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Kea
2005-11-14, 00:10
How do you guys set yourself up for winter hiking in temps below 40F?

Even if it is just your dream layering list, I'd like to see it. My hiking partner wants to go out when it gets cold and I don't want to freeze my hiney off. :)

SGT Rock
2005-11-14, 00:58
My base layer is a wicking shirt and underwear.

My next layer out is a set of long fleece. I use Powerstretch, but in hindsite, my brown Army issue polypros are just as warm, about as light, and a whole lot cheaper. I also have a pair of wool socks, some light polypro gloves, and a knit hat.

If the temps are below 30F I add a pair of Army field pants liners and a homemade insulated jacket with 0.8" loft. I have a thicker pair of wool socks and some fleece mittens. I also have a neck gaiter that turns the cap into a balaclava if needed.

To break the wind and add water protection to any level of layering I have a sil-nylon jacket with good pit zips and a hood, gortex rain mittens, microporus polypropylene pants, and some goretex socks. Usually at 40F I can use my midweight layer and rain gear to stay warm.

Iceman
2005-11-14, 01:49
Kea, just got back from eight days in the cold, 25 degrees to 55 degrees. (Elk hunting in the cascade mountains, here in the Pacific Northwest.) Now I start winter snowshoeing to include overnight trips with my wife and two kids, 7 and 9yrs...sometimes as cold as 5 (five) degrees in the tent in the morning.

Here is what I have learned to date; Layer, Layer, Layer.

Baselayer: Start with lightweight polypropylene type thermals next to your skin. No cotton whatsoever, read the label before you buy. This type of thermal does not retain moisture, and will keep your skin dry. Moisture will move from this layer, towards the cold, away from your warm body, where it can evaporate elsewhere, not having a cooling effect on your body. This process is usually referred to as "wicking"... moisture wicks from your body and to the next layer...

Insulating: Next, wear a microfiber shirt or pullover/jacket of some sort, fleece, something "fuzzy", we prefer man made but some wools are also fine.....no cotton again... With this layer, you are trying to trap a layer of air near your body. This trapped layer of air will serve as an insulator... Fleece products are very inexpensive lately, you should find alot out there, cheap too. We prefer hooded fleece pullovers and zip up sweaters and lightweight jackets. This is our mainstay item to wear as we hike or snowshoe. Remember, you want to shed overly warm stuff (like a heavy camp jacket) just prior to aerobic activity (hiking) in order to reduce the amount of sweat that your body will create. Very important to reduce the sweat/evaporative cooling effect here... Many people actually dehydrate themselves during winter sports because of increased sweating from too much clothing, and the reduced desire to drink fluids because of the cold weather. Drink water often in these conditions...

Protective Layer or "Shell": (Protective Layer...my term...although I am sure others have used it as well...) Protection from what? You decide here, protection from cold? wind? wet snow? dry snow? I have not been able to locate any one "best" shell for these conditions. Depending on how cold, how wet....etc... In general we use a goretex type non-insulated garment over the legs, and the upper body. Two pieces; parka rain tops above, rain pants below. Even in snow, this type of rain pant is often enough.

Of the items noted above, fleece pants are sometimes more difficult to find. I have found Campmor's fleece pants to be great, cheap too. Your shell is where you will spend the big bucks, and probably use the least. We hang our shells up at home here, refusing to abuse them around town, and save them for the hills...

Another item to stuff in your winter hiking arsenal is an extra insulator for your upper body. We have goose down vests and/or jackets to take along on our overnight trips, weather depending...If you are one who gets cold hands when out on winter trips, from what I have read, experienced, and learned, you are not insulating your core (midsection) enough, and are showing the first signs of hypothermia (vasoconstriction), reduced blood flow to the extremeties in an effort to retain core body temperature. IE: to warm your feet and hands-put on a down vest...

A great book on the subject is Winter Wise Travel and Survival in Ice and Snow, Montague "Monty" Alford

Good Luck and stay warm!

Sgathak
2005-11-14, 03:07
Baselayer - Merino Wool
Insulation layer - Montbell Exceloft (or the new PCU insulation layers when weight isnt a major consideration)
Shell - Depends. so far Ive been really impressed with the PCU shell layers.

peter_pan
2005-11-14, 08:58
Second the Montbell thermwrap stuff....light and very warm about equal to 200-300 wgt fleece for 1/2- 1/3 the wgt.

Pan

SGT Rock
2005-11-14, 09:02
Nice way to list things. But for me I consider the t-shirt and underwear a base layer. So then:

Base-layer (50F+):
1. microfiber boxers.........................................1.6 oz
2. wicking T-shirt, long sleeve...........................7.5oz
3. synthetic liner socks only..............................0.8oz
4. nylon swim trunks with liner removed...............3.7oz
Total............................................. ...............13.6oz

I wear this in all weather as my base. The long sleeve t-shirt sometimes is replaced by short sleeve in really hot weather (where it will not possibly go below 60F). This, with my shell can keep me warm even in cool, wet conditions.

Mid-layer (30F-50F):*
1. Powerstretch fleece top and bottoms .............17.4oz
(mid-weight Army Polypro is just as effective)
2. Wigwam knit hat (watch cap)..........................2.1oz
3. Wigwam liner gloves.......................................1.1oz
4. Wigwam wool hiking socks...............................2.6oz
Total............................................. ................23.2oz

Again, when adding the shell, this works very well. Temps in camp before bed may make you want to put the under-quilt on as a serape while sitting around eating (if you don't build a warming fire). The Quilt can also fit under the Packa rain jacket to make a very large, warm parka.

Insulating layer (0F-30F):*
1. modified Army issue field pants liners.................8.1oz
2. homemade Kennebeck pullover...........................9.7oz
3. Polartec 300wt fleece mittens..........................1.8oz
4. Wigwam heavy wool socks...............................3.3oz
5. polypro neck gaiter.........................................2.1 oz
Total............................................. ..................24.9oz

As I said before, the neck gaiter is very nice since you can combine this with the knit hat to make a balaclava. The mittens can be layered over the polypro gloves and under the rain mittens to make a very warm pair of hand covers.

Shell (all weather levels):
1. Packa (large) sil-nylon rain jacket......................11.2oz
2. ProVent rain pants with tyveck reinforced butt.....5.6oz
3. OR Goretex rain mittens.....................................1.2oz
4. Seal Skinz Goretex socks....................................3.5oz
Total............................................. ....................21.5oz

The Seal Skinz socks are also a warming layer, so in cold weather they protect feet from getting cold and help get your feet warm. They stretch like regular socks, so they can go over any layer level of socks.

Now in some conditions, I may not bring the entire shell with me, but that is rare. For the few ounces, it gives me an extra set of clothing and some cold weather flexability. Half the battle in staying warm is staying dry.

*Note, at this level I also have my JRB No-Sniveler under-quilt which is a 1.5" loft down blanket with a head hole for extra insulation in camp.

Spice1
2006-01-23, 20:15
Just got a new coat last night. Until recently, my layers were:

Polypro longjohns.
Wicking Short Sleve T-Shirt
Cotton Overshirt
Wool Sweater
Army Gortex Parka.

Now they are:
Wicking T-Shirt
Powerstretch Fleece
REI Elements Parka.

I tried it last night walking around san francisco at 2am, temps just above 30, with a wind chill bringing it down to 25. I wasn't warm, I was completely isolated from the weather. My face and neck were freezing, but my torso felt neither cold nor warm. Very nice.

Sgt Rock, you mention that the poly pros are just as warm. I was thinking of carrying my polypros with me on the trip for the possibility of using the polypros as a base layer under the powerstretch.

What are your guys opinions of thermasilk and related products. I like the weight, but have never tried them. Thinking about replacing the polypros with those, more to reduce bulk than weight. Any ideas?

And what about shell pants? I was figuring that polypro unders, nylon trail pants and simple rain pants would do me, since I will only need a shell layer on my legs in the rain.

peter_pan
2006-01-23, 22:44
Nice way to list things. But for me I consider the t-shirt and underwear a base layer. So then:

Base-layer (50F+):
1. microfiber boxers.........................................1.6 oz
2. wicking T-shirt, long sleeve...........................7.5oz
3. synthetic liner socks only..............................0.8oz
4. nylon swim trunks with liner removed...............3.7oz
Total............................................. ...............13.6oz

I wear this in all weather as my base. The long sleeve t-shirt sometimes is replaced by short sleeve in really hot weather (where it will not possibly go below 60F). This, with my shell can keep me warm even in cool, wet conditions.

Mid-layer (30F-50F):*
1. Powerstretch fleece top and bottoms .............17.4oz
(mid-weight Army Polypro is just as effective)
2. Wigwam knit hat (watch cap)..........................2.1oz
3. Wigwam liner gloves.......................................1.1oz
4. Wigwam wool hiking socks...............................2.6oz
Total............................................. ................23.2oz

Again, when adding the shell, this works very well. Temps in camp before bed may make you want to put the under-quilt on as a serape while sitting around eating (if you don't build a warming fire). The Quilt can also fit under the Packa rain jacket to make a very large, warm parka.

Insulating layer (0F-30F):*
1. modified Army issue field pants liners.................8.1oz
2. homemade Kennebeck pullover...........................9.7oz
3. Polartec 300wt fleece mittens..........................1.8oz
4. Wigwam heavy wool socks...............................3.3oz
5. polypro neck gaiter.........................................2.1 oz
Total............................................. ..................24.9oz

As I said before, the neck gaiter is very nice since you can combine this with the knit hat to make a balaclava. The mittens can be layered over the polypro gloves and under the rain mittens to make a very warm pair of hand covers.

Shell (all weather levels):
1. Packa (large) sil-nylon rain jacket......................11.2oz
2. ProVent rain pants with tyveck reinforced butt.....5.6oz
3. OR Goretex rain mittens.....................................1.2oz
4. Seal Skinz Goretex socks....................................3.5oz
Total............................................. ....................21.5oz

The Seal Skinz socks are also a warming layer, so in cold weather they protect feet from getting cold and help get your feet warm. They stretch like regular socks, so they can go over any layer level of socks.

Now in some conditions, I may not bring the entire shell with me, but that is rare. For the few ounces, it gives me an extra set of clothing and some cold weather flexability. Half the battle in staying warm is staying dry.

*Note, at this level I also have my JRB No-Sniveler under-quilt which is a 1.5" loft down blanket with a head hole for extra insulation in camp.

Rock,

I just got back from a rainy, cold ( 40 degrees) day in DC...Spent 2.5 hours standing on the Mall, then a 2 mile march

Wore Smart wool micro long sleeved top 7.5 oz...JRB Stealth ( No Sniveller light) 15 oz... JRB hood at 2 oz and JRB Sleeves at 5 oz under a rain shell.... So warm that I had to keep pulling my hood back/off to vent...Went for a 30 minute period of light rain without the rain shell hood covering the JRB down filled hood with no adverse impact...DWR kept it dry.

Pan

dropkick
2006-01-24, 02:55
A few things would make differences in what I wear and carry:
1st are you only hiking or camping too?
2nd how far a hike, what time of day, is there a possibility I might end up stuck someplace?
3rd how much below 40F?

When camping I always bring sweats for use in camp. Many will disagree with this as they are cotton, not lightweight and can soak up water. However I find with care this isn't that big a big problem and I'm much more comfortable because I have these.
- Carry a small sheet of plastic or closed cell foam to sit on if there is snow.

The 2nd is fairly obvious, carry more gear and clothing the later in the day and the further from civilization your going to be.

I'm from cold weather country and am used to it, also I am warm bodied person so I don't normally wear as much clothing as other people seem to. If it's sunny and not windy anything above 0 can be shirt sleeve weather for me. So maybe I'm probably not the right person to give advice on layers.

But no matter what you wear the most important thing to remember is that when you slow down, the weather changes, or the sun starts to set you will get cold. Always carry a good jacket even if you don't think you need it.


P.S. In very cold weather, wear a insulated pair of bibs under a jacket, instead of pants and a jacket - this is the best combo for staying warm.
These aren't hiking clothes, but I wouldn't have a qualm about surviving the night in just my Carhart bibs and jacket with no heat at 30 below. (w/a hat)

Take-a-knee
2006-01-25, 01:44
Kea:

I would add that your first upperbody layer should be an "underarmor-type" t-shirt. I wouldn't buy the underarmor brand, they get little pulls and pills very quickly. The light Duofolds work well, but the best I've found were some no-name shirts made in Canada I ordered from Sierra Trading for about 12$ ea. These are very thin and dry astonishingly fast and are MUCH more durable than the underarmor shirts. As the day warms sometimes even a light long sleeve t-shirt is too much.

I love the underarmor boxer-briefs, these fit snugly enough to keep my fat-little legs from rubbing together on a long walk.

I think something like SGT Rock's modified Army field-jacket liner with an attached hood would be the ideal torso insulator. That thing is about as light as insulation can be. Ray Jardine has a plan for a polarguard Bomber-style hat intended for keeping your head (and therefore your arse and toes) warm whilst nestled in one of his top quilts. I'm thinking that hat could be incorporated into the jacket liner (so it can't be lost). I can't agree more with iceman about how important it is to keep your head well insulated when you are, or are about to be, cold. I just bought a hooded fleece sweatshirt from Sierra Trading Post for $30, it is about 100wt fleece. A size med weighs 13.2oz.

Spice1
2006-01-25, 22:24
My righ will be for extreme through hiking, since our hike is going to be three years long. (Yes, I know we'll be on farms 90% of the time, but we can expect some pretty inclimate weather.) My goal is a lightweight layerin system where I don't have to carry too much extraneous gear. Like many of you have said about yourselves, I'm a furnace. Once had the joy of sleeping in a GP small on a korean hilltop with a jungle sleeping bag. (Thank you, supply!) Slept fine except for waking up with a pool of frozen breath under my head.

I just ordered some duofold shirts from campmore. I have two tech-tee style shirts (That I bought for working in sweaty nightclubs, but work great for hiking) that I'm using now, but I think the material feels clammy after a day of wearing it.

As for head, I'm going to stick with my watchcap and neck gator. That and a hood has never failed me. (Meaning, I never had to put on a helmet to get warm). My mind may change when we encounter our first Washington snow storm though.