Hats, Gloves and Headgear

##Hats
Hats are a vital and often overlooked piece of kit. With a good hat you can pretty much take on the world.

A good hat depends again on the season, but also to some extent (more than for other pieces of kit) you’re ability to pull it off as a fashion statement.

So wool is good, fleece is always good. Bright wool, especially with those tied down bits you get in Peruvian headgear, not so much.

Wide rimmed hats are a great choice is you know it’s going to be raining for most of the trip. It keeps the rain off your face and deflects a lot of the wind. With a good wide-rimmed hat you can almost, almost pretend that it’s not raining sometimes, unless its actually hammering down.

Main drawback of the wide rimmed hat is two fold. Firstly, it’s got a lot of surface area, so you kind of need to lash it down to your chin or it’s going to leave you rapidly. Second thing, you do end up looking a bit of a d*ck. Remember, this is the hat the the British Army uses as standard issue, and it even makes them look less than hard. So just be aware, and if you’re trying to impress someone on the trip, go for the branded black fleece scull-hugger instead, and just be prepared to have a wet face.

Gloves

For gloves, for anything less than baltic conditions with driving snow, go light. Just having any kind of cover over your hands makes a difference, even if it’s warm, because these are at the extreme ends of you, get cold easily, and are usually out in the wind, rain and cold. Gloves will take all of that pain away.

But bulking up on gloves when it’s not strictly necessary can really slow you down. If you need to pull your hands out of a big puffa-style glove every time you want to get a bit of nutty out of your pocket, this will quickly annoy you. Not least is that water will tend to immediately run off your jacket onto your hand, then into your pocket when you go to get a piece. Wet pocket, wet nutty, sadness.

I’d avoid mitts if you can. They’re fiddly, and even less practical than puffa-gloves. You’ll wear them for about an hour, then take them off and stick them in your pack for the rest of the trip.

Neckwear

There are some pretty sexy pieces of neckwear than you can get. These are loops of material that usually live round your neck, and can also be pulled up over your ears and sort of over your head to act like a hat. It is a hat with a big hole in it (where your head used to be), but it kind of works. And it is very cool.

Outside of this, I’ve never been one for wearing a scarf on an exped. They seem to just get in the way when you get into the tent, and end up wrapped around stuff they’re not meant to be wrapped around. Get a decent fleece and jacket that zips all the way up to your chin and you’re sorted.

Sun glasses

Hmmm, yes, these can be handy. If it’s blue sky out there then you’re likely to get it in your eyes, right? But other than looking the dude, there’s not a hell of a lot of point in carrying sun glasses with you. They’re expensive, breakable bits of kit of dubious value.

Still, if you’re going to do it, get those wrap around Oakley types…

Legwear

The choice of trousers is quite important. This is highly depenedent on the sort of weather and temperatures you expect to find, but generally I go for shorts first, and for as long as possible, then to light trousers, then to heavy trousers.

The reason I go for shorts over trousers in the summer months is comfort. There are many types of shorts that you can buy with cargo pockets, zip pockets, double pockets and so on. So in terms of stuffing stuff into your pockets, these are just as good as trousers. However, if there is anything more than a little sun, hiking up a high gets me very sweaty. At this point, having a large heat-sink (my lower legs) exposed is a great way to keep cool.

Beware if you go down this route, though, as there are hazards. The first is the dammed burrowing mites that you get in heather. These bite into you, bury their heads, and drink away. You need to be careful when getting them out as if you break off their head the wound may become infected, but they’re not painful.

Likewise, midges (small flying beasties) will have a go at any exposed skin. The first you’ll know is an itchy bump that gets itchier and itchier. You can avoid these guys by knowing where they hang out (forests) and when they come out (dawn and dusk.)

Finally be careful when you stop with shorts on. You can get quite cold quite quickly. So long as you keep your core warm this isn’t going to be a problem, just uncomfortable for a bit. (Keeping your core warm is all about having a great fleece on your upper body, along with a windproof or waterproof). However, if you haven’t got that sorted you can get cold much more quickly if you’re also wearing shorts.

But stand fast that lot, shorts can be the way to go in the summer.

Moving into less warm periods, or during the summer when it actually can still be rubbish weather, light utility trousers are the thing. If you can get the very thin sort that wicks away water, that will oddly keep you warmer than heavier cloth that doesn’t. What happens is that they get wet, the water spreads out, has a bigger surface area, and dries more quickly. So if you’re going through showers and don’t mind being wet for 10 minutes, light trousers are the thing.

Avoid denim like it’s the devil’s own material. It will get wet, then drag you down to a cold, wet, miserable death.

Finally, for very cold conditions, there are heavier trousers with similar wicking features also available. Some of these are even fleece lined, which you’ll love yourself for having the foresight to buy when you put them on in the morning. (Fleece has the weird property of always feeling warm to touch, even when it’s wet.)

Whichever it is, shorts, light or heavy trousers, I always take two pairs. This allows you to go into wet and dry routine, which sounds horrible but absolutely is the way to go for trips of more than one night.