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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List) on 01/17/2006 23:18:50 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List)

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List) on 01/18/2006 13:31:45 MST Print View

Yipee! At last does real backpacking.

The intro mentions the main point - humidity. The air is damp so ascent means sweat - up to the point of nappy rash if you don't keep clean - and the ground is soggy for much of the time. That means a genuinely waterproof mat/groundsheet is more important than a cushioning one.

Washing clothes is easy, given the copious flow in streams/burns, but drying clothes is difficult.

Temperatures rarely get very low. In summer, a fleece equivalent is redundant but a windproof layer is essential. Then, with the windchill sorted, you realise how warm Scotland can be.

I love the Highlands. So beautiful! Well worth coping with a few minor problems.

Re: Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List) on 01/18/2006 14:51:50 MST Print View

Sounds like a walk in the park.

Article says, "On this trip, the weather was mostly cloudy, with winds gusting well over 20 miles per hour (37 mph was the maximum recorded) and rain on six days. Temperatures were moderate - in the fifties most days and thirty to fifty overnight "

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List) on 01/18/2006 14:51:54 MST Print View

The highland moors are a place where I'd still take a pair of waterproof shoes or something waterproof for the feet. It's like walking on a sponge.
It's very wet and chilly, I don't think there's a perfect clothing system for this. Accept you'll get wet, get along with it and keep something dry for the night.
Oddly enough, given the intro text, I've used both tarp and umbrella there in late march. I'd say the umbrella is still useful, it's not that windy everywhere, everytime but my experience is limited.
I agree with the need for a really waterproof floor. I'd take it bathtub.
Ticks are all over in the highlands. As much as I love shorts, this is a place where I'd rather cover my legs. Blackflies can be a nightmare. Indeed a few minor problems for such a beautiful, daunting place. There must be something about those northern lights

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Tassie on 01/18/2006 16:36:04 MST Print View

Sounds like South West Tasmania, Australia, to me. Wet, damp, wet and wetter and that is just summer imagine what winter is like! I can't wait to get to Scotland and explore the Munros

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
footwear for wet weather on 01/18/2006 16:57:39 MST Print View

forget shoes and boots and go with Teva water sandals. For temperatures below 40F, use breathable neoprene socks from Campmor. Manys the time I've walked through melting snow and slush with sandals and neoprene socks, and probably much more comfortably than I would have with waterproof boots. Shoes or non-waterproof boots would have been a disaster under these conditions.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: footwear for wet weather on 01/18/2006 18:17:38 MST Print View

Frank, Good tip on the neoprene socks. I'll have to try a pair. Are the neoprene socks breathable? I didn't realize that. I thought since neoprene is closed cell foam that it wouldn't be breathable. It is closed cell, isn't it?, or is it open cell? Somehow, i got the idea that it was closed cell foam...oh well, i'm probably confused. Any help anyone?

Edited by pj on 01/18/2006 18:18:22 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: footwear for wet weather on 01/18/2006 18:22:19 MST Print View

I dont think they are breathable, I cant remember very well but I think I remember asking about neoprene socks for snowshoeing and someone said they would act as a VB.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
breathable neoprene on 01/18/2006 18:31:49 MST Print View

These socks consist of a nylon jersey inner and outer shell, with neoprene sandwiched between. The neoprene has small holes punched in it for breathability. The nylon inner shell wicks moisture towards these holes where it can evaporate. Liquid moisture simply drains out. Of course, liquid moisture also drains in, so the socks aren't nearly as warm as non-breathable neoprene. But once my legs and feet are warmed up, I have no problems walking around in slush at 30F with these socks.

All of my backpacking is done in the warmer months, where 20F is the minimum daytime temperature, and the typical temperature is typically short-sleeve weather. I usually go on long-distance hikes starting each spring and I don't want to pack more than a single pair of footwear. My old approach was to start with waterproof boots, then discard these and buy some shoes or sandals on the road as the temperatures warmed up, but now I just start out with sandals and some neoprene socks in my pack in case of snow conditions.

The neoprene socks are pretty fragile, so if I'm expecting a lot of cold weather, I'll pack several pairs to last me until the warm weather arrives. So far though, a single pair has been adequate per hiking season and I just discard the extras when warm weather arrives.

I should not that I'm quite comfortable walking with sandals and no socks at 40F. For most people, this may take some mental adjustment. I don't think any major physical adjustment is necessary, given that our ancestors routinely walked barefoot at these temperatures and lower. In cool weather, I notice that I typically bundle up in my torso region and wear mittens even when everyone else is barehanded, probably because I'm compensating for the heat lost through bare feet in sandals.

Late-breaking update:

It seems no longer sells these socks. They were made by Seirus. I see them in the catalog, but I don't know any reseller who has them in stock. Lucky I still have 3 pair left. I guess I'll have to be careful with these remaining pairs...

As for the Seirus storm socks, these have a W/B liner. When used with sandals, the socks soon develop holes. Water get in these, but then can't get out, so these socks are worthless to me. The breathable neoprene socks don't have this problem because they have little holes arlready punched in the neoprene. All the good products disappear and are replaced by sh*t.

Edited by frprovis on 01/18/2006 18:45:21 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: breathable neoprene on 01/18/2006 23:46:23 MST Print View


Many thanks for the swift reply, as well the very clear explanation. Appreciate it. A lot of good info in your Posts. Take care.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Backpacking Scotland - Dealing With the Wet and Cold (Photo Essay & Gear List) on 01/19/2006 10:50:14 MST Print View

Scottish winters feature a lot of transition temperatures and that means walking on ice and hard snow early in the day then sinking through later on (but without that sharp crust I encountered in Great Basin NP). There is also the issue of frozen scrag. Scrag is a mix of scree and crag. When it has a thin layer of hard snow over it, you need an axe and mountain boots. There have been times when I needed crampons for basic backpacking. Chris used to do a fair bit of cross country skiing in the Highlands. The snow conditions mean it's never easy.

I'm intrigued by his 3 oz topo. British Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps are 40 km across. Crossing that, even if you are wandering, is easy in two days. I usually end up taking 4 maps for a trip to the Highlands. If it was available for the Mac, I'd get Memory Map or Tracklogs software and print off just the essential bits. Maybe then the topo map would come in at 3 ozs.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
breathable neoprene socks on 01/19/2006 11:38:02 MST Print View

Well, I called Seirus and they still make the neoprene socks and they don't know why none of their resellers offer them. However, they will sell direct at the suggested retail price ($24.99 plus shipping) if necessary.

Campmor says they plan to have the Campmor house brand version of these neoprene socks (essentially identical to the Seirus brand version other than a different logo on the outside) in stock again in February.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: breathable neoprene socks on 01/19/2006 11:42:09 MST Print View


Many thanks for the update. Since you recommend them so highly, I'll have to get a pair and try them. Thanks again for taking the time to update us with this latest info.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
breathable neoprene socks on 01/19/2006 12:10:47 MST Print View

Make sure you get the right size. My normal shoe size is 11 or 12. The size L neoprene socks are rated for men's shoe sizes 9-11.5, but are too tight for me. The size XL socks are rated for shoe sizes 11.5-13 and are just right for me.

Also, the campmor brand neoprene socks used to be sold for $10 versus $19.99 for the Seirus brand, even though they are essentially identical other than logos.

I find the stitching the toe is the first place to wear out. I just sew the tear back up. Eventually the whole sock gets torn apart, but this takes a while. At $10/pair for the Campmor brand, I find these socks quite economical considering what they offer. Even if you are wearing running shoes rather than sandals, they are vastly superior to wool or liner socks for walking in cold and wet. Be aware that the neoprene socks are about as thick as medium wool socks, and so shoes should be sized accordingly if you plan to wear them with shoes.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: breathable neoprene socks on 01/19/2006 12:43:02 MST Print View

Frank, thanks again. i'll be sure to be careful of the size.