Ah, spring! The time of year when flowers bloom, grass grows, trees regain their leaves, and you get rained on at the range. If you live in the middle latitudes, mornings and evenings are chilly and afternoons vary from cold and wet to hot as the dickens. Selecting the uniform of the day is more than a little challenging. You’ll start off the morning wearing everything you own, take most of it off before the afternoon is over, and end up putting at least part of it back on later. On the other hand, if you have really bad weather all day, you’ll keep it on the whole time.
Either way, the last thing you want is to not have enough when you need it and too much when you don’t.
Remember your Boy Scout days? Spring is the perfect time to be prepared.
How do you counter Mother Nature’s keep-‘em-guessing tendencies during this transitional time of year? Dress in layers.
You can still sweat in cold weather. Depending on your activity level, you can work up quite the glisten, so start your layering with a moisture-wicking base to pull the sweat off your skin and reduce the chances of shivering. Cotton can hold in moisture and make you cold, so polyester and other synthetic blends tend to work best.
This is the bulk of the layering system, where you add the heaviest insulation, but it doesn’t have to be weighty or thick. The ultimate go-between, middle layers are the transitional part of the transitional layering system. The middle layer can be a stand-alone cold weather jacket, such as a heavy fleece or down layer, or it can be incorporated into the outer layer, such as in a parka with zip-out features.
The outer layer serves two purposes: the final layer of insulation and a rain and wind (and maybe snow) repellent. It needs to be thick enough to add that final layer of heat trap, yet thin and breathable enough to let out moisture, and waterproof enough to keep out the wet. How hard can that be, right? Thanks for breathable fiber technology, it’s easier than ever.
Even though your core is covered, don’t forget your legs. You don’t need knocking knees as you try to aim. Flannel-lined jeans might be a bit overboard (up to you), but most tactical pants are a good idea. If you’re the long johns type, try something a little thinner, like silk or synthetic thin long underwear that’s not as bulky and breathes better.
Yes, gloves. Remember your extremities. Winter may be officially over, but that doesn’t mean your hands won’t get cold. They lose heat quickly and can turn an otherwise good day into a miserable mess. You may not need big, thick ski gloves, but a nice runner’s glove or fleece with wind-blocking outside can take just enough of the bite out while leaving your fingers free to work the trigger. Thin gloves are also easier to stow in your range bag or pockets later.
So it’s important to cover up the noggin. Most of us wear a hat on the range anyway to avoid cranial sunburn and the telltale ridge from the ear protection band across the top of the head. But it’s always good to be prepared with a couple of options, from a ball cap with your favorite gun maker emblazoned across the front to a fleece beanie you can shove into a pocket as the day gets warmer.
Transition means change. As we move from winter into summer, layer up for those weird days when all four seasons hit at once.