View Full Version : Scaling down my clothing advice

02-20-2019, 07:52
Trying to dial down clothing for our March 12 starting date for AT thruhike. I am stuck at one thing. Basically I have a wicking shirt, long sleeved capilene shirt,convertable pants, tights, and lighter shorts. Then for camp fuzzy base layer fleece top and bottom. I also have a synthetic puffy jacket, with buff and a beanie.

Should I bring the tights to wear under my convertable pants while hiking in the beginning? I'm from Florida so I'm chilly easy. I can always mail them home in Virginia where a lot of peeps mail their cold weather stuff home.

02-20-2019, 08:02
I brought convertible pants + Frog Toggs bottom (and top, but talking about pants here) + thin fleece Long Johns that came to mid calf for my Thru. They can be worn together and worked quite well. I think there is just so much you can leave out for winter hiking.

02-20-2019, 08:56
Good advice! I have zpacks rain kilt instead of rain pants though.

Tipi Walter
02-20-2019, 10:10
What you call "tights" I call leggings . . . but what kind of leggings are you talking about? Capilene? Merino 200wt? 260wt? Old style polypropylene???

March 12 will still get butt cold on occasion and so of course leggings are mandatory.

Every backpacking trip I pull includes leggings---both for cold weather hiking under my shorts (the hippie hiker look) and for bottom pajamas in the sleeping bag---they help to keep the bag clean. And in real cold conditions I wear them under my gtx rain pants while hiking.

For a March 12th start I'd include a down vest and/or a down jacket of some kind---the vest can be worn when hiking at 15F and the vest/jacket for in-camp warmth.

02-20-2019, 10:19
If you're committed to staying on trail through everything the Southern Appalachians can throw at you at that time of year, pay attention to Tipi's advice about hiking at 15F, in blowing snow. I agree, add a high quality down garment. And get the experience in using it--you don't want to wet it out with sweat or cold rain on the first day.

On the AT, though, you do have the option of bailing out when the weather gets extreme. Hostels get packed with hikers who aren't ready for it. Consider town stay costs when complaining about the cost of down.

Back to the question. A general bit of advice I like when thinking about scaling down, is that you should be able to wear everything you carry at the same time, as part of a coordinated layering system.

02-20-2019, 11:28
“Back to the question. A general bit of advice I like when thinking about scaling down, is that you should be able to wear everything you carry at the same time, as part of a coordinated layering system.”
The Gospel according to Colin Fletcher dating back to the 1960s.
Wearing all of your clothing also applies to sleeping in your sleeping bag.
Coming from Florida you have never seen the weather that the mountains can and will throw at you.
Be warm. Be dry. Be safe.

02-20-2019, 11:57
I ended up wearing the leggings and shorts combo more than the Convertable pants on my 2018 Thru Hike. I also started and ended the day in Rain Pants (even though I also had a Z Packs Rain Kilt). I lost so much weight and inches on my waist that I sent the pants home in VA. Bought another pair but usually only wore them in town or when shorts were wet. If redoing the trail, I wouldn’t take Convertable but use the rain pants instead. Here was a vid that showed wearing all clothes at once concept which helped me to survive two Nor’easters.


Domt stress it too much, you will figure it out and adjust easily on Trail. You have Neels Gap, Top of GA Hostel, Franklin, Fontana and Finally Hot Springs where Gear can be dialed in.

02-20-2019, 15:31
What I'd guess most call tights are heavier than silk wt synthetic bottoms. Tights are bulkier. Tights take more abuse and are more durable and usually have some compression characteristics. They can be worn alone on the bottom half more so than silk wt thermal bottoms when hiking unless you wish to display your unsupported privates. Silk wt bottoms I recognize as not having those traits. Tights are a piece that I run in and do day hikes. In camp or sleeping is different story. The silk wt bottoms can be your change in camp wear and back up addition to be worn with the convertibles for those few really cold days. I rarely to never include tights on backpacking trips of AT thru hiking distances and durations. They don't provide enough positive trade offs for the added wt and bulk, for me.

What I'm after and I assume you too are in the context of am AT NOBO Mar 12 start is maintaining core warmth. It sounds like you have that with perhaps starting with silk wt bottoms to be worn under the convertibles considering you're going with a rain skirt. For myself, I know if my core and extremities are warm I can hike in shorts bare legged when it's not raining or high winds into the 20's. I can do that because I don't stop often, stop long, or if I do I have some type of apparel to immediately add or when I'm stopping it's not in a harshly exposed location. I'm generating heat because I'm consistently moving and rarely taking my pack off which contributes to warmth. I'm more a hiker meaning I spend more time actually moving in a 24 hr day rather than standing around, in camp, chatting it up while stopped, or doing other things that aren't a high energy heat generating output. That's how I make my miles and tend to LD backpack. Knowing this about myself affects what apparel I wear. You may consider these things as it personally applies.

Silk wt bottoms with odor control can be had for less than $20. I'd go that way rather than tights.

IMO tights and convertible pants is similar to carrying two types of specialty pants.

Little redundant but I'd start for my bottom half the rain skirt, silk wt bottoms, lightest comfortable running shorts, and the convertibles ditching the tights. If need be you can wear the silk wt bottoms under the nylon running shorts for a second bottom half set up. That I see is perhaps becoming more common among some LD backpacking communities. At some pt you can ditch the convertible pants. BTW, for your Mar 12 start the rain skirt is quite breathable and offering freedom of movement but it may still be cold. The skirt offers little warmth which is why on the few occasions I have used rain skirts I wait until it gets warmer to include it in my kits. That's where for me a rain skirt shines. This is another reason why I'd include silk wt bottoms rather than tights. If you said you'd be using rain pants I might think differently. Just my opinion. That being said I have seen backpackers, usually females, who will wear tights over a rain skirt. I have no experience doing that.

Since I'm more advanced in knowing myself as a LD backpacker and hold to an UL approach I too will mimic what others said in that I want to be able to wear all my apparel as much as possible. I don't want any piece of apparel or gear lying in my pack unused for long durations. This includes adapting gear as apparel that most would not avail themselves. For example, a tarp I might wrap around me toga style under a shell, an empty backpack my feet go into when sleeping or is used as added ground clothe, rain jacket is worn far beyond when it's raining(I usually sleep in mine), a quilt or sleeping bag if it isn't raining or snowing I'll wrap around my shoulders, hands are cold a second pr of dry socks are worn over glove/mittens, etc. This gets me through those times when I need something extra. If I'm feeling cold I'll increase my pace just below where I'm starting to sweat to generate more heat. And, I'll maintain that sweetness state in cold weather. I will refuse to stop because I know I can chill quickly.

Cold on my legs doesn't bother me as much as cold numb hands, feet, ears, top of head, or around my vital organs such as brain, hear, lungs, etc. I actually usually welcome coll or cold legs as part of maintaining a comfortable temp. Since you may not be as yet understanding of yourself take the added wt of silk wt bottoms or tights. See how it goes in your backpacking and layering and thermoregulating regulating practice. We each have to recognize we are in different places so what's right for one may not be right for someone else.

Remember, weather changes so do kits, layering schemes, etc. Cover your bases until you get to know thyself better. BTW, I went from living in Tampa/Ft Myers area to a late fall LT SOBO thru and a JMT SOBO. I was fine although I had grown up mainly in the south New Jersey Pinelands Reserve and had already done several LD thru hikes including an AT Nobo.

02-20-2019, 18:55
And I call them Long Johns.

I only wear them in camp. I only hike in them in single digit temps, but if it's that cold, I have heavier pants on then nylon convertibles. I find the nylon pants don't keep me all that warm, too thin. So yeah, I'd use a light weight leggings, like the silk bottoms Dogwood mentioned for hiking when it's cold and blustery out. Then I'd have a heavier, warmer pair of bottoms for camp/sleeping.

As it is your clothes list is the least I'd take. I'd add another long sleeve base layer to the mix. I highly recommend using long gaiters that time of year too. They keep you much cleaner and warmer.

02-20-2019, 19:20
Good advice! I have zpacks rain kilt instead of rain pants though.

I used the rain kilt when weather got warmer, the pants are dual purpose (warmth and water repellent).