The right attire doesn’t make a fashion statement, but it could save your life.

I recently read about a young man who died on the trail… as the media account relayed information about him, one seemingly innocuous point was reported, “he was wearing all cotton clothing.” While cotton is a great natural fabric, it is not what you want on your adventure, from the mountains to the jungles and every point in between.

Many of us Boomers consider a sturdy pair of jeans as de rigueur for nearly any occasion. Whether dining out or hiking in. But the facts are simple, performance clothing of today can not only make us more comfortable, but can actually save and protect our lives. From UV protectant fabrics to multilayering that wicks away moisture to both cool and warm – depending on the presence or absence of subsequent layers, activity-specific clothing can make a world of difference in comfort, safety, and protection.

For outdoor activity, regardless of when and where, consider purpose designed synthetics first. Yes, wool will wick away moisture, but much of today’s topnotch wool outdoor clothing will cost twice as much as synthetics and provide about the same comfort and protection.

When buying clothing, shop reputable brands with outdoor expertise. They are the ones that test their products before sales. Then, expect to layer. Again, regardless of your destination, layers work. But, realize layering is not just about wearing more or less, it’s about base layers, mid-layers and outer layers. Each has a distinct purpose and function. Multiple layers work like the gears in a machine. They work together when necessary.

Lastly, the right clothing won’t be bulky or heavy. That is unless you’re mounting a polar expedition… but today’s outdoor essentials are light, compact and packable. The point is, it is far better to carry and extra 10 ounces than to be too hot or too cold on your adventure.

I’m not going to recommend specific brands, but rather, just buy quality merchandise and quality materials from people who actually use the stuff you’re buying. They really can be lifesaving.