Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
There’s a phenomenon that happens several times a year in the Los Angeles area. It generally happens in the late fall and early spring. I’ve never taken statistics on this, but it seems to happen more in the spring, though I could be way off.
It doesn’t happen in the traditional sense, as it normally does in L.A., from a mugging, a stabbing or abduction. These deaths occur when people go hiking in the Angeles National Forest.
They’re not eaten by bears or mountain lions, which both exist in the area. They die because when they took off on their hike, it’s 90 degrees. They get lost, and before they find their way out, night falls on them, as well as extremely cold weather.
If you happen to be hiking in cotton, as most of these people usually are, then you don’t have the proper attire, and you can succumb to hypothermia. With exhaustion and dehydration, this could be deadly.
I told you that to tell you this. Back in the 1980s, I spent a lot of summers in Aspen, Colorado. I lead hikers up 12-14,000 foot peaks. Next to having enough water for hydration, the most important thing was making sure these folks had the right clothes. It’s commonly known in high-altitude hiking and mountaineering that cotton is the killer fabric.
What generally worked best back in the day was wool. It has great characteristics. If it’s next to your skin, it naturally wicks water away, keeping you warm and dry. You can actually sweat in wool over a several day period and generally not stink. The fabric doesn’t hang on to bacteria all that well. It’s my personal favorite.
I use wool arm and leg warmers on the bicycle. My favorite company is Ibex. I recommend buying from REI. My undershirts are usually a nice thin layer, generally by Ibex. Lately I’ve been loving another company called Icebreaker. Again, REI is the place to go. Both companies offer these wools in different weights.
Now for the problem with wool. Some people find that wool can be itchy on their skin. That may be true even with these brands, but they use the best quality wool they can, Merino.
If the itching won’t get you, there are other problems. It’s generally a little more expensive, and wool takes extra care. I have pieces from Ibex I have washed repeatedly for the past two years and they still hold up. The extra care is because you can’t stick it in the dryer.
The third material is polypropylene or capilene. Several companies sell this material. When I was a kid it was called polyester. But we all know you can’t charge a premium for something called polyester, so it needed a fancier name.
There’s no shortage of companies that sell these products. Some of the bigger names in the game: The North Face, Patagonia and Under Armour. I find these items to be as pricey as the wool stuff. The other problem is after several uses it hangs on to bacteria and begins to stink.
The good side is you can wash it and dry it. You can do anything you want with it. It’s made with petroleum products.
Remember, if you want to stay warm, try these products. And if you want to help keep this site up and running smoothly, shop through the vendors you find here, such as Amazon.
And if you want to save a little money, pull out that old polyester leisure suit, turn the pants into shorts, and try to convince your friends it’s the cool new look for the fall.