When most people enter the wilderness for recreational purposes, they don’t give the clothing they wear a second thought other than for comfort.
Consequently, cotton is the most commonly chosen fabric precisely because it is comfortable. However, cotton is not a particularly good choice of fabric for outdoor clothing because it wears and tears easily, and it absorbs and holds moisture. Therefore, instead of merely considering the comfort level of the clothing you wear, you should instead think of your clothing as a portable survival shelter.
1. Artificial fleece
Like natural fleece (wool), artificial fleece absorbs very little moisture so when it does get wet, all you have to do is wring it out and it instantly becomes almost completely dry. Plus, like natural fleece, it’ll also retain your body heat even when it’s wet.
Nylon is an extremely tough fabric; it absorbs no moisture, and it can be made in either very light or very heavy deniers (thread count per square inch). Consequently, in its lightest weights, it’s a very comfortable fabric to wear in hot weather and in its heavier weights, it’s super tough.
Gore-Tex is a very thin, waterproof, breathable membrane that’s laminated to the inside of such fabrics as artificial fleece and nylon to create a garment that’s waterproof and windproof and still very comfortable to wear. In fact, Gore-Tex will allow a water molecule to pass through its micropores but won’t allow a water droplet to pass. Thus, Gore-Tex lined fabrics will allow perspiration to evaporate through the fabric instead of being retained inside of it, so your skin will remain comfortably dry inside the garment even when it’s raining.
Thus, once you’re aware of these amazing technical fabrics and their individual properties, you can then combine them into a complete layering system for hot, cold or wet weather to create a portable shelter. Thus you make yourself nearly impervious to all but the most extreme weather conditions.