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AT NOBO Thru Down Jacket HELP!
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Sam Ridge

Locale: North Carolina
ya on 01/03/2012 20:23:07 MST Print View

"Chances of seeing prolonged daytime temps of 20 or nights much below that aren't enough for me to warrant bringing a ton of extra gear that I can't afford. Being a little chilly for a night isn't going to kill you. Have a snack, do some sit-ups."

Im right there.

a b
AT NoBo jacket on 01/03/2012 20:53:34 MST Print View

@ james- I wore the Patagonia down over my Montebell Thermawrap while sleeping under my quilt for the coldest nights in the Smokeys.
The Patagucci down sweater(size large) was large enough to wear around the Montebell parka(size medium) without compressing the fill of either.
On top of those my MLD quilt covered me just fine without any gaps despite the increased bulk of me and my two jackets.
For my legs i just wore the light weight Smart wool long john bottoms. My legs don't seem to need much insulation.
I wore Kat's wool hat and the hood of my MB Parka for head protection. This was a super combo.
I also put my home made fleece and nylon mittens over my feet while sleeping those couple of 20 degree nights.

@ Sam- It is true, you can easily dry out your down in town at least once a week if not sooner along the AT.
I actually used and very much loved a WM ultralight for the PCT and CDT. However I did dry it at every opportunity on the trail.
I found I never had to worry about drying the Spirit Quilt. The apex insualtion was always warm even when wet and another thing.. The Spirit quilt would dry by body heat alone overnight. This is something my down bag never did.
Of course the best bag is probably the one you already have. Not trying to convince you either way.. just sayin what worked for me.

James Stewart

Locale: New England
re:ya on 01/03/2012 20:56:38 MST Print View

Testing is an pretty solid way of knowing what you'll be comfortable with too. Backyards are great for this. I spent a week in the Smokies in early March last year and that sort of put me at ease about the area, it seems a lot of people get worked up about it. If you're accustomed to hiking at elevation, there's nothing to be afraid of, be smart. One huge upside is the lack of exposure compared to some ranges.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: ya on 01/04/2012 09:02:09 MST Print View

This is the bag Wallace used

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: "At Elevation" on 01/04/2012 09:54:14 MST Print View

Unfortunately, the data in that study is over a decade old now. :-)

I got the variations and ranges from the NPS site. I trust the Rangers on the ground a bit more than some guy at a desk analyzing historical data. My personal experience...I did a trip in the Smokies in June 2008 and we had low 50s for highs at low elevation (around Lake Fontana). That pretty much ruined our swimming hole plans. So much for hot Summers.

Definitely no problem with being in camp 2, as long as you're intelligent about it. I guess the good thing about an AT thru is you can afford to make a few gear mistakes, since you cross a town every few days.

I think if you push back a couple of weeks, or even better a month, you'll be ok with the bag you have. Just don't forget about the Baxter closing dates and party too much along the way.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
how "hot" ? on 01/04/2012 12:27:30 MST Print View

Sam asked:
"How hot did it get after you switched to your summerlight? Maybe not too hot b/c you started in Feb? If I start in April I could get hot in that?"

I don't recall being too warm very often, but as you said, starting on the early side helped there (not a lot of humidity to deal with either --- yay!). And the Summerlite is a full-zip bag, which helps a lot --- certainly when it was warmer out I used it as a "quilt that happens to have a zipper".

Since it sounds like your start date might be more flexible than your ability to get a warmer bag, I too would suggest a later starting date. In terms of what to wear inside the bag in that context, I'd lean heavily towards whatever you already have, perhaps layered to start out. I.e., a synthetic hoody inside a thermawrap or ex light jacket maybe, then mail the hoody home when sure you don't need it, that sort of thing. I'd also think in terms of bringing a large pair of thick wool socks to wear inside the bag at night, and of course a warm hat (I prefer to layer two hats for better temperature adjustment).

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Re: AT NoBo jacket on 01/04/2012 14:59:24 MST Print View

Was your Montbell Thermawrap Parka the U.L. (phased out) or the Pro (heavier weight/warmer)?

a b
MB Thermawrap for AT on 01/04/2012 21:08:53 MST Print View

Mine is the 13 ounce version of the Montebell thermawrap parka.
Thunderhead Peak in the Smokies. Thermawrap parka.. and KAT"S HAT!!.
Patagonia Down Sweater over a Montbell Thermawrap Parka

The insulation is exceloft, which i have been told is similar (or the same) as prima loft.
I got mine at for the princely sum of 99 bucks during a sale.
After the AT I still wear this jacket almost daily.
As a side note about MB thermawrap products, the sizing is a bit on the small size.
My medium worked out but fit much better after I lost the first 5 lbs on the AT.
Other MB wearers on the AT said the same.
If you are going to use this jacket in a layering system it would be worthwhile to size up if you were going to wear something underneath to boost warmth.
That is why i wore the size Large Patagonia Down sweater over the size medium Montebell thermawrap for the early cold nights on the AT.
A medium MB Thermawrap Parka fits a 5'7" 165 lb barrel chested dude like me quite closely.
There was just enough room for maybe a windshirt underneath before it would have began compressing the fill from within.
One cool bonus about the MB was the pockets were set high in the parka. They were above my hipbelt so i could easily stash my hands in there while hiking.
one more quick fact before i get accused of hijacking this thread:
The Thermawrap jacket has all one weight of insulation in the sleeves and body and is hoodless.
The Thermawrap Parka has the thinner arm insulation found in the jacket, but a thicker (than the jackets) insulation in the body and hood.
Thermawraps are very popular among AT hikers i met. Some people had them and those that didn't, wanted them.
I was able to swap my MB Parka for the MB jacket in town once with another hiker.. I much prefer my hooded parka.
I dare-say the other fellow had a case of ..Parka envy!

Edited by Ice-axe on 01/04/2012 21:35:44 MST.

Sam Ridge

Locale: North Carolina
Thank you on 01/04/2012 23:06:20 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for helping me out. I really appreciate it even if I'm a slight bit stubborn. Hope I get feedback like this in the future.

@Chris,Matt, Brian: Don't be surprised if you get a PM with a question from me about the AT as I wind down to April :) party time excellent.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
comfort on 01/05/2012 09:03:27 MST Print View

Whats apparent from this thread is that we each react to temperature a bit differently. I tend to think you will be OK with a prim-aloft 60 grams parka (xenon) or mb thermawrap parka and a summerlite, perhaps with some additional insulation like a vest or fleece. I have not been on a thru, but I've sectioned about 500 miles of AT during all four seasons. I generally don't pack to be comfortable in the coldest projected temperatures. Its not fun to find yourself shivering at 5am, but there are easy ways to deal with that. Do a bunch of sit-ups and crunches and eat some almonds or chocolate to ramp up your metabolism. Boil up some water, and put it in your nalgene etc. Or just roll out of your bag and start hiking.

I'd recommend the xenon for the same reasons that Matt recommends the thermawrap. Its just more versatile, especially if you plan on hiking for most of the day. In my experience, a down garment stays in the pack all day with my down bag until I reach camp, which sort of limits its use, since I don't spend that much time in camp. The flash is no doubt warmer than the xenon, and if you have the money to spend, I doubt you'd regret it for a second. Its an awesome jacket and I miss having mine already. However, if you can get the xenon on sale ( I got mine for $110) , than I don't think you can get a warmer/lighter synthetic jacket. Like Matt, I've worn mine in a downpour, only to dry it out with my own body heat in about an hour. The shell is super wind proof, and quite water resistant. I've owned a thermawrap as well and that kept me warm to about 40, and the xenon feels warm closer to freezing. I think its something to do with the fact that its not sewn threw. Just seems to trap heat better.

The good thing is that you live in NC, so you should get the chance to test out your system for at least a couple of weekends before you hit the trail in march. I'd go out with some extra insulation (doesn't matter if its UL) with your current bag and the jacket you intend on using. Check the temps and see whats comfortable. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Keep your eye out on gear swap as well. You may be able to get a lightweight used synthetic and a warmer down (for the first couple weeks) for about the price of one garment. I'm selling a thermawrap parka in size L if you're interested.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: MB Thermawrap for AT on 01/05/2012 09:20:49 MST Print View

FWIW - Exceloft and Primaloft are quite different in respect to insulative value with PL1 being around 35% warmer (in a lab anyway).

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Thank you on 01/05/2012 09:23:43 MST Print View


If you happen to be in the Asheville area before your trip, I have a Rab Xenon, Rab Infinity Endurance, and Stoic Hadron Hoody (roughly equivalent to a MontBell Down Inner Parka) as well as several other interesting items you're welcome to check out.

Wallace Hunter
(jeepingetowah) - F

Locale: South Central
March 01, 2011 on 01/05/2012 11:37:34 MST Print View

I started on March 01, 2011 with my wife. Kit as brought in the beginning as follows:

* Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree bag
* Montbell Alpine Light Jacket
* Montbell UL Down Inner Parka
* Montbell UL Down Inner Pant
* 150 g/m2 wool pant and shirt

This was what my wife and I used in the beginning. Then after Roan Mountain, we shipped things home and switched out the sleeping bags for the following:

* Montbell #3 Super Stretch Down bag
* Montbell UL Down Inner Parka
* 150 g/m2 wool pant and shirt

You should watch the videos starting in March on our blog. You might really find some of the information helpful. Of course you mind find some boring as well... but hey, with 400 videos, there is bound to be something helpful in there.

Hike, Bike, Dale!

Edited by jeepingetowah on 01/05/2012 11:54:25 MST.

Sam Ridge

Locale: North Carolina
One step at a time on 01/05/2012 19:47:36 MST Print View

I am going to nail down worn clothing first (got a RAB Cirrus windshirt for 50 last night). Very interested in your thermawrap, but I might wait.

Chris thank you for your generosity. I'll letcha know if I'm out that way that sounds awesome.

Wallace your videos are sick/helpful thanks.

Edited by samridge817 on 01/05/2012 20:55:21 MST.