A simple list of outdoor apparel you should own
This article aims to be a simple guide to outdoors(wo)man's wardrobe, so he or she will have means to stay comfortable in most weather types. All of the items here can be found at Varusteleka of course, but you might already own some garments that fill the purpose, or think you can find better deals somewhere else. There's a lot of links to different categories our web pages in this article, and you don't have to open them all as a reflex. They just direct you straight to the appropriate product groups.
Respect the nature
First, let's remember one basic thing: nature can really rough up those who do not respect it. This is probably the most important thing to remember, as everything else kinda stems from it. So, let's respectfully nod towards the Great Outdoors.
Underwear comes first
Be sure you own merino woolen or at synthetic underwear: T-shirt, boxers/briefs, long johns and a long sleeve shirt. These will keep you relatively comfy even when wet. Of course being wet is not fun, but with cotton you'd have it way worse. If you get wet down to underwear, something went wrong already.
This also includes socks, which should be rich in wool. Our merino socks are good, get a handful, and a few thicker ones as well. You'll be probably wearing double socks in the woods, so try different combinations! Thin-thin, thin-thick etc. A change of socks is a good idea if your trip is more than just a walk in the park and back to the car.
Don't cheap out on boots
Once upon a time a party of young men arrived at the campsite. They had walked over a frozen but slightly thawed lake with their tennis shoes and cotton socks, which were soaking wet. Don't be like these guys.
Boots with a waterproof membrane are pretty much always a good choice, but even a standard leather boot beats those supermarket sneakers any day, and if used right in right places, can be even more fit for purpose than GTX footwear. Use double socks with your boots and make sure your boots are large enough to accommodate them - try it out with sock combos. See that your toes don't hit the nose and the laces have room both for loosing and tightening.
When the above is in order, make sure you've got:
A good pair of field trousers, which you can move around in. These are not supposed to be waterproof. These will be your go-to choice, pair them with long johns for colder weather.
A proper unlined jacket. Make sure it's large enough to fit warm stuff underneath. Some water resistance might be a plus, but this is not a rain jacket. A hood is a good thing to have. If you know what you're doing, fabric wax can be used to bring some degree of water repellency in strategic spots.
Warm mid layers. A traditional sweater is good to have with or without a zipper, but consider a fleece jacket too. This garment can also function as something to keep you warm during breaks.
Waterproof trousers, which should be GTX or Sympatex or equivalent. These should be roomy enough to fit over your long johns and regular trousers. We suggest looking at army surplus first: these are strong, simple and cheap for what they are.
A wateproof jacket, likewise one with membrane is a good idea. Again this should fit over all other clothing if needed. And again, look at surplus stuff first. A rain cape is also OK, but moving around in it is a pain in the ass.
A hat, watch cap, scarf and gloves. The hat is just for sun protection, a boonie hat is a good choice but a baseball cap could work too. The watch cap and scarf should be made of wool. For gloves, any strong gloves will do, just make sure they don't mind handling tools and doing campfire stuff. Consider going modular: get strong leather overgloves and wear woolen gloves underneath. A pair of mittens for winter is a good investment too.
The simple writer of this simple article lives in the past, so he sometimes prefers old timey woolen (wool frieze) clothes. These are very appropriate for mid-season and winter; they keep you warm, breathe well, have a degree of water resistance, but won't block much wind. A good thing while on the move, not so nice when being stationary. Some say they can be a bit itchy and scratchy, but there are differences among wool clothes. These definitely have their place as outdoor garments, being used since the ancient times. Examples of modern wool frieze clothing are our Särmä TST Woolshell jackets and trousers. The availability of military surplus varies greatly, that's why our examples are of new manufacture.
Nature is not a sterile environment
It's wise to realize that your clothes will get dirty when tramping around the forest, and it's really fun to tramp around the forest when you do not have to worry too much. So, we suggest dedicating certain clothes for outdoor use. The author boldly states that it's also a way of respecting the nature to wear clothing with appropriate toned down, earthly colour schemes as opposed to the logo-ridden neon madness seen too often.
Also, remember to take care of your kit so it will serve you well. Always dry and clean your clothes after a trip in the woods and care for your boots too. Some brushing will go a long way for both clothes and boots, washing is not usually necessary after every little trip outside.
"I don't know how to use these!"
Succesful use of different clothing in different conditions is an art form, and the best way to learn it is to do it. However, rather good base knowledge can be found from our article about layered clothing.
BW parka, Flecktarn, surplus
19.99 - 24.99 EUR
The standard field jacket used by the Bunderswehr when it's not exactly an indian summer. One of our top sellers, this parka is a tried and true modern classic and for a reason. We've also got matching trousers for these!
BW rain poncho, rubberized, olive drab, surplus
The best surplus rain poncho you can get. Good old fashioned rubber coated stuff, this holds water almost as well as a military towel. Heavy, but that's what you get when you go all the way.
BW mittens, Flecktarn, surplus
Winter mittens of the German Bundeswehr. Warm, water resistant to some extent, very well made and being surplus they offer a really good bang for the buck.
British MVP rain jacket, DPM, surplus
A high quality surplus rain jacket with the British DPM camo pattern. Waterproof and breathable, as they say, at least better than old rubber "crisp packet" suits.
BW combat gloves, Flecktarn, surplus
German Bundeswehr general purpose combat gloves with leather palm. These also have a light lining, but they're not really winter gloves: pick a close-fitting size and you'll be able to manipulate buttons, levers and such. If you know what Mechanix gloves are you'll know what to expect. Used surplus.
Czech watch cap, surplus
The fur hat isn't always the best choice for cold weather. For this reason the Czech military kit designers came up with a Very Ordinary Watch Cap.
Särmä merino socks
If you still use cotton socks, dump them now and get these instead. These are superb for outdoor use, but work just as well as formal wear too! These aren't thick, so they can be used around the year. Made with our own specs in Finland.
Norwegian M77 combat boots
In the modern world of membranes and the usual cushioned-for-her-pleasure type approach, the Norwegian M77 combat boots are a refreshing relic from the old days. Stayed virtually unchanged from the year they were adopted, 1977, they still are the standard issue footwear in the Norwegian army. This shell style construction also makes them pretty modular, as you have total control over sock choices.
Särmä neck tube, merino wool, black
Headover, or a toque, is one of those things that you can't live without once you have it. Our own model is better than the rest - it's made of Merino wool!
Särmä TST boot socks, merino wool
The Finnish army boots socks are real good, but make them out of quality merino wool and they get even better! Just like our army issue socks, but a little better in every way. The natural moisture wicking properties of merino wool make these a viable option for around the year use.
Särmä Merino Watch Cap
Standard woolly cap engineered to its full potential. Superb fit, uncompromising workmanship and the best possible materials don't come cheap but this one should last for a lifetime, provided you don't lose it.
Särmä merino wool sweater w/ zip, black
Thicker and warmer than a base layer, yet a bit more versatile than most mid layers, this merino wool sweater functions both as a warm mid layer shirt and on its own as a stand alone top. A high collar and thumbhole knit cuffs offer great protection. The real neat detail are the two zippered side pockets for keeping your valuable trinkets safe or your hands warm!
Särmä Rain Poncho
A standard waterproof poncho is probably one of the most versatile things you can own. This lightweight model is easy to carry with you anywhere and offers easy protection from wind and rain. A good range of colours serve a multitude of users, depending if you want to be seen or not draw too much attention.
Särmä TST L1 Long johns, merino wool
Highly functional lightweight long underpants for active wear. Snug fit, strong and stretchy material and the naturally moisture wicking and comfortable merino wool are what makes these what they are, a great and reliable choice for demanding use.
Särmä Windproof Trousers
Take a pair of regular cargo trousers, change the fabric for something a bit thicker and element resistant and you get these. When you're done with regular trousers in the colder months, try these Särmä Windproof Trousers and keep going.
Dutch undershirt, long sleeve, gray, surplus
The Dutch army long sleeve shirt is something we would like to see more as surplus; a well made, lightweight and moisture wicking round neck top for cheap, just the thing you want to carry around just in case no matter what the situation is.
Särmä Outdoor Trousers
22.95 - 59.99 EUR
These Särmä Outdoor Trousers are made for use in somewhat rougher climates and terrain, but are comfortable and subdued enough for casual street use. These are not your regular lightweight trousers for sunny hikes on easy trails, but made from a strong canvas to take a beating without a flinch.
Särmä Merino Boxers
These boxers are the big brother to our popular Särmä Viscose Boxers. In addition to superior material, these have a fly.
Särmä Wool Fleece Jacket, black
If you thought fleece couldn't be improved, think again: with the help of natural fibres we did just that. The Särmä Wool Fleece Jacket has a reduced amount of polyester to avoid microplastic pollution, but also introduce some flame-resistance to a garment which generally shouldn't be near a fire at all. Hood sold separately for those who'd prefer to have it.
Särmä Merino Wool T-shirt
A basic T-shirt is the staple of men's wear these days, you can wear it just about anywhere from the great outdoors to office cubicles, under other clothes or as is. We took that classic, simple design and made it out of merino wool, resulting in a fantastic shirt for casual wear. Inconspicuous, minimalistic and simply good-looking, but with all the great properties of merino wool.
159.95 - 199.99 EUR
Heavy duty full leather boots, lined with Sympatex. As you might have already guessed, these have all the nice features of proper modern boots meant for rough terrain.
Dutch t-shirt, moisture wicking, grey, surplus
Kinda like the British army undershirt, but with a longer hem and gray colour scheme. We'll leave it up to the potential buyer to decide if these features are good or not, but we do like these. Moisture-wicking underwear for cheap!
Mil-Tec Boonie hat
The US army style boonie is superb for field use: it protects your face and neck from sunlight and rain while also breaking up the shape of your head, which is essential for anyone who wants to blend into their surroundings.
British jersey, men's, surplus
19.99 - 22.99 EUR
A heavy round neck jumper, as used by the British Army. The same model sees service in the Finnish army too. This is just the stuff you want for cold winter months. Snug fit!
Dutch long johns, grey, surplus
A pair of basic technical underwear for cheap! The Dutch armed forces have long ago forsaken cotton underwear from active use, so now they get rid of the good stuff.
This article is written from a Finnish viewpoint based on the Nordic climate. And since we are utterly commercial the clothing presented is based on Varusteleka's sortiment.