Outdoor Clothing for photographers (TP EP-35)






Outdoor Clothing for photographers

With Mason Marsh





In this episode Nick hangs out with Mason Marsh to talk about dressing for various weather conditions and how it is far more important than some people realize.  

The importance of dressing in Layers

Suggested Layers for the different seasons



Nick  learned the hard way in China that quick drying clothing is a necessity when you're hiking and shooting in a hot humid environment.  Cotton is terrible when you're in a place where you sweat and your clothes won't dry.  Smelliest week of my life.

While cotton is supremely comfortable in a dry, warm climate, it simply will not dry in a humid one. I suggest synthetic materials such as silkweight capiline (Patagonia) or thin Marino Wool for extended use in hot, humid conditions. Modern synthetics are usually impregnated with silver, which will help mitigate the nastiness. They also wash and dry very fast in a sink. Wool is great too, but more expensive.


Fall / spring

Nick used to think that a hoodie counted as a winter Jacket… then he started photographing waterfalls, and rainy coastlines and discovered otherwise.  A good Rain resistant layer is now a must for any photo trip.  Nick’s lightweight rain Jacket is the Columbia Omni Tech jacket.  Waterproof and breathable..

Oh Nick… the cotton hoodie. A Pacific Northwest Staple. The hoodie with a pair of jeans is all you need for a screaming case of hypothermia.

Here are my choices for wet weather layers:

Underwear – synthetic. I like Under Armor boxer briefs or Outdoor Research boxer briefs. Wicking, lightweight and snug. On top I use a capiline t-shirt to wick moisture from my skin and send it outward toward the shell. Socks are always Marino wool.

Midlayer – Again, no cotton. Synthetic all the way. It can be a light to heavy fleece or a breathable puffy layer (not down as that will wet out in most cases). I like Patagonia’s Nano line of synthetic puffy jackets. On the bottom I prefer wool. I use SmartWool or Icebreaker tights that end mid-calf so they don’t get in the way of my socks.

Shell – Up top I use a hard shell jacket that vents well. Gore-Tex style coats are fine if I am moving a lot (hiking), but if I am standing around taking photos the best bet is a non-porous jacket like Columbia’s awesome OutDry line. Down below I like breathable shell pants like Patagonia’s Torrentshell pants. If it isn’t too rainy, I go with water resistant soft shell pants. I like my legs to be cooler.

For a hat, I use a Marino wool beanie or a lightweight mesh ball cap. I like Oakley’s tactical cap because it breathes very well and dries fast.



Winter conditions really is all about layers.  My outer winter coat is a Columbia “thermal coil” coat.  Most times its enough by itself, but when I am in really windy, or just super cold conditions I add layers underneath. Namely a thermal undershirt, a shirt, and a Fleece jacket if its really cold.  You can always take a layer off, but if your cold, your cold.

A good hat that covers your ears can help as much as anything for staying warm.  One of those super stylish hats that trappers wear,  they are amazing for keeping your head and ears warm in cold windy conditions.  As well as a winter face mask or scarf like this one when its very very cold

In Gloves land Nick loves his Vallerret photography gloves when it gets really cold out.


For sub-freezing conditions, it’s all about keeping everything inside your shell dry. This “microclimate” that we create inside our clothes is critical. I like soft-shell outer layers when it’s freezing as I don’t need to fend off rain. Soft shells breathe better than hard shells and are more comfortable to move around in. Below a good soft shell I use the Nano puff jacket or a thicker down jacket. Beneath that is a wicking layer that can be fairly thick. Micro fleece or expedition weight Capiline is awesome. Marino wool really shines here too. Like before… cotton kills in cold weather. A pair of cotton briefs can ruin your whole day in the cold. Go with synthetics and you are good to go.


2 thoughts on “Outdoor Clothing for photographers (TP EP-35)”

  1. Hi Jesse, It’s a very informative article for a photographers who is planning to travel this places for the first time. They can use this article as guide book.

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