View Full Version : Longjohns top+bottom vs an extra zipfleece + 12oz side zip ins. pants

01-29-2010, 14:01
Hi there fellow hikers!

I have been pondering the issue of base layer for a while. One of my gripes with longjohns style base layers has been that as it warms during the day, in order to take it off, one must strip down to undies to remove it. With snow and cold, this is not a good system.

I was thinking....what about dropping these two and replacing it with a zip fleece and adding this base layer's warmth as a second layer instead. For bottoms, I was thinking of some kind of side-zip insulated pants like montbells.

I'm not worried about a sleep system: my t-shirt and conv pants are sufficient

Has anyone ever tried this?

01-29-2010, 14:34
Most of the time in the winter when I need pants to hike I hike in my shell pants which have full zips. This helps a lot for venting.

I am close to getting a pair of thermawraps to replace my fleece pants in camp. I like the idea of the side zips for the off chance I would need them while hiking or to possibly put on close to making camp or even just after arriving in camp. I have a jacket for breaks and lunch and thermawraps might be useful for lunch stops too.

I stay very warm though when hiking, I can regulate fairly well with a hat, gloves, neck gaiter. I've also recently added a wind shirt which for me would function about the same as putting on a lightweight fleece top.

While the zipfleece (I'd say half-zip) could be about the same weight and warmth as the longjohn top (depends on weight), the bottoms would be lighter but not as warm I'd think.

01-29-2010, 15:09
Have you thought of replacing the top with a half-zip running top?

I wouldn't spend >$50 for a shirt, but I own several of similar style. I sometimes use a windshirt, instead of the 1/2zip top.

01-29-2010, 15:25
The issues I would have with this are (a) weight, and (b) might be too warm at times.
For me, a thin base layer allows me to start walking with them on when it's pretty cold out; I think with the fleece or a thermawrap (or cocoon or any such) outer pant I'd be too warm almost immediately in most conditions.

Of course it very much depends on which particular conditions you envision using these in, as well as your overall hiking "style" (pace, metabolism, how often and for how long you take breaks during the day, etc etc).

01-29-2010, 15:52
The added Weight is not too much more...I used to use the smartwool midweight top/bottoms and those are rather beefy.

I feel like the flexibility is much more now. It's a lot easier to hike in a tshirt and light fleece than work the midweights into the package. Even today, at work, I "hiked in" wearing longjohns and I had to extract the top within a few minutes of getting inside. If it was just a zipdown, it would have been trivial.

Plus....I rarely need longjohn lowers. I'm either comfy in my hiking pants plus waterproof pants or I really need warmth. So its either too little or too much.

01-29-2010, 17:57
I don't mind stripping down in winter to add or remove a skin layer.
It is a good way to dry things out.

It doesn't happen that often though, with the right layering system. If you leave your shells off most of the time, and wear wool and fleece, then everything breathes, and the wool is very forgiving being able to absorb alot of moisture and dry out again. Most of the adjustment during the day is with hats and mitts, and the extra fleece layers over top if there are any, and shells only going on if you stop or if it gets really windy and cold, or rain. Again even with shells, while you need them, the wool is very forgiving, and can absorb alot of body moisture for a time, recovering its heat, and then dry out later. The innermost skin layer usually only needs to be chosen at the beginning of the day, and is optional on days when you are active. I usually hike in winter with no skin layer under my wool sweater, or a thin wool sweater if anything, and synthetic leggings under my hiking shorts. I add fleece pants if its colder. If its really cold I will dig my long wool underwear out of my sleeping bag and put them on. If its really cold, all my layers are on, and my outer shell with hood turns everything into a parka. Down clothing just gets in the way of such a system. Whatever down I carry would be in my sleeping bag.

01-29-2010, 18:01
Zippers add weight, and leak warmth.
More wool and fleece weight, less zipper and shell weight.
When you add it all up, wool and fleece systems are lighter than down systems.

If there is a case for down clothing, it is only in pure alpine or arctic conditions, or day trips, not in conditions that are a mix of cold and wet and extreme cold over severaL days. Down clothing is way overdone.

01-29-2010, 18:05
Maybe something like these....


They don't even look that hard to make if you can sew, the price seems a bit steep.

01-29-2010, 18:17
They look intended for use with a full length parka, to the knee. Good system for stationary winter camping or ice fishing, travelling by snowmobile or vehicle, but not for trips where most of your day is spent travelling on foot. A skin layer and 200wt fleece pants and separate wind pants are more flexible.

01-30-2010, 10:31
I actually find that while in motion....the raingear is the most important warmth item due to wind blocking and "vapor barrier" effect and my fleeces just have the wind blow right through them.

But I'll bow to the wisdom and put all my longjohns back into my pack. A winter hike is no place to experiment and find out you were wrong =)