When I started backpacking in 1981, my original walking clothing was an itchy wool plaid shirt, ex-police wool trousers that weighed a ton, an armed forces ‘wooly-pully’ jumper, an early fleece that the wind used to whistle through, and “boil-in-the-bag” non-breathable waterproofs. Over the years I have gradually upgraded everything to the best quality synthetic materials I can afford within my budget.

My original thermal base layers were hand knitted by my wife, these were effective but bulky and heavy in my pack. The manufactured replacements I now have are far lighter, but I very rarely need to wear them while walking in the mountains in May and September. I would only do that on winter day walks when it’s below 12°C. In temperatures above that I become uncomfortably warm in them, and I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly “hot” person, more of the opposite, I have always believed. When backpacking, my base layers are used mainly as sleepwear but even then I sometimes become too hot, and struggle to remove them in my sleeping bag. If it’s particularly chilly in the morning I’ll keep them on for a while, but I remove them before I pack up and move off.

While walking, my Paramo Trail microfleece shirt is all I need on my top half in average conditions, plus a fleece hat if it’s a little bit chilly – the latter can go on and off all day, depending on how cold or warm I feel at the time. I think the effort of walking is enough to keep me warm, combined with my pack keeping my back warm and shielding it from breezes; I expect my windproof trousers help the overall body temperature, too. Only if it is much colder than usual do I add my fleece pull-on while walking, otherwise I only put this on when I stop for a lunch break or stop to camp, for I quickly start to cool down when I’m not moving. Stopping for breaks and evenings/mornings while camping are also the only times my insulated jacket is used.

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