View Full Version : Which Jacket is best for Late March In GA

10-19-2007, 10:23
Hey all. I am going to do the GA-NC section of the AT on the last week of March. As I have mentioned before I am no stranger to the AT, and no stranger to cold. But at the same time I dont know first hand what to expect in the mountains this time of year. Some of you have been extremely helpful and informed me that it can vary greatly, and I need to be prepared for the worst. I need to piece some clothing together when my budget allows, so I have been researching jackets. I am considering 3 different ones right now which seem to be in my price range. Firstly the patagonia micro puff, marmot sharp point (soft shell), and mountain hardwear chill factor fleece. Assuming I am wearing baselayers I figure this will be all I need, and I have frogg toggs I could use for additional wind protection if need be. Let me know which you would recmmend. I know fleece is faily heavy and bulky, but im going for a week, and between my gf and myself we can afford to carry it I believe. But I will go ahead and invest in one of the others if they are superior, because I plan to go back regularly. Thanks!

10-19-2007, 10:42
Pick a water repellent hard shell from any of the reputable outdoor manufacturers for your outer jacket. Get it big enough to fit as many layers as needed underneath.

I prefer my hard shell to have no insulation. I use Marmot Precip for rain jacket and rain pants. After that, layer insulation underneath.

If it is going to be below freezing consider something like Mont-Bell's Thermawrap jacket (and pants if needed) in either down or synthetic. Put a more bulky fleece over that, and then the rain/wind shell.

Under the insulation you can layer as many base layers as you need to stay warm. I usually have a Patagonia Capilene 1 or 2 against my skin and put a Capilene 3 or 4 over that if needed. Put the insulation and fleece over that with the rain shell on top and you'll be sweating in no time. Remove and add back layers as needed with exertion.

The great thing about this system is just about all of this can be part of your sleep system also if you need it to be and you won't be carrying a big insulated hard shell outer layer that is good for nothing else.

That's my $.02

10-19-2007, 10:50
Okay. Thanks, but you use some lingo I dont quite understand. Especially when people say hard shell and soft shell (I dont understand the difference). Also I already have Frogg Toggs and was planning on using them for my raingear. And if it gets real cold they seem to insulate really well. I have heard of montbell thermawrap, but are any of the jackets I mentioned just as good? I couldnt find any good deal on the montbell, i have been looking.

10-19-2007, 10:54
See this thread for cheap insulation: military field jacket/pants liner (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=429393#post429393)

10-19-2007, 11:19
Okay. Thanks, but you use some lingo I don't quite understand. Especially when people say hard shell and soft shell (I don't understand the difference). Also I already have Frogg Toggs and was planning on using them for my rain gear. And if it gets real cold they seem to insulate really well. I have heard of mont-bell Thermawrap, but are any of the jackets I mentioned just as good? I couldn't find any good deal on the Mont-bell, I have been looking.

Sorry if I misunderstood your question or confused your point. Generally "hard shell" means waterproof or water repellent. "Soft shell" is not waterproof. Frogg Toggs would take the place of my Marmot Precip.

There are lot's of insulation layers available from different manufacturers. Mont-bell is just what I prefer and I used it as illustration more than anything else.

The real point is, don't focus on the "jacket" itself except as one of your insulation layers. Any of the examples you gave would work as insulation. Although the marmot Sharp Point is also an outer shell wind stopper and the Frogg Toggs will do that. Focus on a layering system and rain protection. My guideline is to not carry anything that cannot or will not be used in conjunction with everything else I carry. A heavy, insulated, waterproof, hard shell jacket is useless (too warm) if you are chilly at 40 to 50 degrees and have nothing else to put on.

10-19-2007, 11:36
The Sharp Point jacket is a soft shell. Wind proof, somewhat water resistant, not very warm when hanging around camp. As I mentioned in the other thread, my wife wears hers for hiking, but she carries puffy insulation for camp and breaks.

From the list you mentioned, I would pick the Micropuff. You could also look at any lightweight down or synthetic puffy jackets. Montbell makes good ones, as do Mountain Hardwear, GoLite, etc.

Fleece is an alternative. It's warm, especially when worn under a windproof layer (like a wind shirt or rain shell). It's not quite as warm for the weight as down or synthetic insulated jackets, but it's a lot less expensive.

10-19-2007, 11:43
We used the micropuff and expedition weight long underwear for our warm clothing for a March 1 start in 2005. Worked great, kept us warm. Also had a 5 degree bag. Oh, and a really warm hat (fleece). My wife had an extra midweight because she gets colder...


Jim Adams
10-19-2007, 11:48
synthetic T, shorts, smartwool undies, micro fleece top, lightweight down jacket, rain shell and pants.
you may never get below 50* or never above 40*, too "iffy" that time of year.


10-19-2007, 12:10
You could write a whole book on the jacket debate, and "soft shell" versus "hard shell". When it keeps rain out, it keeps sweat in. . . when it lets sweat out, it lets rain in, is what it boils down to.

I would use a very lightweight soft windshell, and also carry a cheap rain poncho. Use the poncho only when it rains. But that's just a preference. Like I said, you could write a book. Certainly there are at least chapters of books devoted to the topic.

10-19-2007, 13:33
Skin out:
wicking tee shirt (Visa endurance or underarmor)
wicking Long sleeve tee shirt
100wt fleece pullover, preferably with hood
synthetic vest or LW synthetic jacket with hood (I have the latter from REI
that weighs a pound even)
Breathable WP hooded jacket.

Don't forget gloves and a hat, I keep pp glove liners and a thin watch cap in my shell jacket's pockets so I don't forget them,and they stay there year round.
I would advise against any down garments in the southeast, you can keep a sleeping bag dry fairly easily but not the insulation you are wearing. If the synthetic stuff gets wet, it still provides some warmth and it can be dryed by a fire. This primaloft stuff is getting pretty light.

map man
10-19-2007, 21:07
I've had good luck with the micropuff pullover. A lot of warmth for the weight (12 ounces). And often sometime in the winter Patagonia offers the Micropuff pullover for half price on colors it is discontinuing. That's how I got my bright orange pullover a couple years ago:D .

I don't wear the micropuff while I'm hiking -- generally it's for camp. Even down into the thirties I find I can comfortably hike with a medium weight synthetic base layer with a breathable rain-jacket worn over it (just takes five minutes of hiking to warm up first thing in the morning). I make sure to have my micropuff handy when I stop for breaks in chilly temps because that's when I can get cold. And as others have mentioned, a stocking cap and fleece gloves that you can take on and off is a good way to regulate temperature.