© 2020 Cliff Jacobson

United States

TIPS FOR CHOOSING OUTDOOR CLOTHING

 

Most outdoor clothes are designed to have mass appeal so they'll sell well.  The target groups are (roughly, in this order): RV and state park tent campers; anglers; hunters; backpackers; rock-climbers; kayakers; casual canoeists and lastly...wilderness canoeists.  Yes, clothes that are designed for generic outdoor sports will work for canoeing and camping, but there are concessions.  Here are some features to avoid:

 

  • Pants with integral belts: Why? You can't secure sheath knives and multi-tools around your waist.

  • Pants with zippered legs:  Why? They can't be shortened and, zippers clog with debris and are first to fail on a wilderness trip.

  • Pants with elastic at the ankles:  Why?  They restrict ventilation.  And, they may be uncomfortable when tucked into boots.

  • Any garment that has tiny zippers:  Why? They fail fast!

  • Wind jackets that are “water-repellent”:  Why? ANY water-repellent coating reduces breathability--exactly what you don't want when you're paddling and portaging hard.  That's why cross-country skiers don't wear Gore-Tex!

  • Garments that don’t seal at the throat.  Why?  A gap here encourages an icy wind!

  • Fancy re-thread cord-locks:  Why?  They're time-consuming to tighten and loosen.  Speedy adjustments are handy when you're paddling into a wind or running rapids.

  • Noisy Gore-Tex garments: Why? I just don't like the sound of crinkling fabric.

  • Navy blue clothing:  Why? It attracts mosquitoes more than any other color.

  • Velcro on the sides of wide-brimmed hats:  Why? When the wind blows hard, the brim blows up and sticks to the Velcro.  Snaps are better. 

  • Wool-blend shirts:  Why? An all-wool shirt will repel rain for some time, whereas one that has synthetic fibers will soak through quickly.

  • Bibbed rain pants:  Why?  Every time a short rain stops you must remove your life vest before you can take off your rain pants.

  • Cord-lock waist on rain pants: Why? When the pants get wet, they become heavy and sag--a single cord-lock may not be enough to hold them up.  Double cord-locks or an integral belt is better.

  • Rain pants should have a waterproof zippered fly for men and a waterproof zippered crotch for women.  

  • Fabric liners in rain jackets and pants:  Why? They hang down and absorb water.  Bonded liners are best.

  • Rain pants with pockets:  Why?  They add bulk and cost.  Really, when was the last time you used the pockets in your rain pants?

  • Rain pants with elastic, snaps or closures of any kind at the ankles:  Why? They restrict ventilation.  Primitive man learned long ago that water doesn't flow uphill.

  • Arm-pit zippers on rain coats:  Why? These are fine for hikers who keep their arms at their sides when they walk.  Canoeists and kayakers raise their arms with every paddle stroke they take--and water drips down the inside sleeves and on to you!  Waterproof armpit zippers solve this problem, but they're expensive and bulky.