by Jo Demmler November 27, 2019

Cotton is a super comfortable fabric to wear and certainly has its uses - it is a natural fibre, it is breathable, it is super soft and is hypoallergenic so it doesn't irritate your skin. It is a great fabric for many different uses and occasions.

However, when it comes to the great outdoors and especially if you are venturing further afield or partaking in extended adventures, cotton has many shortcomings and may get you into trouble.

Here are a few reasons not to wear cotton if you are hitting the great outdoors:

Absorbs too much moisture.

Cotton is extremely moisture absorbing and won't wick moisture away from your skin. So why is this an issue? Cotton clothing absorbs so much moisture (up to 27 times its weight in water) that it doesn't only become heavy when soaked in sweat but it also loses its ability to retain warmth. In comparison, competitive materials like synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon) and Merino wool absorb much less moisture and could ultimately save your life if stuck in cold wet conditions.

Poor at regulating temperature.

When participating in outdoor activities it is important to have clothing that offers great temperature regulation - keeping you warm when it is cold and cool when it is hot. The theory behind how temperature regulation involves thermal conductivity and a process called conduction. But to put it in simpler terms cotton fabric once soaked with sweat is unable to wick away any moisture and can become very problematic once you stop moving, as the damp clothing will lead to rapid body heat loss. 

Cotton takes a loooong time to dry.

As mentioned cotton absorbs so much moisture it is unable to dry rapidly and will reduce your body's natural temperature very fast.

It is heavy.

Even before you get started cotton is a generally a heavier fabric than its synthetic counterparts and then, on top of that, because of its inability to wick sweat away, it absorbs so much moisture it gets even heavier.

As you can see these are all potential recipes for disaster if you are being active in the great outdoors. When wearing cotton and sweating, or getting caught in the rain or snow or even if you accidentally fall into a creek, getting wet in any way can rapidly cool your body as a result - it can leave you shivering for hours

It doesn't have to be sub-freezing weather to get yourself in trouble many people are susceptible to hypothermia in the spring, summer and autumn (fall) than they are in winter - you are probably more likely to be caught unprepared during these months. 

So make sure when you are embarking on active adventures in the outdoors you're prepared with the right gear to keep you safe and warm!

Go out there and #findyouractive and become an #everdayadventurer



Jo Demmler
Jo Demmler

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