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Beartooth Mountain Press Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking

Weighed On Our Scales » 3.8 oz (107.7 g)

Beartooth Mountain Press Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking

A definitive guide to staying warm, dry and comfortable - at a minimum weight. Recommended for intermediate and advanced backpackers.

Reprinted From the Back Cover

Backpackers and climbers carry far too much weight in clothing, sleep systems, and shelter when they venture above the treeline. Fear of facing the wrath of God manifested by Nature's Worst Weather is often the driving force for packing that "one extra layer" or a four season tent during the summer. Jordan, Nelson, and Dixon blend a freakish mix of ultralight mentality, mountain experience, and scientific analysis in their quest to propose clothing and sleep systems that defy everything we were taught by NOLS and the Boy Scouts. Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking discusses the rationale for Merino wool base layers, the versatility of ultra-thin wind shirts, and the warmth-to-weight ratio of high loft insulating clothing. They build on their clothing systems with ultralight gear such as one-pound sleeping bags, tarps and ponchos made out of sailcloth, and breathable bivy sacks to create a philosophy of mountain travel that you won't be hearing about anytime soon from a NOLS instructor. Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking is a must-read for climbers, mountain backpackers, and search-and-rescue personnel.


In 2002, authors Ryan Jordan, Jim Nelson, and Alan Dixon released series of articles "Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking," which gained instant appeal among intermediate and advanced backpackers wishing to increase their level of skill and manage the risk of sacrificing what we used to think was necessary when travelling in the exposed conditions of the mountains.

By popular demand, we have consolidated the series into a single, paperback field book. (64 pages, color with photographs, Perfect Bound, 5.5" x 8.5" format).

This is a Second Edition Release, revised and edited in June of 2003.

NOTE: A solid foundation in backpacking is recommended prior to reading this document. Some of the recommendations contained herein will not be suitable for beginning backpackers or those inexperienced in mountain travel, travelling in remote locations, or travelling in inclement weather conditions.

Read the Preface

One of the most difficult challenges for a backpacker is selecting clothing, shelter, and sleeping gear to maintain comfort in potentially dramatic climatic conditions whilst minimizing weight.

Confusing the issue are massive amounts of money and advertising efforts spent by manufacturers for marketing lofty promises to the unsuspecting consumer. Along the way, we have been sold on false claims. We make no apologies in this series for challenging some of the biggest lies of marketing mantra in the outdoor trade industry with the introduction of a series of articles entitled “Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking” originally published on the Internet at in August 2002. This collection represents a revised edition of that series in a more cohesive format updated to reflect some minor changes in philosophy, some new gear, and general editorial style.

We begin by introducing the use of fine-fibered wool for base layer garments, simply because modern synthetic garments do not wick moisture sufficiently and they retain too much body heat for optimum muscle performance. We then justify that the addition of an extra garment – a 3 oz wind shirt – allows you to go lighter in the long run. Next, we take a look at rainwear and revisit why the age-old poncho is a core item among hardcore lightweight backpackers and why raingear really isn’t as important as we think it is (most raingear is not worth the cost, at least). Then, we challenge the “fleece revolution” in a justification of high loft insulating garments. Finally, we discuss how to integrate your clothing into a sleep system for maximum performance at minimum weight.

This guide is the result of years of experience, tinkering, gear ogling, criticizing, backyard and high mountain camping, and field testing what turned out to be a lot of junk or overhyped gear. The equipment we use now – which we truly believe it to be the cream of the crop – we happily endorse in the pages herein. More than anything else, this guide contains detailed analysis borne of countless hours spent discussing and critiquing what went right or wrong on trips where the weather went awry.

I hope that it’s at least worth the paper on which it’s printed.

Table of Contents

  1. The Base Layer ("Wonderful Wool!")
  2. The Versatile Wind Shirt
  3. Rainwear
  4. High Loft Insulating Garments
  5. The Three-Layer Sleep System


  • Publisher:  Beartooth Mountain Press
  • Authors:  Ryan Jordan, Jim Nelson, and Alan Dixon
  • Pages:  64
  • Binding:  Perfect
  • ISBN 0-9748188-1-X


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