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Vapor Barrier wetness
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Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/04/2007 17:40:10 MST Print View

Many of you have turned me onto vapor barrier clothing, at least to give it a try and so far I like what I have experienced. In the past, the insulation on my back would get soaked and then be very chilling when I stopped. Over the last few weeks I've added a GoLite Vapor vest to my layers. I wear a light short-sleeved poly shirt under the vest and a heavier long-sleeve top over the vest. My insulation now provides much more warmth. But... I'm out for multiple days. What do I do with that very wet undershirt at night? Sleep in it? Keep it warm in my sleeping bag?

Last weekend I finished 2006 with a two-day, 45 mile solo traverse of the Snowy Range (Wyoming). When I set up my bivy it was dipping well below zero. I ended up taking the shirt and vest off (putting on a dry one for sleeping) and then not using them on the second day. Recommendations?

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Vapor barrier wetness on 01/04/2007 21:31:59 MST Print View

I would like to learn more about VBs. I've tried VB clothing, but not extensively. So I went to the web site of a VB maker, RBH Designs, LLC: “The windproof NTS shirt prevents evaporative heat loss, and protects your insulating layer(s) from being degraded by sweat. The lining incorporates a comfortable wicking/rapid-drying fiber. Designed to be worn next-to-skin (NTS), this shirt will create a comfortable micro-climate that you can control. The face of the jacket is constructed from an interlock fabric treated with a Teflon HT finish to shed precipitation. The NTS Shirt may be the only layer you will need to wear, depending on weather conditions, your metabolism, and how hard you are exerting yourself. Also good in place of a sleeping bag liner.”
[A customer]: “I was totally impressed with the shirt. Wow!! I wore it against the skin and did not take it off for the entire 7 day trip in the Alaska Range in mid-March (including sleeping at night). I only used two upper body layers the entire week. When moving it was the shirt alone. At a stop, for our training objectives, I added a small puff-ball insulated jacket over the shirt. I had great fun telling the others, as they were getting cool and adding layers (4th and 5th layers), that “Yes, I agree it is cold…I think I will add a second layer.” Perhaps you should not have worn a shirt underneath? But will you become Prune Man?

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Vapor barrier wetness on 01/05/2007 08:23:10 MST Print View

7 days? Wow. I'm afraid I'd get "trench back" or some other horrible blight that would eventually slough off my skin.

I'm hoping to figure this out soon. I have a four day weekend in the mountain next week where I can further test my clothing system; the last time before my big outing.

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/07/2007 20:30:30 MST Print View

Wore the VB vest today without a shirt underneath it. It was 10 degrees with 50+ mph winds; I was putting out a lot of effort trudging through fairly deep snow. My back sweat was excessive and dripping into my pants; not very comfortable. Guess I need to wear a light shirt underneath (or maybe try again without such high effort?).

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/07/2007 21:12:40 MST Print View

Alec,
I have a couple question.

I looked at the GoLite web site for theGoLite Vapor vest but can't find it listed. Is this new or old?

The trick to the vapor barrier stuff is knowing how to vent the garment before you start sweating that bad. Does the GoLite Vest have a way to vent anywhere. The RBH VB stuff has mesh pockets or extra zippers to let you vent before you start sweating.

Edited by bfornshell on 01/07/2007 21:13:11 MST.

eric blumensaadt
(300winmag)
VB clothing on 01/08/2007 01:12:17 MST Print View

Yes, you definitely need to wear a poly pro or polyester outfit under the VB clothing for comfort AND warmth.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Vapor barrier wetness on 01/08/2007 11:22:20 MST Print View

Re: "My insulation now provides much more warmth. But... I'm out for multiple days. What do I do with that very wet undershirt at night?" So, either you are plagued by moisture pouring down your bare back, or a totally drenched inner shirt? Maybe this kind of whipsaw is why VB clothing is not mainstream. I own a Stephenson VB shirt but don't wear it because of all the irritating fine tuning it takes. Perhaps I just don't get into the Antarctica-level cold, and the long, long treks, where VB's irritations are worth putting up with?

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/08/2007 12:10:18 MST Print View

Bill,

I believe that the GoLite Vapor vest is no longer available (except on ebay, etc). It is VB on the back only and breathable nylon in the front. The waist, neck and arms are fairly loose. It can be zipped/unzipped in front.

I do like using it when wearing a thin shirt underneath but am not sure what to do with the wet shirt at teh end of the day. Guess I could sleep with it, but that's just more moisture in the bag...

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/08/2007 12:11:46 MST Print View

This is the vest...
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00086.html

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
VBL liners on 01/15/2007 01:48:14 MST Print View

That's right, VBL's neeed liners in the form of polyester or polypropelene(do they still sell that?)clothing.
Otherwise you will get that icky wet feeling of a soaked VBL touching your skin.

Personally I'd reserve a VBL to very cold weather or 4-plus day trips in sleeping bags only. Properly layered and vented clothing will not need a VBL.
Also being in good physical shape will mean less sweating when on the move.

Finally you must learn to slow down your pace about 45 minutes before reaching your camp site to allow damp clothing time to dry before stopping for camp.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/15/2007 01:49:05 MST.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: VBL liners on 01/15/2007 11:08:58 MST Print View

Perhaps it would work to make a cheap set of VBL clothes by taking some old polypro long underwear, and sewing a layer of silnylon to the outside?
I'm currently trying to come up with a way to test the VBL idea without spending a lot of money - doing a shakedown this March for the winter portion of my long trip (3 months of which will be in winter, so I need to get it right).

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: VBL liners on 01/15/2007 11:32:12 MST Print View

What do you consider "very cold?" It will most likely be near minus 20 during parts of the event, potentially colder.

I can usually get the layering w/o VBL right so they only get a bit damp, except where my pack rests. I've never been able to keep the pack's "footprint" on my back dry no matter what clothing I wear or what pack I try - and the flash freezing has chilled me quickly countless times. Originally I thought of ditching the pack altogether for this race, but veterans of these races told me that the pack is pretty necessary to keep water and other items close at hand - and they are right.

Slowing down 45 minutes before stopping is indeed a great idea!

James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Re: Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/17/2007 22:23:51 MST Print View

I would probably put the wet baselayer in a stuff sack or garbage bag, then in my sleeping bag to keep it from freezing. In the morning, put the layer back on wet, then the VB right away. The moisture in the base layer should warm pretty quickly under the VB. This is assuming, of course, that you can't spare the weight to carry extra base layers.

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Re: Vapor Barrier wetness on 01/18/2007 10:45:52 MST Print View

Thanks James. I realized the same thing. No way I should try to dry the wet shirt in my bag since it will put moisture in my fill. But I can keep in thawed out in a waterproof stuff sack and brave the wetness when I get up.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
counterintuitive on 01/30/2007 13:21:33 MST Print View

This might not sound like a good idea but if you are using a thin enough base layer like patagonia silkweight, I would simply take off the VB, then put a fleece and other insulating layers over it for sleep at night. Unless you sweat a lot at night (not likely at 0 to -20) you will easily dry out that layer. In the morning before you get moving just put the VB back on. In winter, sleeping time = drying time. Having never used a VB shirt I don’t know the best way to “dry it out” over night, you could have it in your sleeping bag so it would be warm, might dry out. Or you could let it freeze, then shake it out in the morning. Sounds miserable though 

I usually just take off my VB socks and leave the liners on my feet on multiday trips. Put a thick warm sock on for sleeping and they dry out quick and stay toasty.

I really wouldent worry about putting moisture in your fill from your body, its not as much of a problem as its hyped up to be. With a good down bag you'll be fine, down has great breathability.

Edited by EricP on 01/30/2007 13:30:06 MST.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Vapor Barrier Wetness on 01/30/2007 13:50:37 MST Print View

You should wear your Vapor Barrier next to your skin and it stays ON as in 24 -7. You then just put your dry insulating layer over the VB when you need to. Everything on top of the VB stays dry from your body sweat. If you are sweating that much inside the VB you need to vent it some way to stay cooler.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
Re: Vapor Barrier Wetness on 01/30/2007 17:37:17 MST Print View

The correct next to skin layer for vapor barrier is Brynje fishnet (http://www.brynje.no, then switch to the english language version). There used to be some US based mail-order retailers where you could order this stuff. The netting is polypropylene, which absorbs essentially zero moisture, and the holes in the fishnet allow sweat to evaporate. Assuming the vest is not tight-fitting at the arms, there should be enough bellows effect to get most of the the water vapor out from your back.

If you are sweating so much that your pants are getting wet, then you need to crank down on your insulation. In winter, feeling slightly chilly is better than getting all your clothes wet. Also, the first place to add insulation when you are feeling chilly is your head. Up to 2" of insulation, like in those thick Russion or Mongolian fur hats.

I certainly don't recommend wearing vapor barrier 24 x 7. This will cause all sorts of skin problems. If you pull such a stunt with vapor barrier on your feet (i.e. if you wear vapor barrier 24 x 7 on your feet), you may find yourself crippled in a matter of a single day with trench foot.

BTW polypropylene picks up stink pretty easily. Given that you are only using a vapor barrier vest, I would recomment cutting off the arms of the fishnet top, so that the fishnet doesn't pick up underarms odors. Also, if the vest is tight aroundn the shoulders, then slit the sides open a little to allow more ventilation. My experience is that back perspiration doesn't smell. On the other hand, the oils from your back and neck will eventually get into the polypropylene and you'll need to use hot water and strong detergent to get these oils out, since they'll go rancid and stink otherwise (but don't use such hot water that the polypropylene melts). But this will take several weeks to get this much oil into the fishnet, especially in winter, and the oil won't go rancid until you get out of the cold.

Edited by frprovis on 01/30/2007 18:05:43 MST.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
24 x 7 on 01/30/2007 19:27:53 MST Print View

Sorry Bob, I dont think you should wear VB's 24x7 either.
What is your reasoning?

That would get pretty nasty on a trip longer than a few days.

Edited by EricP on 01/30/2007 19:28:43 MST.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Vapor Barrier Wetness on 01/30/2007 21:08:06 MST Print View

It is obvious from your comments that you don't really understand how to wear VB garments. I will add a few links and believe you will enjoy reading them.

First I am talking about "REAL" VB garments. Things that are designed to be VB things and made out of material that also has been designed to be used for REAL VB products. The
RBH high-performance textilesare made to wear for long periods of time. You might enjoy reading some product
"Testimonials".

Socks - I have two pair of VB socks. One pair to wear while hiking and one pair to wear at night in my sleeping system. This way I can dry out the day pair and sleep with a dry pair. 24 -7 means that I am using my VB socks 24 hours a day - 7 days a week or how ever long my hike is.

The shirt and pants are worn next to my skin and don't come off unless or until I get finish with my hike or into a dry warm place where I could get naked and clean up.

If it is to cold for the VB garments alone such as when I stop to eat or something, then at that time I add insulating items to stay warm. When my activity level is increased I remove things as I warm up. To make this work right takes thought.

I want to stay at a "Just Cool" body level. VB garments with several different venting options let me do this.

Successful use of VB garments is very close to an Art Form. You learn how to make this work over time. This is a skill that we learn how to make work.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
vapor barrier wetness on 01/30/2007 23:47:40 MST Print View

okay, I'll take back what I said about not using VB 24 x 7. I tend to forget what real cold is like since I no longer hike in the winter. And yes, if it's cold enough to make VB advisable, then it isn't that difficult to stay cool and thus dry as well. But I'd definitely inspect the feet carefully each day to ensure they aren't developing problems from excessive moisture.