If you are someone who likes to do things yourself, don’t rule out making your own hiking gear. There are a lot of things that you will be better off buying at a store: a good pair of hiking boots, and a quality backpack. But if you like to make clothing, you can certainly start to make some of your own hiking gear with a few simple tools.
What you will need:
A sewing machine – You don’t need anything fancy; a standard sewing machine should be fine to sew most hiking gear. Make sure you have a good needle that won’t break if you are using thicker fabrics. Also, check that you repeat seams that need to take some tough wear and tear, like for the sleeves. You can buy a good used sewing machine off of eBay, or you could buy a new one.
Fabric – One thing hikers like to repeat is that ‘cotton kills’, so you want to be careful with your choice of fabrics. The reason hikers do not like cotton is because it becomes wet with sweat or water on a hike and takes time to try. This means there is a risk you get too cold and your clothing gets quite heavy.
Fleece – Fleece is a good material for top layers of hiking gear. It is also easy to work with, and you could make a wide variety of jackets and sweaters with it.
Wicking fabric – This can be more difficult to track down as some companies have rights over different fabrics, but you can still find some good wicking fabrics available. You can make some nice t-shirts or long sleeve shirts. If you want a certain brand that is unavailable, hit the sale racks and cut and sew it into something that suits you better.
Patterns – If you are a beginner, or even an intermediate sewer, you are going to need a pattern. You can check out some hiking clothing patterns in various outdoor magazines or a sewing book online. You could try to improvise, but if you want to make sure the clothing will fit properly, you are going to need to know where to put the seams.
Test drive before use – Make sure that you wear your new piece of hiking gear for an afternoon or two so that you can make sure it fits well and does not irritate your skin. Also, make sure to wash it before wearing.