May 4, 2022

Which Material Provides Warmth Even When Wet? (Things to Know)

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by Bernice

Camping, backpacking, hiking, and canyoning are excellent outdoor activities only when the weather allows. But when the extreme hits, uneasiness takes over.

When planning such events, it’s best to ask yourself which material provides warmth even when wet? Whether you are camping, canyoning, backpacking, or hiking, there is a lot to consider in materials that retain warmth even when wet.

This guide is intended to impart to you the knowledge of different materials that provide warmth even when wet, each working in a specific manner. You will discover the significance of layering, using two sleeping pads, gloves, and lining blankets as you read on.


Table of Contents

So, Which Materials Provide Warmth Even When Wet?

Below is a list of the best materials that provide warmth even when they are wet, with the inclusion of their downsides. It is useful to comprehend these materials and their reactions when exposed to water.

  1. Cotton
  2. Fleece
  3. Duvet
  4. Polypropylene or polyester
  5. Nylon
  6. Wool

1. Cotton

Cotton is a naturally occurring lightweight, airy, and comfy material. On the other hand, it loses “breathable” properties but rather takes and holds water while becoming dense and filled. Stop donning cotton trousers, T-shirts, stockings, or thermal lingerie in wet conditions.

Related Article: 11 Tips on How to Stay Warm in a Tent

2. Fleece

Polypropylene threads are commonly used to create fleece, a synthetic garment. It even gets better. Its half weight can provide a similar degree of insulation offered by wool.

Fleece materials are lightweight, simple to clean, and sufficiently durable to last for decades. If you are attracted to winter garments made from fleece, you should expect to enjoy the high breathability feature.

Aside from all these, fleece dries up rapidly. It’s, therefore, the perfect material for activities involving too much sweating.

But, on the dark side of the fleece, the ineffectiveness is actualized when it comes to retaining winds. Therefore, it is an insulating layer and not suited for the exterior layers.

3. Duvet

When it comes to duvets, you have the option of duck or goose. But, down is a super insulator. If juxtaposed with other materials, it is lighter, durable, and better compressed.

Sadly, once soaked, downs become ineffectual and therefore costly for no reason in the long run. As for drying, it will take millennia. Apart from all these, it offers reasonable insulation until it gets super wet.

4. Polypropylene or polyester

Just like nylon materials, polyester is also artificial. It’s comprised of interlaced tiny strands of plastic. Because of the great breathability of polyesters, they work perfectly as basecoat materials.

Polyester will also be practical when used along with cotton and wool. Its tight weaving restricts the escape of heat. As a result, your body retains and regulates heat.

Also, polyester does not drape. Due to this, you remain warm as it is close to your skin, and there is no space for heat to escape or to keep cold air.

Besides, polyesters have water-repellent characteristics. Expect them to insulate against heat loss even when wet.

5. Nylon

Nylon is another artificial material capable of keeping you warm when it is damp. Typically, their weaving is made tight. Besides being water-resistant and more robust, it is thoroughly coated with urethane.

Because these clothing styles may be pretty thin, they are excellent when applied as outer layers. Suffice it to say, they make better raincoats, such as this raincoat.

Further, nylon materials can hold moisture and make your body produce sweat simultaneously.

6. Wool

Wool has a couple of properties. It is hydrophobic and still offers superb insulation, even when damp, depending on how well it is maintained and firmly knitted. The advantage of wool is its natural qualities.

It is breathable and, should it be cared for properly, it will last for decades. Further, wool is by far the most extreme cold-resistant material to use if coupled with a polyester layer.

Wool knitwear is different from cotton cardigans in that they soak up water while still warming your body.

Wool possesses the inherent capacity to absorb all layers of heated air that contact your skin. Apart from sweaters, other woolen garments you can use for your outdoor activities include hats, socks, gloves, and coats that feature polyester.

However, wool materials may irritate your skin when they are wet. If it is completely soaked, it may take you weeks to dry it completely.

Wool is outstandingly the best option to use if you want to stay warm even when wet
Wool is outstandingly the best material to use if you want to stay warm even when your clothes are wet.

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Wool’s usage as a good material to provide warmth even when wet

Several people perceive wool as a super-performing fabric. It further goes to the simplicity associated with cleaning since dirt is typically located solely on the surface of the fibers. Thus, it can be eliminated in a short period.

The best part about woolen materials is that you never have to take them through heavy washing. Further, they contain inherent anti-allergic qualities that keep static charges from collecting and attracting grime and debris.

Consequently, wool has become the perfect alternative for individuals who prefer to avoid dust and bugs in their homes.

Also, wool is ideal for individuals afflicted by asthma or eczema. The blankets, cushions, and bedding alleviate these conditions.

Again, on the brighter side, looking at the downsides, wool is a tough sustainable material. Since it’s all-natural, you don’t have to worry about degrading the environment.

Leave that alone; wool blankets and other items made of them are so durable that you may find yourself gifting them to your grandchildren in a few decades to come.

To put it briefly, wool has the perfect odds of giving you the comfort you seek in other fabrics, whether they are warm or cold. Wool is also a good option to choose for clothes when you have to wear warm clothes during rappelling.

Related Article: Can You Use a Tarp as a Tent Footprint?

Of the 6 Options, which Material Provides the Most Warmth Even When Wet?

Wool is outstandingly the best material that provides the most warmth even when it gets wet.

Besides that, you may also consider wearing a mix of polyester underwear, shirts, woolen pants, a thick jacket, water-resistant trousers, and a nylon raincoat.

Damp clothes may lose heat hundreds of times quicker than dry clothes. Cotton garments are unsuitable in chilly, rainy conditions.

In fact, cotton loses its poor insulation capacity when soaked, thus promoting a fast escape of heat from your body. Donning them means taking your chances against hypothermia.

While Mountain Climbing or Trekking in the Winter, How Should You Dress to Stay Warm? 

Which material provides warmth even when wet? Now that you already know the answer to this question, it would be best to get familiar with some helpful hints to remember while picking outdoor garments for winter.

Here is our top advice.

  • Please refrain from using cotton, especially as your first covering, or letting it get in touch with your skin. Worse yet, cotton will absorb your body’s sweat and retain moisture.
  • Properly do the coating. Begin with a coating of wool, followed by fleece or polyester-coated wool. Lastly, add an extra layer of woolen garments. However, waterproof jackets can be used in place of this.
  • Cover yourself from head to toe. Hikers tend to overlook the value of headgear and boots, which are equally essential accouterments.
  • When hunting in the wintertime, resist that craving to get near the fire when you are plastered in snow.
  • Find a way of storing your cold or wet garments aside from your sleeping bag.

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Which Materials Provide Warmth Even when Wet? Eight Ways to Stay Warm when Winter Camping or Trekking

When camping during the winter, snow and frost are just inevitable. Nevertheless, don’t allow numb fingers to deter you from going on a snowshoeing trek or an evening ski excursion.

It would help if you kept warm throughout winter camping. Still, there are plenty of ways to have a warm rest while building the strength for the next day’s adventure. They include;

1. Layer your winter clothes

Should you be camping in winter weather, you have to dress for comfort. One can only better manage their body temperatures if they line their garments with basecoats, mid-layers, puffs, and shells.

Doing this means you create lots of heat internally. You mustn’t sweat throughout this procedure since sweat starts to cool while it dries, locking you in a frigid cocoon.

If you maintain your body heat by constantly removing unnecessary layers or adding some, you may prevent sweating. As a result, you prevent getting cold and remain warm.

2. Change any sweat-soaked clothing

Strip off any sweaty clothing after your excursion and when you have already set up camp. Sleeping in wet or soiled garments is unhealthy. Also, if your wool is completely soaked, it will start to itch you after the hike.

When combined with the added weight due to wetness, it becomes uncomfortable. Undressing it in adverse weather settings might be challenging, but you’ll have a good time.

Wearing dry clothing allows you to restore your body heat. And this consideration should not overlook your undergarments. Before going out in extreme weather, harmonize the clothes you will use for a change.

They all have to be warm and comfy. Again, you may top them up with something heavy, such as a fluffy coat.

Further, layering rugged shell jackets above giant puffy coats during cold nights may be sensible since a shell jacket is particularly effective for preserving heat.

And there is nothing amiss with resting in a hard shell. Remember, your warmth and a good sleep come first.

3. Try out double sleeping pads

While backpacking mattresses may keep you warm and shielded against the wet, snow-covered ground, two pads guarantee greater insulation and heat.

Thermal resistivity of pads is measured by R-Value, with two R-values resulting in better insulation.

Even so, pros, recreationists, and campers use the tried and true two-pad combo. It’s a winter-rated air resting pad featuring luminous material on top of a sealed cell foam camping pad with bright material.

It isn’t easy to get a warmer atmosphere in a lightweight and compact sleep solution than the combo.

4. Line your blankets with sleeping bags

When trying to figure out which material provides warmth even when wet, as a hiker, you may prefer to layer the sleeping bags and blankets.

It might be challenging to get cozy, comfy garments that provide warmth in the sleeping bag. Layering it with a thin blanket at this stage will make a huge difference.

Even when partnered with blankets, sleeping bags are still light and effective. So, you never have to be bothered by the thought of bearing excess weight overnight.

Your lightweight duvet is enough to provide warmth in cooler evenings, just as a blanket with double the weight would. So, this extra layer of lightweight and heat makes the difference in the long run.

Related Article: How to Store a Sleeping Bag?

5. Place a hot water bottle near your core

Rather than placing hot water bottles near your toe region, put them on your horse. So, if you are still startled by the centering of a hot water bottle, you have to understand that it offers a better heat dispersion.

This centrality ensures the heat from the bottle gets to the blood moving in your core and then throughout the body, up to the body parts in the far regions. So, it ends up warming your entire body in the long run.

The transformation is genuine, and this simple trick may be the first time you learn about it. It is critical to be cautious when dealing with heated water since it is possible to burn oneself, and always lower its cap to minimize leakage. You can use water bottle insulators.

Related Article: Camping Types of Tents Explained

6. Consume a lot of high-calorie food

While we may have gone through the materials that provide warmth even when wet, it will also be critical to maintaining your physical wellness.

Eating consistently helps maintain your internal organs responsible for heat production to work efficiently since your body utilizes calories to reheat.

But it would be best if you stay away from a high-fat or protein-rich diet. They take longer to digest and therefore burn slower when compared to carbs.

Alternatively, it would be best to feed on more carbs when seemingly cold weather. You will get full, fueled, and braced up to generate heat.

Related Article: How Much Food to Bring While Backpacking?

7. Take enough water 

Again, the body’s capacity to operate correctly is determined by the degree of hydration. Thirst makes it more difficult to create balanced body temperatures.

Drinking adequate water will help you lessen weariness, and walking outside is good exercise since the body uses up power to warm the fluids in the bladder.

If you’re really resolute or complacent, you can turn an old container into a pee bottle. Doing this will save you the trouble of going out in the cold to pee.

And while it may seem uncomfortable to lie with a container of urine that is tightly fitted with a lid, it is a fantastic technique for recycling the heat created. It would be wise to keep this bit of advice on hand in case of emergencies.

Related Article: Can You Practice Rappelling and Hiking Together?

8. Use warm gloves and boots

You’ve been using polyester and wool and combinations of the two. That’s artificial work. Yet the same may be applied, though differently, in the manufacturing of gloves and boots to help you overcome the fear of cold camping seasons.

Rather than bringing stoves on your trip, you may want to bring a compact solution to keep your hands and feet warm.

You save the time wasted on warming your hands by the stove and focus on other endeavors. A heated glove and a boot will also ensure your mind and body are relaxed.

As for warm boots, you may consider wearing these boots with spikes on the bottom for anti-slippery purposes.

Final Thoughts on the Best Materials that Provide Warmth Even When Wet

Every outdoor enthusiast needs to be familiar with the ways discussed above. That’s if they cherish their well-being and wish to stay warm, even in extreme conditions. There are lots of materials to consider.

Thus, it all sums up to personal preferences. However, wool is the ideal heat-resistant fabric that’s easy to maintain and works well in damp conditions.

Hopefully, this guide has answered your question—which material provides warmth even when wet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Which material is warm even when wet?

When searching for material to keep you warm even when wet, you should consider getting fleece or woolen materials. The latter is slightly more water-resistant and absorbs sweat reasonably well compared to cotton.

Does cotton provide warmth when wet?

Cotton is not capable of exhibiting its insulating characteristics when wet. Instead, you should use polyester materials or wool. However, the wool may cause irritations when it’s soaked.

Why is wet wool warm?

Moisture is absorbed when wool materials get wet. Heat becomes trapped in the woolen fiber pores. So, the hydrogen atoms in the fluids are disrupted within the fiber. In the long run, it triggers a chemical process that produces heat.

Is wool warmer than steel wool?

Yes, wool is warmer than steel wool. The pores in wool are more effective in retaining heat when compared to the ones in steel.

Is wool the best insulator?

Wool maintains heat marginally better than cotton in dry weather, but wool provides significantly higher insulation once all these fabrics are damp. And this is attributed to the flaky fabrics that allow air entrapment within the fabric.

Why is wool warmer than cotton?

Wool layers, unlike cotton, trap air, thus keeping your body warm and comfortable. As a result, it’s suitable for sportswear and blankets for folks who sweat a lot.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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