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Canonical Clothing List
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Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Canonical Clothing List on 12/14/2007 19:13:33 MST Print View

Not sure this is the right forum (especially since the gear forum sees most of the traffic :-), but here goes. The one component to ultralight backpacking that still totally eludes me is getting my clothing done right. My clothes outweigh anything else by a multiplicative factor. It seems there are typical decisions and approaches to other components (e.g. shelter: tarp+bivy or single wall tent, bag:light down bag or a quilt, etc.), but clothing is really confusing to me. I'm starting this thread to see if we can make a "canonical" gear list, if you will. Perhaps listing the two or three top ultralight clothing systems. Note that this is for three seasons, probably not so much the heat of summer either, mostly spring and fall. Here's what I seem to have observed so far on this forum:

Base Layer:
Wool or synthetic (Capilene). Long sleeve and pants?

Insulation: Synthetic jacket (or vest?) for camp. While hiking? R1 hoody? Something similar? Or nothing but a windshirt and base layer while hiking? No insulation for legs, just long wool or synthetic base layer and windproof pants.

Shell: Windshirt or jacket. Poncho or WPB jacket and pants (MicroPore).

Other: Fleece or down balaclava or beanie. Wool or fleece gloves and WPB shell mitts. Wool socks. Gaiters?

I pretty much put question marks by what I wasn't sure of. Do you bring a light insulating layer for hiking and a thicker one for around camp? I'm toying with the idea of a high loft down vest for camp and relying on the long sleeve base layer and wind jacket to provide arm warmth (or a light fleece). Do you bring separate clothes to sleep in? Short sleeve base layer and undershorts as well as longer ones?

If anyone has adjustments or additions that would be great. I know we're all different, but I'm looking for maybe the top 2-3 clothing systems used. Please don't say experiment...I don't have that kind of discretionary income and time. Thanks.

Edited by cooleric1234 on 12/16/2007 19:12:45 MST.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: Canonical Clothing List on 12/16/2007 19:00:50 MST Print View

"Please don't say experiment...I don't have that kind of discretionary and time. Thanks."

Experimenting is REALLY the only way to make it work for you, and if you don't have time to do that, you probably don't have time to backpack.

You will also find there is a big difference what you will need in different areas and at different temperatures. It is easy to say "spring" or "fall", but what are the temperatures going to be. Around here that could mean 50's or even 60's at night, or it could mean 20's. That's a lot of difference and requires a different setup.

But, here is what worked for me on a recent trip that dipped down into the 30's at night and up to the 60's or so in the day.

In pack:
Long sleeve wool Icebreaker 200 weight top and bottoms
Primaloft jacket (would now replace with Montbell Down Inner Parka)
Fleece Hat (sometimes worn while hiking)
Polypro gloves (sometimes worn while hiking)
1 extra pair mid-weight socks (used only while sleeping)
1 extra pair underwear
Dri-ducks rain jacket & chaps (made from the pants)

Long Sleeve Capilene 2 shirt (occasionally removed & carried in pack)
Short Sleeve wool Icebreaker T-shirt
Patagonia silkweight base layer bottoms (often removed by mid-day and carried in pack, but usually worn until half way up the first mountain )
REI Sahara nylon convertible hiking pants
Mid-weight wool socks

I don't find a balaclava necessary unless it gets a good bit below freezing, but YMMV.

I did bring a buff, which I mostly used to pull my hair back, but sometimes wore as a neckwarmer at night.

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Re: Re: Canonical Clothing List on 12/16/2007 19:23:21 MST Print View

Thanks for the input. I should clarify a few things. When I say spring and fall I mean in the mountains. I'm moving to Colorado, so perhaps the Rockies or Sierras.

Secondly, I definitely know that experimentation is the way to dial in the gear. What I guess I was trying to say is this: I was looking at tapping in on the collective wisdom and experience of many people on this site in order to cut down on the length of time it would take me to dial in my clothing list and to help me spend less money. You know, stand on the shoulders of giants.

For example, maybe a person just starting backpacking would buy some flannel, thinking that would keep him warm. He could use it for a year, realize that it doesn't keep him warm when it gets wet, and serendipitously be wearing some polyester and realize that works better. Or he could ask an experienced person first who tells him not to wear cotton. I understand a lot of clothing is what works personally, but I can't help but thinking there is also a lot that can be generalized. Thanks for the reply and example.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Canonical Clothing List 3 seasons, ~20 items. on 12/17/2007 08:46:56 MST Print View

IMO you can equip yourself for 3 season hiking with about 20 clothing items in your closet. But don't ask me why I have several times that number... anyway:

Torso: choose 4 items
Base: wool2 OR capilene1 depending on temp.
Insulation: Montbell Thermawrap OR Fleece depending on temp.
Windlayer: Patagonia Houdini
Shell: TheNorthFace DIAD or similar

Lower body: 4 items
Base: Capilene1 OR nothing depending on temp.
Insulation: Montbell Thermawrap pants
Pants: REI Sahara zipoffs
Windlayer/Shell (legs don't perspire as much): Montbell Stormchaser WP/B or similar

Feet: 3 items
Base: wool, silk, or polyester 5-TOE socks
Insulation: REI wool hiking socks
Shell: Inov-8 390 mid-top goretex hiking shoes (compatible with Stubai universal strapon crampons)

Headgear: 3 items
Base: REI Balaclava (on neck, head, face, etc..)
Insulation: wool watch cap
Shell: nylon ballcap or widebrim sunhat

Hands: 3 items
Base: Hardware store synthetic leather mechanic's gloves (tough, cheap, dexterous)
Insulation: Fleece gloves
Shell: Montbell drytech shells

A lot of that stuff can be had cheap used or scour internet sales frequently.(I do). A recent post showed DAS's for 99, and in all sizes for $149 (but probably any cheap synthetic jacket would do almost as well at 1/3 the cost)

In winter replace the Thermawrap pants with Micropuff full-zip, and replace the Thermawrap jacket with a DAS parka.

"Canonical" brought up this fond but unrelated movie memory..
'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thou foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.'
happy trails.

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Re: Canonical Clothing List 3 seasons, ~20 items. on 12/17/2007 17:17:31 MST Print View

Thanks for the reply. I just have one question, do you really find you generally need the Montbell Thermawrap pants for three seasons? Even with a capilene base layer, zip-off pants, and WPB pants?

Ah, Monty Python...good stuff. In fact, maybe I'll have to go rent it an watch it again, it's been a while. I'll leave you with one quote that definitely is on-topic for lightweight backpacking...

"It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios!"

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re:clothing list on 12/17/2007 20:16:15 MST Print View

I've been in the same boat. I've taken less and less for each trip, and am planning to cut some items next summer. My hiking is done in Colorado and Wyoming.

Light wool long sleeve tee. If the bugs are not going to be bad, I might exchange for a short-sleeved one.

Light weight convertible pants. I'd go with just shorts, but June/July bugs are NASTY!

Patagonia Capaline briefs. Love 'em.

Inov8 Roclite 315's w/ light wool running socks and light-weight gaiters (Dirty Girl or Simblissity Leva Gaiter). This is a big departure for me, as I am finally abandoning my beloved (although I'm not sure why) 3-and-a-half-pound boots.

Tilley LT6 sun hat. Something to hand mosquito netting from!

Light or mid-weight capalene or wool top and bottom. I like having something else to put on at night, as well as the layering options it gives me if the weather gets ugly.

Wind Shirt. Patagonia Houdini. Great investment.

Montbell Thermawrap Jacket. For rest, camp, sleep if needed. I carry a Jacks-R-Better quilt that can be worn if things really get cold. Much better warmth for the weight than fleece.

Extra socks for sleeping.

Liner-weight gloves

Mist Overmits. I use poles, so will be happy to have them in an extended rain.

Light weight balaclava.

Rain gear. Here's where I'm not settled. Last summer, I spent 2 weeks in the Wind Rivers, and carried a Dri-Ducks suit. Never took it out of the pack. I'm thinking that I may replace the pants with some GoLite Reed pants. They will provide a wind as well as water-proof layer, and if used with a capalene bottom, will be quite warm when I'm on the move. I'll stick with the Dri-Ducks top, at least until I'm convinced that I ought to be carrying something else.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Canonical Clothing List on 12/17/2007 23:37:13 MST Print View

Eric, my list has everything I need for 3 season use; maybe in summer you dont need the thermawrap pants, but in September on the summit of Fujisan it was -10C with the wind, so Im glad I had them. Just depends where you are going.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Canonical Clothing List on 12/22/2007 23:59:45 MST Print View

Hey Eric...

I have a fairly lengthy recommended clothing page. Alas, it won't tell you what is best for you. It will list options, tell you about some of the trade offs, and tell you what *I* use. You might want something different.

For the sierras... my 3 seasons gear list shows what clothing I normally use. For me, three seasons means that the night time might drop to say 20F (though sometimes we have been surprised with 10F), and that the daytime is above freezing.

I would note that the rockies tends to have bigger storms and colder temps, especially in the shoulder seasons and the winter. My experience is that it's pretty rare to see sub zero temps in the sierras, but I have repeatedly seem these sorts of temps in the rockies. In the rockies my "three seasons" gear would be moving into what I use in the dead of winter in the sierras. My featherweight PowerDry base would be replaced by my Patagonia R.5, etc.

Edited by verber on 12/23/2007 00:16:30 MST.

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: Canonical Clothing List on 12/23/2007 16:35:50 MST Print View

I agree with Pamela, experimentation is the only way to really know what you need to bring. I did a quick 4 mile hike around the lake this past weekend and it was about 34 degrees, light wind and just starting to snow. I was wearing:
- tshirt
- patagonia capillene 2 ziptop
- R1 hoody
- patagonia micropuff vest
- fleece hat
- lightweight gloves
- zip off pants
- wool socks
- vasque trail boots

I still felt chilly and then I put on my patagonia houdini windbreaker and immediately started to feel toasty. I felt pretty good because this is my supposed 3 season kit [trail runners instead of boots though] and it worked well down to lower limit I would normally overhike in during Spring and Fall.

Making hot cocoa

Make some hot cocoa on the "trail"

And he wanted to hike more!

Edited by fperkins on 12/23/2007 16:36:31 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Canonical Clothing List on 12/23/2007 17:36:09 MST Print View

In the interest of lightening your load, would you consider the following suggestion for an experiment on a trip around the lake in similar conditions?: For your upper body, use only the R1 Hoody and your Houdini wind shirt; For your legs, Capilene 1 bottoms and a pair of wind pants(your choice) or lightweight WPB's, e.g. Golite Reeds. This is based on my experience in below freezing conditions, using an R1 Hoody under a Mountain Hardwear Transition Featherweight vest on top
and Patagonia Capilene 1 bottoms plus Mountain Hardwear Transition Featherweight bottoms. You could save considerable weight, plus volume in your pack if this works for you. This is my current clothing for snowshoeing, while on the move. At extended stops(lunch, etc), I just throw on a WPB shell. Roasty toasty at all times, down well into the 20's in the Cascades.
Disclaimer: I have no interest in Mountain Hardwear, financial or otherwise. It's just that I have found their Featherweight gear to perform very well in the conditions that I encounter. Everything else they produce doesn't make my personal "cut".

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Theory and specifics on 12/24/2007 11:35:14 MST Print View

First of all the theories of UL clothing systems as I understand them:

Performance: finding designs and fabrics that deliver the optimum protection and breathability for the weight.

Layering: assembling a selection of gear that works together to keep warmth in, transport perspiration out, and provide protection from the conditions at hand: intense sunlight, bugs, cold, or precipitation. Each garment should be usable alone or in concert with others with as little duplication of purpose as possible

Multi-use: Rain gear as shelter, base layers and insuation to augment sleeping gear, etc.

Caveats: durability, insulation layers that duplicate wind protection (my personal grail), breathability, single-purpose items (like soft shells, that commit considerable weight but only deliver in a narrow band of conditions). Much of the theory is based on multi-day hiking and a wide range of conditions vs. day hikes with a narrower range of temps and precip.

Needs: retaining core body temperature (and comfort), transporting perspiration from clothing layers, protection from bugs, intense sunlight, and precipitation.

Base layers: typically light layers of polyester or merino wool. Performance aimed at moisture transport and quick drying while preventing convection from skin. Available in various thickness and weights to act as insulation as well as moisture transport.

Insulation: typically goose down or polyester fill with thin fabric coverings. Also polyester fleece that requires no extra covering. May be a vest or sleeved.

Outer layer: abrasion, sunlight, bug, wind/convection, and light precip protection.

Rain gear: protection of other layers from precipitation. May also be used for wind protection or shelter.

Practice: forget everything you know about dressing for home/work/street!

My personal specifics:

Base layer: Patagonia Capilene, GoLite C-Thru or similar "silkweight" short sleeve and/or long sleeve tops, briefs, and long johns. I typically have two tops: one short sleeve, one long. Long bottoms for colder, wetter weather.

Insulation: Patagonia Micro Puff vest, Burton Heater polyester fill pull-over (like Micro Puff), fleece sweater, or down sweater for extreme cold. Varied to suit season/conditions/weight

Outer layers:

Bottoms: nylon or polyester shorts, long pants or zip-offs. Ex Officio Amphipants, REI Sahara pants/shorts/zip-offs, REI Cordura pants, running shorts with breifs and GoLite Whim wind pants for lightest warm weather combo.

Tops: Ex Officio Airstrip Lite button down shirt (summer day hikes), Montane Areo wind shirt.

Wind protection: Montane Areo top and Golite Whim bottoms

Rain gear: SMD Gatewood Cape Shelter, Marmot Precip jacket and pants.


Gloves: Pearl Izumi bike gloves (great with trekking poles), Mountain Hardwear Tempest, Patagonia Capilene liners.

Hats: OR Peruvian Windstopper fleece, fleece beanie, Tilley T5, Orvis sun hat.

Sunglasses: Bolle PC with Croakie retainer

Bug control: bug headnet used with wide brim hat (and chemicals), long lightweght clothing (Ex Officio, REI Sahara, etc).