layering in the Pacific NW
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John Brown
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Dry-Tec on 03/21/2006 11:44:34 MST Print View

Erik,
I have Peak jacket, only downside IMO is that it's a little short, so w/o some kind of rainpants your crotch is gonna get wet, kind of a drag.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 12:40:32 MST Print View

Im kind of surprised at how many people SERIOUSLY expect a miracle fabric to come along that is going to be 100% waterproof, 100% breathable, dry instantly, remain unbearably light, be wearable next to the skin and cook your breakfast before you get up.

All materials have their pros and cons.

You wont find a miracle fabric on the market. Not today at least.

Im not a drum-beater for much of anything (except maybe montbell - and they have their flaws too) but Epic seems to me, to be one of those things that if you use it with some brains, works VERY well.

It IS windproof, highly water resistant, quick drying, and still breathable.

You might get wet if you wear it in a heavy downpour, or pound through wet leaves, or whatever.

If your moving hard, it wont matter.

If you use some type of synthetic insulation that stays warm when wet, it wont matter.

If you keep your camp gear dry, and dont lounge around in wet clothes, it wont matter.

And if your not moving hard enough to keep warm, pull on a true hard shell. Something with lots of silnylon maybe. Something from Dancing Light or the Packa, or a poncho maybe.

I know, I know, the clamor is for breathable... but if the weather is cold enough, or your not working hard enough to stay warm with a windproof shell and synthetic insulation... your VERY unlikely to be warm enough or moving enough to steam up a silnylon hardshell.

You gotta play to the strengths and weaknesses of whats out there......

As for Dry-Tec, I like it. But then, I dont expect miracles. My experience is primarily with the sleeping bag cover. Im not sure how it works in a jacket.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 17:36:40 MST Print View

> Im kind of surprised at how many people SERIOUSLY expect a miracle fabric to come along that is going to be 100% waterproof, 100% breathable, dry instantly, remain unbearably light, be wearable next to the skin and cook your breakfast before you get up.

And that about summarises it all, doesn't it?

OK, we have been discussing this inside BPL as well. I'm thinking here of trips lasting a number of days, with the weather in the 32 - 36 F range with rain. Pretty harsh conditions in which to stay comfortable.
Do I take it that a review article on clothing AND other gear for such cold wet miserable conditions would be of some interest? I'm not talking about specific single items of gear but about techniques. If there is interest, we will try to work on it.

No miracles of course, but there nonetheless some tricks which can make life more bearable. Of course, the really good bit about such trips is the last few yards into a heated car ... :-)

Erik Sund
(sundek) - F
Re: Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 17:41:47 MST Print View

John - Thanks for your thoughts on the Peak jacket.

JR - I see your point about the "miracle fabric", but if the Dry-Tec is more breathable than XCR or whatever Gore's pushing these days, and if Peak has good pit zips, then 14 oz for it and my Featherlite is a weight that I'm okay with, at least for spring and fall outings. As you might imagine, I'm not among the hard core of ultralighters. I tend to float around the 9-10 pound range and am pretty happy there.

Thanks again for your comments, guys.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 17:59:37 MST Print View

> Do I take it that a review article on clothing AND other gear for such cold wet miserable conditions would be of some interest?


It certainly would be of interest to me. That describes spring/fall in a lot of places.

John Brown
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
cold/wet article interest on 03/21/2006 18:04:23 MST Print View

Roger,
Absolutely I'd be interested. You could even up the temperature range to 40 or so. I've never found a good technique for those conditions...

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Typical day on the Alaska coast on 03/21/2006 18:52:56 MST Print View

Lows in the 40's and rain every day for weeks on end ... ahh ... I love this kind of weather.

Five of us spent 1 1/2 months kayaking the Alaska coast last year in this type of weather. Each of us stayed warm, dry, and happy every day. The possibly surprising part is that we each used different combinations of contemporary insulations and moisture protection fabrics.

I for one would love to see an article on this subject. It might be entitled, "Not bad weather, just not appropriate clothing combinations".

John Brown
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
alaska coast on 03/21/2006 19:18:03 MST Print View

Richard, would be curious for a breakdown of how you all did it...

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 19:24:11 MST Print View

I have found it more breathable than most other materials, not as good as eVENT. With vents open with the Peak, and no vents on the eVENT jacket, I was able to manage moisture better with the Peak. It seems about as breathable as my rainshield o2 which is still my choice when I am not worrying about durablity or continuous hard rain.


I have been pretty happy with the Peak jacket, but it's not a magic bullet. When working hard I can still overwhelm the breathability. It isn't as comfortable as my softshell when it's not raining. But I have no plans to replace it until someone releases a miracle jacket.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 21:44:40 MST Print View

"And that about summarises it all, doesn't it?"

Well... theres still some wiggle room of course ;)

"Do I take it that a review article on clothing AND other gear for such cold wet miserable conditions would be of some interest? I'm not talking about specific single items of gear but about techniques. If there is interest, we will try to work on it."

...lets just say, more articles like this would get me re-assessing BPL membership.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
cold and wet on 03/21/2006 21:48:07 MST Print View

>I'm thinking here of trips lasting a number of days, with the weather in the 32 - 36 F range with rain. Pretty harsh conditions in which to stay comfortable.

32°-36°F and raining is indeed harsh, especially with a strong wind. I'd check into a hotel and wait until the things got warmer. But drizzly weather at 40°-45°F is just fine with me, for weeks on end, in fact. No problems finding drinking water in conditions like this.

The way I deal with these conditions is:

1. Wear river sandals. The feet can easily tolerate 40°F drizzle without any protection. It takes some psychological adjustment to feel comfortable with bare feet in these conditions, but no physical adjustment (extra blood supply or whatever) is required, at least in my experience. You'll avoid funguses and all sorts of other problems by using sandals. Shoes are a disaster in non-stop rain.

2. Wear a huge poncho or waterproof rain jacket (not merely water-resistant), and use a rain hat of some sort instead of the poncho or rain jacket hood (the rain hat can be water-resistant only, since you have the rain jacket hood as a backup for heavy rains). This way it will be as though you are walking around in a shelter at all times. Your poncho or rain jacket should extend past your hands. If the jacket does not extend past your knees, then add rain pants.

3. Don't overdress underneath the rain gear. A supplex shirt and insulated vest and insulated bomber hat is plenty of insulation for the top, at least when you are moving. Thermal underwear tends to be much too warm when walkig uphill, especially in the armpits and groin areas. Everything gets sweat-soaked and you begin to feel miserable. Learn to tolerate being slightly cool. Cool but dry is not dangerous.

4. Add an insulated jacket if you plan to take rest stops. Personally, I don't bother with rest stops. Instead, I just keep walking until I reach a campsite. Then I crawl under my quilt and lie there for 14 hours or so until the next morning rolls around.

Edited by frprovis on 03/21/2006 21:49:13 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: layering in the Pacific NW on 03/21/2006 23:18:14 MST Print View

The article would be of interest to me as well. Please write one. Many thanks.

Daniel Schmidt
(dschmidt) - F
All things considered on 03/22/2006 07:49:53 MST Print View

Yes, an in depth article about gear/layering systems in prolonged cold rain/high humidity would be great!

pack nwcurt
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Sloppy Conditions Article on 03/22/2006 07:53:50 MST Print View

I'd love to see an article on this.

I've noticed for a long time that there's an UL PCT list, and then there's a PCT Washington list for a lot of through-hikers. They get to Washington in the early fall and a different list emerges. Even Ray's famous 8.44lb. list swelled by 50% to 12+ when he got to Washington. Ryan touched on this with the Scotland conditions piece, but a full-blown wet/fall/spring/Cascade/Alaska/New Zealand/Olympics/UK article would be fantastic!

-Curt

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sloppy Conditions Article on 03/22/2006 13:32:27 MST Print View

I would love to see an article on this, as I will be moving to Portland this Summer. I've day-hiked a dozen times year-round there, and overnighted once on Mt. Hood in the summer above treeline, but otherwise am inexperienced and apprehensive about prolonged multi-day wet weather. I feel pretty good about my hiking clothing, (smartwool baselayer, Pertex windshirt, Fleece Midlayer, Drop-Stoppers rain suit, Go Lite Umbrella), but my concern is over my sleep system.

At www.ryanjordan.com, Ryan describes his rain gear for a November hike of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. I would be very curious to see his sleep system gear list. And I really want his eVENT rain gloves!!

I could actually use some advice before any such article is written, as I just purchased an eVENT bivy at REI using my %20 discount and still can't decide if it's the right thing for me (discount expires April 2, so I have a limited window to exchange/return it). I know Ryan likes the eVENT bivys for especially wet, windy, cold conditions, and I have decided that I want the added protection of a fully waterproof breathable bivy for the PNW. But I can’t decide between the ID eVENT Unishelter or the ID eVENT Micro Bivy.

Here's what I anticipate my hiking conditions to be based on my schedule and comfort level: multi-day trips above treeline in the summer, over-nighters in the Spring and Fall, and low elevation day hikes in the Winter.

I do very much like to get above treeline in the PNW, as I can get bored with endless trees with no view. For overnighters, I like the idea of camping at the highest point of the hike. For example, when I did Mt. Hood last September, I started at 2000' and hiked to 7000', where I camped out for spectacular views. I wouldn’t have wanted to dip back below treeline, where I had spent most of the day, nor would I have wanted to setup camp, climb high for sunset, come back down for camp, climb back up for sunrise, then climb back down to break camp. I really like the idea of watching sunset and sunrise without getting out of my quilt (a homemade down quilt with 3” of loft and a Teflon DWR top).

But when I woke up the next morning, the clouds had rolled in and I felt unprepared had high winds and rain picked up. So I need a system that gives me great views, and that I can hunker down into if a storm picks up. I don’t think I need an ID eVENT tent, because if the weather is already bad, I wouldn’t risk camping high in the first place and would stay below treeline. Also, flat spaces are hard to find on the side of a volcano, so the smaller the footprint the better.

My initial thoughts were to purchase the ID eVENT Unishelter, so that I can enjoy the spectacular views right from my sleeping area, and if the weather does turn bad overnight, I simply have to zip up for the night. No worries about a tarp being blown down. I don’t have a problem with confined spaces (I find I mostly lie in one position in a tent anyway), and since this is a solo hike setup, I don’t need lounge space. I don’t cook in my shelter, so that’s not a problem either. With my full rain gear setup plus umbrella, I don’t feel as much a need for a tarp for rest stops. I especially don’t like how much time I spend fiddling with gear when hiking, so the simplicity of setup is very attractive, and I find setting up a tarp for a rest stop to be too much work for what it’s worth. But again, I don’t have much wet weather experience.

This setup has a few problems. For starters, it’s 31oz. Add a GG groundsheet and stakes, and my calculations bring it up to 33.3oz. I do hike with an GoLite Umbrella (modified to attach to my hiking pole), so I could conceivably use that to enter and exit the bivy in rain. But am I being too optimistic about this setup? In constant rain, I will probably eventually want a tarp with this setup. Plus, without a tarp, the eVENT might be more prone to develop condensation. And in the summer, the small mesh screen will probably leave things pretty stuffy. So it seems a tarp is still needed for more versatility, but adding even a 7.5oz tarp brings the setup to 42oz (with more stakes). I might as well get an ID MK1 Lite eEVENT tent. The $285 price tag on the bivy isn’t too attractive, either. Or I could bring my 41oz Tarptent Rainshadow, stay below treeline, and enjoy a breathable palace.

So I opted instead to purchase an ID Micro Bivy (18.5oz) for $185 plus %20 off, with the assumption that I could make a 3oz spinnsheet awning of sorts with a simple pully-like system to raise and lower the tarp, and save 11.oz over the Unishelter.But even then I worry that a small awning would be enough. I am particularly worried that the rain that beads up on the bivy could pour down into the head opening. Thus I should probably bring a full-sized tarp.

So now I have a nice WP/B bivy, but I must bring a tarp, which ruins the whole point of a wp/b bivy for me, which is great views. So am I better off just sticking with a Pertex Quantum bivy and larger tarp and save even more weight? I’ve got my eye on the prototype Alphamid Nano.

To confound things, I purchased a Hennessy Hammock Ultralight Backpacker Asym (31oz) in December with the idea that it would keep me above all the mud and muck, and away from small streams that may form (after all, how many of my nights will truly be spent above treeline?). It would also keep me from the overused muddy campsites. But at 6’2”, I find it a bit too confining, it arches my back a little too much, and I can’t find a comfortable position on my side. But I just can’t justify the added weight of the next size up.

I’ve thought and thought about these setups, and none is a perfect situation. I’ve also learned that 5 minutes of experience is more informative than a week of calculations, but these are all expensive items, and I must internet-order the bivys from REI as my local stores do not stock them. My head starts spinning with all the variables, and I’m at the point where I’m incapable of making a decision. Help!

Edited by jcarter1 on 03/22/2006 16:22:34 MST.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
tarp/bivy in PNW on 03/22/2006 14:44:26 MST Print View

Moving to Vancouver (Canada, north of Seattle) from Calgary (north of Montana; similar to Denver I'm told) was a huge eye-opener for me. I thought I had clothing and shelter systems pretty much dialed for any weather including the wet... yah right.

My suggestion is this: hike in this climate before you spend another dollar! You will get lots of advice (and an article on PNW "rainforest" hiking would definitely be welcomed! Come spend 5 days in the bush up here in November guys! Do it SUL!) but I can't stress enough that you must see it/slither and slide through it to believe it.

There are many conditions (all year round) under which your gear simply will not dry itself. It will not vent condensation or perspiration. It will not perform as advertised. Single-walled tents, bivy sacks, and tarp camping *can* and *are* done here, (by me sometimes,) but they do need to be carefully considered in this climate: 100% humidity in the constant thick darkness of the forest, 24-hour rain, muck and slime and moss and rot as your trail and your lunch spot and your campsite, all at a steady 40 F... you might as well be living underwater.

For reference: in Calgary I hung my clothes to dry for about 4 hours in my house. Here, jeans in my heated apartment take 2 days. In a dark forest at 40F with mist floating by and rain floating down? Evaporation is for scrabble!

Yes: the Hilleberg Akto is obscenely heavy by BPL standards. And yes: it can also be worth every blessed ounce. Depending on conditions, depending on hiker, depending on skill, depending on attitude, YMMV!

Happy hiking.

Brian

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Sloppy Conditions Article on 03/22/2006 14:58:48 MST Print View

>To confound things, I purchased a Hennessy Hammock in December with the idea that it would keep me above all the mud and muck... But I just can’t justify the added weigh of the next size up.


And just to make that decision harder, I'm also 6'2" and use the "next size up" (Hennessy Ultralight Explorer) in the Olympics and it keeps me dry (and warm with bottom insulation) while everybody else has these little squishy pools around their tent. (Poor choice of tent spot on their part, but after an extra mile of looking they were no longer picky.)

Edited by Otter on 03/22/2006 14:59:56 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: tarp/bivy in PNW on 03/22/2006 15:29:20 MST Print View

Brian James said: "Moving to Vancouver (Canada, north of Seattle) from Calgary (north of Montana; similar to Denver I'm told) was a huge eye-opener for me. I thought I had clothing and shelter systems pretty much dialed for any weather including the wet... yah right."

Try Cape Scott Park at the very northern tip of Vancouver Island. There was a huge sign in the trail head parking lot warning people to have proper gear for the weather. For every line on the list, I could see ten nitwits who went into the woods with cotton clothes and a $20 tent from Walmart. Yes, most of them probably Yanks too :)

You can have a good time. I say there are a thousand kinds of rain. You can have a slug hunting contest on the way-- longest, fattest, weirdest color.

You haven't lived until you come down a trail wanting to get back to the car, and land your heel on a slug and slide three feet on one foot, with your arms flailing and landing in three inches of cold mud. The real dancers of the lot end up doing the splits-- really funny with a pack on.

Rainwater drains down the hills, with the switchbacks cutting through the aquifer and making it easy for the run-off to go straight down the trail. Slog, splash, slide, grooooaaaaan.

Imagine a vertical swamp. It's easy if you try :)

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Sloppy Conditions Article on 03/22/2006 16:16:19 MST Print View

>>And just to make that decision harder, I'm also 6'2" and use the "next size up" (Hennessy Ultralight Explorer) in the Olympics and it keeps me dry (and warm with bottom insulation) while everybody else has these little squishy pools around their tent. (Poor choice of tent spot on their part, but after an extra mile of looking they were no longer picky.)

Wow, lesson learned. Perhaps I need two shelters; one for when I stay predominantly in the forest (Hennessy), and one where I stay above treeline (Unishelter). Now what to do about those hikes that do both equally???

Whatever happened to all those posters touting the wonders and beauty of the PNW? Care to chime in? =).

Perhaps we need to start an alternate thread: what are your favorite EASTERN Cascades hikes? Where have you sucesfully gotten out of the muck when the 'westerners' have been stuck?

I'm beginning to think an extra hour's drive east is worth it, even for a weekender!

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: tarp/bivy in PNW on 03/22/2006 16:27:04 MST Print View

>"You haven't lived until you come down a trail wanting to get back to the car, and land your heel on a slug and slide three feet on one foot, with your arms flailing and landing in three inches of cold mud."

This brings up yet another issue that could be explored in future BPL articles: What are the best method's for increading traction in muddy conditions? I've seen studded shoe attachments (like blunt cleats), metal spring attachements (they look like snow chains), and of course instep crampons. My thoughts are that the instep crampons would dig deepest into the mud, and could be also used in the snow and ice. But I can also imagine them getting in the way when it's not muddy or only muddy in patches.