Wild Camping Waterproofs, Windproofs and Fleeces

Waterproof Trousers

These come in a few flavours, but the ones that work for me are the light single sheet rip-stop material that you can pull on and off (at least hypothetically) over your boots. That way you can pull them on and off quickly, and don’t have to spend half the day sweating in an extra layer despite it unexpectantly turning dry.

You can get trousers that are waterproof all-in-ones, like the dungarees that skiers wear. These are horrible to hike in, though, so unless you’re going to actually be in snow, avoid them.

Windproofs

These are lightweight jackets (although you can also get windproof trousers) whose sole job is to stop the wind. They’re not waterproof and don’t claim to be, but can make the world of difference by keeping the warm air inside your fleece.

If you go for a windproof you just need to be aware that if it rains heavily you’re going to get miserably wet. However, on the flip side they’re very light to carry and comfortable to wear. So it’s worth considering for summer or times when you think it won’t rain (ie not in Scotland.)

Waterproof Jackets

Again this is an area that you can easily find price tags getting embarassingly high. For some expeds this may well be worth it, but like a lot of other areas in life, there’s also a fair amount of bling, brand and b*llshit involved. Be sceptical, and try to see beyond the techno-jargon descriptions of the many miraculous properties of the jacket. Here’s what is worth checking out:

Is it waterproof? Seems odd to question it, but some aren’t. Look for the logo that says how waterproof. If you don’t want to get wet, you need at least 5000mm waterproofing, which means that the fabric can hold up a column of water 1cmx5cmx5cm without it getting through.

Is it breathable? The patent for goretex ™ is long gone, so there are many names to look out for. But again, the label should say whether it is or isn’t breathable.

Can you layer up? More a matter of preference, I personally like to be able to put on a fleece under the jacket, so I can strip down or up in combinations. Not strictly necessary, but useful.

Is the cold going to get in? Look for draw drawstrings (good if it has them as you can tuck yourself away more effectively). Look for a decent length at the back to cover your bum. This is important for walking (otherwise the water runs off your back and soaks your bum), and for sitting (instant wet bum without one.)

Does it have a decent number of pockets to hide stuff in? For this, the basic is cargo pockets on the outside, inner pockets for small stuff. Can also be useful to have a double cargo pocket (where you can slide your hand in from the side), and a wee extra pocket by your chest for mobile phones etc. I also like to have a dedicated sweetie pocket, so I can get at sugar without having to stop, explain and be ashamed.

Fleeces

Fleeces are the gift that the world gave to humanity to say thanks for the 1990s. They’re light, can be packed into tiny wee bags, are almost always warm (unless actually saturated with water), and oddly comforting to wear.

The best use of fleece is as a layer above your base layer, but below your waterproof or windproof. That way it will trap a whole layer of warm air inside of it, and keep you feeling epic.

Of course there are other places you can wear fleece. They come as gloves, hats, sleeping bag liners, many things. As a general rule use as much fleece as you feel you can get away with, short of using them in any areas that get particularly smelly (fleece underpants don’t work), or heavily worn (fleece trousers don’t work either.) Other than that, I think it’s actually not possible to have too much fleece with you.