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Clothing Advise/Guidance
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Jay Goad
(JGoad) - F
Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/11/2010 20:44:17 MST Print View

I am not new to the outdoors, but I am a complete beginner as far as backpacking is concerned and I need some input about what clothing I really need to bring.

I keep looking at the Gear Trade section of this website and on others, and I often see an item that I think that I want, but I am unsure if it is something that I would really need.

So here I am, looking for advice on just what I will need for 3-seasons in Colorado.

Right now I have a list of:
- Wicking underwear
- Thermal bottoms (already own)
- Wicking baselayer top
- Gloves (own)
- Wool hat & Sun hat (own)

- Standard Marmot Fleece (own)
- Marmot wind softshell (own)

- Rain Jacket
- Rain pants or quick drying pants (??)

- Smart wool socks x2 (own)
- Dress socks (own)

Am I missing or have I overlooked something? Can you point me in the direction of what I need?

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Clothing Advise on 01/13/2010 04:55:10 MST Print View

No insulated jacket?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/13/2010 06:45:27 MST Print View

For 3 seasons, dump the soft shell and get a wind jacket. Lighter and more useful. Softshell are really only useful in winter, as they wet out too quickly in rain and dry slowly.

What weight is the fleece? If you can pick up a Montbell Down Inner jacket/parka, I'd advise that. It's the only insulation you'll need down into the 30s. Don't bother with a Thermawrap, as they aren't warm enough for the lower end of 3 seasons.

In addition to Gear Trade and Gear Swap, check out Sierra Trading Post. Sign up for their mailing list, and get daily coupons for great deals. I have no financial interest in STP, they just have great deal on off-brand and sometimes brand name stuff) Terramar makes okay wicking baselayers, and STP sells them cheap. I really like my Terramar merino liner gloves, but not so much my terramar silk long underwear(cuffs loose their stretch right away).

You'll definitely want rain pants for the lower temp ranges of 3 seasons. GoLite Reeds are nice and light but not super durable. Fine if you treat them well though. Marmot Precip pants have full zips and are not too pricey or heavy either.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
clothing on 01/13/2010 06:52:09 MST Print View

I am outdoors a lot. Some hiking some over night and a lot of dog walking in all conditions. I favor merino wool from Minus33 and Icebreaker under a shell and for long johns. I like wool socks from smart wool and icebreaker for my Roclite 315 shoes. This keeps me warm and dry down to 20 degrees while moving. If still I have a down inner parka to add insulation. When hiking its 3 season not below 30 degrees hopefully.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/13/2010 07:14:01 MST Print View

Hey Jay, like the poster previously mentioned, you are missing a warm insulation layer. One possibility is trading up your Marmot fleece for a more thermally efficient and lighter down top as well as omitting the softshell for a lighter wind or rain shell. I'm not suggesting you use this layering setup, but here is one possibility for a 3-Season clothing system:

top: Backpacking Light Merino Hoody
outer shell: Marmot Mica or Golite Wisp
Insulation: Montbell UL Down Parka or WM Flash Jacket
Bottoms: Lightweight synthetic pants

Do a search in the Community section, under forums and check out Gear Lists, there are several.

Jay Goad
(JGoad) - F
RE: Advise on 01/13/2010 13:12:08 MST Print View

I really appreciate all of your input, thank you for thank you for taking the time to respond.

Jim: I really couldn't tell you what weight the fleece is, all I know is that it is Marmot and as served me well around Denver this winter which has seem temps below freezing and I haven't been too cold with it. So I was thinking that with an adequate layering system I would be fine for the majority of the 3-seasons.

Out of curiosity, are there any other insulating jackets/pullovers that you would recommend, that won't set me back $150+ like the MB or WM jackets that have been mentioned; are there any other options?

As for baselayers, I was just thinking of the MTS crew or the Capiliene 1 or 2 tops-- would you recommend any of those for my needs?

The Marmot Precip, Golite Reeds and REI UL rain pants were all on my short list.

Eugene: Interesting choices in outer-layers. I looked at a Wisp on one of the forums for around $25, it doesn't appear to offer much protection from any rain beyond a moderate drizzle. I was actually looking at the Marmot Precip, would this be a better choice than those you listed? My other option is an REI Taku, which while on the heavy side, is being offered to me for around the same price as a retail Precip-- this seems to be a good deal and offers better protection. Any thoughts on this?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: RE: Advise on 01/14/2010 06:43:36 MST Print View

One thing to keep in mind as far as an insulating layer is that according to this chart is that your metabolism while walking around town is twice that of sitting around camp, so a fleece that is okay walking about Denver may not be adequate for the longer, cooler nights in the fall. MB can be found on sale not infrequently, but REI has sort of jumped on the UL bandwagon with a down jacket, I think, and Marmot's Zeus seems to be on clearance a lot.

For an all-around base layer, I like a capilene 2 zip neck top. Not too hot in the summer, (especially with the zip neck for venting), a decent base layer in the winter. I don't have much experience with MTS fabric, but I do have a pair of REI MTS underwear, and I do like the fabric, I just prefer capilene, but I found Cap 2's at TJ Maxx and on Ebay. For full price, I'd just as likely go with the REI stuff.

I have Marmot Precip full zip pants for my winter outings when I need something fairly durable that I can get on and off while wearing big boots/snowshoues/skis. My precips survived a lot of glissading down Mt Shasta last July, not much worse for the wear, so I can say they are durable for their 11 oz weight in mediums.

I have the 5.5 oz Reeds for spring/fall rains when it's just a hair too cool to let my nylon pants get soaked.

The Wisp, like other wind jackets, aren't going to provide much protection from extended rain. My Patagonia Houdini lasts about 15 minutes in a drizzle. But a wind jacket would replace your softshell, and is nice for extended wear in the mountains(I wore my constantly in the Sierras) over your thin baselayer to prevent heat loss from the wind. Even a breathable rain jacket with pit zips is going to make you sweat too much for that. However, there are several threads on these forums debatig whether a wind jacket is redundant when you're carrying a rain jacket.

pixel grunt
(pixelgrunt) - F
relatively cheap insulating top layer option on 01/22/2010 13:39:26 MST Print View

this field intentionally left blank

Edited by pixelgrunt on 09/22/2011 12:37:19 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: RE: Advise on 01/22/2010 17:03:46 MST Print View

> other insulating jackets/pullovers that you would recommend

It's hard to beat the Montbell Inner Down Jacket from a warmth/weight/dollar.

Eddie Bauer and Lands End both have been selling respectable light down jackets that you might pick up on sale. I would rather the Montbell jacket, but these would be fine.

Another option would be US Army's M-65 Field liners which you could intergrate under a shell that are something like $20. Finally, you could consider making one of the kits from


Jay Goad
(JGoad) - F
RE: Advice on 01/22/2010 18:15:18 MST Print View

"It's hard to beat the Montbell Inner Down Jacket from a warmth/weight/dollar.

Eddie Bauer and Lands End both have been selling respectable light down jackets that you might pick up on sale. I would rather the Montbell jacket, but these would be fine."

I looked at the Montbell inner down jacket and vest and simply couldn't justify the $100+ purchase at this time, and finding one on the buy/sell forums appears a challenge.

In the end I opted for Eddie Bauer's Yukon classic which I picked up on sale, and combined with my discount code it made for quite a bit of savings over the MB Inner Down. I guess I am just picky about where my disposable income goes and I figure that this would last me a few seasons until it is time to "trade-up".

The other question I have is regarding outer pants. If you were to buy only one pair, would you opt for rain pants (Golite Reeds, REI UL, Marmot Precip etc) or would you go for regular quick-drying hiking pants for three-season Colorado?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Mont Bell inner down sweater on 01/22/2010 18:22:31 MST Print View

I have the Mont Bell inner down sweater. Without a doubt, it is the warmest garment that I have with such a tiny weight. It's my sole warm layer for summer activities.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
weigh your clothing on 01/22/2010 19:05:22 MST Print View

weigh the clothing you own and compare it to the numerous gear lists on this site-it should give you a good idea where you can pare things a bit

a windshirt IMO will be one of the best investments you make in outdoor clothing- they are very versatile and weigh next to nothing- I'd suggest one w/ a hood

layered over a base layer while moving about you'll be astounded how much they warm you, at camp if it really chills down (or happens to windy) layered over your insulation layer it will help immensely- the hood is handy when very cold/very windy

most of them have a pretty good DWR finish and will suffice for a lot of the rain events you encounter (at least in the intermountain west anyways)

you'll also find reading about that your clothing is an integral part of your sleep system, so that needs to be taken into consideration as when choosing garments

while much can be gleaned from this site (and others), like most things, a little trial and error will probably be in order in what works best for you and your needs

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/23/2010 15:38:29 MST Print View

Jay, Considering you are new to backpacking then I'd recommend some decent lightweight gear that is relatively inexpensive, durable, but still light. These are all items I have used.

Top: REI Lightweight MTS Long-Sleeve Zip-T (6.6 oz)
Pants: REI Sahara Convertible Pants (12.4 oz)
Underwear: ExOfficio Boxer Briefs (2.8 oz)
Sun Hat: Columbia Booney Hat (2.75 oz)
2xSocks: Smart Wool PHD Mini Crew Socks (2.2)
Insulating layer: 200 Wt Fleece Jacket (< 16 oz)
Gloves: Generic Fleece from wal-mart (1.5 oz)
Warm Hat: Generic Fleece from wal-mart (1.5 oz)
Rain Jacket: Marmot Precip (12.4 oz)
Rain Pants: Marmot Precip (8.8 oz)

As many people have suggested the MontBell Down Inner will save you alot of weight compared to the fleece. I own one myself and think it is top of the class. The problem is it is indeed expensive and can not get wet or it will loose its loft. So for someone new to backpacking I'd say stick with the fleece for now. Also I would recommend the precips over the reeds (I own both). The reeds are also best in class for weight but not really durable. Get a pair of precips on sale and you will be good. I'm recommending a synthetic base layer instead of merino wool because of price and care needed to wash it. The down side is they stink and can feel clamy against the skin. I currently use merino wool so if you can afford it you might want to try it. If you take a WB rain jacket you really dont need a wind shirt.

Comparing this to your list I would recommend getting a precip jacket and pants. Drop the marmot windshell. Weigh everything (already suggested) and give it a try. If you buy the precips from REI if you dont find they fit your needs you can always return them at anytime for a refund.


Edited by jshortt on 01/23/2010 15:41:51 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/23/2010 15:47:30 MST Print View

Jay, Here is my current list to compare.

Top: BPL LS Merino Wool T-shirt (5.1 oz)
Pants: REI Sahara Convertible Pants (12.4 oz)
Underwear: BPL Merino Wool Shorts (3.7 oz)
Sun Hat: Columbia Booney Hat (2.75 oz)
2xSocks: Smart Wool PHD Mini Crew Socks (2.2)
Insulating layer: Mont-Bell UL Down Jacket (6.9 oz)
Gloves: Generic Fleece from wal-mart (1.5 oz)
Warm Hat: Generic Fleece from wal-mart (1.5 oz)
Rain Jacket: Marmot Essence Jacket (6.8 oz)
Rain Pants: Golite Reeds w/removed zips (4.75 oz)

I thought I would post this so you can compare it to the above list which is close to what I started with. The second list costs considerably more, is lighter, and more fragile.

Hope this helps,

Jay Goad
(JGoad) - F
Re: Advice on 01/23/2010 16:13:49 MST Print View

I really appreciate you all taking the time to help. There are so many different products out there that I would really hate to go out and purchase gear that I don't really need.

Quick question on the pants and rain pants. Do people usually take both a rain pant and a hiking pant? If you were just buying one, which would you opt for?

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Clothing Advise/Guidance on 01/23/2010 17:35:40 MST Print View

Jay, The question about hiking pants vs rain pants is pretty complex. I'd say the answer is it depends. My experience is here in the east... Appalachians. The traditional gear is yes convertable pants and rain pants. I'm not one for thermals in 3 season make-up (15+ plus weather). If the weather is windy, rainy, snowy, cold...I wear both the hiking and rain pants all day long without any problem. Hiking pants need to be synthetic, dont get cotton anything.

On the other hand if the weather is warm (45+) then I may only bring a pair of hiking shorts. I dont need either the rain pants or the hiking pants. If it rains and its in the 60's I would burn up in rain pants. My legs are fine to get wet.

If price is an issue consider getting a pair of dry-ducks. You can get an entire jacket and pants set for $20. They work great but are flimsy. They are also incredible light.

Here are some considerations or questions.
- What is the weather likely to be..temps, wind, precipiation?
- How far will you hike?
- How long will you be out...days/nights?
- If the weather is bad can you get back to safety?
- Will you be alone or with others?
- Do you want to be comfortable or are you ok with only being safe

So here are some options...
1 - buy synthetic hiking pants and cheap dri-duck rain gear
2 - hike with thermal bottoms, shorts, and buy precip pants
3 - buy synethic hiking pants, forget about rain pants if the weather is above freezing, the hikers will dry quickly


Edited by jshortt on 01/24/2010 15:39:08 MST.

Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
+1 on the Montbell Down Inners on 01/23/2010 20:46:36 MST Print View

If you bring these along you can opt for a lighter sleeping bag with only a 32 deg rating. Normally that is all you would need for 3 seasons but there are occasions that you will have an overnight low in the mid to high 20's. Down Inners provide a nice insurance package.