View Full Version : Need help with gear and clothing decisions

10-17-2007, 01:19
Hey all. This is going to be a pretty long post, but those of you have time to give some input I would greatly appreciate it! I have mentioned in some posts today that I am planning a 7-10 day hike of the AT from GA-NC section in Late March of 08'. I have done this section before but in June. I am set as far as equipment for myself. But I need some help with my wardrobe. Also this time I will be bringing my girlfriend.
Let me give you a quick look at the gear I have.
Aether 60 Pack
platypus hydration system
western Mountaneering apache 20F plus silk liner
zlite sleeping pad
adidas trail runners is what I used last time (Ill probably get a new pair or boots before my next trip)
gsx zipoff nylon guide pants (will these keep me warm enough?)
patagonia capilene boxers,
3 patagonia capilene shirts (2 of which are long sleeve),
2 pair smart wool socks with sock liners.
I have all sorts of other knick knacks cookware stove, headlamp, water tratment, swiss army, the purpose of this post is not really to go into that, just wardrobe. I know I have some more gear to purchase, most of this is just from my little section hike last year.
Firstly, I am unfamiliar with what to expect as far as weather goes, and was wondering what is my best bet to keep warm without over doing it. As of right now I have a few long sleeve patagonia shirts and I just purchased some cool zip off nylon pants. I have the 20F Western Mountaineering bag plus a liner and I sleep very warm so Im not concerned about night. even though I live in FL i grew up in Nj and am no stranger to the cold. What is the minimal you guys would where while on the go. Do i need fleece in mid to late march? Also I used smartwool socks with trail runners last trip, in early spring time will I need boots? I do not buy the cheapest gear I can find, but just like most people money is a real issue for me, so does anyone suggest anything particular for me as far as jackets go.
Now lets talk about her. I am much more concerned about her, firstly because she is a florida native. Has only been on a 3day camp trip with me in FL, and multiple day hikes. It is warm here so she slept in my liner and we both slept on top of the WM bag. She is trying to get more into it and has enjoyed our trips so far, so I dont want to give her a bad experience with being cold or uncomfortable. Just tell me what you think she needs, Im talking links, and reviews. She has lots of gear to get, but we are piecing it together when our budget allows and we have plenty of time. the main reason I posted my gear is because we will be purchasing her many of the same things I have, such as the frog toggs, zlite pad She has an Aura 50, I figured that would be plenty big considering I will be carrying just about everything that we both will be using together. She does not have her own sleep bag, and I do need advice on that, I am considering the marmot aspen series 40F down i seen on sale for 80 dollars in Dick's. I know its marmot but thats way to cheap to be good, huh? But someone was helpful and answered my posts earlier said that might not be enough in March. But im thinking is she is uncomfy she can just hop in my WM bag. I know this post is a lot to chew at once. any thoughts suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks!!!

Appalachian Tater
10-17-2007, 01:52
Maybe get her a sleeping bag that will zip together with yours.

Three shirts seems like two much, two should do it, but you might want three pairs of socks.

Make sure you both have a very warm hat to help regulate body temp while taking breaks and at night especially.

There is an article about clothing by SGT Rock that you should read even though you have experience: here (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=198663#post198663).

I think the basic advice especially for that time of the year is synthetic wicking base layer, insulation layer, and wind/rain shell, and to have a complete change of base layer for sleeping and in case you get wet.

You will probably get hot hiking some days and be cold at night. I think a light wool sweater or fleece may be handy especially for your girlfriend to hike in even if you have a heavier down or fleece.

Long underpants are great on cold days especially in camp and for sleeping in.

10-17-2007, 07:27
Let me suggest that you each have a sleeping pad to get you up off of the cold ground. That will help you be warm while sleeping on the cold ground.

10-17-2007, 10:09
Yeah, I use the z-lite sleeping pad, and that is probably what i'll end up getting her.

10-17-2007, 20:44
Hey, flagator,

Temps in late March in the NC mountains can range from the single digits to the mid-70s. Yes, you need fleece. Given the likely low temps, I don't see any way that your girlfriend will be happy with a 40-F rated sleeping bag. She'll need a good 20-F or 15-F bag, supplemented with warm clothing on the colder nights.

You seem to be experienced, just unaware of how cold it can get in the mountains in March and April. It can get *freaking cold* in the evening sitting around camp, and in the morning when you first get up. (Not to mention in the middle of the night if your bag isn't warm enough. Not fun.) I have been out with lows in the 40s (nice) and lows around 10-F (cold) in March (of the same year, actually).

My lovely wife is always cold. That time of year, she'll hike in soft shell pants (Ibex Guide Light pants), a lightweight wool or synthetic base layer, and her Marmot Sharp Point jacket. She'll often layer a 100-wt microfleece zip tee under the jacket if it's cold enough. She wears trail runners and wool socks, a lightweight fleece cap and light windproof gloves. In camp, she has fleece pants (Patagonia r-.5 pants), a dry microfleece zip-tee, a down jacket, a warmer hat, and windbloc glove/mitts. She carries thick wool socks for sleeping, and drapes her down jacket over her torso inside her bag (a Western Mountaineering Ultralite Super 20-F) for extra warmth.

I carry lighter versions but a similar system. I wear a long sleeve synthetic light base layer top, running shorts (GoLite Terrain shorts), and an ultralight wind shirt while hiking, with trail runners and wool socks. When I stop I have either a Patagonia Micropuff pullover, or a heavier down jacket, long john bottoms, and wind pants. I also carry dry wool socks for sleeping, and usually warmer hat and gloves for camp/breaks. Both of us are carrying rain shell tops and pants.

11-09-2007, 12:15
Thank you guys for all your help so far. I wanted to update this thread because I have invested in some gear. I have gotten my gf a marmot helium sleep bag which is the the light blue female version , its rated to 15 F. We both have patagonia capilene 2's and 4's top and bottom baselayers. I have a patagonia micropuff pullover. I'm going to get her a silk liner to add some extra warmth. We still need to get her some pants, the ibex guide like pants seem very expensive, so im still ooking for a deal on those. Also a jacket for her. You say wind proof gloves, any particular models you suggest for late march, early april on the GA-NC section?

11-09-2007, 13:56
How about this:



11-10-2007, 12:22
Thats funny, cause i came across that the other day. That looks like what those scientist peoples wear in antarctica.

11-10-2007, 19:01

You don't need the Ibex softshell pants for your gf. A pair of nylon pants and some light long john bottoms would work, and save a bunch of money. (Those Ibex and Icebreaker things are pricey.)

I really like Windstopper or Windbloc gloves or mitts. (Those are trade names for windproof fleece.) Many different companies make gloves from that fabric.

Her sleeping bag sounds great. For a jacket, a puffy insulated jacket with a hood would be ideal. Patagonia now makes a Micropuff parka with a hood and full zipper -- very nice. Also, Montbell makes the Alpine Light down jacket with a hood in women's sizes.

You would both still need rain shells for the worst weather. The insulated jackets are for camp, rest breaks in cold weather, and extra insulation when sleeping. (In other words, generally not for hiking.)

Frolicking Dinosaurs
11-10-2007, 19:42
Before my leg went bionic (metal inside means you have to keep it extra warm), I hiked in the coldest weather in a pair of silk long underwear with pair of men's lined nylon sweatpants on top (DWR and windproof). The combo breathed well, dried quickly and was very flexible - if the pants got a little too warm, I could open the ankle zips for extra ventilation. If it was still too warm, I'd remove the silk and just wear the nylon pants. I added a pair of micro-fleece pants in camp, on stops or if the wind + temp got cold enough to make them necessary while hiking. Worked well for me.

BTW, if your gf is small (under women's size 9 or 10), the largest boys sizes in nylon sweatpants may fit her.

11-28-2007, 01:49
okay, well I got her the micro puf parka from patagonia, we have 2and 4 capilene baselayers. Now, Are boots necessary? I hiked in trail runners last time, and they worked just fine, but that was in June. But I know it will be cold, there is a slim possibility of snow. Will trailrunners with thick wool socks be sufficient, or is that not a good idea.

Dirty Harry
11-28-2007, 02:58
Deff. more of a slim possibility of snow, but Gore-tex xcr trail runners would be my best bet depending on the wieght you are carring. Go with a middle weight smartwool sock with the trailrunner, no liner, and possible gators for spring mud. Personally I think if you are going on a section hike, with your girl you should go later so it would be more enjoyable for both you and her. Late spring, good temps, good sun, no bugs, and dryer trails. Hope that helps.

11-28-2007, 09:25
Agree with Harry, trail runners and medium weight wool socks work well for me even in cold weather. In winter I switch to Goretex trail runners and tall Goretex gaiters, and this combination keeps my feet warm and dry in all kinds of weather. (Still wearing the same mid-weight wool socks -- Smartwool Adrenaline Light Cushion Crew socks.)

March is iffy -- that's when I have a hard time deciding between GTX runners and mesh runners. It can go either way, and I usually end up making the wrong decision anyway :-?

That's the problem with shoulder-season hiking -- it's tough to know what to bring for clothing and gear. January is easy -- bring the winter stuff. July is easy -- don't bring much of anything. But March, part of April, and November are tough, at least in the southern Appalachians.

11-28-2007, 09:59
Thank you guys for more responses, I appreciate it. I have many many questions simply because I want to be over prepared and safe. We have now got my gf patagonia nylon pants - we got them second hand so im not sure what exact model they are, but they seem very good quality. Also we have her patagonia capilene 2, and 4 baselayers. What im confused about is when she should wear what. I know it is a layer system and you simply take off or put on to be comfortable. But should one of them be designated for camp only so that they are nice and dry on cold nights. If she does that than we might have to invest in another pair of baselayers. I seen some lopng johns at my local target that are 60% polyester and 40% cotton. I know that cotton is a bad idea for certain reasons, but if that is your desginated pair for dry conditions do you think they keep you warm and are okay to use?

Appalachian Tater
11-28-2007, 10:18
Definitely always have a spare something to wear that is kept dry even if it is only long underwear. That and a dry sleeping bag are your protection against hypothermia. (Remember, you don't have to be in very cold weather to become hypothermic.) I would be hesitant to take a cotton blend. Look for something of silk, wool, or synthetic, or a blend of these. Target does have some synthetics and so does K-Mart and you can get them cheap on Sierra Trading Post, Campmor, Backcountry Outlet, etc., especially for women. I have also seen Nike and other sports brands of long tops and occasionally bottoms at TJ Maxx and Marshall's, Daffy's, and Filene's Basement.

11-28-2007, 13:45
What about polyester and nylon, aren't they good. Because Patagonia capilenes are polyester I believe. I believe they both dry quick as well.

Appalachian Tater
11-28-2007, 17:19
What about polyester and nylon, aren't they good. Because Patagonia capilenes are polyester I believe. I believe they both dry quick as well.

They fall into the category of synthetics.

11-28-2007, 17:34
You are unlikely to wear both the #2 and #4 base layer at the same time. Wear the lighter set while hiking, and the heavier set around camp. Have a light wind resistant layer to wear over the base layer while hiking if it gets windy and/or too cold. Realize that your body will put out a lot of heat while you are moving, especially with a pack.

11-28-2007, 21:15
I also want to invest in goretex shoes. I think I want to go with more of a boot style rather than trail runners. For ankle support if it slick and also if I decide to go in the midst of winter, they would allow me to walk in snow without my toes freezing off. I see many goretex shoes going for decent prices on ebay, I heard vasque and lowa are good, any particular models you suggest could be used for both winter and early spring?

11-28-2007, 23:47
I like my old Vasque GTX Sundowners, they are WARM, too warm for hiking in the SE unless it is winter time. I would go out on a limb and say the Asolo is probably making the best lightweight hiking boots currently.

11-29-2007, 02:41
You can wear sandals with goretex socks and wool socks, and your feet will stay warm; just sayin' boots don't automatically equal warmth.

11-29-2007, 12:29
okay so trail runners that are fitted a bit loose, which would allow room for a goretex and or wool sock, could equal the warmth of a boot? or am i taking your comment too literally. Because I do love trail runners, never been much of a boot person, and if you could hike in the SE year round with trail runners and goretex socks when you need them, I'd consider that option. But i thought goretex socks were pretty thick to wear inside a trail runner.

11-29-2007, 12:52
Yes it can be just as warm. They're thin and stretchy.