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Layering for Colorado Rockies
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John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Layering for Colorado Rockies on 07/05/2010 23:30:50 MDT Print View

Heading to South San Juans in Colorado next week for a 7 day backpack. Expect to spend lots of time up high on CDT. Am a little stumped in terms of my layering system. I'm expecting highly variable weather.

Here are the options to mix and match from (too be clear, I'm not taking all, need to come up with the optimum combo from the list below):

very lightweight smartwool short sleeve tee

lightweight smartwool long sleeve tee

marmot dri-clime jacket

Hooded Rab Vapour Rise pullover

Patagonia bodyrug pullover (patchwork of R3, R2, and R1)

Patagonia puff ball pullover (older model, lighter than they make today)

Old Patagonia puff ball vest, lost some loft.

Assorted old wool sweaters, expedition weight capilene, etc.

For shell,

a Patagonia Houdini Jacket
MontBell Peak Jacket

So, what combo of all of the above?

For pants, I have the following to mix and match from:

-Old Wildthing Epic windpants. Not anywhere near as water resistant as they used to be.
-Marmot precip rainpants
-Various weights of capilene long johns, up to R1
-some old patagonia simple guide pants, kind of like loose tights made of Schoeller-esque fabric.

Again, what combo?

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 07/05/2010 23:32:49 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
layering on 07/06/2010 07:12:50 MDT Print View

you've got lots to choose from :)

my go to setup for the Rockies (albeit WY and MT which should correlate pretty well for CO as well) is as follows

top is lightweight long sleeve crew (merino or syn ie Cap 1) - I've found a t shirt to be not much cooler, more skin exposed to the sun (have to carry more sunscreen), more skin exposed to bugs, and if it's cooler (which it frequently is) then the long sleeve clearly outperforms the short

my insulating layer is a light down jacket- also very useful for extending the range of your bag (nice to be able to carry a light 40 degree bag and handle temps into the 30's)- your puffball pullover could easily fit this niche

another nice combo for a insulating layer that gives you a little more flexibility, but at the expense of weight (that's why I don't use it anymore)- is a vest combined w/ a expedition weight base top- they can be used individually or combined- again more weight over a single down/syn jacket

my Houdini is probably my most versatile piece of clothing I own- it takes care of wind, takes care of most precip- the DWR if in good shape can handle light rain and snow easily; it can also be added over the down jacket for a very warm combo- this goes w/ me spring, summer, fall & winter

for bottoms I wear shorts, I carry a Patagonia Cap 4 bottom (6.2 oz in Large) that is my insulating layer if need in camp or sleep (or in extremely cold conditions worn hiking- my legs tend to stay warm (if my upper is warm) so this is a very rare event

you'll probably want to add rain gear (I use a poncho/tarp for my shelter- so that's all I pack)- a top is all I've used

cliff notes- out of your list- smartwool ls shirt, micro puff pullover, houdini, shorts and heavier weight cap bottoms

that's my .02 :)

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Colorado Rockies Layering on 07/06/2010 16:32:01 MDT Print View

Thanks Mike! I may need one more layer in there... leaning toward the driclime jacket, light, versatile, then leave the houdini, just wear my rain jacket...

Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
similar layering for the CT trail on 07/06/2010 16:42:23 MDT Print View

I'm doing 30 - 35 days on the CT, obviously including the San Juan parts and had very similar puzzles about the wind and / or rain shells.

I think I've decided to go with the DriDucks top, a tyvek rain pant and a windshirt that I am yet to buy.. probably can't afford the Houdini but might get a Montane very-breathable windshirt.. like the Montane LiteSpeed.

I looked at the Marmot DriClime but at 1 lb, I better be sure that I'd wear it a lot and not just keep it in my pack.. I wasn't convinced it would be cool enough to hike in with a backpack on.

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Colorado Rockies Layering on 07/06/2010 17:14:31 MDT Print View

Re pre-cip, I hear you on weight,and too hot to hike in. But man, when its raining hard and windy, a way to keep the torso and insulating layers dry while setting up camp, eating, etc seems priceless to me. I realize there's lots of room for debate here, and have no experience with the driducks...

What were you thinking for base, insulating layers?

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: San Juan Layering on 07/06/2010 18:03:32 MDT Print View

I just returned from 6 days in the Weminuche. We forded the river in Silverton and walked to Williams Reservoir near Pagosa.

You should absolutely expect afternoons, sometimes late mornings, filled with rain squalls. We had hail, snow and rain nearly every day on the divide. Two of the days we walked nearly all afternoon in the rain.

I wore:
Long sleeve merino wool top (Icebreaker 150 weight).

Long sleeve Cloudveil button shirt (layered to keep the mosquitoes at bay). There were no mosquitoes to speak of...could have done without it, however it kept pack straps from ripping holes in my merino shirt.

MH Canyon Pants

I carried:
Patagonia Houdini. Usually wore it over DriDucks while walking through rain to keep it from tearing.

Montbell Thermawrap. Used in camp only.

A second, and a bit heavier, LS merino shirt (Icebreaker 160), zip tee. For sleeping.

Patania Cap4 Pants, for sleeping.

Patagonia R1 Balaclava

MH Powerstretch gloves

Rain Gear:
Dri Ducks top
Golite Reed Pants
ID eVent Rain Mitts

I figured if things got ugly, I could add my sleeping gear to the hiking mix. Otherwise, while I was hiking I was plenty warm with effort. If I stopped I put on the Houdini or Thermawrap and I was good until I walked again. My only concern here is having the DriDucks hold-up for a longer hike. The Houdini did a fine job of protecting it, but the breath-ability of the DriDucks is then lost. If I had the money, I might consider buying a good quality eVent rain jacket and leaving the Houdini and DriDucks top at home. And, who knows, I might regret it.

I was comfortable in all circumstances. Nights were in the 30's with frost a couple of them. My bag might be over-kill, a WM Alpinlite, but it sure felt good after a long, wet day to put on dry thermals and crawl in.

Edited by mmendell on 07/06/2010 18:11:26 MDT.

Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
most useful clothing post ever on 07/06/2010 18:32:26 MDT Print View

This post above is probably the most useful post regarding clothing on the colorado trail I've found in my preparation so far!

Very glad to see that you think rain is significant and an everyday occurrence and YET were OK with Driducks + a windjacket (houdini)

It surprises me to hear that you wore your Houdini on top of your Driducks and not the other way around.. I was reluctant to spend on the Houdini because I feel like it'll wear out under my pack.

Looks like you carried durable rain pants though.. do you think tyvek pants / driduck pants would have been enough? maybe with reinforced seams?

The rest of my clothing is similar:

Hiking in : MH Canyon shirt + Duofold baselayer (~ Capilene 1 but cheaper) + generic convertible pants (probably from Campmor for $20).

The Duofold is a black full sleeve that I'll put away in my pack on warm days.

Packed layers: A Capilene 3 + mid-weight synthetic thermal pants.

Insulation : 14 oz New Balance FUGU down jacket.. enormous but really warm.

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
Layering for Rockies on 07/07/2010 06:33:04 MDT Print View

I use the Reed pants because they are much more durable that DD. The breath-ability isn't really an issue because they are on my lower half.

The Houdini over the DriDucks is to protect the DD from tears. By itself the Houdini will shed light rain, but in an all day episode like you are bound to have, it would soak through and be miserable. The Houdini is a pretty durable piece in spite of its weight. I have no fears of pack straps wearing through.

Like I said, I've really been toying with the idea of a eVent rain jacket. Although it won't be as light as the Houdini+DD option, it wouldn't miss by much and would be one less article of clothing to bring. I'm sure it's not as breathable as the DD, or as versatile as the Houdini, but everything is a compromise. I guess I would feel a bit more comfortable with a more durable option for rain gear, although I think many folks here do a ton more miles relying on DD than I do.

I'm typically only out there for a week at a time, so your situation is a bit different than mine (I'm jealous, BTW!), but if you treat the DD well, protect it where you can, and have plenty of duct tape on hand, it'll last. I absolutely would avoid bushwhacking unless you have something over it.

I also gave in to the bugs. After a few miserable trips to the Winds where the mosquitoes are as big as your head, I gave up even considering short-sleeves and convertible pants. Trying to figure how much DEET to pack hurt my head. I don't bother anymore. A mosquito net is a good option as well. We were lucky last week and saw few bugs, but it could be different when you are there.

Just my 2 cents, the ID rain mitts are great as well. I would recommend them especially if you are using poles and can't tuck your hands into your sleeves.

Edited by mmendell on 07/07/2010 06:48:30 MDT.

Kevin Landolt
Don't bring the driclim on 07/07/2010 08:39:20 MDT Print View

Lightly insulated windshells like the Marmot Driclimb and Patagonia Alpine Wind JKT certainly have their place. I know myself and a few others swear by them for cold/windy days out ski-touring in the winter... but they really don't have a place for summer use, if you have a Houdini and a Puffy you're set. Hike fast, stay warm, if you stop in windy/cold temps simply throw your puffy on over the houdini. The Houdini also dries amazingly fast, and wearing a synthetic puffy over a damp houdini just dries it faster.

Edited by distantfellow on 07/07/2010 08:40:49 MDT.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Layering for Colorado Rockies" on 07/07/2010 12:46:40 MDT Print View

Just got back from this area (June 19-27)... highs 65-75F, lows 35-45F, spent most of my time at elevations between 11-14K, no rain, moderate mosquitoes. Here is what worked from me:

mosquito headnet (didn't use)
wide brimmed hat

icebreaker glove liner
rain mitt (OR endeavor - didn't use...)

200g/m2 merino wool s/s t-shirt
thin nylon supplex l/s button up the front shirt
patagonia micropuff (only used in early am in camp)
Golite Ether (windshirt)
Patagonia rainjacket

boxer brief
200 g/m2 merino wool long underwear
zip off nylon supplex pant
GoLite Reed rain pant

merino wool socks (2 pr)
gortex socks (didn't use)
event shortie gaiter
trail runners

Edited by brianjbarnes on 07/07/2010 12:51:25 MDT.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Bug Netting on 07/07/2010 14:15:31 MDT Print View

I'm always hesitant to not bring bug protection based on not using it on the last trip. It's one of those items that if I want it on a trip then I really really want it. The last trip I went on I had it and didn't use it but expected to need it. The day after our trip the sun came back out and my hiking partner, who lives in the area, reported hordes of them being out vs. the one or two we dealt with.

Every time I pack and expect the possibilities of mosquitoes I'm reminded of that video Skurka has of him and another guy hiking in the High Sierras with big protection and the stupid little things just swarming around the two of them.

Edited by veriest1 on 07/07/2010 14:20:58 MDT.

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Colorado Rockies Layering on 07/08/2010 09:13:51 MDT Print View

Thanks for the great feedback folks, here's what I'm thinking as of right now:

baseball cap w/ neck flap
wool watch cap (unless I can find my balaclava soon)
bug net as needed

MH powerstretch gloves
Another thin pair of liners to rotate out w/ the powerstretch as they get wet

Silkweight capilene

(Camp, hanging around, sleeping)
Lightweight smartwool crew

Montbell jacket

I haven't really nailed this. Do I bring the Epic windpants, good for bugs, sun, wind, wet out pretty quick in rain, they're old... Or the precip rainpants? If there's no bugs/no heavy rain/cold I prefer to hike in shorts.

midweight capilene? Or R1 long johns?

We tend to do a fair amount of hanging around a lake, peak, etc, on our trips, a little worried about not being warm enough on top if conditions are wet/windy/cold... A light fleece (polartec 100 weight) vest might be ideal, will see if I can find something in the closet to chop the sleeves off of).

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Layering for Colorado Rockies on 07/08/2010 09:21:00 MDT Print View

I'd suggest bringing those PreCip pants. We have been having a lot of rain lately, and I'd want to have the insurance of full protection.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
brief rainfall and prepare for cold on 07/08/2010 15:41:52 MDT Print View

I'd bring R1 long johns. At camp, you'll appreciate the extra warmth. When moving, as long as you have either wind or rain pants, you'll be warm enough with just shorts underneath. I'd also consider just bringing your schoeller pants - depends how lightweight they are, though.

For Colorado, it rarely rains more than a few hours, but it does so pretty predictably, almost everyday in summer, between the hours of 2pm and 6pm. The only exception I've found to this is when chance of precipitation in the area is greater than 40% - quite rare.

The combination of wind with the brief periods of rainfall is what makes you cold out here during the day, so if you have a typical forecast and wind protection you'll be fine without rain gear -- as long as you can pitch your shelter fast and can cook under it (so you can wear dry camp layers when you stop moving).

Also, make sure you're prepared for 20 degree nights. I've ran into a surprise low of ~14 in early June (forecast was 34 about 1500' below camp). This was with daytime temperatures in the 60s. Clear skies can sometimes make the temperatures drop a surprising amount.

My layering for 3 season alpine use out here is:

REI acme pants (lightweight schoeller)
merino wool briefs
merino wool long sleeve zip-top
merino wool liner gloves
merino wool buff (flexible balaclava, hat, earcover, towel)
montane windbreaker (hooded, can pull sleeves over hands)

As long as I'm moving, I don't get cold in the brief rain and high winds. I prefer merino wool since I've found it to be much warmer when wet, compared to synthetics (flash-off?). The REI acme pants can be a little warm (70+), but they're performance is worth the trade-off - durable, don't snag or flap in the wind, stay out of the way when climbing and are warm enough in strong winds during summits (and spring skiing at A-basin) down to about 40 degrees.

lightweight down parka (WM Flash)
lightweight down pants (WM Flash)
lightweight down socks (goosefeet)

I bring these because they're as lightweight as heavy baselayers (~16oz total), but they're MUCH warmer and can supplement my 30 degree quilt for the surprise record lows we sometimes get. I also like to wake up early (brrr) to catch sunrises and alpen glow for photography.

optional (only brought if precip forecast is >40%):
rain pants, jacket, shell mitts (~16oz total)

Edited by lindahlb on 07/08/2010 17:47:53 MDT.

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Colorado Rockies Layering on 07/08/2010 16:05:33 MDT Print View

The Schoeller pants are almost 15oz, great if I'm wearing them, too heavy to carry alot. Any thoughts on the likelihood of warm temps that would really push toward shorts? My other thought is that if it's buggy, I'm gonna wear either the rainpants or the schoeller pants anyway...

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
schoeller pants on 07/08/2010 17:21:28 MDT Print View

My schoeller pants are about the same weight, and I backpacked in the Never Summer area last weekend, wearing them the whole time. Highs were probably mid-70s. Rolling them up to the knees, I was a little warm below treeline (no breezes), but they were great for the rest of the trip.

You can always just bring them with you and leave them in the car if the forecast looks too warm. They'll definitely be more comfortable in these temperatures than rain pants. As such, they tend to work better in Colorado than rain pants, due to the brief stints of rain followed by sun and heat.

The bugs were definitely out up higher where there was snowmelt. The San Juans still have quite a bit more snow, so I'm guessing there's going to be more snowmelt and more bugs on the trail. However, around camp, they shouldn't be a problem if you're doing alpine camping above treeline.