View Full Version : need advice on warm inner layer jacket

Mike Drinkuth
10-25-2003, 12:43
I'm a thin guy with just about 0% body fat and so I get cold rather easily on the trail in winter. What i'm looking for is a warm jacket to be worn under my marmot precip jacket (in wet weather) and basicaly in camp, only, or whenever i'm not actually hiking. Obviously, i'm also trying to keep it under 1lb.

I've found Marmot makes an excellent down jacket under 1lb...for 160.00$ but......

as i'm saving money like a squirrel for next april, i'm trying not to spend 160.00 on ANY more gear. I've already spent too much. I'm scanning every thrift store in atlanta every 3 or 4 days with no luck yet.
any ideas for me?
anybody wanna teach me how to sew? hehe

10-25-2003, 14:37
Mike, I don't think you can go wrong with a fleece jacket. It insulates if wet, you can stuff in anywhere in your pack, it makes a good pillow at night and it's cheaper than down.

10-25-2003, 14:57
Have you looked at any of the Primaloft or Polarguard jackets? They are cheaper than down and have a higher warmth to weight ratio than fleece. Also have more wind resistance then fleece and pack smaller. MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) has some nice ones in their house brand, also check out Go-lite, I think there are still some Go-lite jackets on clearance at Northern Mountain Supply. One more is the Primaloft sweater or vest from Wildthings now on clearance at there outlet site.

Northern Mountain



Hope this helps:)

Rich T

Note: The MEC prices are in Canadian Dollars so use the price converter on the page to price in US Dollars

10-25-2003, 20:16
I opted to go the PrimaLoft route for my hike this year and was totally satisfied. As Mudchaos pointed out, MEC offers a few of this type jacket that weighs about 11 oz and packs down in its own pocket to a very small package. Mine is called the "Mountain Lite" and I think I paid around $60 US (after currency conversion from Canadian dollars). My decision was based for the most part on wanting to get away from the bulk of a 200 weight fleece, which I had always carried in the past. Like Moose, I also used this jacket as a pillow when I didn't need to be wearing it.

SGT Rock
10-26-2003, 01:47
Go to an army surplus store and get a field jacket or parka liner for about $5, they weigh about 10 ounces for a medium one. They work great.

Blue Jay
10-27-2003, 09:15
Primaloft is synthetic down, it even looks like feathers. It has close to the same insulating properties as down but does not collapse when wet.

10-27-2003, 11:31
I've used an MEC Northern Lite II primaloft pullover as my main insulation for a couple of years now. I like it quite a bit and find it as warm (or maybe a tad warmer) than my old 300 wt. fleece. Weight is 11 oz and durability is pretty good, although mine is starting to break down. The shell is okay, but the primaloft is getting less lofty each trip. It probably has another long hike in it, but that will be it.

Mike Drinkuth
10-27-2003, 13:13
Wow, lots of votes for primaloft, Thanks guys for all the advice! Hey, Sgt. I went to an army surplus store to look for parka liner or field jacket but they were closed on sunday. I'll stop in again this week. So, the primaloft doesn't look that thick but it must be mad warm to garner all this recomendation. So far i'm loving the weight and prices i'm seeing. I realy love supporting my local outfitter but their prices (or selection) NEVER come close to what I find online!
Thanks again!

Moon Monster
10-28-2003, 00:24
I second (or is it fourth now) the MEC Northern Lite line. The pullover is a half-zip. They also have a full-zip vest, which is less lofty and is more comparable to 200wt fleece. I have both and together they are extry-toasty.

10-28-2003, 00:48
Fleece - walmart carries a black fleece pull-over with zip and no hood by remington in the hunting section - about 20 bucks if I recall

Mike Drinkuth
10-28-2003, 12:11
ok....the fleece recomendations are confusing me. Aren't I supposed to avoid anything that would absorb moisture that much? I have a nice north face fleece jacket let me see what's it's made of...ok, polyester and nylon. It just seems like it could act like a sponge so i've never taken it out on the trail. I guess I didn't even realize that my fleece was made of poly & nylon. I just thought fleece was ~taboo~. Mabye this thing wouldn't actually absorb that much H2O.
WOW, another vote for MEC northern lite!

10-28-2003, 12:35
I've found that although fleece can act like a sponge, it will keep you warm and dry with a little sprinkling. With this said, I used fleece on my hike. First the North Face Denali (2 lbs -pretty heavy) and then switched to a duofold lightweight fleece for the rest of the trip.
Point is, you shouldn't be worried about getting fleece wet. I assume you wont need it to hike in. If your starting in april it'll never be cold enough to need it while hiking, and even if you ever did you'd have a rain jacket on avoiding direct contact with rain. I started march 1st and never felt the need to hike in fleece. Carry another long sleeve shirt that you can throw on for the ocasional chilly morning. For the most part the fleece or inner jacket your looking for will be worn at night, in your sleeping bag, in a shelter or tent, so you really shouldnt get wet. If you were wearing it around camp in the rain to say..get water or hang a bear back, you could just throw ur precip on over it.

Sounds like people really liked the MEC jacket. If you want it, get it, but if your looking to really pinch pennies, you can get fleece very cheaply.

Mike Drinkuth
10-28-2003, 14:09
yeah, yeah, A-Train...I weighed my fleece and it comes in at 1.25lbs...that's heavier than i'd hoped...the MEC northern lite runs about 75$ though...ya know if money were no object i'd be the most ultralight hiker out there but trying to strike a balance between lightweight gear and economic limits is driving me nutz!
Plus I was thinking the same thing, i'm only going to use this layer when sitting still in camp so how can I justify spending more bread on it? 75$ is a lot of foilpack tuna, ya know.

11-04-2003, 04:17
A lot of fleece these days is synthetic and doesnt absorb anything.

yogi clyde
12-25-2003, 16:01
Hey Sgt Rock, how do you fasten your liner?

My old liner has button holes on both sides, to button into my field jacket.
So far I have used twist ties, but thought about getting my tailor to make some sort of 2 sided button attachment.

12-25-2003, 19:00
I have a golite coal parka and the MEC primaloft vest, like the northern lite. The jacket is much puffier than the vest. I believe that the golite, which is polarguard, is a little heavier than the MEC, but it also has a detachable hood. However, it seems to me that the primaloft has lost loft faster than the polarguard. I had the choice to get either the MEC Northern Lite or the Golite Coal, and opted for the Coal because of price and hopefully better durability. Anyway, if interested in a cheap Golite Coal, try www.mountaingear.com. I got my Coal parka for $60.00 there.

12-25-2003, 20:50
Hey Sgt Rock, how do you fasten your liner?Check out Rock's site (http://www.hikinghq.net) as I think he talks about this somewhere. Maybe on his gear list page?

12-26-2003, 17:44
Check out something called "PowerStretch. It's a Mauldin Mills fabric in the fleece family but for it's weight and thickness it keeps you a lot warmer than a light weight fleece. I carried one that was a half zip pull-over. Stayed warm as toast in the beginnig of my hike and again in the Whites and Maine.

yogi clyde
12-26-2003, 21:53
Check out Rock's site (http://www.hikinghq.net) as I think he talks about this somewhere. Maybe on his gear list page?

Thanks Yellow Jacket, he had it there.

12-27-2003, 00:10
I love MEC! I actually just bought the Northern Light a few weeks ago as my main cold-weather gear for the AT 2004. I've been training in quite cold weather (around 0 F most days) and so far it's been great.

I usually just wear a long-sleeve polyester shirt or a short sleeve shirt and a light fleece under it and never been cold so far. It's dries off really quick and sheds snow well (not sure about rain...hasn't rained here in a couple months) and is also wind-proof.

The thing that kind of annoys me about it is that it doesn't cover the neck/lower face at all even when fully zipped....but of course its always a trade-off for weight.

I totally recommend the Northern Lite pullover as well as all other MEC-brand products. For you Americans out there, it's probably quite a good deal with the exchange rate.

01-09-2004, 11:20
I just got the Montbell Thermawrap jacket this Xmas. Haven't had a chance to field test it yet but it's pretty cool. Not super thick but a great inner layer at 7.6 ozs! Squishes down to nothing. I got it from ARGEAR.com. See link:


I've used a Mountain Hardwear chugach in the past. It's 3d filled, thick, and warm. Fairly light to boot.

01-09-2004, 15:03
I bought a rei the one jacket at one of there close outs for 40$. For a Aril 1st start will this and a marmot precip rain jackets be enough? I was thinking of getting a light weight fleece also for the 1st few weeks.

01-09-2004, 17:09
I bought a rei the one jacket at one of there close outs for 40$. For a Aril 1st start will this and a marmot precip rain jackets be enough? I was thinking of getting a light weight fleece also for the 1st few weeks.

It's still cold in the mountain in April and May. You need to be prepared for freezing weather. Some of the best advice I headed was don't swap out your cold weather gear until after Mount Rogers (and Memorial Day). So, I suggest that you have both a heavy fleece and a windshirt or light fleece as well as polypro.

01-09-2004, 17:40
As long time user of SGT Rock's FJ liner there are four techniques for closing it--1. Most common -- flip the L and R sides over each other and tuck into your pants. 2. Sew big green buttons off an old pair of BDUs on one side and button on opp side. 3. Velcro 4. The Special Forces solution--I'm not making this up. (You probably need to have experienced our great armed forces to understand this) --Have a contractor make you a "device" for securing the FJ liner--contractor's solution was pairs the big BDU buttons threaded together with piece of heavy nylon thread in a manner that left about an inch and a half of slack between the buttons. The four threads were then knotted together in the middle between the buttons. Came in a little plastic package with three pair of the buttons--the guy wanted to sell them to us for something like $7.00 bucks a package. The supply guys laughed at loud when they saw the solution, then purchased something like a 1000 sets. It's nice to have the big bucks.

Personally I used method #1 for 27 years with no complaints. However now that I am retired I've upgraded to the Patagonia R4--I can afford to be a wimp now.

Take care--ex-light infantryman 1974-2001 RLTW