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 Other Clothing

Visit the Happy Hiker Hiking Store to buy hiking gear.

It is important to wear and carry clothing appropriate not just to the weather when you set off but also in anticipation of the worst conditions you might encounter on that day. As a cautionary tale, I can recount that of a friend who set off from Ingleton to climb Ingleborough on a hot sunny day. He wore only shorts, a "T" shirt and carried a poor quality waterproof jacket. At the summit, the cloud closed in and he got very wet and very cold to the extent there was grave concern about him. At the Hill Inn in the valley bottom, it took a long time for him to stop shivering. Be warned!

Evidently some clothing manufacturers have started using magnetic catches instead of velcro/poppers. You need to be careful if using a compass wearing such clothing and be careful not to store any such clothing in your rucksack close to it. Proximity to a magnet for any length of time can lead to reversal of polarity of the compass with potentuially serious consequences! Take similar precaurions in relation to mobile phones.

Shirts and Jackets

For anything more than a gentle stroll, do not wear cotton shirts. They get wet with perspiration, cling to the skin and make you feel cold. Better to wear a "wicking" base layer garment made from a material such as Polartec. These types of material draw the moisture away from the skin and combined with other "wicking" layers help overall breathability. Many manufacturers use this type of material. An alternative is a shirt made from Merino wool. These claim to have similar wicking properties and feel warm whether wet or dry.

Above this "base layer", the secret is to wear several thin layers rather than relying on one mega jacket. By adding/subtracting layers, you can regulate your temperature according to how hard you are working, the ambient temperature and whether or not you are wearing a waterproof.

Fleece garments made from such as Polarfleece are available mostly in weights of 100, 200, and 300. Don't worry about what the weight actually means. Suffice to say that a 300 weight will be much thicker and warmer  than a 100. 100s are available mostly as "jumpers". 200/300s tend to be jackets. All continue the "wicking" principle.

The majority of walkers have a jacket and one or two 100 weight garments for winter. In summer, one or two 100 weight garments would probably suffice, depending on the weather and how high you are going.

Fleece jackets are available with a windproof layer. Although this sounds good in theory, bear in mind that you may not want this windproofing if you are working hard climbing a hill. The cooling effect of a breeze can be helpful and if necessary, you can always don your waterproof (and therefore windproof) jacket.


Please do not wear jeans. They soak up water like a sponge, become heavy and take forever to dry even if the sun comes out. They can be a major safety risk in cold weather and or at altitude by exacerbating the effects of cold and windchill.

Preferred material is polyester/cotton mix or polyamide type material which is thin and lightweight and closely woven. This will dry out quickly if it gets wet and cut wind penetration. Rohan, Craghoppers and Sprayway are some of the well known brands.

In cold weather, you have three options.

1) Wear waterproof over-trousers. These will cut the wind and you will (should) be carrying these anyway. Particularly if working hard, you should be warm enough.

2) Some manufacturers make padded trousers which have an insulation layer. It is a balancing act as to whether these will be comfortable or make you too warm. It depends on the individual.

3) Wear a base layer resembling old fashioned "coms". These have the advantage of being removable if you get too warm, always assuming you are not averse to a partial strip on the fells! Even a pair of ladies tights will make a big difference.

In hot weather, shorts are popular. If walking at high altitude, it is better to go for "convertible" trousers where the legs can be zipped off but carried in case temperatures drop. 

Hats Scarves & Gloves

Up to 10% of your body heat can be lost through your head and this increases if you start to shiver. In summer, you should protect your head from the sun. So you need hats.

In winter, a balaclava type is useful as it can be rolled up to form a cap or pulled down to protect the face. These are available in Polartec type material. However, if it is very cold, this is unlikely to be sufficient alone and it would be wise to carry a second hat to wear over the top, preferably a waterproof one. Yes you can pull the hood of your waterproof up but they are more restrictive, impede conversation and can cause condensation. Save the hood for torrential rain/snow.

Wearing some sort of cap, even just a baseball cap, makes using a hood on a waterproof shell jacket more comfortable. It stops the cold clammy feeling of the material and helps hold up the peak.

A traditional scarf may not be the best walking gear. Consider instead a "neck gaiter". These are usually made of Polartec type material and some have a drawcord. They create a snug fit around the neck to prevent cold penetrating the top of a jacket. They can also be pulled up to protect the lower face if a balaclava type garment is not to hand.

You must carry gloves in cold weather. The fingers are literally out on a limb and are probably the first part to feel the cold. The position is worse if you are grasping walking poles (see separate page). Mittens are the warmest and need to be waterproof. In addition some thin fabric gloves are useful for less cold weather. They can also be worn inside the mittens for additional protection.


The function of gaiters is to prevent snow/water getting into your boots. They also keep the bottoms of your trousers cleaner and keep your legs warmer. The best type are breathable (Gortex) type with a rubber strap under the instep rather than a cord which frays quickly on stones.

Certain types fit in a groove round the edge of the sole of the boot for severe mountain conditions.


Don't laugh. If there is light rain in the absence of wind, use of an umbrella can be more comfortable than a hood/waterproof jacket. It will not increase your thermal insulation (which might make you uncomfortably warm in summer). There are lightweight collapsable models on the market. However, it is all extra weight and whatever the weather forecast, do not abandon good waterproof clothing for an umbrella.


All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.