‘There’s no such thing as bad weather,’ goes the classic (and annoying) quote by British author and fell-walker Alfred Wainwright, ‘only unsuitable clothing.’
Trouble is, Alf, until recently, even suitable – ie, waterproof – clothing has been criminally bad in a fashion sense. Think neon-orange trousers garish enough to cause headaches or those terrible plastic wraps donned by Wimbledon spectators in the rain.
I’d love to report that I’m a sorted, self-confident type who doesn’t mind looking silly clad in waterproof gear. Alas, no – I am that insecure. Which is why, after carefully considering matters, for years I simply elected to avoid bad weather on hikes or holidays.
This didn’t always go swimmingly. Covering a new hiking tour along north-western Spain’s coast, I visited in April ahead of the peak summer season.
‘Might be a bit drizzly’, I pondered. In fact, it rained almost constantly on all seven days, often horizontally and usually torrentially.
Then there was the next winter in Amsterdam. I was seeing the city’s lovely light festival on a canal-boat tour.
It was utterly freezing: while my umbrella compensated for our vessel’s absence of shelter, the waterways’ exposed nature soon made a glacial mockery of my three meagre layers.
Fast forward 55 minutes and I could be found chanting near-catatonically to myself through chattering teeth, ‘over soon, over soon’.
More recently, however, I’ve been able to approach these situations confidently. The rise of natty sportswear and outerwear brands such as Lululemon, Rab, Columbia and Nanamica has led to water-ready clothing that looks good while miraculously keeping the wearer warm.
There are, I belatedly find, many additional benefits to visiting places in bad weather or at times when it’s expected. These include cheaper prices and shorter queues. On soggy walks I’ll often have entire woods or valleys to myself.
Turns out that tramping along in showers is even fun and invigorating. That’s partly because nature behaves differently: scarlet pimpernel petals close, grounded birds wait it out on tree branches, and petrichor – the wonderful scent caused by rainfall meeting soil – wafts headily about.
Braving cold, rainy days may even boost immunity and decrease stress, according to studies. This seems yet another incentive to don those waterproofs and get outside this winter.
Just don’t make me go in any snow. I draw the line at lurid, 1980s-style, all-in-one salopettes and big, puffy moon boots.
And, so, I suspect, would Alfred Wainwright himself…
Men’s Mediant waterproof reflective cycling jacket in fluro yellow and black
Buy it for £39.95 from Dare2b.
Merino Stiff Upper Lip neck warmer
Buy it for £25 (can also cover nose and mouth) from pearson1860.com.
Ucon Acrobatics Lotus Hajo Mini Rolltop water-repellent backpack
Buy it for £63.95 from Wardow.
Joules Thurley knitted gloves
Buy for £14.95 from Joules.
Mustard twisted yarn beanie
Buy it for £14.99 from Gandys.
New Crew water-repellent backpack
Buy it for £88 from Lululemon.
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