I have been outside camping in all sorts of weather. I’ve found it’s best to bring extra clothing in colder conditions and protective clothing when it’s hot. Sometimes regular everyday clothing is fine, but it makes a difference when I have the right clothing camping for several days.
Each season may call for a different set of clothing to wear camping. It’s best to be prepared with good quality, lightweight, breathable clothing whenever possible. If you can’t take much with you, use layers of clothing to adjust to the various weather conditions as you camp.
Camping outside is all about connecting with nature and unplugging from your daily routine. But it also means complete exposure to the elements. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort just because you’re communing with nature.
Nowadays, outdoor clothing not only prioritizes comfort and functionality but style too. The goal is to protect one’s skin from the elements, including insects, mud, and sun exposure, and look good doing it.
The most important thing is to prioritize comfort and safety while making sure that you wear items that you don’t mind getting dirty because they will. Depending on your preferences, this could be a series of old T-shirts and utility pants or swim trunks and board shorts. You could also opt for stylish camping clothes that feature the latest wearable technology innovations.
Just be sure to consider the location you’re going to spend most of your time in, the weather conditions, the activities you’ll participate in, and the time of the year. All of these factors will contribute to the level of comfort that you enjoy and will help you figure out what to wear camping.
For instance, camping out in the mountains during fall might require a few sweaters and a parka, while swim trunks are usually all you need for summertime camping.
For additional tips on what to consider when figuring out what to wear camping, read below. We’re going to explore the most important things to consider when camping for your trip and how to make sure that you fully enjoy the experience.
You Should Prepare for the Season
The first thing you need to do when deciding what to wear camping is to consider the season or time of year. Keep in mind that each season of the year brings with it variances in temperature and comfort levels.
It goes without saying that you should pack clothing that’ll keep you warm in cool weather and cool in hot weather, depending on the season. In the following sections, we’re going to cover what to wear camping during all four seasons. It’s important to differentiate between these four in order to avoid a clothing faux pas.
What to Wear Camping in Spring and Summer
It doesn’t matter if you’re camping in the US, in Europe, or in Australia. You’ll find that there are vast differences between daytime and evening temperatures.
I went camping at the Grand Canyon once, and the night and day temperature differences were significant. I didn’t have enough cold-weather clothing.
In some places, scorching hot days give way to balmy evenings during the summer, while other areas tend to experience cooler nights. Oklahoma and Texas are both good examples of places that experience vast differences in temperature throughout the day.
For the most part, these temperature fluctuations are less common during the summer but they do tend
to happen in the spring and autumn. Looking at weather patterns and temperatures is essential if you
want to enjoy a comfortable trip where you don’t get affected by weather conditions.
Always make sure you wear clothes that will keep you warm at night. Check the weather forecast of the location you’re camping at so you can prepare properly.
When camping, it may be important to carry night clothing that is distinct from the clothes you wear during the day. That’s because temperatures may change significantly at night. A sleeping bag may offer all the protection you need, but not when you need to get up at night.
You may also want a fresh set of clothes that’ll make it easier for you to sleep. Ideally, you should opt for long sleeves, underwear, a synthetic sweater, or a woolen jersey.
Pack a pair of joggers or some sweatpants to keep your legs warm as temperatures plummet at night. Consider layering your clothes so that you can just take some of the items off if you get too hot in the middle of the night.
Don’t forget to pack a comfy sleeping pad to place under your sleeping bag because it doesn’t matter how comfortable your clothes are; this means nothing if you don’t have a comfortable place to sleep in.
Since you’ll be wearing these garments directly over your skin, it’s important to ensure that they’re breathable and comfortable. Opt for underwear that’s made from moisture wicking fibers to ensure that they deliver the desired results.
Wool and nylon can offer comfort and breathablily. The can wick moisture well and help you stay dry most of the time.
Shorts are usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what to wear camping. But, they’re not exactly a wise choice. That’s because exposed legs can lead to being scratched by thorny bushes and poison oak, and it makes it easier for insects to bite you, not to mention the inevitable sunburn.
For best results, wear lightweight pants that cover your legs without overheating. There are plenty of options that are designed to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
I have several pairs of hiking pants that are good for camping. Some are light weight and some are thicker with fleece lining. Some of mine have a polyester nylon mix which helps them stay lightweight and tough.
Again, you should consider the weather when choosing footwear for your trip. Look for shoes with grippy soles to ensure stability when walking. Remember that you’ll mostly walk-in rugged and uneven terrain and you want shoes that’ll provide ankle and foot support in all conditions.
Read my article about Hiking Boot for Walking to learn more about shoes that might work well while you are camping.
The clothing items you wear on the upper part of your body are just as important as the pants. You should avoid tops that expose your arms for the same reasons that we outlined above for avoiding shorts.
Instead, opt for a lightweight, breathable long-sleeved top that’ll protect your arms from the elements. The outdoor clothing industry has evolved considerably over the years and it’s easy to find tops that offer optimal, optimized protection.
Look for shirts that have UPF protection, antimicrobial treatment, and ripstop material, are moisture-wicking, and breathable.
Spring Camping Accessories
There’s no denying that spring is one of the most unpredictable of all the four seasons of the year. As a result, it can be difficult to figure out what to wear camping during spring. One way to narrow down your options would be to consider the prevailing weather patterns of the place you’re traveling to.
You can never go wrong with sunglasses in spring. They help to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays, which is even more important if you’ve got blue eyes, as they tend to be extra sensitive to sun exposure.
Be sure to pack a light scarf that you can just throw over your shoulders during those chilly evenings. Leave the thick and wooly scarves at home and opt for thin and flowy materials instead. Wearing a scarf can also add a stylish element to your look.
Protect your face, scalp, and eyes from the sun with a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed hat. The latter is
even more desirable in warm climates because it’ll act like a sun umbrella that shields the upper part of
your body from sun exposure. The last thing you want is to get sunburnt while camping when it’s so easy
to protect yourself from it.
Spring is the season for storms and rain showers. That’s why it’s known as the season for sowing. However, for campers, this means you’ll need to prepare yourself for this eventuality by packing weatherproof clothing. You should have a lot of stylish yet practical options to choose from, especially when it comes to raincoats and ponchos.
What to Wear Camping in Autumn and Winter
If you’re going out camping in the winter, then you want to stay as warm and comfortable as possible while doing it. Essentially, you shouldn’t feel the plummeting temperatures on your skin. The second most important thing to consider when camping in winter is to prioritize clothes that keep you dry.
We’re going to focus on autumn/winter clothing that’s not necessarily mutually exclusive but complementary. Both the inner and outer layers of your autumn/winter camping gear will contribute to the level of comfort and pleasantness that you’ll experience during your trip.
The inner layer is the most important because it’s the one closest to your skin. These items should be made of comfy and breathable materials that are also moisture-wicking. Whether they’re made from animal-derived or synthetic materials, the items you wear as your inner layer should have a close fit.
Cotton obviously won’t work well in this scenario because it’s a moisture-absorbing material that’s more
suitable for a middle or outer layer. Long johns, vests, all-in-one body underwear, and T-shirts work really
well with inner-layer clothing items.
The middle layer is where you set the stage for warmth and insulation. Most people prefer woolen or synthetic materials for this layer because they promote moisture evaporation features. These items should be thicker than inner layer items and could include things like jumpers, fleeces, and hoodies. You can layer them up or wear one of these depending on how cool or cold temperatures are.
This layer is the one that has direct contact with the elements like snow, rain, and sleet, so these items must be constructed from sturdy, heavy-duty, and preferably weatherproof materials. You’ll probably end up with the usual suspects, like waterproof parkas and jackets.
Look out for options that come with a hood for further protection from the wind and rain. If the region you’re traveling to is expecting a considerable amount of rainfall, then you should definitely bring a windrain cheater that you can throw over your clothes whenever they get wet.
When it comes to protecting your legs, it’s important to apply the same layering principle that we mentioned above. The first layer could be made up of leggings or long johns. Avoid wearing jeans while camping or doing any outdoor activity for prolonged periods of time because they’re made from a material that absorbs water.
They’re also heavy and can get uncomfortable to wear after some time. With that said, there are a few
companies that make waterproofs that you can wear over your jeans if they’re so important to you.
Opt for socks that are made from materials like synthetic wool. In addition to keeping your feet warm, your socks should insulate your feet while offering optimal breathability. Also, make sure your socks don’t make your life difficult when it’s time to put on or take off your socks.
Light trainers are always in vogue for camping because they’re lightweight, comfy, and easy to move around in. But, you might want to consider alternatives like boots as well, so long as they have suitable soles and a reliable grip. Or, invest in traction cleats, especially if you plan to encounter icy or snowy conditions along the way. These can be fitted into your shoes quickly and easily.
Winter Camping Accessories
There are many different types of items that you can wear as accessories while camping in winter. A lot of them will save you from hypothermia and other hazards that come with being outside during this time of year.
Mittens are a must for keeping your hands and fingers hypothermia-free. The last thing you need is to experience finger-numbing frostbite, and mittens will make sure of that. It’s a great way to maintain the full function of your hands while protecting them not only from the cold but from hiking obstacles as well.
You never know how many bush thorns you’ll come across while taking a leisurely stroll in the forest and you’ll be glad you bought your mittens when temperatures plummet at night.
Scarves are also very important to bring with you when camping and hiking. The thickness and material of the scarf will depend on the weather conditions and activities that you get up to while camping. A thick scarf can be worn when it’s cold to keep you nice and toasty, while a lightweight one is perfect for protecting your upper body from mosquito bites on summer nights.
Earmuffs are another handy accessory that’ll protect your ears from freezing off. Earmuffs are easy to put on and you can wear them under or over a hat. They’re also small so they’ll fit easily into your traveling luggage.
Even in winter, you might need sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sunlight when it does come out. That way, you won’t have to squint just to see the scenery in front of you. Sunglasses will also protect your eyes from dust coming from the wind while helping you maintain perfect vision throughout your trip.
Wristbands are surprisingly handy items to bring on a camping trip. Your wrists play a huge role in keeping you warm and/or cool because they have shallow veins that are easily affected by temperature changes. Wearing wristbands will help you maintain warmer temperatures at all times.
What to Wear to Bed When Camping
Whatever you wear to bed, just make sure it’s dry. Even if you are drenched in sweat or rain during the day, you need to remove all moist clothing items from your body before you head to bed.
This means you need to take everything off, including your socks and underwear, because they often retain moisture long after we think they’re dry, and it’s not recommended to sleep in undergarments that you were sweating in all day to bed.
Take the wet clothes and put them into a laundry basket or hang them outside for efficiency. The best thing to wear to bed in winter includes things like long underwear. Just don’t overdress, or else you’ll get uncomfortably warm in the middle of the night.
Try to keep things minimal, and remember that you still have your sleeping bag to keep you warm. Just don’t forget your mittens, socks, and beanie if it’s cold.
A great way to warm your clothes for the next day is to place them underneath your body as you sleep or place them between your sleeping pad and bag. By the time you wake the following morning, your undies will be a comfortable 98 degrees. That’s way more comfortable to put on than an icy pair of knickers in the snow.
Your sleep system should also consist of good-quality cloth that is designed to optimize your sleep. This includes your sleeping bag, which pretty much functions like another layer of clothing that you put on at night over your other clothes. Believe us, even the warmest pajamas won’t do you much good if your sleeping bag is made from flimsy materials.
You want your sleeping bag to provide proper insulation and thermal efficiency throughout the night, which is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the features offered by sleeping bags that are available on the market today.
What Not to Wear Camping
After so many years of camping, hiking, and mountain climbing, we’ve seen our fair share of cringe-worthy camping gear. Some folks seem to forget that they’re going into the wild, and practicality goes to the wayside.
To help you avoid falling into the same trap, we’ve put together a list of fashion faux-pas you should avoid like the plague when camping.
It’s actually quite shocking just how many people try to get away with not wearing anything at the campground. It goes without saying that this isn’t normal, and it’s not something to aspire to. Be sure to keep your clothes on unless you know you’re going to be alone in the middle of nowhere. Even then, you risk freezing your bum off (literally!).
Wearing Too Much
Aside from wearing too little or nothing at all, you might also be a culprit of wearing too much. Many inexperienced campers make the mistake of carrying too much luggage and bringing unnecessary clothing items to the campsite. It’s better to travel light when camping and focus on clothes that are functional and practical as they are attractive.
The best way to figure out what to wear camping is to consider the weather conditions and climate of the place you’re going to. From there, you’ll know what kinds of clothing items to pack and what to leave behind based on the tips we’ve provided you in this article.
Socks with Sandals
Not only is this an unattractive fashion trend in the normal world, but it serves no practical purpose when camping either. It’s really an oxymoron that makes no sense. Sandals are designed for breathability and comfort when it’s hot out, while socks are made to keep your feet warm.
This is obviously not a match made in heaven. If you’re going to wear socks, pair them with sneakers and wear sandals alone the way God intended! (Okay, we took that one a bit far, mind the pun.)
Swimwear That Doesn’t Fit Properly
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman; shapely, big, or skinny, ill-fitting swimwear will do you no favors. Consider the people around you and the imagery that your outfit will create in their minds.
While we’re not saying you should let other people’s opinions about your body influence the way you dress, there’s something to be said for common decency and that means covering up your business.
Clothes with Alcohol Pictures
If you want to get flagged while camping on a campground or park, wear clothes with drug or alcohol insignia. The attending security guard or ranger will definitely keep a closer eye on you if you do this and this isn’t as fun as it sounds. To them, you’re sending a clear signal that you have a few bad habits that might cause things to get rowdy.
Sandals are different from flip-flops in that they’re usually designed in a way that keeps them attached to your feet. They’re lightweight, breathable, and perfect to wear in hot weather conditions. Just don’t go climbing or hiking through rugged terrain in them. You will regret it.
Flip flops, on the other hand, are completely unsuitable for camping or any hardcore outdoor activity for that matter. They’re not built for life in the dirt and they definitely won’t protect you from critters, thorns, bugs, and mud. They’re also easy to lose and break.
If breathability is important to you, then opt for Vibram toe shoes instead. Otherwise, stick to sneakers and boots.
What About Camping Laundry?
It’s important to plan for laundry if you’re going on an extended camping trip. You can easily wash and dry smaller items like socks and underwear on the road; just make sure to use an eco-friendly, biodegradable soap that’s not toxic to the environment. Also, use soap sparingly and avoid doing your laundry in water features that are channeled into bodies of water.
The most important thing with laundry items is to keep them dry and make sure to keep everything in a dedicated area. That way, your clean clothes won’t get mixed up with the dirty laundry and you won’t need to keep doing sniff tests just to make sure that your clothes are clean. You’ll also find that it’s easier to pack up when it’s time to go home if you’ve kept things separate throughout the whole trip.
Make sure the outer layers are separate from other laundry items because you’ll probably wear them multiple times during your trip. Everything else can go straight into the laundry (after drying), including all the sweaty, dirty, and unwearable items that you’ll wash when you get home.
If you get a stain on one of your clothes, be sure to address the problem as soon as possible to avoid it getting worse. We recommend using olive oil soap because it’s fantastic at getting rid of smudges and spills quickly by breaking up the grease.
It also works well for grass stains, among others. Also, don’t bring anything that you really care about when camping. You don’t want your favorite item of clothing to get damaged so make sure you avoid that when considering what to wear camping.
As soon as you get home, get the washing machine going, and don’t put off washing your camping clothes. Wool items should be washed by hand at the same time to avoid damage.
Although you probably wash your clothes in cold water most of the time, you may want to increase the temperature to clean and sterilize the fabric after a camping trip.
If any of your clothing items have been affected by poison oak, then you should wash them separately using hot water and a really good detergent. Poison oak is no joke and you need to go all out if you want to get rid of it for good and prevent it from getting onto your other clothes.
After you’ve cleaned and dried everything, you can then put it into your closet along with your everyday items. However, if you have dedicated camping gear, that should go into its own compartment or shelf. That’ll make it easier to pack the next time you decide to go camping.
Tips to Keep in Mind for Comfort
There’s a lot of practical knowledge and wisdom that you acquire over the years as a seasoned camper that most novices wouldn’t even consider.
Here are a few tips based on our experiences in the wild to help you enjoy your experience even more:
- Bring extra socks because you don’t want to end up wearing wet socks. Wearing wet socks can cause a plethora of foot funguses and conditions, including athlete’s foot. If you’re traveling as a group, make sure everyone brings multiple pairs of socks so they can switch them up whenever necessary.
- Bring extra shoes for hiking, climbing, and relaxing. That way, you’ll always have something suitable to wear based on the activity and you won’t get stuck barefoot when your main pair of shoes get wet. Wearing wet shoes is just like wearing wet socks. It can lead to foot conditions like blisters that can ruin your trip.
- Bring extra clothes for kids because they’re messier than everyone else and will probably get wet and dirty most of the time. Their clothes are also most likely to get damaged to the point of not being wearable again for the rest of the trip so you need backup.
- Sunglasses are a must to keep your eyes safe from the sun and the wind.
- Don’t forget to bring extra underwear. It doesn’t take up much space and you can never have too much of it.
- Consider bringing a waterproof and weatherproof item that can be worn as an outer layer over your clothes when the weather gets rough.
By now, you should feel excited about your camping trip and ready to get on the road. You know what to wear camping and what you should pack for a successful trip.
Keep in mind that your clothes should be practical, functional, and comfortable. Durability is also important, especially when it comes to insulation and protection from the elements. As for style, nothing makes a fashion statement like a splash of color.
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