Chafing, blisters, B.O., and feeling the heat or cold more than you should are all symptoms of choosing the incorrect fabric. Here’s the dirt on our favourite hiking and running performance textiles.
It’s simple to make the decision to do anything outside. But choosing what to wear for hiking or jogging has become increasingly difficult. There are several performance textiles available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It goes without saying that spending time figuring out which hiking or running cloth would work best for you is worthwhile.
Natural Performance Fabrics
Choosing natural fabrics means choosing fabrics that are durable, biodegradable, and resistant to dirt, mould and odor. Here are a few of the most popular natural materials used in running and hiking apparel:
Merino wool is a high-performance fibre that is one of our top picks for hikers and runners. It’s long-lasting, odor-resistant, breathable, UV-protective, moisture-wicking, and won’t itch or create allergic responses. Plus, because of its moisture-wicking qualities, it will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Its antibacterial qualities and odour resistance make it ideal for longer treks and runners who don’t want to wash their garments every day. Imagine just having to bring two sets of underwear and socks on a week-long trip. What if you wore the same shirt for seven days without washing it? Merino wool allows for this. To make merino wool clothing as good as new again, just rinse it (rather than washing it with detergent) and hang it to dry.
Merino wool costs a bit more than comparable high-performance textiles. To get through the week, you won’t need as many t-shirts, socks, or pairs of underwear. Plus, you’ll save money on water and washing detergent, so the investment is generally worthwhile.
When to use merino wool for hiking or running:
Merino wool is ideal for longer treks or runs in milder regions, as well as for people who prefer natural fibres and/or want to reduce their plastic usage.
Cotton was originally the prefered cloth for outdoor enthusiasts from hotter climates. It’s long-lasting, low-cost, hypoallergenic, and quite comfortable, but it has a few flaws that make other materials preferable for trekking and jogging.
‘Cotton kills,’ as the adage goes in colder climates. Cotton absorbs moisture rather than wicking it away for evaporation, as the phrase implies. Cotton may make you feel warmer in the heat and colder in the cold by retaining this water, which isn’t ideal while you’re out enjoying the great outdoors.
When to use cotton for hiking or running:
If you want to go on a trek or run with cotton, make it a short one on a comfortable cold to warm day. Otherwise, cotton mixes, such as cotton/polyester, are great for performance textiles that will keep you dry and comfortable.
Down has a great weight-to-warmth ratio and is easy to compress. It’s derived from the warmth-trapping layer found on birds, thus it’s built to endure freezing conditions. Despite this, it is not waterproof, and when wet, it loses much of its warming properties.
When to use down for hiking or running:
I’ve only used down for jogging in temps below -25ºC, and that was only in an emergency. Down isn’t a smart choice for running if you aren’t in a really chilly climate.
Hiking, on the other hand, is a different story. If you’re going somewhere where you’ll be cold at the end of the day, down is a good option. If you’re going to be out in the rain, make sure you have a waterproof layer to throw over top!
Engineered Performance Fabrics
Polyester is by far the most prevalent and cost-effective performance fabric used in running and trekking clothing. It’s a non-absorbent, resilient, lightweight plastic fabric that repels UV rays and offers some insulation when wet. It does, however, have one big disadvantage: it stinks and must be washed on a regular basis.
Here are a few types of polyester that are great for outdoor use:
Fleece is a wonderful layer for supplementary insulation since it is warm, breathable, and lightweight. With many of the same advantages as wool, fleece is sometimes referred to as the less expensive sister. It will not, however, shield you from the wind or the rain. In fact, the rain will make it chilly and heavy.
While fleece may appear to be composed of natural fibres, it is usually constructed of polyester. As a result, it is less biodegradable than wool. To make fleece items a bit more ecologically friendly, several manufacturers incorporate recycled plastics; check the product descriptions for eco-conscious shopping.
When to use fleece for hiking or running:
Fleece is ideal for running or trekking in the still-cold weather. For windy or wet days, you’ll need to layer fleece with wind or waterproof layers. For winter runs above the arctic circle and in colder regions of Australia, I swear by my wind-resistant fleece lined leggings.
These are a go-to jacket for individuals who wish to be protected while sweating. They are warm, breathable, and flexible because they blend an insulating layer with a water-resistant outer layer. For jogging in chilly weather or light, dry snow, I prefer a soft shell jacket.
Hard shell jackets keep out the rain better than soft shell jackets. If you’re going somewhere moist rather than chilly, I’d recommend getting something with greater rain protection, especially if you’re doing a thru-hike. When you’ve got a long, wet day of trekking ahead of you, there’s nothing worse than being soaked (and cranky).
We all want to put on something that makes us look nice, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t just stop there. For me, it’s critical to be aware when purchasing and wearing clothing. LaSculpte is a firm that makes a difference in the world of sports and sportswear. They want to combine fashion and function by designing garments that make women feel good about themselves and encourage them to be more active. They have plus size shapewear and chlorine resistant swimwear. But the primary reason I wanted to support LaSculpte was because of the environmental work they perform. Their nylon is 100% recycled!