View Full Version : How can you tell if lightweight, midweight or heavyweight??

12-05-2013, 14:34
I am in the progress of gathering my thru hike clothing. I have a few items i own already but baselayers i do not. When talking about baselayers, im only familiar with the tradition cotton thermal underwear. Im searching for lightweight or midweight and when searching, i only see titles that tell the difference. When looking around, how can I tell myself if it is a light, mid or hvy? Ex: I saw a 100% Polyester C9 champion and then i also saw a 88% polyester 12% wool. would that be considered lightweight and midweight?

Any and ALL advice is greatly appreciated. :D

12-05-2013, 14:37
In addition to above question, i have seen 92% polyester and 8% spandex...........

12-05-2013, 14:53
Based on clothing I own that's rated as light, medium, or heavy, it's not the "ingredients", it's the thickness of the material: light-to-heavy = thin-to-thick

Tim Causa
12-05-2013, 16:08
Everybody always focuses so much on buying the right "gear" but honestly buying the right clothes is also so important and, like gear, is much cheaper if done right the first time. With that, you know to stay away from cotton, and if you haven't learned yet, Polyester stinks to high hell after a while. Even if you wash polyester, the full strength of the stink can come back in less than a day. If you're able to, save your money and buy a Moreno wool baselayer. It will do a better job wicking sweat, regulating your temperature, and not making you smell like a gorilla's armpit.

12-05-2013, 19:37
+1 on the merino wool.

Trail Ponderer
12-05-2013, 22:01
By your description of the fabrics, I would think the C9 Champion is lightweight and the baselayer with the 12% wool would be closer to midweight range. There are brands (REI, Patagonia, Smartwool to name a few) make baselayers of lightweight, midweight and heavyweight which generally goes by the thickness and weight of the fabric. Check out your local outfitter and see if they carry any of the brands who make the various weights so you can get an idea of it. Then test out the baselayers to see what weight you need for the temperature range you are going to be out in. Good Luck.

12-05-2013, 23:44
This link explains it well:


Base Layer Weights
Generally, there are three different base layer weights.

This is a thin first layer that goes next to your skin with the ability to easily add layers over it. Lightweight base layers are a crucial step in layering as they must be comfortable on the skin and are designed to fit tighter for the best moisture management. Worn alone they are best suited for mild to cool conditions with high levels of activity like running, climbing, cross-country skiing, etc.

A midweight layer can be worn as a warmer first layer or as a second layer over your next-to-skin layer, providing a combination of insulation and moisture wicking. Alone it is best suited to cool or moderately cold to cold conditions with medium levels of activity where you will be moving some of the time but standing still at others. It can be combined with lightweight layers underneath or heavyweight layers over it to accomplish the desired warmth.

This is designed for cold conditions combined with any level of activity and often referred to as "expedition weight". Almost always worn over a lighter weight layer, heavyweight layers are designed to add insulation and are worn looser without as much focus on moisture management. These layers are thicker due to their higher loft for insulation.

For an AT thru-hike, and three season backpacking in general, the lightweight layer would probably work well.

I only use mid-weight bottoms personally when I am doing winter activities (like ski touring). On cooler three season hikes, I will take a mid-weight top however.

Exp weight typically has a brushed inner fleece like liner. I never wear this while moving and only in car camping during deep winter. (Backpacking? I am moving or in my bag on a winter night! :) )

Note you can mix and match. A mid-weight top and light weight bottoms is a combo that works well for many people, too.

12-06-2013, 00:51
AThikebound: If you wish to see how this is figured purchase this book: The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide: Tools & Techniques to Hit the Trail; by Andrew Skurka. A National Geographic Book. It is out in Kindle edition if you wish to have it as an ebook. Skurka does get into how this is figured based on the thickness and thread size, etc., of the garment be it Merino wool or etc. PS. I vote for merino wool. The 'yester (polyester) has the stink of a thousands yesterdays!