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AT NOBO late Feb start
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Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
AT NOBO late Feb start on 02/19/2012 14:53:37 MST Print View

I plan to hike from Springer to somewhere in VA starting within the next week. I've hiked most of this trail before, but this is a strange time of year weather-wise, so I'd like some gear advice. Hammock or ground is the first question, then how to stay warm. I've never pushed my hammock setup much below freezing but I probably could go much lower. I'd like to work with what I have and not buy much, if anything.

Things I'm definitely taking:
Merino 2 longsleeve (or Under Armor longsleeve t-shirt)
Smartwool short sleeve t-shirt
Light softshell pants
Running shorts
Westcomb Spectre LT
Golite Reeds
Couple pairs of socks
OR ball cap
Smartwool beanie
Neoprene hydroskin socks
OR Omni gloves
Extremities paclite mitts

This is what I have to choose from:

Hammock 14 oz
Hammock Tarp, lines, stakes 20
Duomid, lines, stakes and polycro 23

WM Versalite 10 degree bag 34
Katabatic Palisade (30 deg) 17
Synthetic quilt (30 deg) 24
WB Yeti 3S hammock underquilt (30 deg) 11
Neoair All Season 19

Fleece Shirt (100 weight) or Cap4 9
Nanopuff 10
Patagonia Down Hooded Pullover 14
Montbell UL down inner 7
Goosedown pants 7
Cap 1 sleeveless t-shirt 4
Cap 2 longjohns 5
Smartwool mid weight longjohns 7

Obviously there'll be some other items, but I'm pretty minimalist with the misc stuff and don't need help there. Steripen or chemicals and jetboil or canister or alcohol are still up for debate, but I'll figure that out. I'll use a McHale LBP 35 and probably have a base around 12 to 14 lbs.

I'm not really looking for the lightest list possible, but I want help finding the lightest level of comfort that I can live with for over a month while using what I have. I especially want advice in the shelter, sleep and insulated clothing departments. I can buy stuff if necessary, but I think I have plenty to work with. I prefer not to do mail drops, I'm hiking solo, and I do not like sleeping in shelters. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: AT NOBO late Feb start on 02/19/2012 15:53:04 MST Print View

I don't think you need to buy anything.

This time of year I'd want the Duomid and the Versalite. Not sure about the pad - I've not used a Neoair, and would take my Prolite 4, but if you think the Neoair is good down into single digits, that might work. A 3/4 CCF pad might extend the warmth a bit. I find that most of my cold nights can be attributed to lack of insulation in my pad. If you think you might sleep in shelters, you'll want extra pad insulation. (And they are awfully tempting on a cold wet day.)

For clothing, I'd take the warmest down jacket, which I think is the Patagonia pullover, and plan to pair it with the fleece shirt or the cap 4. I'd probably bring both tops - there are days I would want to have the 100-wt fleece to hike in, and something like the Cap 4 to put on in camp. Not sure about down pants, might be very useful around camp and to extend the bag. I often bring Powerstretch tights for this purpose. I would definitely bring the wool long johns, but I like hiking in long johns and shorts on cold days - your soft shell pants might be better.

It's been a weird winter here in NC. Lots of rain, not very cold overall, but some short, brutal cold snaps. I'd expect wet weather with moderate temps (for the winter), but be prepared for the occasional very cold night. And of course March can bring a lot of snow, but who knows anymore?

Have a great hike.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Re: AT NOBO late Feb start on 02/19/2012 17:02:46 MST Print View

Thanks're comments are exactly in line with what I usually pack this time of year: duomid, versalite, 100 wt fleece, down puffy. My neoair is the all season version, so it'll be plenty warm.

I guess I was hoping someone would tell me to pack my hammock because it's so much more comfy and convenient, but I think there's too much of a chance for another cold snap in the next few weeks. I could probably make it work with the down pants, but I hate to experiment on a long trip. Plus I'd probably have to use a larger pack that's not quite as comfortable.

Might pack some tall gaiters too, more for mud than for snow.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
AT Hike on 02/20/2012 07:30:08 MST Print View

The gaiters might help for post hole'n up in the Smokies. [I wonder how much snow they got last night]

I also wouldn't start tha AT with a 30* bag until April at the soonest.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: AT Hike on 02/20/2012 07:39:20 MST Print View

True about the Smokies...I wonder how much snow is up there. If anyone was up there this weekend, please let me know. I'm sure it's manageable, but just might slow me down a little. I don't plan to rush through that section anyway and might even make a couple detours to see some favorite places.

The thoughts with the 30* bag were to use the synthetic quilt with lots of warm layers (or a 30* down quilt) beneath. I've taken it into the high teens doing that before and could probably go lower. I think I've resolved to just carry the Versalite and sleep on the ground, though. Too much chance for a serious cold snap in the next few weeks.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Stick with the WM Versalite on 02/20/2012 07:54:32 MST Print View

With the erratic winter we've had I'd bring the 10* and the Duomid. Better to add a little weight that will all be going towards comfort and safety in case we get a crazy snow load or a cold snap. When I went through the Smokies last year in April we got a low of 18* with a light ice storm.....for February I'd want better security against the cold then my 35* WM would offer. Just a thought

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Stick with the WM Versalite on 02/20/2012 08:47:42 MST Print View

Purchase Knob webcam doesn't show much snow. The weather section shows 2 inches last nigh at Mt LeConte and 2.5 inches on the ground. Not sure how accurate the snow readings are, but doesn't sound like much on the ground. I think areas around Wytheville, VA were forecasted to get more. The latest webcam at Grayson Highland was 5:50 this morning, so can't really tell how much snow they received.

Agree with others on the gear.


tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
2 cents on 02/20/2012 09:09:44 MST Print View

I would say, go with the following:

Neoair all season
Katabatic quilt
warmest down parka
down pants
VBL socks (plastic fruit bags)
Westcomb Rain jacket
Reed pants
Softshell pants
Smartwool long johns
Fleece or cap 4 (whichever you like more)

With those items you have a lot of versatility in layering for the surely varied conditions in the weird SE winter

With the down suit you will be warm around camp and in the mornings while giving your bag a big boost. Add rain gear under your down as a VBL and you will get another boost in temp rating, although I cannot say how much you will personally get.

Otherwise your 10 degree bag would be plenty warm although not as light. If you go that route ditch the down pants and maybe go with synthetic insulated jacket?