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best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather
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Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather on 09/19/2005 19:03:42 MDT Print View

Prolonged cold, wet and windy weather is perhaps the worst conditions to encounter with its high risk of hypothermia.

Anybody have experience or suggestions for the optimum layering system for this type of weather for long distance hiking?

It seems down is out because it loses its loft in wetness. Plus, if you wear it under a shell it loses loft from compressibility and now you have to breathe through two layers of pertex + your shell.

Synthetic fill is retains loft when wet but if you wear it under a shell you still have 2 layers of pertex + your shell to breathe through.

Is fleece the best answer? Bulky, not really that warm. I want to be able to wear all layers simultaneously and effectively in bad weather.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
when vicious heinousness becomes heinously vicious on 09/19/2005 21:57:57 MDT Print View

For me, those temperatures between about 30 and 40 degrees fahrenheit are always the zone of maximum suffering.

While on the move, thin polypro (or wool) that dries out fast, possibly with wind pants and a waterproof-breathable rain parka has always done the trick. I keep a hat (and sometimes thin gloves) handy but won't always wear them -- usually I can control temperature by putton on the hat or taking it off, or unzipping the parka.

When I stop I'll put on that hat and an insulated pullover or vest -- with synthetic insulation. I'll usually put the insulation on over the raingear, if it isn't soaking wet.

I won't give more specifics, since I've found that what works best for any individual depends a lot more on that person't metabolism than on any specific brands.

My own personal view is that if it is warm enough to be wet, it isn't really "cold". You might be cold, but I reserve the term "cold weather" for temperatures where dinner freezes if you don't eat it quickly.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather on 09/19/2005 23:48:18 MDT Print View

Daniel... can you define "cold"?

For many of us, cold is temps below freezing (or 0F, or lower) and in these temps "wet" is snow. In these conditions I have been very happy with soft shells made with from a material like Schoeller dryskin extreme, pertex Equilibrium, nextec epic. These materials breath reasonably well, are wind resistant (or windproof) and are high water resistant. I will typically be wearing a heavy base + softshell. When active this keeps me comfortable into the upper 20s F. When it's colder, or I have stopped moving I add a high loft synthetic vest or jacket.

If by "cold" and "wet" you mean 32-42F temps... I have found that when hiking a light base layer + light wpb shell (my current favorite for this sort of weather would be the montbell peak) works fine. I add a montbell thermawarp vest when I stop. Some people have found the "british" approach to work well in these conditions. Using a DWR outer shell with a pile lining. Water gets through the DWR shell, but doesn't get absorbed by the pile. Body heat drives the moisture out of the garment.

For me, the most difficult conditions are which I consider moderate temps (45-65F) because most clothing options are too warm (I soak myself in sweat) or not protective enough and I freeze. In light rain I have found a light base + DWR windshirt works pretty well. In heavy rain I haven't found anything that makes me really happy... the best so far has by my Rainshield O2 jacket over a featherweight base.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather on 09/20/2005 00:06:17 MDT Print View


Curious, what is your DWR windshirt?

Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
cold definition on 09/20/2005 09:30:44 MDT Print View

Mark, I am defining cold here as just above freezing into the 40's. My problem is that I very low body fat and get cold easy when at rest. In the 30's a baselayer + wpb shell is too cold. When I stop, by the time I take the wpb shell off to put on say my micropuff pullover, I flashoff and gain a chill and have a hard time getting warm again.

I will probably try a baselayer + fleece vest + wpb. This will give me extra insulation but retain breathability in the 30's-40's.

For 50's-60's, where the wind is not high, maybe an umbrella + windshirt would do the trick. I would only bring an umbrella to places such as the cascades where prolonged rain is more of a risk.

Thanks for the tips.

Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
. on 09/20/2005 13:25:18 MDT Print View


Edited by dschmidt on 09/20/2005 19:17:48 MDT.

Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
. on 09/20/2005 15:15:24 MDT Print View


Edited by dschmidt on 09/20/2005 19:17:12 MDT.

Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
, on 09/20/2005 16:24:02 MDT Print View


Edited by dschmidt on 09/20/2005 19:16:38 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: cold definition on 09/20/2005 20:53:07 MDT Print View

Ah... I knew there was a reason I was carrying a bit of body fat around with me. Maybe I don't want to lose those last 10 pounds.

A fleece vest might be a very good option for you. You might also consider a montbell thermawrap vest. It will be slightly warmer than a 200 wt fleece, but is lighter and more compressible.

In colder weather (when wet is the snow) I just put my insulating jacket over my shell to keep warm... and that's what I was going to suggest until I remember the whole point of your question is what to do when it's wet, which given the temps is rain. I was trying to figure out what I do, and realized that in these temps my stops typically aren't long enough that I chill down sufficently to need the extra insulation. Hmmm... maybe the solution is to put on a few pounds :-)


Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Windshirt on 09/20/2005 20:59:10 MDT Print View

I am normally using the first version of the Patagonia Dragonfly pullover w/ hood. I like it better than the later versions because the seam around the hood doesn't wick moisture in like the fullzip which stupidly placed tags on that seam.

When I want something more durable (like when I am skiing) I use an Patagonia Essenshell which is made of EPIC.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather on 09/29/2005 11:56:15 MDT Print View

On a recent, exposed 25 mile walk, when rain "fell" horizontally for most of the day but occasionally turned to hail, I used an Odlo thermal vest under a Stretch Equilibrium zipped midlayer. Over that was an elderly Lowe Triplepoint 2-ply jacket. I've nothing against the waterproof outer layer but it is the under-layers I commend to you.

I had forgotten some bank notes (how?!!!) which were in the chest pocket of the midlayer jacket. When eventually they were remembered and checked, they were bone dry! No plastic bag was involved. Condensation was visible on the outside of the Stretch Equilibrium but all of my torso was also bone dry. Banknotes are not a lot better than blotting paper so this is a phenomenal performance. I attribute it to the openess of the weave of both the thermal vest and the Equilibrium.

Just like the Icelandic knitwear I brought home and the best soul-singers, I'm a heavy sweater and this walk was reasonably quick. The performance of the layers worn under the waterproof for ten cold, damp hours is the best I have ever experienced. By the way, the walk was really enjoyable!

Nicholas Couis
(nichoco) - MLife
Re: best layering system for prolonged cold/wet weather on 10/14/2005 05:57:58 MDT Print View

What brand was the stretch Equilibrium jacket.