There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. That saying couldn’t be any more true.
We’ve all been there, we’ve under-dressed for the occasion, we’ve checked the forecast and it’s showing no sign of rain. We throw on a pair of jeans, trainers and down jacket. We’ve been standing along the cliffs edge shooting mighty seascapes, or in a field shooting a lone tree when out of nowhere the heavens open and we’re drenched. It’s a long and uncomfortable walk back to the car with wet feet and jeans.
To ensure you’re as comfortable as possible during our workshop and tour, it’s best to come prepared with the right clothing.
This guide will provide you the basic information on how to dress properly for the various weather conditions we’re going to experience on my tours.
PLEASE NOTE: Everyone has different thresholds when it comes to keeping warm. Only you can know your own threshold. If you think you’ll be harder to heat, then it goes without saying to pack extra layers to keep you warm.
The Layering System
To keep it simple, it’s best to dress yourself using the layering system.
Use more thinner layers rather than less thick layers. By using more thinner layers, it allows you to adapt your body temperature to suit any condition. If you’re too warm, you can take a layer or 2 off. If you’re too cold, then you can add another insulating layer.
It goes without saying that the layering system works on BOTH your torso and your legs. So remember that if you’re buying new gear. It always surprises me the amount of people who actually forget about wrapping up their legs – and I’m guilty of this at times to!
The basics of the layering system is as follows:
The Base Layer – Underwear Layer
As the title suggest, this layer is worn next to your skin. It’s main purpose is to wick sweat away from your skin. Synthetic materials such as polypropylene and polyester are fantastic at wicking away moisture from your skin.
A personal favourite of mine as a baselayer is from the material Merino wool. It’s great at keeping you warm, but also keeping you cool, with the added bonus that after wearing it for a week it still smells good 😉
It is advised to stay well clear of cotton as a base layers as it holds onto any moisture and as you stop walking etc you will very quickly become cold!
The Middle Layer – Insulating Layer
The next layer in the layering system is the insulation layer. This is where the heat is stored and the layer that keeps you warm. An example of an insulating layer is either a fleece, woolen jumper, or a down jacket.
You find me wearing a downjacket 90% of the time even during the summer. It keeps me warm, but I can take it off and stuff the entire jacket into its own pocket. Another great thing about the downjacket is that they’re extremely light.
During the winter you’ll find me supporting my Icelandic Woolen Jumper.
If you find yourself still cold with your insulation layer on, then you can double up by adding a fleece to your downjacket, or adding a downjacket to your fleece. Just remember to go for the thinner fleeces and not the thicker ones!
The Outer Layer – Protection from the Elements
The last in the layering system is the outer shell. This layer is top layer and the one that will be protecting you from the rain and stopping the wind from cutting ye clean in half!
Your outer shell needs to be breathable so don’t be coming with a fisherman’s waterproof jacket and trousers LOL!
It’s best that your outer shell be either a Hard Shell or an Insulated waterproof Jacket.
The hard shells are usually made of gortex and will protect you against the most hard weather conditions. Make sure it has taped seams.
On my legs I’ll wear either Fjallraven Arktis Trousers or Fjallraven Nils Trousers with Greenland Wax applied to windproof and waterproof them. If the weather is really wet, then I’ll wear a pair of overtrousers.
So we’ve covered the layering system which applies to BOTH your torso and legs, next we’ll move onto the rest of your body.
Footwear – Boots – Ideally you’ll be wanting a good pair of boots as this will offer better ankle support for some of the uneven ground we’ll be walking on. Next thing you’re looking for in boots is how waterproof they are. Probably worthwhile bringing a spare pair of laces as well.
Footwear – Wellies / Gumboots – When shooting water or beaches it’s nice to be able to stand in the water, but also be guaranteed that you’re not going to have wet feet! (Specific to Iceland/Norway & Faroe Islands)
Spikes/Cleats (Winter Specific) – cleats are tiny spikes that go over your boots, they stop you from slipping on ice, they are mandatory on my winter tours. I use these.
Socks – I wear winter socks all year round. Merino wool again is my favourite as these keep my feet nice and toasty, reduce the smells 😉 but if your feet happen to get wet, they will keep your feet warm as well.
Hat – It’s essential to keep your head and ears warm. A good woolen hat is highly recommended, if I’m finding my head still feels cold, the next layer for my head will be the hood from my outer shell.
Gloves – If your hands get cold, it’s game over trying to operate your camera, tripod or anything else you need to use. I’m sure you know that exact feeling when they become less responsive due to the cold. When it comes to the type of gloves you need to buy, it’s hard to say to be honest. I personally can get away with a thin pair of gloves in temperatures to probably about -5°c after that I need a slightly thicker pair. You can also buy silk liners that you can wear inside your gloves for a layer system.
Scarf – Personally I don’t use a scarf, but I do use a thermal neck gaiter.
Hand Warmers – go onto Amazon and just do a search for handwarmers, get them bought and you’ll thank me later. Keep these bad boys in your pocket and you’ll fall in love with them, you can even slip them inside your gloves as well. You can also buy a USB handwarmer too, better for the environment.
Other – Something else I’d be lost without is a pair of braces on my trousers to help keep them up. When you’re doing any walking/hiking and your sweating it’s just uncomfortable trying to pull up the trousers.
Towel – I don’t think I need to explain why to bring a towel 🙂