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Tips/gear for women
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Leslie Bell
(Ftsp) - MLife

Locale: New York
Tips/gear for women on 10/03/2009 10:38:11 MDT Print View

I am new to backpacking and have learned a lot from reading BPL forums but would love some advise specifically for and from women backpackers.
Currently I'm looking for advise on clothing for late fall hiking. What do you wear while hiking and what do you use in camp (temps from 30's to 50's).
Also, what are your thoughts on creating a forum category specifically for advise and gear reviews for women.

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
Layers. on 10/03/2009 10:57:37 MDT Print View

Layers layers layers!

This is the max I start with, then shed down from there... A lot of it depends on the trip and weather (I'm in WA)

short sleeved shirt
long sleeved shirt
fleece or down vest
fleece jacket
rain coat

In camp I swap my socks out at night, so I have dry ones to sleep in. May or may not bring down booties for hanging around camp.

I'm all for a woman's specific forum. has one. :)

Leslie Bell
(Ftsp) - MLife

Locale: New York
Outer layers on 10/03/2009 11:30:39 MDT Print View

Thanks, I'll check out that forum also.

Which is your favorite down jacket or vest?

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Tips/gear for women on 10/03/2009 11:40:34 MDT Print View

A women's special forum sounds like a good idea.

I am not a women, but I asked wife and my daughter for suggestions. Their choices are fairly similar to mine. I have collected my general gear recommendation. The things where they differ from me (or thought something was particularly important):

  • WARM socks, primaloft socks or down booties to sleep in. Feet get cold a lot easier than Mark.
  • Liner gloves. Stay ahead of hands getting icy cold.
  • Extra underwear
  • Insulated Air Mattress... can sleep without hips hurting
  • Good sleeping bag. My daughter likes a Montbell SS#3 down to around 30F and then adds her high loft clothing. My wife sleeps cold. She is good to 35F with a WM Versalite and then needs to add clohing
The packs they use aren't made anymore so can be of much help there. They like a light weight frame rather than frameless even when carrying <20lbs. Finding the right torso length and an appropriate hip belt was key.

Clothing Worn:
Smartwool light hiker socks
TNF Womens Supplex Convertible Pants
Sports Bra
Sunday Afternoon Hat

Clothing Carries:
Marmot Driclim Windshirt
Midweight Capeline tights and ls shirt
Extra warm socks (or booties)
Extra trail socks
Extra underwear
Patagonia Micro Puff Vest (weather down to ~35F) and then switch to a Patagonia Micro Puff Parka
If the Parka is coming typically a light fleece vest comes as well.
Heavy Fleece hat if below 35F
REI rain pants... when cooler and sure of rain
DriDucks Poncho
Mid-weight Liner Gloves

I run hot, they tend to run slightly cool. As a result they bring 2x the insulation I typically do.


Edited by verber on 10/03/2009 12:08:58 MDT.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Tips/gear for women on 10/03/2009 11:43:48 MDT Print View

I'll speak for by girlfriend on this, since she is not a member of the forum.

In general, she takes at least one more torso layer than I do.

Head to toe:

Head: Marmot Powerstretch hat
Hands: Black Diamond Powerstretch gloves
Base layers: SS Wicking shirt and LS wicking shirt or merino wool pullover; also Capilene 2 leggings
Pants: REI convertible pants with good DWR
Socks: Smartwool Adrenaline mini-crews (x2)
Midlayers: Powerstretch fleece vest (if this was me, I would leave it at home - herein lies the extra layer)
Puffy: TNF Redpoint jacket or TNF down jacket (or both)
Hardshell: Arc'Teryx Alpha SL (GoreTex PacLite)

Thermarest Prolite 3, short
WM Ultralite, short (20 degree)

Pack: Granite Gear Vapor Ki. The hipbelt was key for her. She tried on Osprey Talon 44 and a GoLite Jam2 and Pinnacle and liked the full suspension.

We sleep in an Oware Double bivy under a CatTarp 2 or in a DoubleRainbow.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 10/03/2009 11:44:47 MDT.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Helpful Website on 10/05/2009 07:35:45 MDT Print View

You might find this website helpful too:

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Tips/gear for women on 10/07/2009 15:55:27 MDT Print View

I hike in late fall here in Southern California. I don't know if it's the same as where you live. Daytime temps would be around 70 and nighttime temps might be down to mid to upper 20s.

Hiking I wear:
- short or long sleeved knit shirt (can always roll up the - sleeves)
- long sleeved desert shirt
- long pants

Insulation to add when I get cold:
- Patagonia Houdini
- Patagonia down sweater (can use this like an extra blanket in bed, too)
- gloves
- fleece hat or balaclava
- extra dry socks for sleeping (I actually use a pair of fleece sleeves cut off a fleece sweater. I can use them as leg warmers, arm warmers or sleeping socks)

In camp I'll act like a lizard, finding patches of sun to sit in as long as possible. Once I start feeling cold, I jump in the sack. If I get too cold it's really hard to warm up, so better to get in my sleeping bag before that happens.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
fall can't do withouts on 10/07/2009 21:35:05 MDT Print View

I accepted Montbell UL Parka as my personal savior.

I also worship My WM Ultralite .

Mountain Hardware Powerstretch Zip T is a "tight" shirt.

Good Luck!

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Patagonia Down Sweater -- Pullover Hoody on 10/08/2009 04:00:49 MDT Print View

Favorite down jacket is the patagonia down sweater -- there are women's sizes. I prefer an XS in the men's 1/2 zip hoody for backpacking trips. It's a bit roomy but I can pull it on over everything else including a shell when I stop for lunch. Pull the hood up. Often sleep in it too. Note: this is a very light weight insulating piece -- the "shell" is a thin nylon. The fabric is delicate. Also folds into its own zip pocket making an absolutely perfect down pillow. Comes in a jacket, vest and full zip hoody for women. Have the vest and the zip hoody as well. Many other manufacturers make a similar product. Have a couple weights of the Montbell down insulating jacket -- I usually where these in my daily life -- they are a very simple design and look nice as normal clothes but they are certainly trail worthy. They don't have any cinches or zips -- makes them lighter. Note: there is a lot of variation in women's sizing. Patagonia tends to be a little trimmer and a little shorter in the women's technical gear. Arcteryx tends to fit a smaller person better than some. Northface and Mountain Hardware tend to be longer and run larger when it comes to their technical lines. Just a few of my observations. Osprey Ladies and Deuter SL packs tend to fit me well. Also, if you are small, don't ignore the kids clothing lines -- I'm 5'5" and I do well in a lot of girl's stuff. Always try men's packs as well.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 04:13:32 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Late Fall Hiking? on 10/08/2009 04:07:46 MDT Print View


Leslie Bell
(Ftsp) - MLife

Locale: New York
Women's clothing for fall hiking on 10/08/2009 07:01:18 MDT Print View

I live in NY (Brooklyn) so for now I'm hiking close to home (Catskills, Harriman, Hudson Highlands).

Thanks everybody for all of the specific suggestions and favorite items. I like to hear how different products fit and what works together. The other websites are good resources also but I know that the focus here is lightweight.

BTW, do any of you use down vests? I just look at them and think that they would be too warm for hiking and not warm enough for camp (because my arms would be too cold). Do they well work in combo with hoodie or fleece? The vest vs. jacket would keep the weight down.

Leslie Bell
(Ftsp) - MLife

Locale: New York
Down vest on 10/08/2009 07:09:13 MDT Print View

Actually, I guess I should have asked when, not if, you use a down vest because I see them listed on several of the posted gear lists.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Down vests? YES!!! on 10/08/2009 07:11:23 MDT Print View


A little partial but check this out.

One of my absolute faves -- casual and trail. I wear it under a sweater or a fleece (Patagonia R2 maybe) usually. It's fitted but the arm holes are plenty big for movement. squishes into it's own pocket. -- baseball size.

If I'm taking a down jacket for a trip, usually don't take a vest too.

Montbell has a similar one -- think it's a bit less expensive, simpler design.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Ideas for Systems on 10/08/2009 07:22:07 MDT Print View

Ryan, the owner of this site has written a wonderful, somewhat technical but readable book about how all this fits together from a lightweight standpoint. There is also much discussion on the subject of clothing and gear in Freedom of the Hills -- a classic you will want to buy if you haven't. Both readily available on amazon.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Tips/gear for women on 10/08/2009 07:38:20 MDT Print View

As so many have mentioned: down! It is so warm in the cold.

But most of all I always have a light hat and gloves that I can wear even in my tent if super cold. (And still be able to cook with them on).

More than anything though is if you are slender and get cold easily that you bring enough easy to eat food along with small bags of sipping soups and hot drinks (keeping hydrated really helps!)

If you are the cold type down socks are worth every dollar you spend. A down jacket completes it. I also pack a base layer for underneath for my lower half and my top.

While many men rely on their sleeping bag to stay warm in fall/winter/spring in camp again, if you get cold it is worth the extra little weight to carry more clothing.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
What do you currently wear? on 10/08/2009 07:50:55 MDT Print View

What is your current wardrobe for a fall hike? And how do you feel about it? Comfortable? Too cold? Too warm? There's really no one solution. Just to start things off...

When it is 50, my preferred day walk outfit might be ultralight merino wool leggings covered by a thin nylon short. (Kiwi fashion) I like clothes I can do "gymnastics" in. I wear a neutral trail runner, light wool sock and often a very light little gaiter to keep the pebbles out (no pant leg to cover the top of my shoe). I do NOT like pants with hardware, belt loops, cargo pockets and I hate pants with zip off legs. If I do wear pants they must be very smooth around the waist, have stretch in them and a gusseted crotch. They must not leave an elastic mark on my skin. I must be able to do the splits in them. I love climbing tights and the like. I'm sure many people have a VERY different idea. On top a thin merino long sleeve half zip mock. Would bring a very thin wind jacket (wind resistant on the front and stretch material on the back) and probably that softball sized down vest in my pack. And a thin merino wool cap and merino liner gloves. I get cold especially after exerting myself.

I don't mean that as advice for you but just to demonstrate that different girls look for different things.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Now, don't laugh too hard. on 10/08/2009 08:00:06 MDT Print View


This is at the bottom of Mount Whitney in May midday after a couple days out. It was still "winter conditions" higher on the mountain. It was quite warm when this picture was taken. I do not wear sunscreen on hikes -- prefer to remain covered. This isn't my usual wool but Patagonia Cap 3 long underwear. I am wearing a light traditional leather boot here since I was prepared to use crampons. I did not encounter many people dressed like me.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 08:03:30 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Fashion Statements on 10/08/2009 08:12:03 MDT Print View

torres del paine

Setting out on Torres del Paine Circuit. Climbing Tights, Windshirt.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Removed on 10/08/2009 08:17:23 MDT Print View

Decided 2 photos is more than enough.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 08:51:27 MDT.

Leslie Bell
(Ftsp) - MLife

Locale: New York
Hot drinks and soups on 10/08/2009 12:27:16 MDT Print View

Sarah, do you carry a thermos to keep drinks and soups warm while hiking or stop and heat up water on the way. I've thought it would be nice to have a warm drink on the trail but wondered if it would be a pain to carry a container that would keep it warm.

I also realized very quickly on my last hike that I needed gloves and a hat (which of course I didn't have but am soon getting).