say it already? They don’t smell! And believe me, we’ve tried. Not even after a week. A cheaper option are the merino wool baselayers from the sports megastore Decathlon (in Surrey Keys). We have tested these all winter and they are surprisingly comfortable and durable.
- Cotton is not a good option: Although it is cheap and feels comfortable when dry, it absorbs moisture and feels very cold once it is wet. And once wet, they are very slow to dry.
In cold weather it is a good idea to wear one or more thin layers. A mid layer provides additional insulation and warmth. You can think of a sweater, or a puffa jacket. Wool and Fleece materials make good middle layers. Fleece comes in various warmth grades: the warmest fleece materials are called ‘polar fleece’, so look out for those if you get cold easily. And why not ask us about our stylish Fit and Happy Outdoors Fleeces? Super warm, super soft and only £15.00.
The purpose of the outer layer is to give protection against rain and wind. Nordic Walking can be quite vigorous, so it is important the outer layer can ‘breathe’ and transport the humidity from the under clothing. The outer clothing should be spacious enough to fit the other layers of clothing, and it really helps if the ventilation is easily adjustable. (I like a jacket with zips under the armpits to let extra ventilation through, without letting the rain in).
Gore-tex is a really useful material for outer layers, as it is fully waterproof, but still lets the body breathe, so that your inner layers stay dryer.