• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Good Clothing? (1 Viewer)

ehargv

Member
Hello,

I'm new to Birding but before I go out and get started, particularly in winter, I wanted to make sure I'm dressed appropriately.

Does anyone have any thoughts or preferences on the right kind of clothes for Birding in the winter in Europe? Are there any items of clothing which have proven particularly useful to you? I enjoy spending time outside, but I just want to make sure I don't freeze to death doing so!
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
I like cargo trousers with the leg pockets. I've a pair that have a cosy lining.

Often meant to buy a pair of shooting gloves (the type where you can uncover the 'trigger finger'), which would make it easier to finely adjust the focusing on binoculars and telescopes. And a nice thermal hat that covers the ears.

I keep an extra jumper in the car, just in case.
 

ehargv

Member
I like cargo trousers with the leg pockets. I've a pair that have a cosy lining.

Often meant to buy a pair of shooting gloves (the type where you can uncover the 'trigger finger'), which would make it easier to finely adjust the focusing on binoculars and telescopes. And a nice thermal hat that covers the ears.

I keep an extra jumper in the car, just in case.
Great, Thanks for your advice! I tend to suffer with bad circulation in my hands so I always like a good pair of gloves. Do you think that the extra dexterity provided by the trigger finger compromised much on warmth/water resistance? How much should I be looking to spend on a good pair of trousers? I'd hate for them to rip or prove useless on their first outing!
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Difficult questions those. I bought my lined cargo trousers about 12 years ago and they're still going strong. Cost me about £30 I guess (though may have been less if they were in a sale). They were made by Hawkshead, a UK company in the Lake District - from memory, got them at their store somewhere in Kent! This is there website: https://www.hawkshead.com/

I've no experience with the gloves and don't know where you live. But if you are in a country where Biathlon is popular, the sports clothing shops may be able to help you.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Look for dull dark greens and browns - bright red and similar will make you too obvious to the birds you're trying to watch.

Though having said that, I suspect that at least some birds recognise flourescent yellow work clothes as belonging to a subset of humans who are less dangerous, and are therefore less bothered by them . . .
 

ehargv

Member
Look for dull dark greens and browns - bright red and similar will make you too obvious to the birds you're trying to watch.

Though having said that, I suspect that at least some birds recognise flourescent yellow work clothes as belonging to a subset of humans who are less dangerous, and are therefore less bothered by them . . .
Quite amazing when you think for how short a time fluorescent clothing has been around compared to animal life, and how some birds may have desensitised themselves to this so quickly! Thanks for the advice (though maybe I should wear earthy colours AND hi-vis!)!
 

StephenHampshire

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Quite amazing when you think for how short a time fluorescent clothing has been around compared to animal life, and how some birds may have desensitised themselves to this so quickly! Thanks for the advice (though maybe I should wear earthy colours AND hi-vis!)!
I volunteer on my local heritage railway, when trackside I have to wear some form of orange clothing - today as well as a warm long sleeved jacket I had Hi-vis overtrousers too as it was barely above freezing on top of the embankment I was helping to clear. Anyway, if out lineside I normally take a small pair of binos and the birds do seem quite unconcerned by my impersonation of a satsuma.
 

YuShan

Well-known member
Look for dull dark greens and browns - bright red and similar will make you too obvious to the birds you're trying to watch.
This is probably true (it's the usual advice). However, I do wonder... Birds have different colour vision than humans. We have rods (night vision) and three kind of cones, many birds have four kind of cones (no night vision) and see a larger gamut of colours, including wavelengths that we cannot see (ultraviolet). So what appears dull to us could look bright to a bird and vice versa.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
This is probably true (it's the usual advice). However, I do wonder... Birds have different colour vision than humans. We have rods (night vision) and three kind of cones, many birds have four kind of cones (no night vision) and see a larger gamut of colours, including wavelengths that we cannot see (ultraviolet). So what appears dull to us could look bright to a bird and vice versa.
I've read that this is significant with washing soaps which often include 'optical brighteners' - these reflect UV light so will appear conspicuous to birds, though all we get from them is a vague sense that the clothes look 'cleaner' than they did before washing.
 

jurek

Well-known member
My clothing is pretty standard outdoor clothing, a mix of cheapest outdoor stuff and sometimes expensive one if it provides extra usefulness (for example green trousers with 4 closable pockets). Colors are dull grey, brown or dark green. Don't buy everything green, because you will look like a military freak. I watch mammals after dark a lot, so avoid paler shades as well as black. These stand out in darkness.

For winter, important are gloves which are nimble enough to manipulate the scope, and with touch finger so you don't need to take them off using the mobile (as gps, bird app, notebook etc).

Also use boots with thick soles and warm socks, because you lose lots of heat from standing on snow or cold ground.

Wear windproof or waterproof upper coat, and often trousers. Can be very cheap brand. Down, fleece or wool provide no warmth when wind blows straight through them. Actually, coldest conditions which I experienced during birding were much above the freezing point, seawatching on the coast, standing for hours exposed to gale-force wind, when you had to be comfortable enough to concentrate on searching distant dark specks flying far way between waves. Only windproof jacket and trousers made it comfortable.

Also, note that waterproof boots are useless walking on tall wet grass, where moisture gets from above. Use waterproof trousers or avoid going there altogether.

I carry thin gloves and cap much of the year. They weigh nothing but make you incomparably more comfortable in cold evening or morning. Also, a spare pair of dry socks carried in car boot or backpack does wonders.
 

DJRWhittle

Well-known member
The important thing is to be comfortable and by that I mean warm and dry. To start with layer up - it's easy to take layers off and put them in your backpack if you get too warm. Not so easy to put things on if you get cold and haven't put enough clothes on or aren't carrying extra. I have a couple of pairs of trousers which are very comfortable to wear and are completely waterproof. I got them at my local angling superstore. I also use a Hoggs of Fyffe waterproof fleece when I go out when it might rain. If it's already raining or forecast to be heavy I have a heavier coat which is completely wind and waterproof. It's very heavy to carry but not so heavy to wear so I either wear it from the outset or leave it at home. I can wear it all day and in the foulest of weather can stay out and be completely warm and dry. My boots are 'Northridge' walking boots and also waterproof and warm. I have a couple of caps (waterproof) with fold down ear flaps for my head and I use a pair of motorcycle glove liners if I'm taking pictures or 'scoping' as they are thin and allow me to feel the focus wheel/buttons. They are thin, windproof, very warm and have grips on the finger/thumb tips which makes using a camera etc easier. They don't work on my phone screen. They cost me a tenner from a local motorcycle clothing store. If I'm not taking pictures or scoping I have heavier gloves that keep my hands warm and don't restrict my use of my binocular in any way. All this sounds quite expensive but it doesn't need to be. I can't afford expensive so I shop about and get what I can. It's going to be dearer than your 'out for a stroll in the woods' clothes obviously but it doesn't have to be extortionate. Pick wisely and start buying bit's as you need them, you'll find you quickly build up a set of clothing that works for you. Good luck and enjoy your new hobby.
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
A good, preferably hydrophobic, down jacket is ideal but not cheap. If you don't want to pay the extra for hydrophobic down make sure you also carry a thin waterproof as normal down is useless when wet. Contrary to earlier post they are windproof. As previously mentioned, long, wet grass is a challenge to even the best walking boots. I hate wellies, so get around the problem by wearing waterproof socks and boots and the belt and braces has approach hasn't let me down yet.
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
The important thing is to be comfortable and by that I mean warm and dry. To start with layer up - it's easy to take layers off and put them in your backpack if you get too warm.
I also agree that a few layers keep you warmer than say one heavy top coat. In mid winter, one would consider a lightweight thin base layer, then your medium second layer followed by a jumper or fleece. Finally a windproof ( not resistant ) and waterproof top / shell layer. I used Sealskinz winter gloves with a thin liner when in more Northern climes and they were fine.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Does anyone have any thoughts or preferences on the right kind of clothes for Birding in the winter in Europe? Are there any items of clothing which have proven particularly useful to you?
For 2020, it’s largely been pyjamas as most of my birding has been from the back door over an early morning cup of tea - Particularly useful has been a thick dressing gown and garden shoes when I go out to top up the feeders. 😏

For ’normal’ winter birding
  • any cargo pants that are loose fitting (I find gortex both shower proof and wind proof while being breathable - I got mine from Berghaus https://www.berghaus.com/womens-trousers-shorts/womens-trousers). I wear tights underneath if really cold.
  • A gortex oversized jacket - I have a Paramo https://www.thegorgeoutdoors.co.uk/Paramo-Mens-Pajaro-Jacket (not cheap but it’s lasted 15 years!) Very large but can get loads underneath, and also fit stack loads of stuff into the pockets. It’s very storm rain proof/wind proof/very lightweight/silent!! (Don’t buy a crackly, swishy anorak or crackly swishy trousers - my pet bugbear is when birding with people that wear noisy rain gear!)
  • Leather walking boots with gortex lining - (I find leather comfortable and molds to my ankles )
  • fingerless gloves (with attachable mitten tops) something like this https://www.icewear.is/uk/norwegian...MI0LrnyN_E7QIVxbHtCh08mQGuEAQYCyABEgKA7PD_BwE
  • Wooly hat - usually an Obs souvenir beanie or another from my varied collection. I don’t like wearing hats so tend to go off any hat that I buy very quickly so seem to have rather a lot!
  • Layers - usually several T-shirts/vest tops
  • Fleece - the reason to buy a large coat jacket - usually I wear a work fleece or occasionally my fitted fleece (by Country Innovation) which was a limited edition for Birdfair many years ago!
I also have an off white vintage fleece lined cagoule to wear if I’m birding in a snowy landscape which I bought from Etsy second hand - also many years ago (I don’t buy clothes very often! 😁)
A bit like this except with a dark blue fleece lining

So, that’s why I don’t like winter birding - too many clothes!. ☃️

As soon as it’s warm enough, Spring and Autumn, I’m back in jeans, wellies, T-shirts and my old faded Army field jacket which looks almost identical to this https://www.heddels.com/2019/07/fade-day-vintage-m51-field-jacket-unknown-years-washes/
 
Last edited:

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Excellent advice above, the only point I can add is only relevant if you wear glasses; a baseball cap (or wide brimmed hat) is a useful addition, as it keeps rain off the lenses, and can be worn under a woolly hat in winter if birding in adverse weather - I'd personally consider it more essential than a waterproof jacket if you are based in the tropics!
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Where in Europe? Winter in Greece is not going to be the same as winter in Finland.
If out in the snow, a few points to bear in mind:
-you're going to be sitting or standing quite still. Go for as much warmth as you can manage. Long down jacket, thick hat, heavy gloves, thermal underwear (don't forget your legs!) Windproof outer layers. You can always strip if you get too warm (and you should, before you start to sweat).
- Protect your legs from the snow. Don't get wet. Gaiters may or may not be enough; look into truly waterproof pants. You may want to carry a couple extra bits of foam just to sit on so you don't sink in to the cold snow if you stop to rest.
- The ideal glove set-up is a thin liner that you never have to take off, underneath oversize mitts or muffs that you can wear when you're not actively using your devices.
-carry a thermos full of some hot beverage, preferably with some sugar in it; soup with noodles or rice is good too. Taking in sugar or starch is very important in helping your body warm itself.
-Days are short. Carry two headlamps. (At least one should be in an interior pocket; see next item.)
-Cold weather is bad for batteries. Carry spares for your camera, and keep them inside your jacket so they stay warm. (Keep your phone warm too, and keep it turned off until you need it.)
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hello,

I'm new to Birding but before I go out and get started, particularly in winter, I wanted to make sure I'm dressed appropriately.

Does anyone have any thoughts or preferences on the right kind of clothes for Birding in the winter in Europe? Are there any items of clothing which have proven particularly useful to you? I enjoy spending time outside, but I just want to make sure I don't freeze to death doing so!

Looking at your profile I'm not sure where you are, but if you have a Mountain Warehouse knocking around near you they have sales on at the moment with good quality, warm jackets for around 30/40 quid. You may struggle to get something brown that blends in a bit more because sadly the whole covid situation has knocked their business but if you don't mind black then you won't can't go wrong. As I say, good quality clothing at the price you're paying.

Oh, and if you don't have a pair of wellies in this part of England then you'll ruin whatever else you put on your feet (unless you're happy to sit in a hide).
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
I've recently learned that snake-proof boots exist. I haven't bought any yet because I can't go and try them on, but they seem like an excellent idea. I've done some research into them, and I've read that they do actually work quite well- snakes can't bite too terribly hard, so can't pierce the material. There's also a sort of shin guard device you can use, that straps onto your lower legs and can work with many types of footwear. Both are meant to protect the legs from snake bites, as most snake bites that don't occur from handling the snake, happen when someone treads on one.

Depending on where you live, this may or may not be needed. I live in Texas, which means snake protection is generally a good idea. We have many snakes, including multiple venomous species. I don't intend to step on any intentionally, and I do my best to watch my step when exploring, but the boots seem like a good precaution just in case. They're effective against thorns as well, which is nice, and will probably come in use frequently.

You may like to look into a pair of hip waders. Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to walk in water without getting cold and wet, they provide some protection against my least favorite spiders to encounter: fishing spiders. Fishing spiders are a lovely group of spiders that can actually run across the surface of the water, and use it to catch small fish. If you happen to be wading near them, they may decide to run up your leg. I have nothing against spiders as a group, but I don't remotely like to have them suddenly run up my leg. So even when the water isn't too cold to walk in comfortably, I like to be able to at least keep them from running up my bare leg and potentially getting under my clothing.
Hip waders are nice to have. Not only for the birds, either. If you walk slowly and gently, and stand still in the right spots, fish will often come near you once they've settled from being disturbed. They're mostly afraid of shadows, not of wader-clad legs. I say this because I tend to assume that people who are interested in birds may also be interested in other wildlife.
They would probably also provide some tick protection, silly as it would look to stand in brush with hip waders on.

Be aware that wet clothing can sap heat away from your body at an alarming rate. If you get yourself soaking wet, in temperatures that are any lower than maybe 60 degrees F, you should go and get dry. Hypothermia can occur at surprisingly high temperatures if you're covered in soaking fabric. It may not happen in every case, with every person, at those relatively high temperatures, but is still a risk. If the weather is freezing, enough soaked clothing becomes a "go to a heated place immediately" sort of emergency.
If you ever feel cold enough to shiver, and then stop shivering without having gone and gotten warmer, you have probably gotten some degree of hypothermia. If that ever happens, IMMEDIATELY go and get warm, before it gets worse. The same goes for if you feel confused with no evident cause, and for several other things. I doubt you'll get hypothermia if you dress appropriately, but if you plan to go and be outdoors for long periods in cold weather (though I don't know how cold your local weather usually gets), you should read up on its symptoms. Both for you, and for others you might happen to encounter.

Also, read up on what snakes you have in the area. Learn what venomous ones look like. If you ever see a snake and aren't certain that it's nonvenomous, it's best to treat it as though it is venomous. Which is to say, give it a wide berth.
Snakes don't attack people. They bite if you get close and stress them out, and some species will lunge towards you in an effort to make you think they're dangerous. I believe there may be a couple of particularly aggressive species in Africa that will close a gap between you and them on purpose, but that's very rare. Snakes don't want to fight you, they want to get away from you uneaten. Venomous ones don't want to waste their venom if they can avoid it.

Find out if you have ticks locally. Some can carry some really nasty diseases. We have a lovely species in Texas whose bite grants a serious, potentially deadly allergy to red meat! Fascinating, but not fun.

In general, learn if you have any dangerous wildlife, and what to do if you happen to find any of it.

If you decide to go out into a fairly wild area, where you could expect to encounter few if any people, it's good practice to tell someone where you've gone and how long you intend to be there. That way, if you have an accident of some sort and don't come back, they'll know to call someone to go and look for you. Very unlikely to happen, but it can. That's mostly important if you'll be in an area with no cell service, of course- if you're in an area you can easily call 911 (or your local equivalent) from, you should be fine.

You can get a battery backup for your phone. You charge it at home, then you can plug your phone into it to get more power. Useful in general, but especially if you're going off on your own to somewhere people won't hear you if you shout. You're very unlikely to be injured in a way where you'll need help to get out, of course, but it's still good to have something you can do just in case. Especially since twisting your ankle is relatively easy to do, and would put you in a position to need help.

(I'm aware most of this is advice, rather than clothing suggestions, but I hope it's still useful.)
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top