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SE Winter Insulation
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Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
SE Winter Insulation on 11/17/2011 11:30:33 MST Print View

I graduate school in December and probably moving out west in fall 2012, and so it looks like my last chance to thru hike the AT will be this January. I am planning on a January 1 start. I will start by February 1 at the latest. I have read around some on gear lists and recommendations people have already made. The temps I think I should be prepared for are night lows in the single digits as a possibility. On average, I think expecting 10's to 30's would be a good expectation. I would like some feedback on the clothes I have selected thus far.

While hiking:
Wrightsocks layered sock, ankle height
Hydroskins neoprene socks (would this be too warm?)
Terramar microthermal pants (midweight)
Ex officio nylon long pants
Hooded wool base layer (An attempt at a MYOG BPL Beartooth Hoodie, 150g/m)
Cap3 L/S
Windshirt (if needed while hiking)
Fleece beanie
Fleece gloves

At Camp add:
Montbell Alpine Light Jacket
OR Ninjaclava
Synthetic/Down mittens
Synthetic/Down socks (need to make these two still)

Golite Ultra20
MYOG Syn Quilt with 5 oz/yd Apex

I still have concerns though. Am I going to have enough insulation while walking to stay warm? The Alpine Light is definitely too warm to hike in. While in camp, I can put it on and wrap my quilt around me and be pretty warm, I think. Is this a good assumption? Should I have another light jacket/vest to go under it and for hiking and in camp? Something like a minimus vest, maybe? Would the two quilts together, plus the clothes safely get me to single digit temps? Should I carry spare base layers?

For rain gear, is dri ducks still a good option, or should I get something more durable, even if a bit heavier? If dri ducks isn't a good option, please suggest good rain gear.

I have a birthday, graduation and Christmas coming up all in December, so I am basically trying to see what clothing I may be able to ask for as a gift. Some of the clothes above I don't have yet, so feel free to suggest I not bring anything. I appreciate any suggestions.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
SE Winter. on 11/17/2011 13:21:29 MST Print View

You'll be using both the golite quilt and the MYOG quilt? Just one and you'll freeze. Don't forget a sleeping pad (preferably two if it gets cold).

I haven't been there in winter, but from what I've read the trails aren't designed for winter use. If there's significant snow or ice you could be crawling through branches and laurel; a dri ducks would quickly shred in those conditions.

He's definitely not ultralight, but search for Tipi Walter's winter trip reports on Whiteblaze.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: SE Winter Insulation on 11/17/2011 13:47:48 MST Print View

You might have enough insulation in the quilts while sleeping, but make sure you do something to prevent drafts because those will be punishing at the low temperatures you're expecting. Don't forget to insulate your head. I've never found fleece headwear to be all that warm, at least compared to a myog Rayway bomber hat. That hat is so warm, yet very light. It can be even warmer if you use 5 oz/yd Apex. The balaclava might still be a good idea to keep your face warm. It might be even better to get something like the Downworks (down) balaclava.

As far as raingear, William Zila's tyvek 1443 raingear looks intriguing, although it won't be available in time for the start of your hike.

James Stewart

Locale: New England
early start on 11/17/2011 17:00:00 MST Print View

I'm planning a NOBO thru hike as well, but I'm planning on leaving later in February, so I've been making similar gear considerations, if not for slightly warmer temps. For daytime hiking, I'm planning on a light base tee, merino hoody, and a r1-ish grid type fleece pullover, plus a windshell and/or a rain jacket. I think the combination will be fine. As long as your moving, the hoody plus the pullover layer and a windshirt will be all that you need. Hat and glove helps big time too. If you stop for lunch, throw on the down parka. It's got to be pretty darn cold for me to want to hike in an insulating layer. So I think your good there, maybe something more along the lines of cap-4 or r-1 would be better. Lots of companies make similar heavyweight baselayers for less than the Patagonia premium, although I am a huge fan of Capilene.

Sleep-wise I think your good, so long as you've got a solid pad system. A closed cell foam under an inflatable or thermarest seems to be the ideal in low temps, especially those wooden shelter floors. 5oz. Apex, from what I recall reading, should be good to around 25 or 30 degrees F, so pair that with the Ultra 20, and you should be all set, especially with that parka.

What are you planning on bringing for shelter?

Edited by Jstewse on 11/17/2011 17:01:27 MST.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Thanks for the Thoughts on 11/18/2011 06:03:15 MST Print View

I forgot to add in shelter and pad, sorry. My shelter will be a MYOG Duomid and MYOG Lytw8 Bivy. So I will have a fully enclosed shelter to help keep out drafts. For pads, I currently have a Full length thermarest solar. This is has a r-value of 3.5. I may want a bit more and have been thinking about possibly something like a three quarter Exped Down or Syn pad. The syn has the same r-value as the solar though. What kind of r-value would be suggested to make it to single digits?

I was a bit afraid the balaclava wouldn't be quite enough, especially since the Alpine Light isn't a parka, so doesn't have a hood. My thought on that is to make myself a balaclava type hood like the one from Downworks. I have about 12 oz of 800 FP down, so the socks and balaclava should be doable.

@James, what do you think the r-1 or cap4 would be better for? Hiking in? To save on weight, I am thinking that my hiking insulation would probably be something like a minimus vest. Fairly breathable and light to deal with motion.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Please keep them coming.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
winter at on 11/18/2011 07:51:02 MST Print View

I think you have plenty of hiking layers. I'd want shell mitts like MLDs and more substantial w/b shells than dry ducks(hard to recommend $ and preference vary widely).

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
agree on the dri-ducks on 11/18/2011 09:31:46 MST Print View

I did use a dri-ducks jacket in early season for a while on the AT; despite blowdowns I didn't shred it, but the zipper stopped working along the way, so I ultimately bought a new jacket in town somewhere (Gatlinburg I think). I don't have a particular jacket to recommend to you, but something more durable than dri-ducks --- yes.

Synthetic/down mittens: I wonder how well these will work while on-trail? I'm not clear on exactly what you have in mind, but for those temps I would want the best handwear combo I could get. For me it would be very thin, light liner gloves, Dachstein wool mittens, and some sort of light shell big enough to fit the mittens (My eVent mittens were barely enough for the Dachsteins, a good combo). Don't cheap out on covering your extemities.

The Alpine Light down parka is an excellent piece of kit; in single digits with comforter wrapped around you maybe that will be okay, but the whole "drafts" thing makes me wonder. Generally you'll either be in sleeping mode, or you'll be "doing something", and I wonder if activity will allow the comforter to really help as much as you hope. I did most things "half in the bag" --- not half drunk, but with my lower body in my 20F sleeping bag, and the parka plus thermawrap vest inside that on my upper body.

Head protection: do bring a balaclava, the type that covers your nose. At least for me, my nose gets painfully cold at such temps otherwise. Then layer it under something warmer. What I used was a thick fleece hat sized to fit comfortably over the balaclava. That way I could use the fleece hat over my baseball type hat in the mornings, taking it off if/when I warmed up enough and putting it in my pocket as I walked.

There are so many alternative pieces of gear that I think it's unlikely that anyone can tell you what's adequate for you personally --- your 'style', your metabolism, your specific gear mix. Put together your first cut at gear and definitely try it out in conditions as close as possible to the most severe you think you'll likely encounter, certainly to include sleeping in such conditions. In a situation where it's easy to bail if things aren't working out!

Ken Strayer
(TheRambler) - F
Re: "SE Winter Insulation" on 11/18/2011 10:14:33 MST Print View

Overall I think your layers look ok. I agree that you will probably want something a little more durable for a shell than driducks.

If using both of your quilts you 'may' be ok. I recommend a solidly rated 0F bag or quilt though. For a pad here is the equation to r-value to temperature:
0 degrees= 7.0r
10 degrees= 6.0r
20 degrees= 5.0r
30 degrees= 4.0r
40 degrees= 3.0r
50 degrees= 2.0r

So you either need enough r value to make up the difference for your quilt or more pad. For Jan i would recommend somewhere around 6.0r or higher. Remember r value is cummulative.
Here is a thread you may find interesting.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
SE Winter Insulation: hands. on 11/18/2011 10:48:27 MST Print View

"Synthetic/Down mittens"
A good combination is a goretex/event shell plus layers: thin polypro liner gloves plus one or two thin fleece or ragg wool mittens with shell over it all (when needed).
Down mittens or Dachstein wool mitts are too warm for me most of the time in southern New England winters down to single digits (might use Dachsteins on their own at 5F). Gloves and mittens get wet and lost so you need spares. Since you seem comfortable with MYOG, I'd say make a couple sets of fleece mitts (100 or 200 weight) and a pair of shell mitts. Dachsteins are great because they work well when wet and are really warm and pretty windproof, so I like them for backup.