I have created a set of outdoor clothing utilizing wool and waxed cotton primarily. This gear packs into a 20 lb. base weight backpack for all year hiking and camping. I show how my natural fiber outdoor wardrobe fits into my backpack and how each article coordinates together to create an effective camping experience in all weather/seasons.
Non-toxic outdoor clothing is also comfortable, breathable, temperature regulating, and allows a deeper experience of nature. This helps balance the bodies temperature regulating processes instead of block them the way sythetic fibers do.
This video accompanies my blog post series Rewilding Your Outdoor Clothing
I present an argument here against synthetic fibers as I am exploring how natural fibers outperform man made textiles by allowing a more balanced dynamic between the weather and the body’s natural processes of moisture and temperature regulation.
The six criteria for outdoor clothing:
1–We each need to develop a relationship with our entire gear set and know how to alternate different articles of clothing with varying conditions.
2–Wear the Rain Protection layer only during rain. Have an alternative completely natural fiber set for non-raining or lightly raining conditions.
Overall this approach will keep you dryer and in homeostasis without synthetic heat stress.
Here is what I would bring on a multi-day backpacking expedition for temps going down to 30 Degrees Fahrenheit. For winter trips I would also bring extra sweaters, a wool hat, wool gloves and mittens, and crampons.
Wool Felt Hat
Poncho (Also two other uses: pack cover and ground cloth)
Cotton Windbreaker coated with beeswax. I created this using an oversized cotton shirt from the thrift store. I added hood, drawstring waist, hand warmer pockets and zipper. I could wear a synthetic parka over this during rain but I perfer the poncho for breathability. Although the poncho is definitely sometimes harder to work with when doing things such as pitching a tent.
My pitching tent (tarp) in rain system is: 1) take off back and cover it with poncho, 2) Pitch the tent wearing only the beeswax/cotton windbreaker and expect to get wet, 3) tent is pitched in five minutes, get in and take the wet windbreaker and merino base layer off, 4) pull the other gear inside, 5) poncho goes on ground covering tent bottom, 6) Dry gear gets pulled out of the pack.
Wool Pants or waxed lightweight cotton
Base Layer of Moisture Wicking and Breathable Merino Top and Bottom
(two sets, one for hiking, one for sleeping)
Shoes: (one pair of minimalist leather boots conditioned with beeswax, one pair of minimalist sandals)
Wool Socks (three pairs: one for hiking, one for sleeping one for washing)
Merino Bandana (one in summer, two in winter)
Wool headband (for winter)
Merino Scarf (Multi-purpose article)
Wool Sweaters two or three which nest over each other
Wool Felt Hat and Poncho allows air circulation similar to an umbrella
Let the waist-down get wet. In summer, shorts and sandals. In colder weather, wool pants and wool socks can get wet and still keep you warm, without overheating. If you try to make your boots waterproof (with waterproof liner, etc), that keeps the water in. So your feet don’t dry out.
Keep a set of clothes tucked away in waterproof bag only for wearing at camp. A merino top and bottom, wool socks, hat, sweater,
The tent/tarp is a part of the equation as well. A zip up closable tent can trap moisture/humidity and stifle the temperature regulation process just like a synthetic parka. The Ray Jardine tarp idea solves the problem and makes a more fun, interactive camping experience. And the wool sleeping bag idea from Lucky Sheep completes the equation. Now you have a system that regulates body temperature and wicks moisture to the outside, then allows that moisture to escape, so you are actually drying things out even during rainy conditions.
In winter: Beeswax candle for burning in tent. I put it in my cook pot in middle of my tent. It will warm a tent by several degrees and get my hands warm. Of course be super careful and this shouldn’t be done in certain tents. I use a pyramid tent which has a high ceiling in the middle. My tent also does not have an attached bottom. If there was a fire I could get out.
Boil a pot of water and pour it in your water bottle at night. Put this in a wool sock and bring to bed to keep you toasty, especially good at the feet.
Eat a ketogenic diet with lots of butter. This is super warming helping the body generate its own heat. Drink warm beverages, especially with melted butter and gelatin powder.
Looking back on that Outdoor Leadership Training Expedition with Paul Petzholdt, I realize nobody knew the ultimate survival techniques that would later be discovered. That course was for me the beginning of a life long study I would undertake to find the ultimate backpacking gear.
1—Fat and the ketogenic diet as part of the GEAR philosophy.
2—Wool which heats the body as it dries out.
3—A NON SYNTHETIC and thus BREATHABLE windbreaker for non-rainy conditions.
4–A tent or tarp which is not sealed at the bottom and thus breathable (ventilation)
5—A Wool Felt Hat plus Poncho combination and/ or Umbrella which allows ventilation
6—Minimalist Shoes which allow proper alignment of the body while walking and build the feet muscles instead of atrophy them