Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Chilly Weather Moisture Management
Display Avatars Sort By:
Tyler Hughes
(catsnack) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Chilly Weather Moisture Management on 12/20/2010 09:36:01 MST Print View

I'm sorry, I am sure this is a major topic that pops up about twice a day, so if you know of a good thread for me to view, could you please post it in the responses? I am worried about getting a down jacket and layering my waterproof shell directly on top of it. I think I read somewhere that a synthetic layer between the down and the shell would be best, because any interior condensation would form on the synthetic layer instead of the down. Is this correct, and is this even a problem at 0 - 10 degrees F? I would of course try to limit my exertion while wearing the down so as to avoid the problem altogether, but if I were forced to put out heavy exertion near 0, I would want to keep the down on and not worry about it getting wet from the inside of my shell.

My proposed winter clothing (upper body) looks like this:

1- Thin synthetic DeFeet sleeveless undershirt
2- Patagonia Cap 2/3 longsleeve
3- midweight or lightweight fleece jacket
4- FF Hooded Helios
5- MontBell U.L. Thermawrap
6- Outdoor Research Pro-Shell jacket

I suppose I could mix/match the top 4 layers depending on current weather conditions, but all of them combined is my current idea of "worst case scenario weather" I might encounter. I am concerned that the fleece and/or MB Thermawrap might be unnecessary weight and bulk for the specified temps. Let me know if I am on the right track!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
fleece on 12/20/2010 10:20:46 MST Print View

Omit the fleece if you're trying to minimize weight. Fleece is heavy for the insulaton it provides, may 2X or 4X down or synthetic insulation.

To minimize weight have only one base layer.

I have little experience with down, but to minimize weight I would have just down or synthetic garment of thickness required for the temperature you want to tolerate. If you have two, then there's extra layers of inner and outer liner fabrics that are heavy for the warmth they provide - but not that much weight so if you need to wear two garments because you don't have one that's sufficiently lofty, then oh well...

In my humble opinion : )

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Winter Layers on 12/20/2010 11:34:19 MST Print View

In 0-15 degree weather, while hiking, I wear a short sleeve poly t-shirt, 100 wt fleece shirt, a 200 wt vest, and a WPB shell. If the hiking gets hard, or I'm X-country skiing, then I take off the vest. If X-country skiing, I often end up sweating even with just the 100 wt shirt and the pit zips on the WPB shell open...

When I stop for a rest, adding a 200 wt jacket to the above makes it warm enough for about 30-45 minutes. After that, my metabolism has ramped down and I start to get chilled.

Around camp, and I'm not exercising, plus it's 10 degrees colder, I need to add a sythetic puffy coat to be comfortable. Wrapping your sleeping bag around you works OK if you are sitting in your tent though :)

For hiking in -10 to -15 degree weather, I add the 200 wt fleece jacket, but not the puffy coat to the 0-15 degree clothing above - since otherwise I get drenched in sweat.

In general, I think you need lighter layers to hike in, plus puffy layers for camp.

ps: Fleece has 1 advantage over puffy coats: pack straps and shifting loads don't cause the insulation to break down & become little rolls.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Chilly Weather Moisture Management on 12/20/2010 12:08:54 MST Print View

I have been slowly collecting what I have learned about insultation / clothing in my web pages. One thread which is quite good was started by Richard on he best clothing combinations for backpacking or hiking

My recommendation would be to collapse the cap 2/3 and your fleece into a single item. I like the Patagonia R1 Hoody... but there are lots of good choices. Some people go a step further and combine this with a none waterproof, highly breathable shell like the Rab Vapor Rising or the Marmot Driclim Windshirt. I will bet that you will find a heavy base + shell is enough for really high output activities, and warm enough with the addition of a vest for medium level activities. Then have a layer that can go over it (like your Helios) when you stop.

As to worrying about moisture accumulating in you down clothing.... remove that layer if you are going to be working so hard that you are sweating. If you are worried about moisture accumulation when at rest (which I don't think is an issue except on multi-week+ trips) I would suggest you want to use a vapor barrier... because the synthetic would also become a brick of ice.

I would stay away from any shell that requires water vapor to condense to be moved outside. This includes Gore-Tex and most PU WPB materials. The problem with with these materials is the water freezes as it gets moved and you end up with frost on the inside of the shell. I would strongly suggest that your "action" shell be a stretch woven softshell, or an uncoated windshell of some sort. I really like Pertex Equilibrium used in a number of RAB jackets, but there are other good materials. In the past I had pretty good experience with EPIC, and Patagonia's version of EPIC used in things like the Houdini, and I would guess the Ascensionist.


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
moisture mgt on 12/20/2010 13:27:46 MST Print View

my .02

I prefer a thin base layer (so does this fella ) as it's often all that is needed, even in winter (when moving obviously)

in the winter I have a mid layer- R-1 being my go piece there- breathes well, again used while moving, when thin base layer isn't enough

windshirt- highly breathable, but stops wind- allows venting option- I prefer having a hood on mine- can go over the just the base layer or base & mid if necessary

insulating piece- something that goes over the top when stopped, I prefer down, but there are good syn ones available as well (w/ some weight penalty)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Chilly Weather Moisture Management on 12/20/2010 14:38:07 MST Print View

There is no way you could be under heavy exertion wearing all that at 0*F without seriously messing yourself up. At most in 0*F I'll wear a 150wt wool & a 300-ish wool under a shell when on the move.

The whole idea of layering is to actually remove or add the layers, not wear them as one static system!

Even if you weren't concerned about completely soaking your layers, you would be doing your body some injustice. It's no good to be that hot. You'll also end up making yourself colder by greatly increasing your evaporative heat loss.

You end up wearing all those layers if you were sitting in a 0*F or colder camp for a period of time. Definitely not on the move.

If you're poking about doing camp chores you might end up in base/mid/down layer. You can ditch the sleeveless.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Chilly Weather Moisture Management on 12/20/2010 15:03:07 MST Print View

It's not just moisture management but body temperature management (thermoregulation)--they go together!

If you're wearing too much during exertion, you will sweat. You don't want to do that! Moisture from your sweat is just as dangerous as moisture from external sources. Instead, remove enough layers that you don't sweat while moving and add them back when you stop so you won't get chilled.

Pretend you're an onion, removing and adding back layers as needed.

One of the best places to thermoregulate is your head. When I'm moving, I wear only a headband to keep my ears warm. When I stop, my hood or balaclava goes on.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
hmmmm on 12/20/2010 15:06:30 MST Print View

overly complicated IMO ...

i use when active

-very thin wicking base
-light fleece
- windshirt or light softshell

when stopped i add

- big puffy belay jacket ,,, syn or down, or both depending on the conditions

basically 4 layers ... but effectively 2 as the "action suit" rarely comes off

the lightest hardshell possible in my pack which is an "oh shiet" piece

in winter there are 3 ways to manage sweat (moisture)
- wear less when active
- vent more when active
- work less (slower) when active

the basic concept is that you want to be cool when moving ... the moment you start warming up, get cooler as sweating is the next step if you dont ...

when stopped zip everything up, but on the puffy, keep as warm as possible

the rule in winter is simple ... dont sweat ... sweating in winter is death ... the eskimo knew it

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Chilly on 12/20/2010 19:32:00 MST Print View

I would listen to Eric Chan, I believe he is a true expert. Re: “Omit the fleece if you're trying to minimize weight. Fleece is heavy for the insulaton it provides, may 2X or 4X down or synthetic insulation.
To minimize weight have only one base layer.
I have little experience with down, but to minimize weight I would have just down or synthetic garment of thickness required for the temperature you want to tolerate. If you have two, then there's extra layers of inner and outer liner fabrics that are heavy for the warmth they provide - but not that much weight so if you need to wear two garments because you don't have one that's sufficiently lofty, then oh well... In my humble opinion : )”
I’m no expert, but don’t forget this little fleece / non-fleece, A/B scientific experiment done by a mountaineer, and posted elsewhere on this forum:

“My MicroPuff Hoody weighs the same as my R1 Hoody, offers much more warmth, and blocks wind and some rain. If you can take it on and off, it's great. But, if I were to put it under my shell like my R1 Hoody - I'd overheat while moving hard, as it doesn't vent or breathe very well. I went to fleece exclusively after topping out on Shoestring in -10º (before wind-chill) temps, with 30-40 mph gusts. We were working hard and sweating heavily while moving, and my Capilene 3 and R2 fleece let it out. My partner was wearing a MicroPuff inside his shell, and it was a frozen mess, stuck to his shell and not warm at all any more. It breathes, but not nearly as well as the fleece.”

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
mid- layer on 12/20/2010 19:57:54 MST Print View

^ exactly - a down (or even syn) isn't going to do you much good while moving (and sweating!), a suitable mid-layer will (ie R1) though

save the insulating layer for stops/camp- that's where they need to shine

again for me, the R1 wouldn't do for a base layer (but perfect for a mid-layer)- too warm in many conditions- I find I spend a lot of time in my thin base layer and windshirt, sometimes even just the thin base layer!

in the summer and most three season stuff- the mid-layer goes away, but in winter it's really a key piece for me

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
shirt on 12/20/2010 20:08:46 MST Print View

I have a question.
The other day I was snowshoeing in 22 degrees, I had no hat, no gloves and only a 200wt icebreaker top, I was sweating like crazy. Was I just exerting a lot of effort or was my 200wt even too much?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
shirt on 12/20/2010 20:19:19 MST Print View

maybe both :)

I've sweated plenty w/ 150 weight shirts, they do dry rather quickly though

you did illustrate my point pretty well that a cap3/4/R1 etc is too much for a baselayer (in most conditions anyways)

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
expert on 12/20/2010 20:49:11 MST Print View

i am definitely no expert ...

here are what the REAL experts say ...

josh ... both ... wear less, or move slower ... or bring a spare base layer to change into after ...when yr buck naked, then you know yr screwed ...

colin haley ... going wild and topless in a patagonia vid ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/20/2010 20:56:09 MST.

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
layers on 12/20/2010 21:00:38 MST Print View

I couldnt slow down, the people i was snowshoeing with were already ages ahead. Would a shirt like this work better: ASICS Favorite Long-Sleeve T-Shirt - Men's

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
dry fit on 12/20/2010 21:11:59 MST Print View

josh ...

nike dry fit, underarmor or the cheap walmart equivalent ... windshirt over if its windy enough to be a problem, ventilate the windshirt with the zipper

wear one and bring the thicker base layer to change into for the descent or at the end

when you HAVE to sweat, make sure it dries quickly ...and bring an extra base layery

and get fitter ... the more fit you are the less u sweat for the same amount of work

whatever you do stay dry at the end of the day when the sun goes down

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
sweat mgt on 12/20/2010 21:12:24 MST Print View

I like thin wool in the winter, feels better imo BUT thin synthetics definitely dry faster- can't comment on the above shirt, but cap 1 does a good job of moving moisture, better than thin wool, but thin wool isn't exactly shabby in that regard (and feels much better in the winter :))

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
XC Skiing layering on 12/20/2010 21:28:30 MST Print View

Here's my outfit for backcountry XC skiing &/or snowshoeing:

>light to medium weight polyester long johns, depending on temps

>synthetic sweater (acrylic or polyester)

>200 weight polyester fleece vest (for colder days only)

>breathable wind shell with pit zips (eVent parka would be great for wet, snowy weather)

>stocking hat or Peruvian style fleece lined wool hat, depending on wind & temps

>2 layers of thin polypro liner sox under my wool blend sox.

>GTX gaiters (for deep snow or cold days). Gaiters add at least 10 F. to feet.

>(clothes in my daypack) spare glove liners, Thermolite insulated inner jacket (for long stops), socks, neoprene face mask, goggles. These last two items help greatly in very windy/snowy conditions.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/20/2010 21:31:54 MST.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Chilly Weather Moisture Management on 12/20/2010 21:34:11 MST Print View


Body moisture in down is primarily an issue only with sleeping bags in cold weather and no sun or time to capitalize on sublimation to dry the bag.

Insensible prespiration rarely degrades a down jacket. Your MET rate in combination with the bellows effect pushes the moisture out. Even if you sweat in it, the moisture regain is 50% less than Merino wool.

A down garment is normally worn only for low MET activities such as camp chores. A backpacker maintains an average MET rate of about 7 (15 MET max) versus 1.75 for camp chores and .8 for sleeping. This is the reason that an appropriate base layer and windshirt is all that is required when active.

Edited by richard295 on 12/20/2010 23:00:45 MST.

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
fitness on 12/20/2010 21:37:29 MST Print View


Yeah getting fitter is definitly on the agenda. The problem was the people I was going with before were doing like 4mile snowshoes with 1000ft of elevation in like 4 hrs and the new group dont bother with anything less then 3000ft and 7 or 8 miles in the same time or less.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
richard on 12/20/2010 21:42:26 MST Print View

thats not my experience with sweating in down ... ive sweated in down before in the winter ... at that point when its soaked, they just stay soaked

once i was lucky it was a day trip, or hypothermia would have been a very good possibility

josh .... thats called a learning experience ;)

edit ... corrected ignore the above due to richard's clarification ... for some reason i stupidly though something about hiking in down ....

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/21/2010 00:04:18 MST.