Clothing selection is a critical part of preparing for any outdoor trip, particularly with the unpredictable weather of autumn right around the corner. You should prepare from head to toe before you venture into these conditions—through careful clothing, footwear, and outerwear selections—because you never know when the clothes on your back might become your only shelter from the storm. Here are some guidelines to consider before you suit up for your next adventure.

Lay on the Layers
Wearing your clothing in layers is usually the best way to create dead air space around your body, which allows you to easily regulate your body temperature. But be aware that there are a few ways this insulation strategy can fail. Here’s how to do it right, and how to avoid doing it wrong.

Do it right:

1. Dress in loose layers. These work efficiently and are easy to remove if you overheat.

2. Select zippered garments. Coats and jackets with front zippers (or even armpit zippers) are excellent for helping you to regulate your body heat. Unzip to cool down, and zip up when you’re feeling chilly again.

3. Make the best material selection. Choose wool and synthetic items, especially for base layers (aka long johns). These are breathable and they don’t hold on to moisture like some other fabrics.

Don’t do it wrong:

4. Even on a hot date/romantic outdoor outing in cold weather, skip the tight clothes. Garments that are too small will compress the insulation under them and diminish their insulating value. I’m talking to you, skinny-jeans guy and painted-on-pants lady.

5. Omit the cotton. A great fabric for daytime adventures in hot and arid climates, cotton holds moisture for a long time and helps to cool you down. These features make it a terrible fabric for cold climate activities. If it’s cold enough for long johns, they shouldn’t be cotton—ever.

What do you wear when you head out of the house, either to spend time outdoors, or in an everyday situation? Leave a comment below.