Tip #35 – (Not very) Breathable Hard-Shells

By 17th December 2018 Resources, Tips

(Not very) Breathable Hard-Shells

A breathable hard-shell jacket is one of the essential items of clothing/equipment that every mountain walker/climber should have, and it can literally be a life-saver. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to wear them all the time.

A previous tip was about staying dry (an essential component of staying warm and avoiding hypothermia), through the tactic of ‘be bold, start cold’. This means not wearing too many layers as you start the day’s walk. Too many insulating layers will mean that overheat very quickly as soon as the exercise raises your heart-rate, and you will start to sweat as the body tries to cool itself down.

An additional dimension to this is not to wear a “waterproof” hard-shell unless it is actually raining. Despite all the claims of them being “breathable”, they are simply not breathable enough. As a result, if we are wearing one and working hard then we will inevitably sweat more and get wet from the inside.

Instead, ensure your layering system includes a lightweight windproof garment (or heavier-duty soft-shell) which you can wear to keep the wind off, but which is inherently more breathable. There are a variety of such jackets available, ranging from the very lightest of wind-proof shirts, through mid-weight soft-shells and on to the heavy-duty soft-shells. By wearing or carrying one of these, according to the prevailing conditions, then you can avoid wearing the hard-shell when it’s not required.

Reserve the hard-shell for when it is actually raining/snowing.