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My original clothing plan was to take cotton shirts, a hoodie, and jeans so I'm clearly a newbie. I've since bought all synthetic top layers and a jacket but when it comes to pants I'm wondering if cotton rather than a nylon or polyester type hiking pants would work out, provided I carried rain cover pants to go over top of the cotton pants. is that realistic or are there other downsides to cotton other than rain? My tramping location will be the Kahurangi forest
Nope, cotton is not a good choice (well, let's not equivocate, it's a *bad* choice). Jeans are about the worst choice of all. Rain pants or overpants won't keep you dry for long in a decent downpour. Their primary function is as a wind shield to limit heat loss. Wet cotton sucks out body heat and takes an age to dry (in good weather) and is heavy when wet. All that said, if you are tramping from hut to hut, expect to have a fire to dry out things, not spending much (if any) time on the exposed tops *and* have good overpants then maybe cotton pants would be OK (just). Summary : for pants ; polyester (and even better if the pocket linings are mesh or polyester, rather than cotton). For tops, don't overlook wool. 100gsm material is thin, machine washable, durable, light-weight, comfortable, absorbs sweat but doesn't smell, cool on a hot day, warm when wet. Thicker material for colder weather or add more layers. *edit* fixed a typo.
Cotton kills. Do not take cotton in NZ. No jeans, no cotton shirts, nothing whatsoever. Quite a few people had to die in order for the tramping community to learn that lesson.
I still wear cotton undies but I find the synthetic and wool ones chaff. Its not enough cotton to be a heat issue and everything else is wool or synthetic. If you shop round you can buy everything you need in synthetic cheaply enough but wool does cost a little more. Biggest problem with the cotton undies is when you do 2 hours down a river then 3 hours over dry land all your outer clothes are dry but you sit in someones car for the drive home and leave a wet spot. If you want to see the problem with cotton take your cotton hoody,a wool jersey and a synthetic fleece top and soak them all in the laundry sink. Hang them dripping on the line and see how they are drying after an hour or so. The synthetic will be dry and warm, the wool will still be damp but warm but the cotton will still be dripping wet and cold to touch.
I was trying to get out of buying pricey hiking pants, as cotton has more options at cheaper prices but I will definitely get some polyester pants which will make all my clothes I'll wear plus an extra set cottonless. I just watched a video where a guy in Canada I think, soaked jeans and nylon pants in water then hung them up for an hour, after the hour he brushed off the ice on the nylon pants then basically cracked the jeans trying to fold them. Geeves, I was the opposite, just switched from cotton to synthetic underwear, ones that are similar to compression shorts and found I had no chaff at all, I usually get it pretty bad but these have been a big help.
Yeah good move, cotton is shit in the mountains, it actually makes you colder when wet, meaning you're warmer naked than wearing wet cotton. For chafing, get some Body Glide or carry a small amount Neat 3B chaf cream. If you have consistent chafing issues you might want to consider spending some decent money on long-leg boxer briefs as well.
For basic beginer gear forget the tramping shops and go to the Warehouse. Polyester rugby shorts 12 bucks not 60 Polyester cool dry t shirts $8 not 70 Polyester fleece trousers $25 not 130 I would however splash out on a decent fleece top though as its hard to tell which Warehouse ones are good and which ones are not unless you know what to look for. The tramping shop gear is better in terms of comfort and the warehouse shorts crackle as you walk but otherwise it works just as well. Do read the lables though. Their cooldry brand can be good but I have seen it used on cotton gear a couple of times. You want 100% polyester or polypropylene or nylon for base layers and polyester or merino wool for top layers. If you buy merino you need to get the quality stuff. The cheap doesnt last. Icebreaker costs a fortune but I know people that wear it exclusively and its lasted for years.
'Yea nah" bro - if theres a number 1 rule to tramping clothing - its "no cotton." Its easy to get cheap gear - if thats your goal - that isnt cotton - as Geeves points out - get some Warehouse shorts, and you could also polypro leggings, they are cheap and excellent in bad weather - keeps the wind off you to a certain degree and are good in the scrub. Any type of rainpants over your shorts, or both, will work fine.
You would be better off without long trousers than wearing cotton. Follow the advice here - get a cheap pair of shorts for walking in. Most of the time just your rain pants will be enough.
I ended up getting everything and it was really cheap, shorts were $10 polyester shorts from kmart, got a couple of short and long sleeve polyester shirts as a base layer which was only $5 each from kmart, pants are poly nylon for $20 from the warehouse. Was gonna get a fleece from the Warehouse but took Geeves advice and spent a little more on that and got one from Kathmandu, fairly cheap though, it was $60 Everything packs way smaller than cotton too as an extra bonus. Thanks guys, dunno why I was so set on taking cotton pants in the first place, but glad I asked here first.
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