Craft a clothing kit for any encounter

Craft a clothing kit for any encounter

By Greg Illes

My wife and I have a running joke — she asks me how the weather is going to be, and I tell her that it will be either warm, cold, or balmy. Should be sunny, but it might rain. (Sometimes, I reverse that last one.)

On any given day, we can find ourselves in almost any kind of weather and traversing any imaginable terrain. We’ve taken spontaneous hikes while headed for the supermarket; we’ve been snowed on in August; we’ve gotten sunburn on what promised to be an overcast rainy day. These things have occurred while traveling in our RV, in our toad, on foot and in our inflatable kayak.

Contrary to Mark Twain’s lament, we do talk a lot about the weather, but we actually do something about it, too. We know that the most common advice for versatile wardrobing is “layering,” and we take this to the ultimate.

We layer our clothing, for sure, but in addition we “layer” our entire ensemble. Zip-off pants are hardly elegant, but they can accommodate a wide variety of wind and weather. Lightweight nylon long-sleeve shirts afford great sun protection. They can be buttoned up tight for cold winds, or unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up when temps rise. Down vests are light, compact, and surprisingly warm under a windbreaker.

We also keep extra copies of essentials in the toad, just in case an unplanned impulse strikes us. What essentials? Sun hat, wool cap, hiking staff, windbreaker and a rain poncho. In winter or cold climes, a warm vest. Always a pair of good-fitting gloves for work or warmth. If we start out the day wearing “comfortable” shoes, we make a point of keeping our hiking boots and sandals in the toad. That way, we’re ready for a troop through the woods, or wading along the shoreline — whatever comes our way.

And one last item — although it’s not exactly a piece of clothing — we also keep a ground pad in the toad. If I need to get underneath for a mechanical problem or rough-road issue, I can keep all my carefully-crafted clothing layers relatively clean and reusable by lying on the ground pad instead of dirt/leaves/mud/rocks. It can even double as a “picnic blanket” for an impromptu relaxing snack on a hillside.

You probably have your own ideas about a versatile trousseau. Be creative, let your imagination be your guide, and know that whatever you start out wearing in the morning doesn’t have to be what you are wearing that night. And remember, anything is in style when you’re camping.

photo: Karin Illes

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