As a scout leader I find myself out and about in the woods, on the water, in the mountains – indeed anywhere and everywhere scouting takes me, and in all kinds of weather too. In Norway we have a saying that goes something like this; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” (it rhymes in Norwegian, though :p). This points out the obvious – that you really have to dress the part when you’re outdoors in trying conditions.
To feel the chill of winter and the droplets of rain on my skin is not something I want to avoid – it is a part of being in nature – and no Gore-Tex is going to rob me of that experience.
While I do sympathize with this viewpoint, I do not think that we should buy equipment to cope with any and every condition we might find ourselves in. It is my belief that a lot of modern equipment which serves the purpose of easing our transition through nature also has the negative side effect of cutting us off from the experience of reality which being in the out-of-doors can give us. That is a shame, and something I, personally, would seek to avoid. To feel the chill of winter and the droplets of rain on my skin is not something I want to avoid – it is a part of being in nature – and no Gore-Tex will rob me of that experience. Sometimes, of course, it is a matter of safety – I would not run off, dressed in shorts and a hawaii-shirt, into a blizzard. But I would advocate a sensible middle way. It is just as idiotic to buy top-of-the-line garments, designed for polar expeditions or extreme mountaineering, when you are planning for a family outing for a short weekend.
Here I will present two garments. The first is a woolen bush-shirt from Swanndri, which I have adopted as my scout shirt. It is very functional, and really a huge improvement on the cotton shirt that for some reason is the official shirt of the movement. I really do not understand how an outdoor-focused organization like the scout movement could condone using a cotton shirt. Unless, of course, we are supposed to simply hang it in the closet and put on our Gore-tex shell jacket. Terrible idea, that. Here’s a short video presentation (in Norwegian):
The second garment is a DIY project. A bushcraft parka shirt that I made from an old army wool blanket. Cheap too. Cheaper than the bush-shirt, actually – and even cheaper than the standard scout shirt! I’m an advocate of being able to make your own gear – and I believe that scouts should certainly be able to not only make what they wear, but also be able to repair in and keep it in order themselves. Here’s a short video presentation (in English):