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  1. #1
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    Default Bring a Fleece and a Puffy for Early March NOBO Start

    I'm leaving Springer on March 3rd 2019 and trying to dial in my gear the best I can before hand. I'm really trying to prepare for the cold weather in the beginning and have been debating on bringing a fleece for the extra warmth. I already have the mountain hardwear ghost whisperer and plan on using that for a camp jacket and only wearing it hiking if its dry and I absolutely need it. I was wondering if anybody else brought a fleece with them to wear hiking on cold wet days and how much it was actually used?

  2. #2

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    Left on Feb 20. Had a fleece hoody and a puffy. Never hiked in the puffy the entire trip. Wore the heck out of the fleece the entire way - in camp, in town and even hiking in cool weather. Sent the puffy home in northern VA and didn't miss it. I did have a rain jacket that I combined with the fleece top a time or two in the Whites. Some folks kept their puffy the entire hike.

  3. #3

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    There are about 4 choices for torso warmth layers in winter (and I consider March 3 full blown winter)

    ** Capilene thermal tops with or w/o hoody.
    ** Icebreaker type merino zip neck tops
    Pick one. Or mix and match. (Wear a merino baselayer under two capilene tops sandwiched together etc. Or a silk baselayer against the skin under capilene covered by a thicker merino top etc).

    Once you figure your base and midlayer options then comes---
    ** A fleece jacket/sweater like Polartec 300 (for real warmth).
    ** A down puffy jacket.
    ** A down vest.

    ** Or a full on down jacket or parka---most always used for in-camp warmth.

    A down puffy or vest can sometimes be used for backpacking if it's seriously cold, otherwise it's just too hot. And even at 0F I can't hike in any of my down jackets because I generate too much heat/sweat.

  4. #4

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    It would be worth having both. If you need the extra layer while hiking, it should be the fleece. The down puffy is for camp. A fleece vest and rain jacket would do. If your hiking steady, you generally don't need to wear much. But when slogging through a wet snow storm or sleet, that fleece layer is big help.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    You live in New York. Put your neighborhood to good use. Try every combination you have for temperatures and wind from 0 to 50 degrees. You should have your stuff sorted before you leave home. Or by Christmas even.
    Everyone is different. Testing will dial in what works for you. Same goes for your sleep system.
    Have fun!
    Wayne

  6. #6

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    I carry a puffy AND a fleece even in summer, but that is for the Rockies. I often hiked in the fleece but never the puffy, but both were invaluable for staying warm in the cold evenings.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuneElliot View Post
    I carry a puffy AND a fleece even in summer, but that is for the Rockies. I often hiked in the fleece but never the puffy, but both were invaluable for staying warm in the cold evenings.
    I also carry both. If it's cold enough that you end up hiking in the fleece, you're gonna need something dry in camp.
    I sleep cold, and typically bring both jackets inside my sleeping bag for an extra layer of insulation.

  8. #8
    Garlic
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    I think you should carry both, but as others say don't hike in the down garment, at least not uphill.

    I carried an 8 oz down vest, used it only once on a frigid morning while packing up (low teens, blowing snow in mid-April). I considered it a life safety item, a back-up for my sleeping bag, and would not repeat the hike without it. I sent it home from VA in May.

    Both garments should be able to be worn at the same time.

    I learned on my hike to respect the Spring weather in the southern Appalachians. Of course, the low temps were predicted well ahead of time, and if I weren't prepared, I could easily have sat them out in the comfort of the many towns along the way. But the costs of those stays would have exceeded the cost of a very nice down jacket, and I would have missed the splendor of the mountains in winter.

  9. #9
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    I started March 9th at Amicalola and had my worst winter weather in mid April going through Roan Mountain and those balds, so keep that in mind. Easily had several nights in the teens or lower and days in the 20s barely out of the teens in march. I didn't have a fleece but I had a merino 150 and 250 top and bottom layer, top being a hoody and a hooded down jacket for my warmth items. There were several times I needed all my layers minus the down jacket to start hiking and there were 2 times I had to start hiking for 1-2 hours with all my layers and my down jacket. The jacket was used countless times outside of hiking, sent the jacket and my 250 layers home in VA but got them all back before the Whites.... and needed them all for the Whites and ME to!

    I guess my 250 hoody probably took the place of the fleece people usually bring? …. my gear was really warm and I sweat a ton and generate lots of heat as well, it was just really, really cold at times. I was never to cold with what I had and people said it was colder then usual but I would want to test my gear and know I'm good down to 0 degrees for an early March start.
    NoDoz
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It would be worth having both. If you need the extra layer while hiking, it should be the fleece. The down puffy is for camp. A fleece vest and rain jacket would do. If your hiking steady, you generally don't need to wear much. But when slogging through a wet snow storm or sleet, that fleece layer is big help.
    This is not strickly true as a down puffy jacket can and should be worn when backpacking if the temps are low enough. I remember last winter when I was coming off a 5,300 foot mountain with my buddy Patman and he had to wear his down puffy jacket because it was about 10F with a butt-destroying wind. Here's a pic of our descent---
    Plus when it's really cold you can wear all your top warmth layers and slap on the gtx rain jacket to cut the wind and contain the warmth---as I did in this pic. (Also check out the Icebreaker merino sleeves with the thumbholes---which act as mini gloves). And check out Patman's Nilas down mittens---he convinced me to buy a pair and they are awesomely awesome---uber light, waterproof, expensive. My pair is somewhere in this pic, off camera so I could operate the thing.

  11. #11
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    A couple of years ago, I started at Springer on April 3. Although later than your proposed start, it still got cold. I didn't have a puffy with me - only a fleece. It kept me plenty warm on those days in the 40's and 50's and I even used it as a pillow at night. Maybe two or three times, I pulled out my Columbia rain jacket as an extra layer early in the morning while starting for the day, but it never stayed on past mid-morning.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  12. #12
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    Your right!!! I tested out my sleep system last weekend with a twenty degree night. It worked alright with my EE Enigma 20 Degree and my down jacket and a hat but I'm trying to buy a lightweight fleece for cold hiking. I was just asking if people bring both before I go out and purchase one.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmarshall099 View Post
    Your right!!! I tested out my sleep system last weekend with a twenty degree night. It worked alright with my EE Enigma 20 Degree and my down jacket and a hat but I'm trying to buy a lightweight fleece for cold hiking. I was just asking if people bring both before I go out and purchase one.
    100 weight fleece is light, fairly warm, and often quite cheap. Shop sales. If you decide to not bring a puffy layer, go for 300 wt fleece.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  14. #14
    Registered User handlebar's Avatar
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    My normal gear for late winter, spring, fall and late fall (December) starting from base and moving out: icebreaker short sleeve t shirt 150 weight (this is very light wool that I find comfortable even in desert heat and hot, humid eastern woodlands, and it doesn't get horribly smelly as do synthetics), if it's below about 40F degrees, I'll add my Marmot Dri-Clime windshirt (its got a full length zipper and fleece lining). This provides enough warmth while hiking down to about 20F degrees and can be unzipped if overheating on climbs and zipped back up on descents if I start chilling. I've hike in single digits (no wind) in just my long sleeve icebreaker T which is ordinarily reserved as a sleep top and this wind shirt. If it's exceptionally windy I put on my rain jacket which offers zero insulation but does cut down on wind. When I stop more than a few minutes I can add my down puffy (Ghost Whisperer) under the rain jacket. Normally, the down puffy lives in my pack and is used to supplement sleep system. For lower body, I hike in a kilt (either Sport Kilt hiking kilt or Mountain Hardware kilt). If it's frigid I can add wool long underwear bottoms which are usually reserved for sleep clothes. Socks, Dirty Girl gaiters, and trail runners. On top I wear a wide-brimmed sun hat, sometimes with a skulll cap underneath that I usually use for sleeping.
    Handlebar
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  15. #15

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    I think wearing thick fleece is good for backpacking when the temps are around 0F. Otherwise like with down it can get just too hot.

    I remember one trip I did to a river valley in TN when the morning temps were 0F and the cold valley air was tough. It was in the Bald River Gorge wilderness.

    Trip 71 076-L.jpg
    All decked out in good olde polartec 300.

  16. #16
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    Default

    Love my cheap 100 wt Walmart pullover fleece. Great to hike in during cold spells. Coupled with a wild shirt, nice and warm in the wind.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    Love my cheap 100 wt Walmart pullover fleece. Great to hike in during cold spells. Coupled with a wild shirt, nice and warm in the wind.
    I prefer a domesticated shirt.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    I prefer a domesticated shirt.
    Someone told me Mt Hardwear makes Monkey Phur fleece but I didn't want to kill monkeys to stay warm.

    (Except I indirectly killed a boatload of geese for my goose down items).

  19. #19
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    ***The prevailing assumption is more or better gear is always better. That's not necessarily the case. Warmth is NOT just about gear!

    Initially I did a 3 layer bulkier torso apparel system with a 200 wt micro fleece LS 1/4 zip in early March on the southern AT in cold wet conditions when moving. I've since evolved to replace it with other layers usually a 200 wt 1/4 zip merino LS w/monkey finger holes(as in Tipi's pic) but in up to a 4 layer torso apparel system. More layers but less overall bulk and much greater diversity and extent of usage! As a result less apparel spends less time in my pack and more time being worn.

    Additionally, I used to carry a separate often overly insulating torso piece(a jacket) to be worn almost exclusively in camp. It saw little time being worn while hiking even when it was very cold.

    Some of the primary reasons why others and myself get away with an overall thinner less bulkier 4 layer system even in cold wet conditions: 1) by making core warmth torso apparel where the most vital organs are most protected and extremities(hands, feet and head) from heat loss a priority 2) accessorize extremely well ie; gloves/mitts, hats, shoes, socks, Buffs, gaiters, SHOES, etc. I see gaiters and shoes as apparel! 3) I tend to not sit and stop long or a great deal. Time on a trip is primarily spent as a mover - a hiker HIKING(w/ pack on which also helps insulates!, people forget that! keep your pack on for added warmth) - not a camper or in camp wanderer. That generates and maintains warmth! This includes winter trips. Another noted benefit is that once stopped I have less need of a puffy or heavier separate "in camp" insulation as I spend less time in camp and I'm shortly(within 15 mins) in my bag or quilt which acts as the primary in camp insulation. 4) I use everything in my kit at my disposal to stay warm and especially dry in very cold wet conditions ie; hand pockets in outer layer has hands in them, rain shell hood is up being used cinched to hold heat, if second pr of dry socks are available they are also on my hands, if i'm carrying a dry bivy, tarp, UL tent, bag liner, etc I'LL WEAR IT. I'll go so far to appropriately thermoregulate I'll even consider putting sunglasses on when it's cold, windy, and overcast if it helps keep my face warm.

    That's most of the gear side of it and consistently continually moving.

    When you learn to do this well - maintaining appropriate warmth with less, by getting more from what you do have - it pays dividends as it becomes easier to reverse processes and layers and use pieces more effectively in dumping excess warmth! You'll learn it's not just about the gear in regulating thermal comfort, its' also about approaches, a wider skill set, better nutrition, staying hydrated(even in winter as it can affect your ability to keep warm), etc.

    The prevailing assumption is more or better gear is always better. That's not necessarily the case. Warmth and thermal comfort is NOT just about gear!

    In March at the start that cold wet will tend to be COLD and solid wet(snow/sleet)!

  20. #20
    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    Tipi and LazyLightning have great responses. Patagonia Thermal Hoodie and Montbell Down UL Jacket Got me through both Nor’easters, Wind on Mt. Washington and Madison as well as finishing Katahdin this year. This combo is the best, as far as I am concerned. Add a Beanie, Gloves and Rain Mitts, and a Buff and your set.
    "gbolt" on the Trail

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