Fall: It brings Iowa’s most beautiful (and unpredictable) weather of the year. It’s warm and sunny and 60 degrees one day, and 32 degrees with snowflakes flying the next. Thunderstorms rumble through for days on end, only for the sky to clear and bring cold, dry air and sunshine.
But you don’t let this weather keep you inside! There’s trails to explore. The cold season is just too long in Iowa to let a little rain or a chill in the air stop you from getting out.
So, what’s an outdoor adventure loving person to wear?
LAYERS. Layers, layers, layers. We’ll say it again: LAYERS.
In autumn, you will warm up when you’re hiking briskly and the sun comes out, and you’ll get colder when you’re resting or the wind picks up. Layers allow you to quickly customize your outfit so you’re comfortable no matter what when you’re hiking and being active outside.
Here are the most important items to keep you warm and cozy on the trail this fall, the most variable of Iowa’s seasons. Layer ‘em up from head to toes:
While the old adage “you lose most of your body heat through your head” may not actually be true, it is important to keep your head and ears warm when the cold wind picks up. Choose a lightweight, cross-seasonal beanie made of wool or synthetic materials that won’t absorb sweat or get too hot. Of course, you can always pull it off and throw it in your pocket if the day (or your body) warms up as you hike. We love this one by our friends at Spring Run Design Company, based locally in Marion. It’s a 100% acrylic beanie stocking cap that’s just the right weight for fall.
In the fall in Iowa, you can often throw on a fleece pullover as your primary layer for heat. Lightweight, soft, and warm, fleece is the ideal for staying cozy in the fall — and it will take you right into winter when you add a shell or winter coat. Fleece also repels moisture, so if there’s a light mist in the air or it’s damp out, you can count on staying dry. Patagonia’s ¼ zip Better Sweater is the perfect go-to for fall. It’s made with 100% polyester fleece with a sweater knit face. Wear it over a t-shirt on a pleasant day, or if it’s colder, over a close-fitting base layer (see below).
Choose a light, packable rain jacket that you can easily roll up and throw in your daypack or even in your pocket. You’ll be ready when rain, snow, or drizzle sets in — because the most important way to stay cozy on the trail is to stay dry. This one by The North Face is super lightweight, has a bit of stretch, and it will break the wind on especially blustery fall days.
Lined hiking pants
Pants are the most overlooked of outdoor gear. Wear pants that are too thin and your thighs will be cold before you even get started. Or, throw on your rain jacket when it starts to rain, only to realize that your legs are immediately soaked.
You’ll stay comfortable in a pair of trail pants that wick moisture and keep your legs dry and warm. We like Patagonia’s Wind Shield Pants because they’re treated with a durable water repellent finish, making them breathable and water resistant.
If you don’t yet have wool in your sock drawer, you’ve been missing out. Wool isn’t only for winter: lightweight wool ensures your feet won’t get sweaty when your body heats up because it doesn’t absorb moisture like cotton does. Yet it still keeps your toes nice and toasty in chillier temps. Smartwool Hike merino wool socks are the gold standard.
In chillier weather, a base layer will ensure that you stay cozy warm. The key for base layers is that they’re close fitting, and made of a material that wicks moisture away from your skin. As with the other items on this list, wool and synthetic materials work well, but we are loving an unexpected base layer this fall: silk. Terramar Thermasilk base layers are made of 100% filament jersey silk so they are super lightweight, meaning you won’t overheat in a shoulder season like fall when the temps are more variable.
On wet and/or cold days, you’ll also want to grab a pair of lightweight gloves to keep your fingers warm. This glove by Manzella is a Gore product, providing great protection against wind.
Fall is far too beautiful a season in Iowa to stay holed up inside. Get out and enjoy the sunshine, changing leaves, and brisk air and visit us at Soko Outfitters to make sure you’re set with the right gear. Because as the old adage goes, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Featured blog post image photo credit – Frees Frame Photography