View Full Version : Clothing Question

02-22-2003, 20:38
I have a question about weather, temperature and clothing. Iím starting my through hike on or about March 28th. I realize I still may catch some real weather, and am preparing to see cold temperatures. I have many layers of clothing: What I donít have is a heavy coat. Will this level of layered clothing be a reasonable weight/warmth combination for early April on the trail?

Lightweight balaclava
Fleece skullcap


Polyester lightweight coolmax longsleeve undershirt
Polyester shortsleeve shirt
Mid-weight capilene longsleeve shirt
Midweight fleece jacket (Bounce pack when it warms)
Lightweight windbreaker
Rain poncho

Midweight polyester longjohns
Polyester convertible pants
Midweight fleece pants (bounce pack when it warms)

Thorlo hiking socks (I wear two pair in cold weather)

In really cold weather I can basically wear all of these. On the other hand most of my hiking has been in warmer climates. Will this be enough, or am I going to regret not having a thick down jacket?


Lone Wolf
02-22-2003, 20:46
What you have is just fine.

02-22-2003, 21:23
I might suggest something more substantial than a rain poncho.

Ponchos provide limited protection in the wind, and in the high elevation of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, it can be a driving rain at times.

02-22-2003, 21:54
Looks good for that time of year. Probably the first thing you might ditch is the fleece pants, though they will feel good in camp or in the bag. A pair of light to medium gloves might be helpful, especially if you're cold-natured.

02-22-2003, 22:12
Yes, I do have gloves. Some pretty warm water-proof mittens and when it warms they go home. I hope to be sending a few things home, but I wanted to make sure I didn't start too light.

It's amazing how helpful these boards can be. Thanks!

02-22-2003, 23:44
Dump the fleece pants and poncho and add a rain jacket.

02-23-2003, 01:18
I have hiked a great deal during the day and a good bit at night in mostly 20-35 degrees. Been out a couple of times in 10-20 degrees. I wear Patagonia mid-weight wicking underwear top and bottoms. I have a pair of Columbian hiking shorts I wear to keep from looking vulgar. If I need to I put on my Patagonia Stretch Sephur Jacket and if it is real rough I put on my North Face Nuptse jacket and if needed put on a Marmot Precip coat and pants over everything else. I have Marmot Power Stretch gloves and Outdoor Research rain mitts. I wear smartwool sock liners and heavy wool socks and Timberland Boots that I treat with water proofing. I have a neck warmer that can pull all over my face if needed and a Wigens Gortex hat that has ear covers I can pull down or keep in the head compartment. I seem to be getting over thinking I have to go buy everything new someone mentions or I see in Backpacker or on a forum. I see and talk to other hikers that are just as satisfied with their gear and have almost none of the stuff I have named. I have learned to let my body tell me when to stop and take off or put on.

02-23-2003, 04:59
It all depends on your comfortability level. Are you someone who frequently gets cold? Hot? I tend to be a little on the hot side, so I would modify your system like this...

- Ditch the polyester shortsleeve shirt. Just roll the sleeves up on your long-sleeve.

- Ditch the midweight capilene shirt, and keep your fleece with you all the way. A down jacket/vest may be a good substitute here for the fleece. Good insurance for short cold spurts like when a cold front moves through and your at 5,000ft, lighterweight, and packs smaller.

- Ditch the fleece pants and get windbreaker pants.

- Always carry atleast 2 pairs of socks.

- Consider a fleece hat which has earflaps. I use TNF Windstopper Highpoint Hat. Mountain Hardwear has a duplicate version.

- Bring some lightweight fleece gloves and sil-nylon mittens.

- Try out using an umbrella too, see if you like it.

Under the best of consitions, all you wear is the long-sleeve shirt (with sleeves rolled up) and the convertible pants with the legs removed. One pair of socks. On a chilly morning/evening, throw the windsuit on. When it gets real cold, throw your long johns on (giving you 3 layers) and your down jacket (3 layers once again). If it rains throw on a poncho and put up your umbrella. If your hiking with 40MPH gusts and torrential horizontal rain and it's 33*F, look for a place to set up camp for awhile. No point in being a he-man when you could be chilling out eating warm food and waiting it out in your sleeping bag.

The ultralight poncho I use is sealed down the sides (no buttons) and offers great protection in cold windy rain (used it in driving freezing rain today). You can't use an umbrella very well above treeline, or exposed faces where winds are gusting, but in the woods the wind is broken up so using it is possible. Using the poncho and umbrella I stay well ventilated, dry, and comfortable not being cinched into a gore-tex wetsuit and pack cover. I have tried this method and have a pile of gore-tex rainwear in the corner of my room to vouch for it. Of course this is to be used intelligently. If your planning on hitting the whites in january, make sure you have extra adequate clothing.

Lone Wolf
02-23-2003, 07:23
wabbit like I said, what you have is fine to start with. Don't start ditching and adding gear just cuz someone suggests it. Their experience is different than what yours is gonna be. Add and subtract as you go. There's plenty of outfitters in the first few hundred miles.

02-23-2003, 12:14
Hey Wabbit... I'd have to go with Lone Wolf on this one. Who would you listen to... someone who's hiked the trail 7..or is it 8, times or someone else? Just my opinion here... but be careful when you start listening to the ultralighters. Sometimes they seem to want to sacrifice every ounce then can instead of thinking about what might happen. IMHO... being an ultralighter REQUIRES a great deal of experience to decide what you can cut and what you can't. Starting at Springer in March you MUST be prepared for snow and cold weather. You'll see it without a doubt. Trust you're own judgement, you have a good solid list.

02-23-2003, 12:29
Almost all of these suggestions will work, including, as Lone Wolf pointed out, your original list.

My suggestions, some of which echo what others have said:
You don't need raingear AND a wind jacket. A lightweight rain parka is both. I used a Redledge, there are other good ones such as ProVent.

Personally, until it gets warm I'd ditch the fleece pants for lightweight rain pants. They work for rain, wind protection AND warmth. Most fleece works for just warmth.

Lightweight mitten shells are a good idea. They provide lots of warmth and wind protection by themselves, and you can use spare socks as liners.

Make sure your boots are lightweight. I prefer shoes for most parts of the AT.

Personally, I think that if it weren't for Ray Jardine, few hikers would be using umbrellas. To me, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. Unlike raingear, umbrellas don't provide any warmth (a huge factor when it's wet and cold, the most dangerous and uncomfortable hiking conditions) far less wind protection (another huge factor) and do little to protect you from wet brush and vegetation.

02-23-2003, 12:45
Definetly carry what makes you comfortable, as I mentioned above (whether or not your a cold or hot person).

I would definetly bring breatheable gloves, and some type of water-resistant shells for them, which were not on your list.

Something I forgot to mention is that you should test your clothing & gear in the types of conditions you plan to encounter. It may look and sound good on paper, but you need to have experience with it.

Remember that no matter how advanced your clothing system is, you still need know-how and common sense. If it gets too nasty out, make camp. One of the things I like about lightweight backpacking now, is that it forces you to stay "more-aware" and rely on yourself, rather than on advertising claims. There are those who go Lightweight & Ultralight, and then there are those who go UltraStupid, regardless of experience & packweight.

Just my $0.02.

02-23-2003, 13:40
Wabbit, the whole idea of "breathable" clothing is kind of a joke when placed in the context of a thru-hike. You simply sweat too much on a thru-hike to make any gear retain its original design intent over the long haul. Breathable jacket? Unless its REALLY cold it's probably coming off before you ascend more than .25 miles up a good climb. Are some garments better suited for a thru-hike than others? Sure, but if the desire is there to complete a thru-hike, the brand or weight of selected gear items has very little to do with success or failure. The most important thing IMO is to keep your trunk warm while hiking. In that regard, you have what is needed to do that job.

Regarding gloves, I lost one of mine the day I went over Max Patch in early April and didn't use gloves the rest of the trip. Yeah, my hands were cold from time to time, but I did not use waterproof covers for my glove(s) and it wasn't an issue in the slightest.

Your gear list looks remarkably similar to mine, although I carried 3-4 pairs of socks (more than most hikers). I started March 7. You do not need a down jacket IMO. You can wear all your clothes while hiking if it is frigid, and climb into your sleeping bag to stay warm when you are not. Good luck.

Little Bear
GA-ME 2000

02-23-2003, 14:42
I always have my fleece pants with me...wouldn't leave home without them...and in the early spring I have a pair of lightwieght merino wool longjohns...of course these fleece pants I use cost 9 dollars at Sam's Club..... the only long pants that I carry are a pair of water repellant nylon from target..8 dollars...

sleeping bag I carry a 18 dollar feece bag from Target..weighs slighty over 1 lb...lots of this fancy high price outfitters stuff is BS...

can't think of anywhere on the Ga section of the trail where you can't get to a town by the next day...bad weather in spring is usally short lived just go to town and wait out weather exterme...you'll probably make better time and miles that away not counting your comfort factor..you do need enough gear to 'survive" zero but you can survive zero with less than you think..

glove are needed..or wear a pair of socks on your hands...

it is rare for it to be extermely cold in north ga even in the winter.

Lone Wolf
02-23-2003, 15:02
Right on steve. It's amazing the high priced, light weight, expensive crap that a lot of todays hikers think they need. Slick ads in that rag Backpacker have got lots of folks snowed. At 80 years old and 50 years after his first AT hike, Earl Shaffer does it again with virtually the same stuff. It's all about mental toughness not about how many ounces your hi-tech gadgets weigh. I wonder how many ounces his pith helmet weighed?

02-23-2003, 15:09
As long as you are willing and able to carry the load it's probably wise to start out with what you've got on the list. The fact that you're asking this question means that you haven't had the opportunity to test your clothing against the North GA and NC mountain weather and what anyone else would suggest to you is totally based on their experience and comfort levels.
You'll know in the first couple days what the right combination of layers need to be for you, given the weather conditions. By Neels Gap you can start sifting through your clothing (and gear) and making decisions about what to keep and what to ship home.
Only specific observation I can make about your list though is that a windbreaker and a rain jacket do seem to be redundant. Then again ...if that's what you feel comfortable with and are willing to tote then go for it !!

02-23-2003, 17:08
Not sure about your location, but there is cold & rainy weather where I live right now. Go on a hike and then camp in the backyard. You'll atleast know what you can expect in your current environment with your clothing choices.

Do the same with your sleeping gear.

02-24-2003, 15:19

My grandma used to say, "Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!"

my 2 oz.

Enjoy your hike!!
(and be warm and dry!)
Perkolady :)