Guide to Outdoor Seasonal Photo Wardrobe (Fall-Winter)

Part 4 of a 5 part guide to technical outdoor clothing and clothing systems for photographing in the great outdoors! Make sure to read and refer to Part 1, Guide to Outdoor Seasonal Photo Wardrobe (Summer). I’m going to go in to less detail on things already covered and part one also has a key for common abbreviations. Now lets get started!

Mid-heavyweight – Fall to Winter (37°F-54°F)


Pretty similar to Summer, but leaning toward long sleeves and heavier weights of baselayer in the colder end of the scale.

My Gear: Patagonia Capilene 2 or 3 shirts depending which temperature range and what you wear on top of it.

It’s probably fine to go with the Cap 3 LS crew or 1/4 zip neck for most of this range. The zip neck has a high zip up collar to keep the wind/cold off your neck and if you really need to vent some heat you can unzip it fairly far. (more likely in warmer weather as Cap 3 could be your only layer in the mid 60s)

Pack for Rain and Wind

My Gear: Patagonia Super Cell or maybe a soft shell with DWR. I’m looking at getting a Mixed Guide Hoody this season for a cold weather shell. It mixes a hardshell and softshell in the proper places to make for the best of both worlds.

Rain Shadow/Torrentshell/Super Cell are all good wet weather choices. In these temps, you’re going to need a light to mid insulating layer (see the next section below)

I’ve just switched my rain gear (again). This time from the Torrenshell to the Super Cell (and before that the Rain Shadow).


My Gear: Patagonia R1 or R2 fleece or Winter Sun Hoody as insulation and a shell.

You could also do an insulated shell such as the Winter Sun Hoody or , but they aren’t as versatile since you can’t take the insulation out of the shell. There are those 3 in 1 shells, but that’s basically a zip in fleece in a shell, so just get a fleece and a shell. No need to zip it in really.

There is also down and synthetic insulating layers such as the Nano Puff jacket or the Down Sweater. Some prefer these over fleece due to the nylon exterior with DWR finish on them. They could be as an outer shell in a light rain. A plus of the synthetic insulation is it will still keep you warm even it it is wet. Down will not. Both are also very light and compressible. They don’t breath or wick moisture as well as fleece though, so I’ll stick with fleece for now.

This is about a 7 foot snow drift between two rhododendron bushes. More illustrative than a good photo, but it serves it’s purpose.

I just had an outing in 40’s or so and dropping at sunset, (a bit colder than this section of the guide covers) in fairly windy conditions on top of Roan Mountain wearing a R1 Hoody with a softshell Patagonia Tallus jacket (older model, kind of like a heavy weight Guide jacket). I’m thinking the mixed guide will be very similar but with a hood and more weather proof in certain spots. As for how that performed mixed with the R1 hoodie, I was not cold and almost overly warm after hiking for any distance up the hills (or even down). The hoody did a good job at keeping my ears warm in that wind, even though it’s breathable fleece. (Oh and a Cap 3, 1/4 zip as a baselayer) I had to unzip the jacket about half way or more and the R1 some too at times. It was good when I was just standing around though. That’s the plight of an outdoor photographer…hike to get there sit around and freeze to shoot. That’s why you want layers and gear that wicks the sweat away from your body so you don’t freeze/chill when you stop.


My Gear: I might move into a bit heavier pants for fall. Patagonia Rock Guide softshell (but still very light weight), Simple Guide (just a bit heavier than the Rock Guide), or maybe regular Guide pants for colder temps. All are water and wind resistant and very stretchy and tough.

You could probably easily still get away with the light summer pants or add a baselayer to them if you get cold. This route will save you some money too.

It the above Roan Mtn. example, I had Rock Guides and Cap 1 base layer under those which worked pretty well standing and hiking.

(Update: 12/16/13) This is my daily dress for these colder temps now. Cap 1 and same pants as Fall, Spring. If I was going to Roan, or be out in it for awhile I might go Cap 2-3 and whatever pants would be more wind resistant. 😀


My Gear: Depending on the temp and wind, it might be beanie time or at least a hood, but probably just the same old wide brim hat from the warmer seasons. Wind can be a determining factor for what to ware on your head and over your ears.


My Gear: Polartec Power Stretch or wool glove liners

You might want a light glove if it’s cooler and/or windy. I found some great wool military glove liners for $.99 (plus about $3 shipping) They are surprisingly grippy. I didn’t think wool would grip that well. You may be able to tough it out, but why be uncomfortable if you have something decent with you to use.


My Gear: See Part 1. It’s still not cold enough to wear insulated boots yet.


My Gear: Patagonia merino wool blend and SmartWool of the crew or 3/4 crew height. Maybe Mid-weight to heavy “hiking socks” for these conditions depending on your boots and how warm they are. I have really light weight boots and they probably won’t provide much warmth/insulation with out heavy socks. Also, if the grass is wet, your boots will get wet and even if they are waterproof, the outside being wet will still cool down your feet more than normal. All things to keep in mind.

Well that’s about it for this section ON TO THE FREEZE!

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4 thoughts on “Guide to Outdoor Seasonal Photo Wardrobe (Fall-Winter)”

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