Outdoor Clothing & Gear Guide

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If you're going to be a K9 handler, or a Walk-Along to support the handler, then you need to have the right outdoor clothing and field gear to be prepared for the worst situations. That means your gear, and your dog's gear too...and don't expect him to carry it...he'll be too busy following scent to worry about carrying his food and water. Nope, that's YOUR job! :)

For the 24 hour gear list required by NASAR for the SAR Tech II Certification click here.

The most important gear you can carry with you is your shelter.

The clothing you are wearing is also considered shelter. It's job is to protect your skin and keep you comfortable. It's important to know the difference in clothing materials, and what works best for certain situations.


  • Light and very comfortable
  • Absorbs moisture readily
  • Excellent insulating properties when dry
  • Absorbs and retains odors and will mildew when damp
    Down Jacket

    Synthetic Fiber Materials
  • Synthetic fibers are produced by chemical synthesis
  • Examples are: Nylon, Polypropylene, and Polyester


  • Abrasion resistant and quick drying
  • Low moisture absorption and wicking properties
  • Blends well with other fibers
  • Can be damaged by sunlight and melts when on fire
  • Examples: Ripstop and Cordura


  • Maintains insulative properties when wet
  • Repels and wicks moisture/water
  • High abrasion resistance
  • Easy care and non-allergenic
  • Melts at relatively low temperatures (160 degrees C or 320 degree F)
  • Examples: Capilene, Thermax


  • Strong, durable, and inexpensive
  • Softer and lighter than any other synthetic material
  • Will not absorb moisture
  • Poor wicking qualities
  • Examples: Polartec, Polarguard, Primaloft, Thinsulate

    The rate of heat transfer through your outdoor clothing depends on

    • Quantity and thickness of dead air space
    • Amount of air that passes through a material
    • Water and moisture

      Heat loss and garment features

    • Closures need to be designed and applied properly: Seam, Vents, Pockets, and Reinforcements

      The layer system

    • Layers of garment that can easily be added or removed:
    • Underneath
    • Wicking
    • Clothing
    • Insulation
    • Shell

      Base Layer Undergarment

      Base Layer

      The Underneath Layer

    • For hygiene, discretion, and comfort
    • Socks - One or two pair, should not bunch, and should not cause constriction or abrasion

      The Wicking Layer

    • Moisture control and comfort
    • Ensure a proper fit
    • Materials - Thin Silk or wool, Synthetics such as Capilene, Coolmax, and Polartec

      The Clothing Layer

    • Should offer some insulation and absorb moisture from layers beneath
    • Loose fit and comfortable
    • Durability and snag/tear resistant
    • Consider visible colors

      The Insulation Layer

    • Traps air between wicking and shell layers
    • Accomplished best with multiple layers rather than one thick one
    • Don't forget about your extremities

      Fleece jacket
      Fleece Jacket

      The Shell Layer
    • Protects against the elements
    • Must be strong and durable
    • Consider ventilation
    • Hoods are highly recommended
    • Research wisely: A good shell is an investment

      Shell Jacket

      Shell Options

    • Waterproof Shell
    • Water-Repellent Shell
    • Water-Resistant Shell
    • Waterproof/Breathable Shell

      Fleece Hat


      Other Clothing Considerations

    • The Head - An unprotected area. The head can be responsible for half of the body's heat loss.
    • Whole head protection in cold environments
    • In hot environments, protect head from external heat.


    • Mittens generally keep hands warmer but affect dexterity
    • Leather gloves protect hands and improve traction and grip
    • Remember to protect the wrists


    • Examine and clean daily
    • Treat blisters and hot spots immediately
    • Always wear clean, dry socks
    • Have footwear fitted by a professional Footwear
    • Proper fit and comfort
    • Adequate stability and support
    • Durability and good traction for environment
    • Protection from the elements
    • Break in footwear before using it in the field.
    • Protection against dirt, debris, snow, and insects
    • Prevent layers from getting wet
    • Usually made of Cordura or ripstop and coated with waterproofing agent
    • Available in two sizes

      Clothing Purchase Suggestions

    • Research and investigate before purchasing
    • Plan ahead and buy off-season sale items.
    • SAR clothing is an important tool
    • Take advantage of online discount retailers

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