Whether you're off on a gentle stroll or a serious hike, it's absolutely essential to dress right. Especially as Ireland and the UK are famed for their changeable weather! Whether it's an unexpected bout of hot sunshine, or a (perhaps more expected) downpour, the right gear will keep you not just dry but at the perfect temperature so you can keep comfortable and enjoy your walk to the fullest.
The secret to getting it right? Layers. Follow the three layer system and you'll have an adaptable outfit that can cater for practically all conditions.
Here's what you'll need.
Your base layer on is the first on , and last off! As it's next to your skin, its job is to keep you comfortable, crucially by wicking moisture away from your skin. Even on the coldest of days, if you're exerting yourself on a hard walk you are going to sweat, and the last thing you want is damp fabric rubbing against your skin. And when you stop for a rest and your body temperature drops, any moisture can quickly start to feel chilly. This is where technical outdoor fabrics come into play. Whereas cotton holds on to moisture, our quick drying base layer fabrics are designed to drive it away from your skin and help it to evaporate. Ours are made from lightweight quick dry airy polyester mesh fabric that's still soft to wear. Look out for features like offset shoulder seams to sit smoothly under rucksack straps, and collars with internal neck tape for friction-free comfort.
The name of the game here is insulation - and again it needs to be lightweight, moisture wicking and not so bulky that you can't get your third layer over the top. A fleece is the perfect choice here, keeping you wonderfully warm in the coldest conditions, keeping the heat it yet still breathable for comfort. You don't want to swelter! Choose the right weight of fleece for the weather conditions, or go for a stretchy softshell if you are going to be particularly active, or if keeping the wind out is going to be more of priority than keeping warm. In freezing conditions go for an insulated jacket.
Your top layer is there to keep out the elements, protecting you from the wind and rain. With your bottom two layers taking care of temperature regulation, think of this as an outer shell to keep out whatever the weather can throw at you. A waterproof and windproof jacket is ideal, though when the mercury drops you may want even more warmth in the form of an insulated jacket.
So now you've got all the key components of the 3 layer system, you can combine them in different ways to suit the conditions. Layer up and down on your hike if conditions change.
Sunny and Dry - Base Layer
If you're hiking abroad or you've got a golden day in the UK then a light and breathable short sleeve baselayer is ideal for keeping you cool and comfortable. Don't forget the suncream and perhaps a cap or sunglasses to shade you from the sun. It's a good idea to still pack your other two layers in your rucksack should conditions change. Especially if your heading up a mountain, conditions can be different at the summit, and your temperature can soon drop if you stop for a decent break.
Cold and Dry - Base Layer + Mid Layer
Some would say the best conditions for a long hike - got to love those cold, crisp and clear days! Choose a heavier weight fleece or insulated jacket with a long sleeve base layer to beat the chill if it's especially cold, and pack a waterproof shell down small in your rucksack in case of an unexpected shower. If it's not too freezing but there's a chill wind, a softshell makes a great mid layer choice.
Warm and Wet - Base Layer + Outer Layer
If it's rainy but keeping warm's not going to be a worry, simply skip the mid layer and wear your light waterproof shell over your base layer, and pack a light fleece in your rucksack in case the weather turns.
Cold and Wet - Base Layer + Mid Layer + Outer Layer
If the weather's throwing everything it's got at you, you'll need all of your layers to keep warm, dry and comfortable. If the rain goes away or you warm up through exertion simply layer down as needed.
A great way to purchase a Mid Layer and Outer Layer in one is with our 3 in 1 jackets. Wear both layers together or separately.