Clothing Advice for Autumn Walking and Camping

Going walking in the Autumn can provide an awesome visual experience with views of trees changing colour from green through to yellow and red. Bracken on the hillside becoming brown gives the fells a whole new look. On sunny days, with the nights drawing in, you can often see the countryside in the glow of the golden hour just before the sun goes down.

Lake District Fells with brown bracken on the lower slopes
Shades of brown in the Lake District during Autumn. Source: Flickr by Marilyn Peddle.

The Autumn also brings us changeable weather. Its not unusual to get a taste of all four seasons over the course of 24 hours. A hot, sunny afternoon with clear skies can lead to a cold night with a frost in the morning. This can be followed by a strong wind bringing in bank of rain and milder temperatures.

With such varying conditions it can be difficult to know what kit to take with you. You need protection from the cold and wet yet do not want to carry lots of gear or get overheated if its warm.

Outdoors Clothing for Autumn

As ever, the layering system is important since it can be used to control your temperature. Whilst walking on sunny day in Autumn you’ll probably be warm enough in just a base layer. If its mild you can often get away with base and layer and a mid layer but you will also need something that will hold off a cold wind, especially if you are higher up in the fells. A softshell jacket is ideal in this situation. The softshell will protect you from light rain showers, however you must also take a waterproof shell to protect you from heavy or persistent rain and cold winds. As soon as the sun has gone the temperature will drop, so around camp you will need to take warm clothing, such as an insulated jacket.

Clothing for walking and hiking in the Autumn
Autumn Layers. Clockwise from top left: Berghaus Tech Tee base layer, Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Zip Top mid layer, The North Face Durango Hoodie softshell, The North Face Stratos waterproof jacket.

A thin wicking base layer, such as Berghaus Tech Tee, with a weight of around 200g is ideal for your baselayer. Next up some insulation from a low- or mid-weight fleece, such as the Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Zip top, with a weight of around 350g. Wearing a mid-layer with a front zip is a good idea since the zip can be used to control your temperature without you having to take off your mid-layer.

For mild to cool Autumnal weather a softshell jacket is an excellent choice for your next later. Softshells are warm, breathable, windproof and water resistant. They will protect you from light showers and prevent you from getting too hot. Jackets such as the Durango Hoodie from The North Face or the Jorasses from Berghaus are ideal.

With any luck your waterproof outer shell will stay in your rucksack, but if you’re unlucky and there is persistent rain it will be vital. The fabric should have a high level of breathability as well as being waterproof, for example, Goretex Active, The North Face Hyvent 2L or Berghaus AQ2.5. Suitable waterproof jackets include the Berghaus RG Delta and The North Face Stratos.

Women's Kiwi walking trousers from Craghoppers
Craghoppers Women’s Kiwi Trousers are comfortable and quick drying

In the autumn, medium-weight trekking trousers with a Durable Waterproof Repellency (DWR) finish such as Craghoppers Kiwi trousers are a good choice. They will keep your legs warm without being too heavy duty and will dry fairly quickly in the event of a light rain shower. Softshell trousers are also a good choice and can provide more protection from the rain. You will need a light- to medium-weight pair of waterproof over-trousers in case of heavy or persistent rain.

Having been growing all summer long foliage is at its highest and will be wet if it has been raining. Gaiters will keep the bottom of your trousers dry and are particularly worth wearing if you are not wearing waterproof trousers.

It is also worth taking a pair of lightweight waterproof gloves and a hat, especially if you are planning to camp.

Your choice of walking footwear will largely depend on the terrain and duration of your walk. Since rain can be expected, footwear that incorporates a breathable, waterproof membrane is required.

Once the clocks have gone back, it is easy to get caught up on the fells in darkness. Throughout the autumn, winter and spring it is good practice to always take a torch with working batteries in case your walk takes longer than you anticipated.

Footpath flanked by a dry stone wall and trees with autumn coloured leaves
The wonderful colours of tree in Autumn. Source: Flickr by Marilyn Peddle.

Additional Clothing for Camping in the Autumn

The Cumulus insulated jacket from Jack Wolfskin
It can get cold once the sun goes down. An insulated Jacket will keep you warm.

In the autumn it can get cold once the sun has gone down, with temperatures reaching freezing if there is a clear sky. Whilst you are around camp and no longer active you are likely to feel the cold. A light to medium weight insulated jacket or vest (gilet) will provide thermal insulation and keep you warm. Insulated jackets are made with either synthetic or down filling. Suitable garments include Jack Wolfskin’s Cumulus Jacket and The North Face Redpoint Vest.

If you are camping out overnight you will also need a three season tent or bivvy bag, a sleeping bag with a comfort temperature below zero and a camping mattress.

Autumn Walking/Camping Clothing Summary

Be prepared for changeable weather conditions in the Autumn! You can experience sun, rain, wind and cold over a 24 period. Use the layering system to give you the flexibility to remain comfortable whatever the conditions. You will need a thin base layer, a medium weight fleece mid-layer, a softshell jacket and a waterproof shell. It is likely to get cold overnight, so if you are camping an insulated jacket or vest will help keep you warm.

Our trio of top tips are:

1. Control your microclimate through the use of zips on your garments
2. Do not wait until you are cold before you put your next layer on
3. Always take one more layer than you think you will need


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