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  1. #1

    Default Introduction and southbound-specific gear questions

    Hey all,

    First, I wanted to introduce myself. My sister and I are starting a southbound thru-hike in mid-July. We've never really done anything hugely adventurous like this, so I've been looking to this site a lot for info. Having read recently that temperatures will probably get lower than I thought (I was thinking 40 deg. F. would be the lowest daytimes, nights around 30s maybe), I am questioning much of my gear choices.

    Specifically, I bought a waterproof 15-degree sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Trade Wind), and I was wondering if you all thought I should get one rated for colder weather.

    I am also wondering what and how much cold weather gear I should bring. I was thinking about a wool balaclava, midweight thermals, warm rain pants, and a good fleece. Should I be bringing another outer layer (jacket and warmer pants) as well?

    Thanks! I hope to see some of you out there this year.

  2. #2
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    I'm heading southbound July 20th, I think you should be fine with the bag you have. Personally, i'm planning on some thermals and convertable pants, that way you have shorts in the day, thermals to sleep in and can layer if it gets cold. GOod luck with everything,Hope to see you out there!!

  3. #3

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    Unlikely if you leave in July you'll need any cold weather gear. The bag you have should be plenty to keep you warm through at least october. Doubtful you'll need any extra hats, gloves.
    Always good to make sure you have a set of dry clothes to change into when you're done hiking for the day and put your wet ones out to dry.
    The only chillier nights you'll find may be one or two in the Whites depending on the weather cycle but you should be good all the way through New Wngland with what you have.
    Best not to carry extras that you don't need or won't be using.
    Layers, layers layers, keep you warm until the autumn weather begins.
    You'll have plenty of time to adjust accordingly.
    Have a great hike.

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    10-22-2002
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    I assume you're asking about winter in the South, rather than July in Maine, right? That's my usual hiking time around here.

    A 15-F bag should do pretty well into November in NC and VA. I usually carry my 30-F bag into mid-November, and wear puffy clothing when it gets cold. I switch to my winter bag around Thanksgiving. Remember too that you'll be getting acclimated very gradually as fall approaches.

    Basically, when you get your winter clothing, you'll be fine in the bag.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  5. #5
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
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    I went southbound last year starting july 13th.

    Take your fall gear. Take your fall gear. I can't say that enough. Take your fall gear. I had some nights in the wilderness in the 40's. There will be warmer stretches when you get farther south. But you will have cold nights in the north. I remember maine being a little cold at night. It warmed up after I got out of the whites. It got cold again in southern VT, warmed up for awhile in NY/NJ. By the time I hit PA I have all my cold weather sleeping gear.

    I would say that by the end of October I loved all of it and picked up a down jacket. By Thanks Giving I added some more. In Damascus myself and the 5 other southbounders loaded up on super cold weather stuff.

    I was one of the later finishers. I got done after a week to rest an ankle sprain on Jan 20.

    I have a TJ if it helps. www.trailjournals.com/nater

    Oh and be prepared for everyone that doesn't know what they are talking about to tell you things like: aren't you a little late, isn't it going to get cold, are you going to make it before winter, you'll never make it. Just come up with responses to make them feel like crap for the negative comments.

    Also most of the people starting will be infront of you. I only meet 20ish southbounders the whole time. If you could start in early July there would be more.

  6. #6
    Registered User Montego's Avatar
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    Welcome to WhiteBlaze tmoneygetpaid

  7. #7

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    Stay minimal to start with, and just hike smart. Each town we got to we would challenge each other to figure out something to send home (your body will thank you if you do this before leaving home). Maine is not as cold as you expect. Focus on having stuff that will keep you warm when wet (i.e. synthetics not down). Don't focus on having winter gear. You will need that later, but not until mid-Virginia. Shorts to hike in, thermal pants, synthetic overpant (like the khaki zip offs that everyone has, tshirt/tank to hike in, long sleeve synthetic shirt, light rain coat, 3 pairs of socks (one of them is for camp only), midweight gloves, and a hat. Your bag can be around 40 deg if you have a liner, slighter warmer if not. You will also get a little warmth when you are tenting when the bugs are driving you crazy, but there were also several shelters in the 100-mile wilderness in June that I slept in with minimal bug insanity.

  8. #8
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rasudduth View Post
    Stay minimal to start with, and just hike smart. Each town we got to we would challenge each other to figure out something to send home (your body will thank you if you do this before leaving home). Maine is not as cold as you expect. Focus on having stuff that will keep you warm when wet (i.e. synthetics not down). Don't focus on having winter gear. You will need that later, but not until mid-Virginia. Shorts to hike in, thermal pants, synthetic overpant (like the khaki zip offs that everyone has, tshirt/tank to hike in, long sleeve synthetic shirt, light rain coat, 3 pairs of socks (one of them is for camp only), midweight gloves, and a hat. Your bag can be around 40 deg if you have a liner, slighter warmer if not. You will also get a little warmth when you are tenting when the bugs are driving you crazy, but there were also several shelters in the 100-mile wilderness in June that I slept in with minimal bug insanity.
    Good advice, but keep in mind the time of year. I had some below freezing nights in PA, and a really cold freezing snap in the SNP.

  9. #9

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    thanks for all your advice.

    so consensus seems to be that it'll be coldest in the smokies, that I should bring fall gear (thermals, rain gear, synthetic long top and bottom) and have winter gear sent. I do anticipate 6 months to complete our thru-hike, but we're both very driven people, so we'll see.

    Thanks again.

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