How to choose thermal underwear for hiking and climbing

How to choose thermal underwear for hiking and climbing

This article is for those who are just starting their camping life and have not yet had time to acquire everything they need. Many people who are starting long hikes today do so using the services of companies that organize hikes and climbs around the world for beginners. Thus, safety is ensured and unnecessary and such expensive time is not wasted on the organization.

In such cases, camping is usually carried out according to the provided list of clothes and equipment. It makes sense to rent some things on the first trips, while others should be purchased immediately. First of all, you probably need to buy trekking shoes and underwear. Almost in any list of equipment for a serious trip - wherever you are going - in summer or winter, there will be an item "thermal underwear".

For what type of clothing there are so many myths, opinions and unjustified expectations as about thermal underwear.

What is thermal underwear?

Many novice tourists and climbers are confused by the very name "thermal underwear". It seems to them that the main function of clothes with this name is to warm. Myths are being born that no frost is terrible in good thermal underwear. It is not true. Somewhat more accurately reflects the functionality of the underwear layer of another name - "functional underwear". The main function is to REMOVE MOISTURE FROM THE BODY. Only for laundry intended for sedentary spending time in cold conditions, moisture removal is an auxiliary function, and warming is the main function. First of all, these are clothes for winter fishing and hunting from an ambush. For active tourism, mountaineering, travel, it is the removal of moisture from the body that is the primary task of the underwear layer.

The fact is that sweat, lingering near the body, leads to an increase in the moisture content of the clothes and significantly increases the heat loss of the body. In strong winds, wet clothing contributes even more to hypothermia (hypothermia) of the body. That is why it is often not necessary to put on a heap of warm clothes, in order not to freeze, it is enough to put on thermal underwear and wind protection (if the wind is blowing).

How does thermal underwear work?

The inner surface of thermal underwear is in maximum contact with the skin and, due to its properties, efficiently and quickly absorbs the released moisture. There is no special magic here - in order for the system to start working, a layer of moisture must form between the surface of the body and the inner layer of linen, which will tend to a space with less moisture - outward.

It is important that the material itself does not absorb moisture, but only transports it outside, otherwise there is a cooling effect with wet clothes, which is extremely undesirable. An exception is clothing made of natural wool, which absorbs some of the moisture inside the fibers, while the outer part of the fiber in contact with the body has hydrophobic properties and practically does not cause an unpleasant cooling effect.

The next step in the work of thermal underwear is the evaporation of moisture from the outer layer of the material to the outside - into the air or into the upper layers of clothing. The transport of moisture from the inner to the outer layer of tissue occurs mainly due to the so-called capillary effect, which we know from biology lessons. And in order for the moisture to evaporate quickly, the maximum area of ​​the upper surface of the fabric is required, which is achieved by using fibers other than the inner layer. The "loose" structure of the material greatly increases its surface, and hence the efficiency of evaporation. Of course, in order for the fairy tale to come true, it is necessary to use real thermal underwear, and not surrogates.

Thermal Underwear - Team Player

Now it is quite obvious to us that "thermal underwear" actually warms no more than any other clothing of the same density and composition. The super effect is achieved not by the heat-insulating properties of the material, but by its ability to keep the body dry during physical exertion. This means that the more you move and/or the more varied the schedule of your physical activity (either standing or moving intensively), the more benefit from thermal underwear. At night, in a sleeping bag, you are not so much warmed by thermal underwear as by the sleeping bag itself and the "placebo" effect. Many people just enjoy the feeling of a tight-fitting body.

In cold weather, others dress on top of the first layer and the correct effect of a dry and warm body can be achieved only by team play. The second layer, with active movement in cold weather, should easily pass through itself the moisture removed from the body, without retaining (not absorbing) it. Materials such as fleece and softshell do the best for this. They stay dry, which means they will warm you perfectly. If your movement takes place in rain or wind, a third, protective layer of clothing is also needed, worn over the first two. It is desirable that it be made of a material with a good membrane, which will have selective permeability - to breathe from the inside, and not to let wind and precipitation outside. The higher the breathability of the membrane, the less moisture removed from the body will accumulate on its inner surface. Remember these simple clothing guidelines.

How to choose thermal underwear for hiking and climbing

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How to choose trekking socks (thermal socks)

What kind of animal is this, which is full on the shelves of tourist shops. Your feet, or rather your feet, being in trekking shoes, are exposed to a solid load, friction and friction, which negatively affects your health. Namely, in order to reduce all these factors, socks for trekking - thermal socks are called to your aid. But, since thermal socks are not just socks, but a technological product, then their choice must also be approached with intelligence and certain knowledge. So how to choose thermal socks and how to choose trekking socks? - I will try to answer it briefly.

To begin with, thermal socks, first of all, are part of functional clothing (like thermal underwear) serves to remove moisture from the body and keep warm in the winter version, and simply to drain moisture in the summer version. How this happens can be found in this article: How to choose thermal underwear. Based on the principle of thermal underwear, we can draw the first conclusion on how to choose socks for trekking shoes - thermal socks should be exactly the size of your foot, fit it well, but in no case press.

The next thing to notice is that socks are divided into different groups of use: 1. Training socks (for running, tennis, etc.) - for example, 2. Socks for trekking shoes - like this; 3. Socks for winter sports (skis) like this; 4. Daily socks are like this.

What's the difference between them? Workout socks are a branch of trekking socks or socks that are especially tailored for a particular shoe. Socks for every day ... well, these are socks for every day without any special "troubles" - just high quality and comfortable. But socks for trekking and socks for winter sports have similarities, but at the same time they are radically different.

Let's start from afar. At the heart of any thermal sock is a strong frame made of reinforced threads. This frame is the reason for the very long service life of such socks. Other materials are woven directly into this frame, which are divided into zones - these zones and materials play the role of the difference between a ski sock and a trekking one.

What kind of zones are these? When walking in a boot in the mountains and skiing, loads are applied to the toe in different zones and with different intensities. Everyone knows that the socks are rubbed either on the toes or on the heel, which suggests that there is increased friction there. In this regard, on trekking socks in these areas, special wear-resistant threads are woven that save the foot from chafing and rapid wear of the sock. In ski boots, the load is different - no one walks in the mountains, but when skiing, there is a load on the ankle in the upper part, and in order to reduce the pressure in this area, there are certain soft seals on the toes that make skiing comfortable. In addition, ski socks, as a rule, are not socks, but knee-highs, unlike trekking ones. We conclude that thermal socks, in addition to removing moisture, serve for a long time (sometimes more than one season) and protect the foot from friction and boot pressure.

How to decide on the choice of thermal underwear for travel? How to choose thermal underwear for mountain climbing or for regular hikes or trekking.

Walking on uneven ground, and even with a weighty backpack, is by no means an easy task. Therefore, you need to choose hiking equipment responsibly. In particular, this applies to shoes, since the distance will have to be covered. You cannot use ordinary sneakers for this. You need shoes that you can wear on shallow water, sharp rocks or gravel roads. Therefore, tourists and travelers buy special footwear - trekking boots. They are distinguished by high strength and low weight. The shoe protects your ankles and makes hiking comfortable even on the most challenging trails. A review-rating of the TOP 10 best hiking boots will help you choose the best option.

Features and main characteristics of trekking shoes

The main feature of the trekking shoe is the rubber outsole with multidirectional treads for optimal traction. The production uses materials such as aramid fiber, polyester, genuine leather and suede. Italian firms retain their undisputed leadership in the market. Companies from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Poland are trying to keep up.

Types of boots

Hiking boots are divided into 3 categories for easy selection:

  • for simple hiking and light trekking (hiking);
  • classic trekking shoes;
  • products for mountaineering and multi-day difficult hikes.

Hiking Shoes

Designed for short hikes (for example, on weekends) on hard and paved mountain trails, as well as walks in the city. At the same time, the weight of the backpack does not exceed 10-15 kg. Many models look like low-toed boots or sneakers. The outsole is not too hard, but durable, contains EVA rubber. The upper combines leather and textile elements, has many seams (this enhances the "breathable" effect. Membrane material is often used.

  • relatively weak fixation of the lower leg. For novice tourists, this increases the likelihood of injury;
  • protectors that are not prepared for movement on talus, rocky and loose soil, off-road.


This shoe provides a secure fit to the shin and has a stiff sole. The sole is made of multi-layer. It combines denser EVA rubber than lightweight models and several varieties of polyurethane. The toe area has an additional rubber or polyurethane insert. The upper is a combination of suede, leather, mesh and membrane fabrics. Expensive models are made from a single piece of leather. For all its reliability, the shoe is not suitable for mountaineering, as falling stones will quickly damage the seams.

Heavy trekking boots

We are talking about hikes on rugged terrain with no trails. It is advisable to buy such boots for multi-day hikes in various weather conditions (backpack weight from 25 kg). The sole is multi-layered, firm and thick, allowing you to reliably fix your foot on wet rocks, mud or grass. Some models are equipped with a rear welt for securing small crampons. The bootlegs are high and snug for waterproofness. For the manufacture of the top, a single piece of leather or nubuck is used (a membrane layer is required). The disadvantage of such models is the relatively low comfort and significant weight (this is a kind of payment for all other advantages).

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