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Will Gamma MX pants be breathable enough for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in N Vermont in late December?
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E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Will Gamma MX pants be breathable enough for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in N Vermont in late December? on 12/05/2007 17:50:37 MST Print View

Do you think Gamma MX pants will be breathable enough for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in N Vermont around Dec 15 (near Stowe/Mt Mansfield)? They are made of Polartec Powershield Light and are very warm pants for the weight - I think they'll be breathable enough, but would sincerely appreciate it if someone who has used them can chime in.

I also have Ibex Guidelite Pants, which are excellent for most of the fall and spring and on lower wind winter days with long johns, but which are a little too breathable for windy and very cold conditions (even with merino long johns underneath, in windy conditions they let in too much wind).

E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
thinking of using them over light merino layer on 12/05/2007 18:06:47 MST Print View

I'm thinking of using the Gamma MX over the lightest weight merino long johns I have (Ibex Woolies). In steady motion I'm wondering if this will be too hot or if too much moisture will build.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
pants on 12/05/2007 19:41:46 MST Print View

It is really weather dependent, but generally, I don't find that my legs get too hot in the winter or too cold, a base layer and an outer layer work pretty well most of the time. If you are lift served skiing or going above treeline, my concern would that would not be enough, so you probably should bring a back up hardshell for use above treeline, and consider wearing a mid weight base layer if it is cold. So my guess is those pants would do very well for most use.

We just got a ton of snow here, so hopefully the conditions will be as good for you as they are right now and for this weekend. Are you staying on the stowe side of Mansfield? Enjoy your trip.

E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
educating lowlanders; wind permeability; snowshoeing trail suggestions on 12/05/2007 19:58:43 MST Print View

It's great that a Vermonter will take the time to educate a lowly lowlander. After all, lowlanders aren't supposed to know anything (so a Vermont guide once told me).

I agree with you about an outer layer + base layer, but some outer layers are much more wind permeable than others. What makes our Ibex Guidelites great in fall, spring and less windy winter conditions is the high breathability - same thing that makes them way too cold for use on windy days. I picked up Gamma MX pants on a 35% off sale last year precisely for windy conditions - I can wear a much thicker wool or synthetic base layer underneath them if I need to, but I'm wondering at which point too much moisture could build up.

I find that a hardshell keeps too much moisture in when I'm working very hard. I only wear a light hooded softshell in winter - Patagonia Ready Mix (about 14-15 oz) - with a wool base layer and synthetic midlayer underneath and then use a belay jacket over that when stopped. The Ready Mix is highly wind resistant but still pumps the moisture out.

Yep, we'll be on the Stowe side of Mansfield, and looking for some good snowshoeing trails for Monday. Any suggestions? Green Mountain Club mentioned Lake Mansfield Trails to Taylor Lodge (only 650 ft elevation gain) and Cottonbrook, both in Moscow, as well as snowshoeing Mt Mansfield. Which Mansfield trail would you recommend and how much time would you allow?

E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
will test the MX pants on 12/05/2007 19:59:27 MST Print View

I'll test the Gamma MX pants with a light and midweight wool base layer on brisk walks outside over the next week to see how they feel.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
vermont winter hikes on 12/05/2007 21:09:43 MST Print View

I should have been clearer: I think your pants will be perfect. I want a pair. Bring a hard shell to carry in case of emergency. I think they will only be too warm on day in which you are stripped to your base layer on top and still sweating, and there is just isn't that much chance of that in Vt in Dec.

Mansfied from the east is dominated by the ski resort, so I think it is much nicer from the west (but I live over here). Mansfield involves several hundred feet of above treeline exposure, which is almost always wind swept and icy. I haven't done them in many years, but the main eastern approaches are the long trail from the north and hell brook. Both are steep and both involve exposure up top, so not something I would recommend.

My first choice recommendation is to do Mt Hunger. A very nice peak, 2000+ feet of climbing, a nice trail that will be packed for sure and is very popular, but well worth it. Minimal exposure on top since you can get back to treeline in a few minutes, but a very nice summit.

Camel's Hump is the nicest peak in Vt and one of the best in the east. All the trails on CH are beautiful, so except for the bamforth ridge, any would be be great. The obvious choice is the monroe trail from the duxbury trail head.

If you do Hunger and Camels Hump you are sampling some of the very best peaks in Vt (although very, very popular peaks). Each will take a half day, so you would have to pick if you only one day, since we have about 9 hours of daylight right now. For the after hike recovery, I recommend the alchemist brew pub in Waterbury.

The NE hiking forum is called views from the top, and there will be tons of info and trail conditions there:

http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/forums/index.php?

Edited by mbenvenuto on 12/05/2007 21:12:41 MST.

E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
thanks for the great info; your help with VFTT on 12/05/2007 22:34:27 MST Print View

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the great info. You're lucky to live in a beautiful place. We'll probably be snowshoeing Friday afternoon and Monday, so I expect there won't be too many people out, even on popular trails. How far is the Camelback trailhead from Stowe, and where is the trailhead for Mt Hunger located? I'll also ask the Green Mountain Club.

Another great trail thath is relatively safe for snowshoeing in terms of getting back to treeline, but which offers big views for relatively moderate effort, is the Alander Mountain Trail in South Egremont. I've hiked it in the fall, it's one of the best views in New England.

I've tried emailng Darren, the founder of VFTT, at least half a dozen times - never any response. I've been wanting to join that forum for NE trail info for ages, but it's been closed. If you are able to private message any forum moderators and help me register, I'd be forever grateful. I think my emails must be going into junk mail, or Darren hasn't been active with the site. Could you enable your PM and I'll send you my registration info? I'd really appreciate your help with this.

Re hard shell, why would you need it in below freezing weather? I can always carry my light (5 oz) Golite rainpants and Montbell Peak Shell, but I don't see how they'd be needed. Rain is not a worry below freezing. We have highly wind and water resistant outer layers and very warm insulation layers (Patagonia DAS Parka for very cold weather, Montbell Thermawrap Parka for less severe weather, worn belay style over our Ready Mix Jackets). We also carry an emergency heat blanket/bivvy each. Thankfully our winter softshells are flaming blaze orange, very handy now that it's hunting season in many places in the NE.

I asked about the Gamma MX pants because I remember reading in this BPL piece http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00278.html that BPL staffers heated up in the Gamma MX jacket, but then again, that was for upper layer, not legs. I'm also not sure how hard they were pushing at the time. I'd imagine the Gamma MX pant for legs would have been fine except for very mild winter weather. It will be interesting to see how the Gamma MX works for snowshoeing and x country skiing at a good pace.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
vt trails on 12/06/2007 06:13:42 MST Print View

The trails and trailheads are both described on the green mountain website:

http://www.greenmountainclub.org/page.php?id=51

Both are south of stowe but right in that area. If you are in stowe and turn around (away from Mansfield) you are looking at Mt Hunger and the worchester range. Waterbury center is a few miles (5-10 at most) from Stowe. For camel's hump, Duxbury is on the other side of the river from Waterbury, so 20-30 miles at most from Stowe and a fairly easy drive as well.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Will Gamma MX pants be breathable enough for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in N Vermont in late December? on 12/06/2007 17:35:25 MST Print View

If you have not already purchased the MX pants, you may be interested in the Foxwear powersheild pants

they are windproof powersheild on the front side, and more breathable powerstretch on the back..

I have never used these pants, but came across them when looking for a match to Golite's propel pants.. which are now discontinued. I beleive the propel pants were a similar product, powersheild/powerstretch hybrid.

I plan on getting a pair of these once I feel my golite softshell pants are too well used.

Edited by ryanf on 12/06/2007 17:36:35 MST.