When the leaves are falling and the weather is uncertain: How to dress for autumn?
Autumn hiking has its own unique charm with all the changing colours, but it also brings challenges to which you should not be indifferent. And the biggest challenge is, as you probably already guessed, the weather.
The inconsistency of the autumn weather is why you need to think carefully about your clothes for the mountains. And to make that preparation easier, so that your only concern is where your wandering boots will take you next, we decided to help you with that.
What problems does autumn bring?
As we've already outlined, you'll struggle mainly with the weather, or rather, its inconsistency. While the sun is shining and the wind is blowing softly at the moment, five minutes later you might be hit by a nasty downpour. But at the same time, unlike winter, it's still too warm to be able to flexibly manipulate 3-4 layers of clothing as needed. So what to do about it?
Merino as an honest autumn staple
If merino wool clothing is an outstanding choice all year round, it absolutely excels in typical autumn conditions. Too warm? Merino wool effectively wicks away all the excess moisture and keeps your body fresh, ready to keep walking. Too cold? Tiny air cushions will form in the structure of the merino wool to keep your body warm.
Simply clothing that adapts to whatever is going on out there. It really doesn't get any better for the fickle autumn conditions. And did we mention you can wear merino clothing for days at a time without washing?
Fleece jacket on that
A fleece jacket is the right choice when the autumn weather is like out of a catalogue. The temperatures have dropped too much for a short T-shirt to be enough. But it also wicks away sweat and moisture brilliantly, so it can keep the climate under your jacket really tip top. In dry conditions, the fleece jacket really is the queen, plus its softness makes it a favourite for such home wear too. It's not for nothing that they say wearing fleece is like carrying a warm hug with you.
The problem comes when it gets cloudy and drops start falling from the sky. While fleece is a synthetic material that doesn't soak up water too much, it's neither waterproof nor does it work particularly well with water repellent treatments. Your protection in the event of rain is thus, frankly, not much. That's why you need to have a waterproof layer ready in your pack.
Or rather a softshell jacket?
In autumn, fleece jackets and softshell jackets will literally fight for your favour. You'll appreciate a softshell jacket in the rain, when it can work with the water-repellent treatment to channel water droplets down the surface instead of soaking into the jacket. Don't confuse this with waterproofing though, it's temporary protection that won't be enough in a harsh downpour. We would have packed a waterproof layer in our backpack anyway.
Softshell jackets stand out in particular for their wind resistance. Their material is either extremely tightly woven or hides a windproof membrane - both designs are effective in combating uncomfortable wind.
Compared to fleece jackets, however, they are less warm, heavier and usually a little less affordable.
This battle simply has no winner; in an ideal world, both belong in your wardrobe.
Waterproof jacket (without insulation) on top, or in the backpack
A waterproof layer in your backpack is a must all year round, but this is especially true in autumn. The key, however, is to choose a waterproof layer that doesn't get too warm - that would simply be too much in autumn conditions. These jackets protect you from the cold by themselves by blocking the wind, plus your own body heat keeps you warm as you move. Add to all of that some of that warming padding, and you might as well be boiling in your own juices.
You can use this jacket all year round. Thanks to the membrane, it's breathable enough to keep you warm, it has all the right specs to protect you from rain and wind, but it also gives you enough room to fit extra layers underneath if you need to. So you can easily work with it all winter long, you just need to adjust the rest of your outfit to suit.