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1st Winter Gear List (another newbie)
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Paul Bright
(HikeNC) - F
1st Winter Gear List (another newbie) on 11/30/2010 12:09:26 MST Print View

I plan on taking several trips in and around the Smoky Mountains this winter and need some advice with gear I still need and have. I’ll be along the A.T. so the temperatures will be much different than in the adjacent valleys. This will be my first winter experience as well.

My list can be found at the following link:

I guess the biggest item I still need is a warm down bag. I was going to get the WM Kodiak MF (0), but I just realized it would be a bit too large for me. I’m about 5’8” 130. The Antelope and Lynx are my next options. Any suggestions? I have a down jacket and WM flash pants to wear at night if needed.

I have a NeoAir which has a R value of 2.5. I’m thinking about added another thin pad, maybe even torso length. Not sure if I’ll need one though. I guess GG and BPL have these. I definitely need something light that can still add warmth.

Still trying to decide on the glove combination (this is the hardest). I have a pair of glove liners from Patagonia and need the insulation and waterproof over pieces. Here are three mitts that are on my list:

Outdoor Research PL 400 Mitts (2.9 oz)

MEC Double Fleece Mitts (2.2 oz)

MEC PrimaLoft Puffy Mitt Liners (6.4 oz)

I think I’m set on the MLD eVent rain mitts (1oz). That’s if I stay with this glove combination. Most hiking stores have the standard waterproof glove/mitt with a liner inside which are usually priced between $80 and $100. Any suggestions on which is better? From what I’ve read most lightweight backpackers like the three layer system.

The last thing is active pants. I’m leaning toward soft shell pants. Are soft shells a pretty common active layer to use in cold conditions? It seems as though most brands are very similar.

Some of my items on my list are highlighted in orange. These are items I haven’t put on the scale yet or items I’m unsure of. Oh course I will use my GoLite Jam pack over the Bora if I can fit everything in it. That’ll save nearly five pounds!

Any comments or suggestions will be much appreciated.

Edited by HikeNC on 11/30/2010 12:31:30 MST.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Winter. on 11/30/2010 12:48:58 MST Print View

Sorry I couldn't read your gear list, wouldn't come up, so I can't tell if you have your footwear dialed in, but that's the first thing I'd do.

Merino wool is always nice. I love the stuff.

Edited by elf773 on 11/30/2010 12:53:52 MST.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: 1st Winter Gear List (another newbie) on 11/30/2010 13:06:15 MST Print View


I can’t open your gear list but I will give a few opinions about bags and gloves.

If you just want a bag for high elevation winter hiking in the Smokies, then the Lynx might be a good choice, but it is overkill for most hiking in this area. I think an Antelope with overfill would be a much more versatile winter bag for this part of the country.

I also use a three layer glove system using the Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Gloves as liners, OR PL 400 mitts, and MLD eVent shells. If I were you I would probably go with the MEC Fleece Mitts or any basic fleece mitt over the OR ones. They are really nothing special about the OR Mitts and are not any warmer than a regular fleece mitt IMO. I might also look at two import shell mitts, the Extremities Tough Bags (2.5oz) and the Haglofs Gram Mitten Shell (1.76oz). Both of these shells are Gore Tex and seam taped (you have to seam seal the MLD’s) and a little more full featured. I think they would also be a little (maybe a lot) more durable.

I am yet to try any soft shell pants, but I have heard good things from fellow hikers in the area about lightweight soft shell pants for use here.

Paul Bright
(HikeNC) - F
Re: Re: 1st Winter Gear List (another newbie) on 11/30/2010 13:32:49 MST Print View

I forgot to change the settings for my link. You should be able to view it now.

Thanks for the suggestions on the shell mitts. I've never heard of those before, but both seem very nice. Would I have a hard time ordering those? I'd rather not mess with seam sealing right now, so those are great options.

What type of pants do you typically use?

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
dichotomies on 11/30/2010 14:07:25 MST Print View

what temps are you expecting

a few dichotomies

1. yr clothing system for me would be good for no lower than the 20s in camp ... downlight + fleece

2. you have a single neo air ... id need another bad on top in the 20s or below

3. you are looking for a 0F bag ... which doesnt jive with yr upper body clothing system

as to gloves ... depends on the temps ... if it was in the 20s id just bring liners, fleece gloves and shells .... if lower add a pair of fleece/primaloft mitts

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: dichotomies on 11/30/2010 14:54:01 MST Print View

My initial thoughts are that you are going to be wearing too many clothes while hiking in all but the absolute worst conditions. I am fine hiking at cold temps in a lightweight wool baselayer top, windshirt, nylon pants, 100wt fleece hat, 200wt fleece gloves. Remember if you aren’t cool starting out in the morning, you will quickly overheat.


You shouldn’t need the balaclava while hiking, but it will be a welcome addition to you r in camp wear.

Upper Body:

Again, I think you are wearing too much while hiking. I would probably wear one baselyaer and keep the other one for sleeping and in camp use while your “hiking” one dries. The fleece will help supplement your down jacket in camp.

I also think you will probably flip your gloves, hiking in the OR Flurry Gloves adding your waterproof shell gloves when needed, and save the liners and insulated mitts for camp. I like to take extra liners in the winter and rotate them to keep them dry.

Lower Body:

Unless it is really cold, you won’t need to hike in the long underwear bottoms. You might use them at camp for warmth and to keep your body oils off your WM pants.


I would go with trail runners instead of boots. I have used my trail runners in a foot of snow with waist high drifts with no problems, and there probably won’t be much if any snow up there anyways. (might have none, but could have 2 feet of it) If you expect snow, Gore Tex socks might be of help in your trail runners.

Sleep System:

You definitely need to supplement your Neo-Air with a CC Foam pad. I would probably look at a Ridgerest, or at the least a GG 3/8” Thinlight.

Get rid of the 10oz pillow and just use a stuffsack filled with clothes/raingear/etc. You can also put a platy full of water under it (also keeps it from freezing most of the time) and your shoes under it (same thing – keep them from freezing)


I know you might use your Jam, but that Bora is awfully heavy. The jam might end up being too small though.

I would drop the pack cover and replace with a Trash Compactor Bag liner. They work better than pack covers in the rain.


What kind of stove are you using? Alcohol? I have used Alcohol in the cold but they are not as easy to use nor as efficient in real low temps. Just be sure you know the limitations of the system before you use it.


If you are staying on the AT in the park, you can’t use a tent anyways so I wouldn’t carry such a heavy one. I might take a tarp or bivy to use in an emergency, but not a tent.

Even if you are not staying on the AT, drop the groundsheet, tent floors are durable enough without them.


Water is very plentiful; you will not need to carry three liters. You could get by with one liter if you wanted, but two gives you plenty of cushion.


Drop the GPS, you will not need it in the park.

That knife is a little overkill don’t you think? You could get a small Swiss Army Knife, Gerber Mini LST, or Spyderco Ladybug for 0.6 ounces.

You shouldn’t need extra batteries for a 2.5 day trip.

Paul Bright
(HikeNC) - F
Re: Re: dichotomies on 12/01/2010 08:09:30 MST Print View

My main concern was the clothing system; I guess experience will be best. I do like the idea of keeping one upper baselayer for sleeping. I never looked into the gore tex socks; how much do they usually cost?

I have two of the flexair pillows, but not a big fan. I’ll try filling my stuffsack. Since I am using an alcohol stove I won’t take too many food items that need to be heated, well until I get a good idea of how efficient it is.
Thanks for all the helpful information.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE Goretex Socks. on 12/02/2010 01:12:57 MST Print View

Rocky Goretex socks: about $65 @ MEC and probably REI.

From reviews, seems you'd want to size up about one size, if not two. I haven't used a pair though.

Brian Senez
(bsenez) - MLife

Locale: New England
re: 1st Winter Gear List (another newbie) on 12/02/2010 02:44:22 MST Print View

I am also planning a winter trip through the Smokies this year.

I would leave the fleece at home, the two long sleeve crew's plus the shell jacket will be plenty to hike in. 10oz

REI Down Booties + Heavy sleep socks = 14oz. Replace with Goosefeet down socks 3oz

Leave the pillow at home. 10oz

Leave GPS at home 9oz

Leave the tarptent and accessories at home 40oz

saved 5lb!

A 6.6lb backpack!

I would add a couple things. Try to get the R value of your pad system to around 5. A bivy is very versatile for winter use. I don't like leather boots.

On my last winter Smokies hike the biggest mistake I made was to switch out from my trail runners. I wore Asolo Fugitive boots. On the climb up the temperatures were above freezing and I was walking through slush for a couple of hours. Once I got to elevation it was below freezing for the next 4 days until I got to Fontana Dam. The boots were very difficult to deal with once frozen. I remember pulling them off and the sock being frozen stiff with frost outlines in the insole of my toes.

On this winters trip I will use Inov8 288 goretex boots with a liner sock, vbl, and insulating sock. The Inov8 boots are very lightweight, 10oz less than my Montrail Hurrican Ridge trail runners!

Paul Bright
(HikeNC) - F
Re: re: 1st Winter Gear List (another newbie) on 12/02/2010 15:16:01 MST Print View

I'm glad I got comments from people with winter experience in this area. I'm dropping the fleece and pillow for sure. I'd like to keep the gps just because I like downloading the tracks to my computer. I just like comparing all my hikes. I'm pretty confident in most of my clothes now. Brian, how warm was your sleeping bag? I'm still debating the WM antelope and lynx. I mean 15 degrees is a big difference and it's not helpful I'm so indecisive! I know... the bora is so heavy.. without the pillow and fleece I should be able to get everything in the jam. The bora is a pretty comfortable bag though, imo, light or not. I'm trying to get a light pad to layer with my neoair, but can't find any to buy now. The GG 3/8" is sold out. Any other site selling light pads that have an R value of at least 2? I still think I'm a couple of years away from trying the whole bivy thing. I like being in a tent, and the tarptent is a pretty light option.