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Thread: Jacket Question

  1. #1
    Registered User Steppin'Wolf's Avatar
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    Default Jacket Question

    Hello, I will begin section hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. Right now I can only take off two weeks at a time (per year). I am new to overnight backpacking, but am an experienced day hiker. I'm sure I will have many questions as I continue to prepare.

    Here's my first question: I am planning on my first two week section hike in late May or early June of this year. I will be starting at Springer. Now the question. Will I need to pack a puffy jacket? I have an REI Quarter zip fleece pullover. Will that be enough?

    Thanks for your advice.

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    In late may or june in GA you may not even need the fleece. In late spring/early summer I carry a houdini wind jacket and a capilene 3 long sleeve shirt (which I may wear at night and in the morning). I pack as light as possible and figure if I'm cold I can wrap up in my quilt. I don't hang around camp much. I walk until I can't anymore and then get into my quilt and pass out. That's my style. In high summer I carry no insulation, just a UL quilt (which is too warm). If you are hanging around camp more, you might want more insulation. I think you'll be fine with just the fleece. If you were one of my inexperienced buddies coming out for a hike with me, I'd tell you to leave the puffy for sure.

    Others with more experience in GA in May can help...

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    The weather report the day before you leave might help you feel more confident in your choice too.

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    I always carry my montbell ul down parka as if I'm not wearing it then I'm using as a pillow....my summer quilt isn't very warm so I use my puffy often. Is your bag or quilt over kill? If so you don't need it...


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    If your asking it can't hurt to bring it.

    A baselayer, light fleece, synthetic jacket (montbell thermarest) and a rain jacket.

    Maybe a wind jacket as well.

    You could always get a synthetic vest too and just bring that. For the small weight penalty. I like carrying that extra layer at all times. Makes a pillow at night if you don't carry one and it's too warm for the jacket.

    Why not bring it is the question? When your practically living outside, having some warm clothes is a nice luxury and makes a trip much better.

    Even in the summer, I've had a chilly night or two.

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I always have a warm layer even in the summer. The fleece would be fine for me that time of year. It can get chilly at night.
    Ken B
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    Bring the puffy. The Southern Appalachian's are funny when it comes to weather in May and June. In 2 weeks you should make it to Fontana Lake and it will be up and down some decent altitude the entire way. While I don't think you will see snow it could be cold enough for the puffy.

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    Registered User Engine's Avatar
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    When you're done hiking at the end of the day or taking a break at lunch, something warm to put on is really appreciated sometimes.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

  9. #9
    Leonidas
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    When you have been hiking all day in the rain and camp on a summit, the puffy or other warm dry layer can be a wonderful option if you aren't ready to jump in your bag. Even in July, I was wishing at 2 different times, that I hadn't sent my fleece home.
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  10. #10

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    I bring a lightweight quarter zip fleece and a puffy vest for the warmest months when section hiking the AT. Also a hat, just a lightweight beanie in the summer. Sometimes nights are cold, particularly at elevation or you are caught in a cold rain.
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  11. #11

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    heck yeah bring the puffy. or if you don't want to bring the whole jacket, bring a puffy vest with a fleece. it gets cold in the hills at night...

  12. #12
    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    I would bring a 1/4 zip fleece, a fleece hat, and use my rain coat for wind protection. I don't carry my puffy unless the temperature is going to be below freezing. It sort of depends on how much time you plan on spending sitting around though.

  13. #13
    Leonidas
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    Curious as to how light these lightweight 1/4 zip fleece are? I have a Columbia 1/4 zip that is close to 16oz for a 100 weight fleece. On the other hand, my MH puffy sweater/jacket is 8oz. Obviously, I carry the MH now.
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    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    My large/tall First Ascent 1/4 zip is 10.2oz and my large Marmot Zeus puffy is 16oz. Both are pretty warm. I could see carrying the MH puffy if I had one that light. The Zeus would be too warm in late May or early June.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    Curious as to how light these lightweight 1/4 zip fleece are? I have a Columbia 1/4 zip that is close to 16oz for a 100 weight fleece. On the other hand, my MH puffy sweater/jacket is 8oz. Obviously, I carry the MH now.
    yeah, the thickness of the fleece is a big question. 100wt is nice to wear while moving and will take the chill off when stopped for lunch but it's not going to keep you warm when you've stopped for the day. 200wt is too heavy for walking (unless really cold) and would be warmer once you stopped but is bulky and not really light weight.

    a lot of people recommending very light clothing must be overlooking that he wants to start May/June. one of the coldest nights I ever spent was the last week of June at the Overmountain (Barn) shelter...

    if this was me (and it will be very soon), at this time of year I'll be transitioning from down to a jacket or vest with Primaloft Gold, Thermoball, or some other premium synthetic insulation to be worn by itself, or under a shell when needed...

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    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    I always bring some type of warm layer. I MUCH prefer a light, synthetic "puffy" (synthetic so it can be worn while active, if necessary) to any fleece of comparable warmth. Fleece is very bulky and heavy in comparison.

  17. #17
    Registered User Steppin'Wolf's Avatar
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    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I guess I was thinking that it was maybe overkill having both, but maybe not. My base weight is currently 17 pounds and I was looking on lightening it a little if I could. My fleece is 8.3 oz. and my puffy jacket is 9.9 oz. Right now, I think I will keep them both. I will be doing a shakedown hike in late March. I'll take both and see how that works.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steppin'Wolf View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I guess I was thinking that it was maybe overkill having both, but maybe not. My base weight is currently 17 pounds and I was looking on lightening it a little if I could. My fleece is 8.3 oz. and my puffy jacket is 9.9 oz. Right now, I think I will keep them both. I will be doing a shakedown hike in late March. I'll take both and see how that works.
    the classic solution is to use a 100wt fleece over your base layer, then a puffy if needed under the shell. 100wt fleece is oftentimes just enough to wear while moving, it's almost vapor transparent and dries very quickly when wet.

    OTOH, it isn't wind resistant in the least. it needs some kind of shell over it and because it is bulky, a lot of people are just substituting a windshirt instead of the fleece.

    anyway, you may never need a down puffy on your trip (and in the 'tweens/shoulder seasons I prefer a synthetic to down) but never underestimate how cold the mountains can turn when you throw in wind and some humidity...

  19. #19
    Leonidas
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    It will also depend on where you plan to start your section. Last year it snowed 3-4 inches in the Smokies on May 15th if I remember correctly. We do our sections in July and I still carry the 8oz synthetic sweater and a Polartec beanie. I figure worse case, I can layer the puffy sweater under my Helium II if I really needed to be warm.
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    bring the fleece if you're not starting til late May you don't need a down jacket in north GA.

    some nights may get cool, and a lightweight fleece is just a good idea, especially if you get rain and cool temps

    have fun

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