Winter gear for southern Appalachia
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Josh Platt
(EasternBox) - F

Locale: Southeast
Winter gear for southern Appalachia on 09/07/2011 07:36:15 MDT Print View

So, looks like I may be doing some winter hikes the mountains of NC and VA. I really haven't done anything like this before, as I usually stick to spring, summer, fall. So, I need help with the correct gear so I don't freeze.

Shoes? Shelter? Bag? Jacket? Pants?

Those are the main concerns I have. Help me!

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Winter gear for southern Appalachia on 09/07/2011 07:48:57 MDT Print View

I had this dialed, when I was fat. Ever since I lost all of that, though, I'm having a hard time dialing it in again. I have a 15 degree WM Apache sleeping bag but that will soon be replaced with a 10ish degree quilt. For shelter, I have an MLD SpeedMid. I usually hike in softshell pants (Patagonia Simple Guide currently). Planning on getting a RAB Infinity Endurance for my winter torso insulation. Last year I used a First Ascent Downlight Hoodie (equiv of a MontBell Alpine Light Parka), and that wasn't enough in the lower temps.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Winter gear for southern Appalachia on 09/07/2011 20:15:19 MDT Print View

I do a fair amount of winter hiking in NC and SW Virginia. Love it. Beautiful time to be out.

Let me preface this by saying the obvious: winter hiking can kill you. The margin for error is a lot smaller in winter, and just buying what's on this list and heading out to Mount Rogers in January without any experience might be bad for your health. Just sayin'. Best bet is to car camp and day hike at first, so you can bail to a hotel if you need to. Or start with shoulder-season trips, building on the experience you have. That's how I did it, anyway.

Bag: Western Mountaineering Antelope, 5-F.
Shelter: Tarptent Moment, or my partner and I share his BD tipi. I have used a tarp and a homemade bivy with some success, too.
Shoes: Goretex trail runners, with gaiters if the snow is deep enough. Medium wool socks.

Hiking clothes: Light wool base layers, Marmot Driclime jacket and nylon shorts, sometimes light softshell pants if it's really cold. Light windbloc gloves and a microfleece beanie. Add rain shell if it's particularly cold, windy, or precipitating.

Camp clothes: Microfleece zip tee, Powerstretch tights, the Driclime jacket, and a big puffy down jacket. Shell pants, shell jacket as needed. Heavier gloves, hat, and socks. Shell mitts if needed. If it's going to be really cold I'll bring a fleece pullover to wear under my down jacket.

This is comfortable for me down into the single digits at night, which usually correlates to mid-20s during the day. Though most of the time it's warmer than that, maybe lows in the low teens and highs in the low 30s. One January a few years ago we had highs in the freaking 70s. In the Nantahalas. in mid January. Sheesh. Lately we've had to work pretty hard to find snow deep enough for snowshoeing.

Good luck and be safe.

EDIT: the down jacket is a Sierra Designs that weighs a pound and a half and is super warm. None of the popular ultralight down sweaters would be warm enough for me in winter. Also, I wear shorts to hike in, over my long john bottoms. Total dorkiness. But it works for me.

EDIT 2: after seeing Andy's post, remembered the down booties. Never forget the down booties. Crucial for winter happiness.

Edited by ken_bennett on 09/10/2011 19:11:16 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Winter gear for southern Appalachia on 09/09/2011 01:10:24 MDT Print View

I'm usually a bit north of that in WV. This is what I used on one two night trip this Feb. where temps were down to 10-15 F with snow depth 0-26".

Used:
Shelter: Golite Shangri-La 3 with floor and sewn-in netting
Bag: Marmot Never Summer 0F
Pad: Exped Downmat 7
Footwear: Salomon XA Pro 3D (mesh trail runners) with GoreTex socks
Socks: Thick wool hiking socks (both Wigwam and Thorlos used) with polypro liners
Pants: Thin hiking pants over medium weight merino wool/polyester blend base layer
Gaiters: Montbell stretch
Jacket: Thick fleece, also a synthetic "street coat" parka
Shirt: cheap polyester t-shirt, short sleeve
Trekking poles with snow baskets
Gloves: light polypro liners, medium wool liners, thick buckskin mitts with pile liner

Analysis:
-didn't like center pole or headroom of shelter when staked down low to block wind
-shelter hex shape was pain to setup, especially staking in 5" of snow
-bag is 4 lbs, 600 fp, but otherwise great--could save 1 lb with more money
-toes got alarmingly cold at around 20F while setting up shelter due to restricted circulation. They were size 10.5, I normally wear 10. I need to upsize to at least 11, maybe 12 for 2 pairs of wool socks (outer pair upsized to avoid constriction). GoreTex socks were size 12, worked great.
-Salomon arch support is too much for me
-might go with a lighter shoe since snow is soft (maybe Inov8 f-lite 230)
-pants: wetted out by 2nd day, but warm with base layer on
-gaiters: these were not useful in snow with GoreTex socks
-jacket: setup camp at 20F with lower windchill wearing fleece jacket, fleece hat, no gloves, was only slightly cool. Sitting around, I needed the parka.
-shirt: I hiked the next day in only the t-shirt, no jacket!
-poles saved my rear many times


Plan to use next winter:
Shelter: Tarptent Moment with liner
Bag: Marmot Never Summer 0F
Pad: Exped Downmat 7
Footwear: Inov8 (f-lite 230?) trail runners with GoreTex socks
Socks: Thick wool hiking socks, 2 pairs (both Wigwam and Thorlos) with polypro liners
Pants: try softshell
Gaiters: maybe none
Jacket: Golite synthetic, 60g, 19 oz, need to get a thicker down jacket for temps < 20 F
Shirt: cheap polyester t-shirt, short sleeve; use light fleece 1/4 zip long sleeve if below 20 F
Gloves: light polypro liners, medium wool liners, Manzella WPB fleece hunting gloves, thick buckskin mitts with pile liners for colder temps
Trekking poles with snow baskets

Edited by AndyF on 09/09/2011 01:20:40 MDT.

Josh Platt
(EasternBox) - F

Locale: Southeast
winter clothes on 09/12/2011 09:21:01 MDT Print View

"Also, I wear shorts to hike in, over my long john bottoms. Total dorkiness. But it works for me."

I do this too!



Thanks so much for the in depth replies. I will now be doing this with someone that has experience winter hiking. But, he also mentioned just car camping at first so I can get the feel of what I am getting myself into. I completely agree with that.

I have a Montbell synthetic #3 bag. Could it be possible to wear a baselayer and insulated jacket/pants/booties and still be warm at night?

Trying to do this on a budget as well.....

Edited by EasternBox on 09/12/2011 09:22:58 MDT.