Insulation (Extra Clothing)

How much extra clothing is necessary for an emergency? The garments used during the active portion of an outing include thick socks, boots, underwear, pants, shirt, sweater or fleece jacket, hat, mittens or gloves, and rain gear. The term “extra clothing” refers to additional layers that would be needed to survive the long, inactive hours of an unplanned bivouac.

Extra clothing depends on the season and climate you normally hike in. Certainly you should check on the weather conditions prior to a trip and carry extra clothing based on a reasonable worse case scenario.

However, you might consider certain items of sufficient utility to carry at all times.

  • Watch cap: of Wool or Polyester knit. Always welcome when it gets chilly. Heat loss of up to 30 percent occurs from the uncovered head.
  • Lightweight long underwear: Long sleeve top and bottom of synthetic fabric. Provides insulation next to the body in case of hypothermia.
  • Thin windproof anorak or jacket. For outer protection. You can even stuff dry leaves, etc between the jacket and your inner layer for additional insulation

There is a stretch polyester knit tube about 12-18 inches long called a “turtle neck” or “neck tube” that can be used as a neck gaiter, neck-to-head hood, head band or, twisted and doubled, as a watch cap.

In my Ten Essentials Kit I carry a neck tube, and optionally, a set of lightweight long underwear. On occasion, I will include a shell jacket and / or a down vest.


Jim Yuen March, 2002
revised April 2008