View Full Version : With all the snow this year, am I making a mistake for next year? Please advise.

03-26-2013, 19:21
I sleep hot and perspire way before others, and was thinking of NOT taking an outer layer with me (2014), ...meaning a warm jacket, because my pack weight is climbing, and I'm having trouble cutting it. But naturally, I don't want to die or get sick either! Soo, I was planning on just throwing on my frogg togg rain jacket if needed, and would have on (or could put on):

1. Icebreaker merino wool long underwear (top & bottom)
2. Patagonia base layer T
3. Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody (long sleeve)
4. Balaclava

5. gloves and liners
6. and I'll have another t-shirt, a' la walmart starter brand.

I'm not worried about my legs (have convertibles, the rain pants and darntough socks), and frankly, I wish something I owned had pit zips...but I've spent enough already!

So, what do you think....I've never been in the mountains in snow, so I'm asking for advice as to whether the above would work for a "hot" person. (PS: will have a 20* quilt w/exped UL 7 pad in a Lunar solo tent)

03-26-2013, 19:56
Do you know if you still sleep "hot" after hiking 12 miles up and down hills in 40 degree rain all day and it's been a while since you ate a really good meal? Probably not. You don't have to go crazy, but you need one good warm layer to put on top of everything else. But then, it all depends on exactly when you start too, which you don't say. If you start between March 1st and April 1st, you'll want good and warm. After April 1st, just pretty warm will do.

The other factor is what does next spring shape up like? Will it be another cold, snowy and wet one or will it be warm and dry? That we won't know until it starts to happen. But I'd plan like it was going to be cold and wet.

03-26-2013, 20:00
Of course next year might be totally differant as far as weather goes

03-26-2013, 20:17
Ah. Good points.....since I have no previous knowledge of overnight backpacking, I better be ready for everything. Warm jacket it is.

03-27-2013, 10:17
Consider a puffy vest- I stay in Georgia a lot and hike in the layers you describe and put a down vest on at the end of the day.If you want budget ,check out Target and JCP. Not as sturdy as outfitters but will work.

Zippy Morocco
03-27-2013, 10:21
I am currently hiking. Sitting in Erwin right now waiting for the snow to melt a bit on Bald Mountain. Keeping some clothes dry for camp is a priority. For me that has been a capeline 4 top and bottom, alpaca socks, and down sweater/jacket. I have had a few nights that required I wear every thing I'm carrying plus use hot hands. I use a 20 degree western mountaineering bag.

A couple other pieces I have found very helpful are rocky gortex socks, overmitts, and a space blankets under my sleeping pad.

Yesterday 9 of us bailed at Sams gap after hiking through waste deep snow at times. It took 9.5 hours to travel 11 miles. We all had wet sleeping bags from the night before caused by blowing snow or condensation.

It's been interesting.

03-27-2013, 10:23
And another important point, no matter what the year be prepared for teen temps and 60's . Keep your cold weather gear until you pass Grayson Highlands area. The Smokies or Grayson Highlands can be the coldest section of the trail in any year. Especially true with early starts in March. Later starts in April need to be prepared for more cold in the north.

03-27-2013, 13:06
Two observations: 1) you've never been in the mountains with snow, 2) you are from Florida- bring your warm stuff to start with and switch it out later. You can always take it off if you have it, but if you did not bring it you can't put it on.

03-27-2013, 13:56
Things I have learned:
1. Your internal thermostat resets to new conditions in about a week.
2. You don't have a 20 F bag until you personally check it out with a good thermometer.
3. Polartec Windbloc or Gore Wind Stopper backed fleece are worth their weight in gold. I have a complete suit (jacket & pants from REI) out of Windbloc and a heavier jacket with Gore Wind Stopper from Alpine Designs in Canada. Canadians know cold and how to deal with it. I also have Windbloc gloves & head band.
4. A good down vest is worth it's weight in gold. I never backpack without mine.
5. Paraphrasing jimmyjam above, "It is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it." Within reason when you are on the trail.
6. Wool, Down, Fleece & Gore-Tex will save your life. Cotton will not.
7. I have never slept in/on snow. I have, however, slept soundly at temperatures well below freezing in July through October in the Rockies, and once at Mt. Rainier in early March. It always felt really good coming from the sauna known as New Orleans.

Enjoy! Have fun! Too bad you can't get to N.C. right now for some hands on practice with cold & snow.


03-27-2013, 16:29
It can be very nice at the trail head and a b*^$* colder when you reach the top of anything. You can also get all sweaty from a long hike uphill on a 70 degree day, stand still for 20 minutes, waiting for the other hiker on a windy day, then walk straight down, down, down to the camp site area and, by the time you get there, have the onset of hypothermia because you got so cold standing around in the wind, waiting...and you are dehydrated...and now you are 10 degrees of warmth cooler (personal experience). Very unpredictable--however, you do gain some confidence with experience and learn to shoot for moderation by layering sensibly. In the winter/early spring and for a newbie, carrying a little more is not a bad idea.

Have fun. :)

03-27-2013, 17:06
All very logical points. Thank you.

But oh zippy....what a tale; and just the sort that makes me wonder if I should do this at all.

Thanks again to all....will get myself that warm jacket.

03-27-2013, 17:27
All very logical points. Thank you.

But oh zippy....what a tale; and just the sort that makes me wonder if I should do this at all.

Thanks again to all....will get myself that warm jacket.

"Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst."

Just do it!


Zippy Morocco
03-27-2013, 17:31
But oh zippy....what a tale; and just the sort that makes me wonder if I should do this at all.

I think you should do it. It's the best. Nobody that I was with was expecting to deal with snow like this. We all handled it in a very safe manner. You are never too far away from civilization in the south. It's the most fun I have ever had and it's going to be even better when the snow recedes.

03-27-2013, 18:07
I hiked Maryland last weekend. Sat. was perfect - 40+ degrees, sun, little wind. cold at night - colder than I expected. Sun. was cloudy, a little cooler, but the evening was a little warmer. Then, on Sunday night, after a cloudy day in the mid 30s, it snowed - all night - Me in my hammock under my tarp, Mariano under his makeshift poly tarp. It was in the high 20s. Monday it snowed all day as we walked, high 20s to mid 30s. It tapered off on Mon. night and temps. stayed in the high 20s. Tue. we hiked out in mushy snow with temps in the low 40s.

My sleeping bag is rated to 40 degrees.

I used a down jacket (plenty of room inside bag for it) and a hot water bottle to make up for the 10 degrees or so difference.

A hot water bottle can save your bacon, or at least keep it comfortable when your equipment isn't up to it. ;).

03-27-2013, 18:53
You can skimp on the warm clothing and not risk dying as long as you have sufficient camping gear. If it starts getting too cold stop hiking and hold up until it gets warmer.

03-27-2013, 20:51
Zippy! You're enthusiasm through the snow is infectious. Kewl!

Tinker....please explain the hot water bottle.....do you mean you actually carry a hot water bottle??? Seriously??

03-28-2013, 05:30
Zippy! You're enthusiasm through the snow is infectious. Kewl!

Tinker....please explain the hot water bottle.....do you mean you actually carry a hot water bottle??? Seriously??

A Nalgene hard bottle, for example, can handle hot water. Not as light as a Gatorade/Soda/Water bottle, but sometimes worth the trade-off.

03-28-2013, 11:17
Fill 1 L. Nalgene bottle with boiling/very hot water. Put in a sock or wrap in a towel (so you don't burn yourself). Place in your sleeping bag by your feet.

Have fun in the snow!

03-30-2013, 20:54
Zippy! You're enthusiasm through the snow is infectious. Kewl!

Tinker....please explain the hot water bottle.....do you mean you actually carry a hot water bottle??? Seriously??

In my case it's a 40 oz. Kleen Cantene (or however it's spelled - I burned off the logo long ago - LOL). I take the plastic top off and boil water in it by placing it next to the fire. I take it off the fire and let it sit for a few minutes, then I move it to an insulated water bottle carrier that I keep on my pack's hipbelt until I get to camp where it serves to keep the very hot water bottle from burning me when I place it in my sleeping bag.

By the morning, the water is still warmer than body temperature, and it is very quick to boil (saving stove fuel) when I make breakfast.

It's an inexpensive, lightweight way to lower the temperature rating of your sleeping bag. Down booties and pants help, too, and I carry those on winter trips.

I didn't expect temperatures to be so cold, nor did I expect to get 3-6" of snow (they were predicting rain, then rain/snow mix, then, after I was already in Pen-Mar, Pa., a dusting of snow.

After being on the trail for two days they changed the forecast to 3-6" of snow, and they were finally correct. :D

03-30-2013, 23:48

The things I learn here.

12-03-2013, 01:42
I started hiking this past year on march 16th which put me firmly in the snow. I think you would be fine while you were hiking. I was hot hiking thru the snow. Well, everything but my feet. My feet were fine even in the frozen 6 inch slush as long as I was moving. If I stopped my feet started hurting. Where you might find yourself cold is at night. I saw a few nights in the low teens and was ok in a zero bag but I know that some were pretty chilly in 20 degree bags. They combatted this by wearing their layers and a down jacket. I went base layer merino wool kids with a Patagonia r5 fleece jacket. Then rain jacket. Kept a puff jacket for sitting around camp and sleeping.

12-03-2013, 01:45
You won't need liners and gloves. Once you start walking you won't need either. Maybe just the liners for camp