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Wet weather gear

Your outer layer should be designed to protect you from wind and rain, working with your insulating layer to keep you at the right temperature. However to do this effectively it also has to allow the moisture that you are generating to escape; otherwise your inner layers will become damp and greatly increase the risk of your becoming cold.

lochglendhu.jpgWet weather gear has become increasingly sophisticated over the past few decades. Impermeable layers of plastic which certainly kept water out, but also kept it in, have been superseded by a host of 'breathable' fabrics. The best known is probably still 'Goretex' but there are many others that work in a similar way. The basic principle is to have a membrane that blocks larger water droplets getting in but allows moisture vapour to pass out.

Other fabrics keep you dry by constantly wicking water outwards, rather in the same way as an animal's fur does. This method can also be very effective.

Breathable waterproofs are no longer prohibitively expensive. The more costly garments may have more pockets, greater reinforcement for places where they may wear, and more sophisticated hoods. But even the less pricey waterproofs can work well. It just depends how much you want to spend and what value you place on style and the finer technical qualities.

Some pairs of walking trousers have a degree of waterproofing; some are even as waterproof as a jacket (though this is generally at some cost in terms of weight and bulk). Otherwise you will want a pair of overtrousers, which can come in heavy, lightweight and breathable waterproof fabrics. Breathability is less on an issue than with jackets and in many circumstances you may be happy with a very lightweight pair of overtrousers that packs into a small sack. In every case, though, check that you can put the trousers on without having to take off your boots.

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