Out running today I really noticed the golden colouring of the fallen leaves now that Autumn has arrived here in the NorthWest of England. Kicking through the carpet of colour that this creates always has me thinking about the song by Paul Vigrass and Gary Osborne (later re-recorded by Justin Hayward for War of the Worlds).
Not being able to get the song out of my head for a few miles, i began thinking about how the change of appearance in Nature is a reversal of how we approach the cooling of the seasons. As Nature sheds it’s gown, we tend to add ours and begin layering to keep out the chill.
I was working with a group doing some outdoor medical training and was struck by the lack of layering used by some the students. There was a range from pile and pertex Buffalo style tops which could be unzipped to ventilate when moving and generating heat, through to highly technical fabrics in multiple layers over which a belay style jacket was applied when static. Both effective in their own ways, but each with limiting factors.
I tend to run hot when active in the mountains and my autumn into winter clothing system has recently included a 200 weight merino wool base layer, over which I will wear a mid weightsoft shell and if needed, a hard shell. A belay jacket has been my overlaying option for colder stops and belay stances.
Since the spring, I have managed to shed 16 Kg of excess body weight, and as a consequence, have had to replace a large proportion of the contents of my wardrobe. I am now trying to make as much of my kit multi functional and usable across mountaineering, trekking and running as much as possible. I have taken this opportunity to rethink my layering and start from the bottom up (pun intended). The base layer is now a 100 weight merino (Icebreaker), over which I have a slightly heavier mid layer (Ron Hill Advance Victory Hoodie ) then an Arc’teryx Alpha SL Hoodie. Conditions dependent, a lightweight Montane Minimus hard shell or Paramo Quito Jacket covers this. The variety of my older Montane Superfly Xt gives a harder wearing shell for use in Scottish winter conditions, or for more Alpine wear I have a (too large) Rab Sawtooth Hoodie for which I am now looking for a replacement (suggestions welcome). I may look to try something like the Thermoball as a replacement for my older Rab Generator.
So far, this combination has worked well for trekking in the Dolomites, wilderness medical training in Scotland, and has been a good layering system for general travel.
The imminent running holiday in Cornwall, then ice climbing in Cogne will undoubtedly test my choices further.