My wife & I have been backpacking for the past 2 years. We started out with a somewhat lightweight philosophy with some items (Six Moon designs Europa, alcohol stove, freezer bag cooking, WM down bags, dehydrating every speck of our food - even tuna packs). With other items, we weren't so lightweight - a Big Agnes Air Core pad, Osprey packs, and not a single piece of titanium anywhere!
Anyway, the real problem has always been clothes. I never really understood the purpose of a wicking layer, a windshirt, etc. I just grabbed stuff from REI that seemed to fit our needs and was on clearance. Since most of our hiking has been in the mountains or the desert, the clothing choices never really bit us in the butt.
We're currently planning on hiking the West Coast Trail & I've decided I really need to take a serious look at clothing. I read the articles on clothing systems & backpacking in sustained, cold rain, but I still need some guidance.
Here's what I'm currently thinking:
Shoes: We've recently converted to trail runners with decent ventilation. They're nothing fancy - again, whatever felt good and was available at REI.
Socks: Teko's EcoMerino socks (haven't tried them yet...could be convinced of something better). We'll probably have 2 pair...one for hiking, one for sleeping or a backup dry pair.
We plan on using the shoes & socks for stream crossings and hoping the shoes dry themselves out over time. We'll also use Hydropel to avoid blisters.
Shorts: Our REI cargo shorts - maybe even with the zippered legs.
Gaiters: Event Shorty Gaiters for me. Montbell Stretch for her.
Raingear: 8.9 oz sil-nylon poncho for each of us. PLUS lightweight Waterproof/nonbreathable top & bottoms.
The rationale is this: We'll always use the ponchos - at a minimum, it's a pack cover and acts as a cook tarp if it's raining. If the weather is warmish and/or the wind is low, it's a nice way to keep dry without feeling clammy.
The ultralight top & bottom are there for very windy and or cold rain conditions. I'd only wear them if a poncho was dangerously inadequate.
Finally, I was thinking of doing a lightweight merino baselayer (Patagonia Wool 2) & a light windshirt. This pairing would be an upgrade from our random shirts that we currently use (just one thick layer).
Finally, we'd have our Micro-Puffs with us for insulating our tops, and tights for keeping our legs warm (usually only used on very cold nights - I don't know if we've ever needed 'em for walking).
Any comments on this? Specifically, is a merino base layer a bad idea in such humid conditions? Is the poncho AND top/bottom just silly? Are the shoes/socks for stream crossings an ok way to go, or should we pack some crocs for that?
Thanks in advance for any advice.