A few months ago I was asked and and provided an insight into what you should look to be wearing in winter for your mountain and Nordic Walking adventures. Now, as the daylight hours are getting longer, the sun is out more than not and the temperatures creep towards warm, its time to investigate what to wear through Spring into Summer.
From now (end of March) through to May we will inevitably face ‘April showers’, perhaps a frost or two and strong winds that will force the temperatures down; hence this guide will be for those days when we are not wrapped in winter gear again; yet doesn’t preclude us carrying sensible kit, clothing and layers in our rucksacks (cold & rain protection ~ waterproof trousers and jacket, woolly hat, gloves, warm layers, water etc; as well as, sun protection items ~ peaked cap, sun block, sun glasses, water etc)…
Understanding how your own body reacts in warm weather is as important as the kit you are wearing. I know that within minutes of undertaking any exercise my body will start producing heat very quickly and if my layers are not regulated efficiently I know I will be uncomfortable in a short time. The advice I give to all our walkers and is applicable throughout the year is “dress so that you start off uncomfortably cold” – this mantra has stood me in good stead for years and takes into account understanding how my body reacts. When folk join us for our walks, and I pass on this advice, they often, and quite understandably, look at me as though I am crazy; however, within a session or two, they are repeating the mantra in their actions and advice to others…it does work!
You know the weather is improving when the shorts make their first outing; knee length socks are replaced with mid-calf/ankle socks, walking boots are washed and tentatively cast aside in favour of trail shoes, long-sleeved warm base layers are packed away in the ‘winter kit’ box and the lightweight tee shirts are donned. When you walk throughout the year, these moments are monumentos, they signpost changing times.
Hence, I tend to wear thin layers that can be removed easily and stowed away. I still pack my lightweight Rab duvet jacket that has more sentimental value than summer use – it is so nice to pop-on when we stop for a brew! My lightweight Rab hoodie is still a key piece of kit until the sun is blazing, as is my gilet and at times a woolly hat, particularly for those Spring morning walks.
When the winds do pick up; its comforting to know that I have the kit in my rucksack to look after myself. I can don a wind proof layer in the form of my waterproof trousers and jacket to keep the warmth in and cold out. Its also worth having those clean walking boots in the car ready to be used in case your intended route will encounter the ‘boggy stuff’, that is so often found in tree-lined tracks, farm land and wooded valleys; and of course, if you are heading to the mountains they are, in my mind, a sensible must-have attribute to your attire!
Steve Ellis is an International Mountain Leader and Nordic Walking National Coach; his company Gemini Outdoor specialises in Nordic Walking in the Malmesbury area as well as trips in the UK and overseas.