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WHAT TO WEAR AND HOW TO WEAR ON HIMALAYAN TREKS



Going to extreme conditions like Himalayas where one gets to admire the wonders of natural creations and make cherishable lifelong memories, it is important to have the right knowledge about what to wear and how to wear it. Being underprepared can easily affect our health and hamper our Himalayan experience. Hence we have compiled all the information available into one ‘All You Need To Know About Himalayan Clothing’ to ensure you are ready for the unforgettable experience in front of you.

To make the information useful to all of us, we have further categorized everything into the following parts:
  • Body
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Palms
  • Feet
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Eye

BODY

Our body can be protected effectively and efficiently from the external conditions with the proper use of the concepts of Layering.

What is Layering?
In simple words, while trekking we go through a lot of physical movements which lead to heat generation in our body which is called body heat. With this generated body heat, the air between the clothes and the body gets hot. Adding another cloth over the earlier, a thin invisible layer of air is created that insulates heat. So the more clothes you wear, the more layers of air you create and more layers result in the warmer condition. So creating the layers of air accordingly is what we call ‘Layering’.With the increasing height and cold we add more layers to keep ourselves warm.

We divide Layers in 3 Parts.
  1. Base Layer
  2. Mid Layer
  3. Shell Layer

1. BASE LAYER
This layer will be directly connected to our body. As we hike, our body generates more heat than in normal condition. So this layer should be breathable and comfortable as we usually do not remove this layer during our journey.

One usually loses a lot of sweat during the climb, hence the fabric should be nicely fit and wick sweat so that we don’t catch a cold or emit body odour
It is a good practise to have extra base Layers.

Polypropylene, polyester, merino wool are good breathable and comfortable materials. Merino Wool has odour resistant property but its little expensive than others.

Full sleeved t-shirt or Long-necked thermal top is the trekking gears to protect from sunburns and insects. Front-zipped t-shirts help in ventilation.

2. MID LAYER
A mid layer is your prominent insulator. Make sure it is not something difficult to wear and trek with. An ideal mid layer clothe should be:
  • Light
  • Breathable
  • Stretchable
  • Dry Fit
Fleece and dry-fit trek pants can be used for the lower body.

3. OUTER/SHELL LAYER
Since the outer layer protects us from external conditions like rain, wind, snow etc hence it should be windproof and waterproof. We generally use water resistant, air resistant and synthetic fabric for this layer i.e. Windcheater, Raincoat and Trekking Jacket.

There is another costly fabric called Gore-Tex that is durable, windproof, waterproof, breathable and permeable to water vapour. Hiking pants in India made of Nylon, Spandex or Polyurethane are best to offer stretchability and comfort. 

There is another layer which can be used depending on convenience and situation called Hybrid Layer.

4. HYBRID LAYER
Hybrid layers are made of Fleece material from inner part and waterproof material outside.
These clothes have zip in front so we can pass some air whenever we feel hot from inside.

HEAD

The trekking jackets which we use for outer shell usually have an adjustable hood so that they can provide primary protection against cold and warmth to your head. This at times is not enough, we need Woolen Beanie or Fleece Cap to cover our temple and ears for complete protection as the cold increase in night.
It’s good to carry suncap too as there may be a clear weather and the direct sunlight too.
For a someone who wants a multi-utility for covering head, nose, face ears and neck, carrying a Balaclava will be a great option.

                                   Beanie Cap with Woolen Muffler

NECK

Balaclava as mentioned above can be a great protector of your neck. 

The extended neck collar of your outer shell or the base or mid-layer can be worthy in relatively when there is less cold. 

Bandana with a cotton fabric can be a multi-tasker in trekking essentials as we can use it for so many purpose like as a scarf to prevent sunburn, or a towel to wipe, or even as a mouth-protector in higher altitude.

PALMS 

Woollen gloves may seem like a good choice regarding the fact that woollen fabric provides more warmth. But they can get drenched in contact with water, rain or snow and for the rest of hike, your palms will feel numb. So the best choice is to go for synthetic and water-resistant gloves. 

One can also buy a pair of thin synthetic gloves and woolen gloves combination which can be used as per the situation.

FEET

Socks: 
A lightweight synthetic sock of ankle-length and a thicker cotton sports-socks of shin-length is a perfect combination. 

The inner socks wick sweat while the outer socks provide cushion and support. We can remove the outer layer if we feel warm. After reaching the base or campsite, change the inner socks to prevent bacterial infection or frostbite due to wetness. 

Woolen socks should be carried as they provide the most of the warmth while you sleep tucked under the sleeping bag. 

Shoes:
There is a lot of information about shoes and it keeps getting updated as and when new shoe types get released. For the sake of convenience we have chosen the most common 3 categories:

1. Hiking Boots
Hiking boots are heavy compared to other shoes but give you a lot of comfort while trekking in different terrains. They give us the torsional stiffness and ankle support. The sole of a Hiking boots is thick and bulky hence lasting long as compared to other type of shoes. Because of the thickness, the shoes protect us from uneven terrains. 

They can be waterproof so we can use it well in snowy treks too provided that they are made to sustain such conditions. 
Another important thing to keep in mind is that take a lot of time to dry if soaked in water.

They also usually provide less ventilation to legs so it’s better to take the shoes off after some time of trekking.


2. Trail Runners
Trail runners are used by the runners who run on different hiking trails, jungle trails or rough terrain. They provide good grip as well as they are light weight too. But they have no traction or very less traction on muddy or wet terrain. They have no ankle support and cushioning. We suggest to not use these shoes for longer hikes or treks.


3. Approach Shoes
Approach shoes are well ventilated and designed in such a way that we can use them in bouldering and short hiking. They provides good toe protection making it ideal if they trail is dominated by descends. These type of shoes provide good grip on rocky structures and loose surfaces, but fail to provide a strong grip on muddy terrain. If they get wet, they dry very quickly as they are nicely ventilated.


GAITERS

Gaiters strap over a shoe and around the person's leg to provide protection ideally from snow or thornes. It is very easy to wear and provide added protection to our legs.

Gaiters are very important in winter season as they protect our bottom layers from getting wet from snow as well as provide protection from thorns, mud in other seasons. We may find mud, wet grass, snow on himalayan treks hence having a Gaiter will be an advantage on lower altitude and a necessity in snow.

EYES 

In a Himalayan trek, we expose ourselves to the high intensity UV rays in high altitude terrains. The reflection of light from snow and ice from the surrounding can be harmful for our eyes. This may cause headache and dizziness. 

One of the major damage for our eyes is we may get snow blindness if we do not take care of our eyes with proper sunglasses.


We should use class 3 or class 4 category of sunglasses for our Himalayan Treks. You can know about different categories here: http://blog.decathlon.in/different-glass-categories-for-sports-sunglasses/. Any sunglass you use, make sure it is fully covers your eye thereby reducing the chance of unfiltered rays fitting your eyes.

Under every circumstance we suggest you to wear proper gear for your Himalayan Trek. Himalayas are wide and mighty and are a proof of the glory of mother nature but are also very extreme in terms of the differences from the city life. There is a very famous saying that if you are properly equipped then you have already completed half of your trek.

trekking , himalayas , himalayantrek , uttarakhnad , northindia , blog , clothing , altitude

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