Weather Protection

Bushwalkers wearing weather protection gear

The saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”.

The painter John Ruskin phrased a similar thought, “there is no such thing as bad weather, but only different kinds of pleasant weather — some demanding, indeed, courage and patience for their enjoyment, but all of them fittest in their seasons”.

This could be the bushwalkers motto, although judgement must be used when weather conditions are extreme.

Wearing the right gear for weather protection increases enjoyment of the activity and keeps you safe from hypothermia (too cold) and hyperthermia (too hot).

To avoid hypothermia while hiking, clothes should be constructed with quick drying, breathable, wicking, technical fabrics. Wicking means that perspiration is expelled through the fabric, ensuring you remain warm and dry. Natural fabrics such as cotton do not dry quickly and remain damp with perspiration, cooling the body. Nylon and plastic raincoats trap perspiration and do not breathe.

Layer your Clothing

Bushwalkers are protected from cold or wet weather by wearing 3 layers of clothing:

  • Outer layer: Waterproof shell (a coated fabric or a membrane such as Gore-Tex ®)
  • Mid layer: Quick drying, wicking shirt and trousers plus a wool jumper or fleece zip jacket. Zip jackets allow for greater temperature control.
  • Base layer: Thin thermal (fine wool or a technical synthetic fabric) worn next to the skin. Thermals are essential in the mountains, New Zealand or Tasmania.

Waterproof shell clothing should be regularly washed according to the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain water repellency and allow the fabric to breathe. Waterproof shell clothing benefits from regular application of water repellent treatments, available from outdoor gear suppliers.

The face, head and chest are more sensitive to changes in temperature than the rest of the body. Wear a wool or fleece hat, and protect hands with gloves. Bring 2 pairs of gloves on wet days in case one pair gets wet.

In summer wear quick drying, wicking, technical fabrics, a hat to protect your head, and sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV radiation. Zip-off trousers that convert into shorts are useful in summer.

Rubber soled, leather or fabric walking boots, preferably lined with a waterproof membrane will keep your feet dry. Leather walking boots benefit from regular applications of boot wax to maintain waterproofing and water repellence. Fabric walking boots benefit from regular application of water repellence treatments.

Wear wool blend socks in cold climates. The higher the percentage of wool, the warmer your feet will be. In summer keep feet cool with a blend that includes a wicking, technical fibre.

It is essential to pack for unexpected weather conditions. Check night time temperature predictions and always carry additional clothing to protect yourself from the weather if you are caught out for an unexpected overnight in the bush.

For overnight hiking trips, protection from the elements is necessary. Discuss your needs for a lightweight tent with your local outdoor gear supplier. Information about sleeping bags is on the Sleeping page.