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  1. #1
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    Default Winter jacket strategy?

    Seems like the conventional wisdom is to hike in fleece (or synthetic), camp in down.

    Packing for winter (in the southeastern US) strikes me as challenging, mostly for bulk reasons, and a winter coat for camp (or stopping) seems to be the biggest challenge. I have a down puffy (12 oz) but it's not adequate for a stop/camp item in winter. My only true winter coat is synthetic (Thinsulate lite loft). In any case, what (jacket-wise) is recommended practice for winter backpacking in this region?

    Should one hike in a synth winter coat and just go slow enough to not sweat? [might be hard to go that slow, hauling a pack up 10-15% grades].
    Find a way to strap it to the outside, if there's no room inside?
    Hike in fleece and buy a warmer down jacket to stuff inside the bag, and skip the winter coat?
    Drape your sleeping bag over yourself in camp until it's time for bed?

    Not trying to go UL and would consider a larger pack, but mine is already pretty big and I have a feeling it's not the pack, it's my strategy.

  2. #2

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    Layers, on layers, upon layers... that’s the key.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    After many years of trying various jackets and layering options, I've found this to work well. A good base layer, a Patagonia R1 fleece then for wind protection I wear a USGI soft shell jacket (99% nylon less than $40 from Ebay). If you heat up too much either remove the fleece or soft shell. Using any type of rain shell as your outer layer doesn't breathe as well and only clogs the membrane requiring retreating and shortening the life of your rain jacket. Winter hiking just requires more weight or risk being cold or worse.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

  5. #5

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    I wear a long sleeve drifit shirt in the winter. Sometimes my rain shell on top of it if I get hot, And carry my down for camp/ breaks. I see a lot of people packing their fears with layers. I just don't need that much stuff lol

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  6. #6
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    What is the Winter temp. -20° for the low or 30° ? You will get a better answer with more information. Today was 32° and windy. I used a t shirt, 100w fleece and a rain jacket with pit zips. I should have used a wind jacket.

    Thom

  7. #7
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    I'd be willing to try as low as 20F, and by winter in the southeast US, I mean roughly 20-30F, probably with a bias toward the higher end, 25-30.

    Seems like people are saying they don't wear or bring winter coats for winter backpacking? Even if we're talking multiple layers, the sum of those layers is as bulky as what I'm talking about, and that circles back to my question, where do you put them when you're not in camp? Do you have a pack big enough for all those layers you don't need while huffing and puffing up and down mountains?

    Or, if you're talking multiple layers that aren't as thick (in the aggregate) as a single winter coat for backpacking, how do you stay warm in camp or at stops? Thanks,

    TZ

  8. #8

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    Personally, I am pretty much either walking, or sitting the entire trip. I walk all day which keeps me warm. If I do stop and get chilled, I have "1 layer" a heavy down jacket, by heavy I mean extremely warm as it actually only weighs about 1 lbs, that I throw on until I get moving again. Once in camp, the down jacket goes on for good along with some wool leggings and some camp pants. Winter time is my fun time so to say, not ever doing any serious trips of any mileage so to speak of, pretty much going out to play for the weekend, have campfires and put around in local recreation areas. I dislike the cold, and the older I get, I am starting to zero in on 3 season backpacking, while taking advantage of warm winter weekends when I can, and compensate for the lack of walking in winter, during the other 3 seasons.
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  9. #9
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    I use a nice hooded down jacket for in camp wear. It is a Patagonia I bought on clearance. Weighs about 24 ounces in a large size. There are many others with similar specs. Look for 8-12 ounces of good down. I'd say don't skimp on this item, Toasty warm in camp is important. If it's extra cold at night, toss it over your sleeping bag.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  10. #10

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    I'm not much of a winter camper but enjoy 3 season if it gets above freezing during the day, and ~20s + at night. I just pack clothing suitable for active day hiking and then prefer multi-tasking for idle time warmth at lunch and campsite evenings. I've become particularly fond the poncho format for the all-limbs-inside 'mitten' effect when sitting cross-legged on an insulated pad. My 'mid' tent multi-tasks as a rain poncho/cape, my down quilts multi-task as down poncho/serape, and my pillow multi-tasks as a sit-pad and micro torso pad for short naps.

    So for quick breaks/lunch, I might just wear my mid-tent as a poncho for the wind break/mitten effect to off-set the chill of inactivity. For a longer lunch stop/nap in windy conditions, I might pitch my mid (just a minute or 2 for 6 stakes and trekking pole) to run my alcohol stove more efficiently, and lie down for a windproof after lunch nap. In both cases, if the foliage is down, any directly sunlight contributes to an almost hot greenhouse effect.

    At the campsite, I wear my quilt as a down poncho/serape (w/ detachable down hood) - can't imagine anything warmer for the weight sitting cross-legged with all limbs tucked inside. Problems are you need to be more careful with campfire sparks, and dripping food, and if the quilt is warm enough for sleeping over night, it can be a bit bulky and hot to wear for campsite evenings. Pairing a lighter weight poncho/quilt with down mummy bag can solve that problem, but the double up adds a bit more weight/bulk for the same comfort rating.

    Lastly, my alcohol stove mutli-tasks as a candle and so I can run it as a Palmer Furance under either poncho (tent or quilt) for an super efficient heated micro-climate that's really luxurious - well for as long as I can sit cross-legged anyway.

    Just my $0.02

  11. #11
    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    Wicking baselayer, merino wool midlayer, down jacket or vest, lightweight wind/rain protection (frogg toggs are incredible at trapping heat!) You'll be tearing clothes off while hiking, just keep your down dry.

  12. #12

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    Polypro long sleeve under 200 wt. Fleece under wind shell is my choice down to 15 degrees F. Hat & gloves of your choice. Silk weight long johns under nylon pants, if necessary (for me, usually when windy at lower end of aforementioned temperature range). Waterproof upper protection and pants are a good idea, too, unless you are packing according to the weather forecast. You may get frost on the inside of your shell, but it's better there than inside of your insulation. I avoid hiking in wp or wp/ breathables unless it's actively precipitating,
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  13. #13

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    A wind shell is always in my pack. It's the most versatile item of clothing that I carry.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  14. #14

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    Sorry - I should add that I carry a down jacket for camp and rest stops. I have it to hike in only if conditions get really wild ( as in, "I'm bailing NOW!).
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  15. #15
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Southeast hey?
    Winter hey?
    Boone, NC, elevation 3,300’ more or less, about half the elevation of the Roan Highlands or the Smokies, experienced 170 consecutive hours below freezing recently. Single digit lows. Wind chill? You don’t want to know.
    You didn’t mention extremities coverings. Like picking a sleeping bag and ignoring ground insulation. Cover exposed flesh as needed.
    Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.
    Wayne

  16. #16
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    Here's what I use...(also mainly hike in NC)

    SmartWool base layer (this good to go into high 40s while hiking)
    Arc Teryx 100w fleece (this + base layer good to go into low 30s while hiking)
    Arc Teryx cerium lt down hoody (this plus above good to go into high single digits while hiking)
    Arc Teryx beta lt hybrid rain shell (great GoreTex shell)

    Very effective for me so far.

  17. #17
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Has to be down below zero before I have to hike in any more than a baselayer and 200 wt fleece. If it's windy, a light nylon pullover works. I have a light primaloft insulated if it's really cold and stacks well with my down puffy. I usually only use the puffy when I'm done hiking for the day, or if I'm disabled and need to wait several hours for rescue. In Winter, rescue is hours away. You need to survive until that time.

  18. #18
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    Even hiking on the AT nearly every weekend this winter. Merino wool base layer. Arcteryx polartec mid Layer. Wind or rain shell. Light down jacket in camp. Balaclava and fleece hat. Merino wool buff for sleeping. Gloves and waterproof mittens (below 15 degrees). Merino-wool lined waterproof socks.


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  19. #19
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    *been* hiking.


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  20. #20

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    I carry a Capilene LS shirt that typically handles me down into the high 30's. I also carry a fleece half zip, that I rarely hike in, but did a few times. I also had a Marmot Oracle rain jacket that I used for wind and a few more degrees of warmth between the shirt and fleece. I had a down puffy exclusively for camp. I usually was able to get from hiking into my bag within 45 minutes when it was really cold. When it was really cold in camp, I layered it up with several or all of these. I sent my puffy home by May 1, but some folks carry it all the way.

    I learned pretty quickly that you can regulate your body heat significantly by putting on and taking off gloves and your hat. When you are going up numerous ups and downs, your work rate will vary significantly and the gloves and hat are very convenient to slip on and off. Stopping to put on or take off a jacket or fleece creates a stop to take off you pack and is just a PITA. Learn to use the gloves and hat. Your welcome.

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