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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dallas, Georgia

    Default Clothing System for a Newbie

    A little background: I'm 30 and have been an outdoors enthusiast since childhood. I have been hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, etc for years and have recently started to take an interest in backpacking. Specifically, would love to begin section hiking the AT since I just moved to northwest GA and am only an hour or so from Springer. Ultimately, a thru hike would be my dream but I am unsure if job/family will afford me the time needed. I digress...

    I've become sort of a gear nerd which is why I love this forum. My wife thinks I'm a little crazy, but that's just fine with me.

    One of the questions I continue to wrestle with is the concept of a clothing system. More specifically, which pieces are vital for the actual activity of hiking vs. those that are necessary for camp/sleep, and if these items ever cross over.

    I understand the basics of layering and materials/weight. I am also a natural minimalist and de-clutter nazi. So I want to only pack what I absolutely need.

    During the different seasons along the AT, what are you wearing vs packing for various activities? You don't have to get into brands here, just high level concept. If this thread already exists, which I'm sure it does and I just haven't found it yet, please feel free to tell me to shut up and redirect me

    Thanks all!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  2. #2

  3. #3


    I generally hike in UnderArmour shorts with Underarmour boxer briefs under them. For my top, I wear a smart wool base layer t-shirt with some kind of wicking material top. If it is going to be colder, I wear a long sleeved merino wool 1/4 zip base layer with a long sleeve wicking material shirt on top. I find I generate a lot of heat while hiking and both of these outfits have held me over pretty well down to around 30 degrees. I have a down vest and a lightweight north face fleece that I almost exclusively use for keeping warm when I camp or stop for a break. I can potentially use the fleece with my rain coat if it is so windy and cold that my base layer and wicking layer aren't cutting it. I prefer not to do this because I don't like to sweat into my fleece if I can avoid it (I use it as an added sleeping layer if I haven't worn it in the day and it is particularly cold). I use a buff for a hat and also pack a very lightweight fleece beanie that I will use on occasion. I wear light weight mountain hardware gloves just to keep the cold off my hands if needed. If I am not generating enough heat to keep warm using all of these items, then honestly, it would be time to find a place to camp and get into my warm sleeping bag. I always pack a sleeping kit that I don't wear hiking and prevent from getting wet. This includes a second pair of UA boxer briefs, camp shorts, merino wool socks, smart wool merino wool long john bottoms and 1/4 zip top (weight based on how cold it is going to be). To me, keeping the sleeping clothes dry and getting into them as soon as practical after hiking in your sweat soaked clothes is key.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't--you're right--Henry Ford; The Journey Is The Destination

  4. #4


    When I started early last March, I would wear blue jeans and a flannel top along with cotton underwear. You definitely should use cotton briefs, remember the motto, "Cotton is chill".

    Blue jeans offer great breathability and helps cut down on chafing. The flannel top was great as well in that you could regulate temperature and keep the sweat from getting out. Plus flannel just looks great, you'all get a lot of folks asking about it too.

    Lastly, on warmer days it's good to just wear a fishnet or mesh top and jock straps. Great breathability with the jock straps as well, and you'll have great tan line by the time you hit the Whites. Make sure to bring along a wool buff as well, they are really versatile in coverage when the wind picks up.

    HYOH man, but seriously give the jock straps a thought when you make it up into further into Virginia. Chicks dig it!

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Atlanta, GA


    I always hike in nylon running shorts (commando) and a synthetic wicking t-shirt, and build from there depending on weather conditions. If it's raining I go for a lightweight rain jacket directly over my t-shirt. When temperatures start dropping I'll usually throw on an ultralight windshirt, quarter zip fleece pullover or a combination of both. If it's both cold and raining then I'll use a combination of the fleece and rain jacket. As long as I can keep my core warm and my blood pumping, I'm usually pretty comfortable no matter what the weather's doing. However, for those days where the temperature barely reaches double digits, I'll usually start out in lightweight rain pants, or nylon hiking/convertible pants depending on what I'm carrying. I've learned the quickest way to regulate your body's thermostat is through your neck/head. Its amazing how much of a difference wearing or not wearing a hat or beanie can make. I'm also a HUGE fan of a simple "buff" or neck gaiter. Your neck contains a lot of blood vessels right next to the surface of your skin and you will be a much warmer if you can keep if you can keep covered up. When I'm done hiking and get into camp I usually try to get all of my running around (ie. get water, cook food, set up tarp/quilt/sleeping pad) done as soon as I get there and then start layering up. If it's really cold I'll throw my merino baselayers on under my clothes and then a down jacket on top. I really like adding the rain jacket too. It will help keep your body heat trapped better than just the down jacket by itself. I recently learned a really good trick from a friend of mine for really cold weather. About 30 minutes before you're planning on going to bed grab a cup of hot tea, soup, coffee, etc. and drink it while going for a little walk. This will help your body temperature to increase and will make it where you don't have to get into your sleeping bag and try to warm it up with your cold body. For warm weather I usually stick to the nylon running shorts and synthetic wicking t-shirt, or no shirt. I just make sure I have an extra pair of shorts and t-shirt so I have something dry to change into before I get in my sleeping bag. Hope this helped answer your questions a little bit.

    Typical Clothing for Cold Weather Layering System:

    -Merino Wool Socks (Smartwool PhD Run Ultralight/Darn Tough Vertex Ultralight)
    -Merino Wool Baselayer Top & Bottoms (Ibex Woolies/Icebreaker Apex)
    -Nylon Running Shorts (Patagonie Baggies/North Face Ampere)
    -Nylon Convertible Hiking Pants (Outdoor Research Equinox/North Face Paramount Peak)
    -Synthetic Moisture Wicking T-Shirt (Nike Dri-Fit/North Face Reaxion)
    -Ultralight Windshirt (MontBell Tachyon/Arc'teryx Squamish)
    -Lightweight Fleece Quarter Zip Pullover (North Face TKA 100/Patagonia Micro D)
    -Insulated Down "Puffy" Jacket (MontBell Superior/Outdoor Research Transcendent)
    -Lightweight Rain Jacket (Marmot PreCip/Outdoor Research Helium)
    -Fleece Running Gloves (Nike Vapor Flash/North Face Apex)
    -"Buff" (Neck Gaiter) (Buff Synthetic/Merino/Outdoor Research Ubertube)
    -Merino Wool Beanie (Minus 33/SmartWool PhD Run)

  6. #6
    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Kingsville, Texas


    A base layer silk weight poly pro, insulation layer, 100 wt fleece, wind/waterproof outer layer, balaclava and gloves and shells will take you down to 20 or so as long as you don't stop for long.

  7. #7


    Northwest Georgia? I have no clue. New England, where I live is a totally different ballgame.
    Let me go

  8. #8


    Layer layer can go as high tech as you like and can afford, but layering allows many options as the days goes by. You wanna wick moisture from skin, insulate and shed precip.

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