It’s impossible to state with certainty which fabrics will work best in every climate and every situation. However, research reveals some qualities that are consistently desirable.
The clothing you pack needs to be versatile enough to wear well in a variety of locations. Neutral colors coordinate well with each other, allowing you to pack fewer items which can be mixed and matched. Brown, black and khaki colors work especially well for pants, shorts and skirts. If you are traveling to a warm location avoid dark colors for your outerwear as these colors can make you uncomfortably hot.
It would seem that other considerations would have greater importance. Comfort is key however when selecting garments which give you greatest mobility. Look for clothing that feels good against your skin allowing for ease of movement. What may be a pinch or an itch now could turn into a blister later. Listen to your body and ignore the mirror when testing garments for comfort.
Again and again the importance of having quick drying material is recommended by experts. Fabrics that can be washed and dried completely are given high ratings for desirability. This quality prevents trace amounts of moisture from being trapped in seams where bacteria can grow. This is of great importance when trying to avoid fungal infections on your skin and avoiding mold growth in your pack.
Another point on which experts agree is that garments should be very light weight. For comfort in cooler temperatures, layering ls recommended so that the body temperature could be regulated by removing or adding layers. Making sure that layers are not heavy means you will use less energy carrying those items. Remember that bulky items can often weigh less than more compact ones.
MOISTURE WICKING AND BREATHABILITY
Clothing should be made of materials that breathe well and wick moisture away from your skin. This serves a dual purpose. Moving moisture away from the skin means that you will more easily regulate your core body temperature. Additionally it means that your skin isn’t as susceptible to opportunistic inflammation and blisters that occur when friction is applied to wet skin.
This isn’t necessarily an essential quality. However, if you are traveling light, it often means that you will be packing garments into a small space. Knowing that you can arrive at your destination and not have tell-tale creases running through your clothing is an added bonus, especially if you are trying to be inconspicuous and not draw attention to yourself. This particular feature, however, is a subjective quality and not one that should be given highest priority. Many times, hanging a freshly washed garment to dry will eliminate most wrinkles. Another hint is to select garments that are made of fabrics with a pattern which will mask wrinkles.
When preparing an emergency pack or a bug out bag, take these qualities into consideration. You’ll be glad to have clothing on hand that will travel well and hold up under a variety of conditions.
The following 5 minute video -- Selecting Clothes to Pack -- discusses many of these considerations when packing.