Summertime is officially over, but that doesn’t mean that all of our outdoor adventures need to come to an end! Fall is one of our favorite times of year to go hiking. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp and cool, and best of all, we get to break out our beanies and long sleeves.
The key to successful hiking in the fall is layers. When you set out for your hike, there’s a reasonable chance the temperature and weather will be totally different. A hike at the bottom of the mountain could start off balmy and warm and end frigid and snowy. Conversely, a hike beginning in the morning may start off pretty cold and then get warm. Being able to add or shed layers is key for being comfortable. These are the essential items for hiking in the fall.
It was once thought that in cold weather, you lost up to half of your body heat through your head. It turns out, that’s not at all true. You can lose up to 10 percent of your body’s warmth from your head though, making beanies an excellent choice for brisk, autumn hikes. And if the weather warms up, you can shed the beanie to prevent getting too hot!
Depending on where you’re hiking, a beanie may not be necessary but a hat could still be useful. Hats keep our heads protected from the elements and the harmful rays of the sun. If you’re hiking in an area where you’re exposed to the elements and have very little shade to protect your skin, a hat might be a good choice.
Tees and longsleeves
A good base layer for a fall hike is a simple t-shirt or longsleeve that’s designed to wick perspiration away from your skin. Good materials for a base layer are wool, silk, polyester, and nylon. But the best base layer of all is one that’s comfortable for you to wear.
Hoodies and sweatshirts make for a generally solid mid layer garment. The name of the game for middle layers is insulation for retaining body heat. Fleece makes a great middle layer. Breathability can be ideal for middle layers as well, though the problem with breathability is that cold air can pass right through it. But there’s where the benefit of outer layers come from.
A thin, water and wind resistant jacket is a good outer layer to have in case you experience inclement weather on the trail. This outer layer piece may be the most important thing to have with you. Even if the temperature is above freezing, becoming wet while on a hike can be incredibly dangerous. It doesn’t have to be below freezing for hypothermia to set in. Your body temperature can drop to hypothermic levels in 50 degree weather or 60 degree water. So keeping the wind and the rain out is incredibly important.