When exploring the great outdoors, it’s essential to dress in a way that will make you comfortable and help you enjoy your experience. There is no “right” way to dress for a day of hiking or camping, but some outfits are better than others. In this blog post, we will explore the best outfits to wear when you’re exploring the countryside!
Dressing for the Occasion
The first thing to remember when deciding what to wear in the countryside is to determine the occasion you are attending. Is it a trip to the local county town to do some shopping? A serious hike in the backcountry? Or even just tramping around the village duck pond with the kids?
Whatever it is, it will inevitably affect how you choose to dress.
The location is also a decisive factor in how you dress regarding exposure and altitude. Up the side of hills or mountains carries the risk of wind suddenly coming in and exposing you to the elements.
It usually pays to play it safe in the countryside and to allow for more time than you might think an activity will take. Especially if you are planning on hiking, wear clothes that suit a broader range of temperatures than what you might be used to.
Coastal areas carry their own set of weather factors. You might also want to take the opportunity to dip in the sea or sunbathe on the beach if the sun breaks through. So, take some sandals, a towel, and swimwear with you.
Staying Warm and Dry
The British weather is a mystery unto itself. Other places in the world have more consistent weather.
The universal rule is that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. It’s all about planning, however good the sky looks.
I always use the Dark Sky app on my iPhone (now integrated with Apple Weather) to check at least the next hour’s weather, if not later in the day. That way, I can pack to allow for whatever weather might be coming my way.
One rule is to layer clothing. This means instead of wearing one very heavy chunky sweater; it’s much better to put several lighter layers on which you can take off if it gets hotter or add if it starts to get colder.
One of my favorite undergarments in the winter months is a Merino wool undershirt made by Icebreaker. Known as a ‘base layer’, it’s fabulous at keeping the warmth in while not making you feel sweaty.
Merino wool also continues to smell good even if you need to wear it for a few days, if necessary, before washing it. Unlike synthetic fabrics.
Footwear and perhaps hiking boots are the other things to get right. I firmly believe in not compromising the quality of walking shoes. Scarpa is great in terms of quality, durability, and comfort.
I wear a pair of Scarpa GTX year-round and full-on walking boots from Scarpa (Sl Active) that cover me in more extreme conditions or hikes.
More locally, a good pair of wellies are ideal in the English countryside in muddier conditions. Although the brand Hunter has a good reputation, a French brand, Chameau, appears to be even better. They are not cheap, but these are the kinds of things that you buy once every decade and are worth getting right.
Waterproof Jacket or Waterproof Coat
There is no way around it; in the countryside, it rains—a lot. Nothing will ruin a fun day more than getting soaked to the skin just because you forgot to bring a waterproof jacket. And don’t worry about being too hot; the style and fit of modern rain jackets are such that you will hardly know it’s there.
One of the choices ahead of you is whether to go with a wax jacket to keep the rain out or whether you want to go more modern and choose a Gore-Tex climbing ‘shell’ jacket or similar.
I prefer the more modern fabrics since I found things like the Barbour waxed jacket quite heavy and only really workable in the rain and cold. That said, in terms of style, the Barbour Jacket holds its own – though you don’t need to drag it around the field behind a tractor to get the worn-in look!
The other piece of clothing I find incredibly useful during winter is a Rab jacket. I own the Rab Summit, which is a superb piece of gear. It keeps me warm and is quite stylish. It’s not too bulky in appearance.
Is There a Country Style?
Britain used to have a country style associated with the upper classes. This was the kind of clothing they would wear when engaging in field sports like hunting, shooting, and so forth. A tweed jacket was almost de rigeur. Out of this classic British style has emerged a kind of preppy style, which you can still see in the British countryside.
I think that almost everything goes. The great thing about British style, including country style, is that it can be very individual and not follow conventions. Meaning that you can place more emphasis on comfort and warmth rather than looking the nth degree out in the middle of the countryside.
You don’t have to be a fashionista!
One thing you might want to avoid unless you plan to be in a town, fishing, or on a golf course would be umbrellas. They are not practical or appropriate once you enter the fields and woods. Not to mention that even a little wind will ruin your umbrella plan.
Nor do you want to wear city shoes out on country walks. You end up breaking your shoes and will look ridiculous in the process.
Usually attending a special occasion like a wedding, where a dress code might apply, the look to go for is a smart-casual outfit—adding something like a sports jacket ups the image if you want to come across that way. Otherwise, for almost all occasions, a jumper is excellent, or long sleeve shirts in cooler months, or things like polo shirts in the summer.
Things like the new generation of walking trousers can be helpful and stylish if rain is around. The basic idea is not that they are entirely impermeable to water but instead dry out exceptionally quickly once it stops raining or you get inside.
Manufacturers like Rab make walking trousers acceptable for use in town or the country. You won’t look too out of place, and you know that if the sky opens, you won’t end up with soaking trousers.
In the States, the country style is much more like boots, jeans, and a long shirt. A style that has morphed across to Britain in recent years.
What to Pack for a Country Weekend?
Although your weather app might tell you that it’s going to be dry weather over the weekend, you’d be silly not to pack at least one raincoat or similar. A light backpack would be ideal if going out for a country walk, together with a bottle of water. This means that you’re covered for all occasions.
If you want to treat yourself to a nice lunch or dinner, you might also want to take smart clothing to wear in the evening. At the very least, a smart jumper.
A Personal Choice
Dressing in the countryside is very much a personal choice. It’s really about what makes you comfortable and feels good. That said, you always need to take account of the weather and, in particular, try to keep in mind what I said above about layers of clothing. That way, you can enjoy your day and evenings in the countryside.