View Full Version : Layering advice needed

12-29-2014, 22:31
I find myself needing to add or subtract insulation layers more often than I'd like when hiking in 30-45 degree temperatures.
Ie: adjust as the day warms up, the elevation gets higher, the terrain gets steeper, the wind picks up, or I enter a long shady stretch of trail...

I wear a base layer top, t shirt, wind shirt, boxer briefs, hiking pants, hat, and liner gloves while hiking in 45 degree weather, and am comfortable.
For chilly sections, I need to add a fleece shirt --- which I have to put under the wind shirt for it to hold any warmth in.
For breaks, I add a fleece jacket under the wind shirt --- and I would also like to add some fleece tights under my pants to keep my legs warm.

Is there a way to make this easier --- so that layers are added and subtracted on the outside, rather than under my wind shirt and hiking pants ?

I've been using a separate insulation layer and wind shell since I've read that soft shells don't dry quickly. Is this the case ?
Also, the soft shells I've looked at were all much heavier than an expedition base layer + wind shirt (but seemed to have no thicker fleece). Are they warmer in proportion to their extra weight --- or just lots more durable ?


12-29-2014, 23:19
Try hiking in base layer top/bottoms and shorts instead of hiking pants. Use your hat and/or rain jacket to regulate your body temperature. If you get too warm and don't want to shed layers, you can roll the base layer legs/sleeves up also.

If you are hiking better than about 2-2.5 mph, I think that should suffice for those temperatures (depends on how 'hot' or 'cold' of a hiker you are).

12-29-2014, 23:26
It's probably said that soft shells don't dry as quickly as a dedicated completely waterproof outer layer (think gortex) because although soft shells can keep the rain at bay for a long time (especially if the DWR layer is newer), once they're soaked through, they're really soaked through. Whereas something like gortex you can literally shake it out and it's nearly dry because the fabric doesn't absorb water well whatsoever.

12-30-2014, 01:23
If the base layers are "relaxed fit" it is possible to hike in the base layers. If you need more, add wind or rain pants and/or jacket. I like a wind jacket. I am considering a close fit wind anorak. My base layer is reasonably wind proof. If cold, my first layer is "silkweights".

If colder, I add a vest. If more cold and wind, a bigger fit anorak windshirt is substituted for the close fitting windshirt over first layer.

If much colder, I wear bibs over wool and silk longjohns. On top, I have merino first layer, puffy pullover vest, and, insulated jacket.

I think "soft" garments are not useful; they have bulk and they do nothing well.

If you would rather wear loose fit hiking trousers, why not consider arms and leggings bicyclists wear: you could slip on without removing outer clothing.

12-30-2014, 14:47
If you are stopping to rest long enough that you are getting cold then you are probably stopping for too long. Having to add and then remove layers probably extends your break even further. I don't even take my pack off unless I'm stopping for lunch. One of the nice things about cooler weather is when you stop to take a break the cold reminds you its time to get going again. But others are correct in saying you need to figure out a way to add and remove layers without having to get completely undressed. Find layers you can put over top instead of having to put them under what you've got on.

12-30-2014, 15:39
Depending on temperature, cloud cover, wind, precipitation, etc, I may be hiking in shorts/short sleeves (most of the time), long pants/long sleeves (if it's too cold for shorts), DWR pants/rain jacket over shirt (if cool and raining), or long pants over long johns/two long sleeved shirts (very cold, very unusual). For the most common situation, shorts/short sleeves, I adjust my comfort level with gloves and hat, and a fleece vest that I wear backwards over my chest (don't have to remove pack). There are many combinations: hat only, hat + 1 glove, hat + 2 gloves, 1 glove only, 2 gloves only, vest only worn loose to vent heat, vest only worn close to conserve heat, loose vest + 1 glove, etc.
I find I can be comfortable through a wide range of temperatures with this system. At the low end of the range, I may be uncomfortable, but I'm willing to endure a cold wind or a shady section for a while. If it goes on too long, then I'll stop and change.
When I stop to rest or eat, I pull out the down jacket right away. If I start getting cold, I probably need to get moving. If it's raining, I'm probably sweating in my rain jacket and might chill quickly, so again, I'll need to get moving pretty soon.

12-30-2014, 15:47
I forgot to mention hat and gloves. I have at least two hats: a beanie and a Sou'wester rain hat. If cold weather, I have a least two pair gloves: "liners" and either insulated gloves or rain mitten shells.

If quite cold, I have a ThermoWrap, either the wrap, or, the balaclava, or, both.

I almost never hike in the balaclava. I sleep in the balaclava.

I have had a Turtle Fur neck gaiter, in the past. It isn't easy to ventilate, when too warm. I have heard many people like a "buff" they can put on or off more easily, perhaps. It may be worn different ways.

I get a lot of adjustment in warmth, or cooling off, from the head and neck.

Every layer top I have has a mock turtleneck and opens either quarter zip or half-zip.

If hot hot weather, I also have a neck-tie wrap with absorbant cooling material inside. It works. There is also a hat insert available. The material has to be replaced after awhile. It is called crystal cool, available from Quest Outfitters.