Fleece reconsidered
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Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Fleece and windshirt on 04/08/2013 20:05:59 MDT Print View

Before the fleece luv fest gets out of hand, I think it key to emphasize the article's final statement,

"Anytime I keep my core insulation layer mainly stashed in my pack is when I will pack something different. Essentially, I use fleece for car camping, winter use and for shoulder seasons in cold and rainy areas."

Only in severe cold/wind should one consider puffy insulation for active use. Any puffy, be it a synth or down, is primarily a PASSIVE insulator (new Encapsil down and Polartec Alpha garments might disrupt this paradigm). At a rest stop I find the superior warmth-to-weight/bulk of a 3-season Nano Puff vest/jacket (or a high loft down in mid-Winter) clipped to my pack more practical until I start moving again.

Edited by rmjapan on 04/08/2013 20:11:36 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Fleece and windshirt on 04/08/2013 20:51:28 MDT Print View

Ian said: "I'm probably making a distinction in my mind between windshirts and windbreakers which doesn't need to be there. So far I've been using my hardshell for double duty and haven't purchased a windshirt yet. I was considering a softshell but now I'm more inclined to buy a windshirt. I keep hearing that they breathe much better so it's time for me to find out. "

A windshirt is just a lightweight windbreaker. The concept is the same: prevent heat loss from wind and get some protection from light precip. Breathability is key. Get a Houdini and don't look back :)

Softshell jackets are heavy and cold. A 100w fleece and a windshirt are warmer than the Patagonia Super Guide jacket that I **had**. I tried a Millet too. Like I said, they are like a polyester Levi jacket to me.

What I can't logically reconcile is that I really like soft shell pants. Maybe there are differences in the fabrics, but they work for me on cold rainy days.

dave e
(hipass) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
xxx on 04/08/2013 21:34:59 MDT Print View

I use my R1 for summer and winter.I use it with a windshirt for snowshoeing and its perfect.I just bought a big puffer for cold weather, when on breaks or cool summer evenings.I get cold pretty easy and my downsweater didnt work for me in the sierra.Just sold my softshell cause i realized it was a lot of bulk but couldnt figure a specific use-sort of a redundant piece.Have to figure out the use of my R2.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Fleece luv on 04/08/2013 22:06:41 MDT Print View

Spending summers in Denali (think days of 40s-50s, constant rain and wind, and helpin' spoonfuls of soak-you-to-the-bone bushwhacking) and winters in Western Oregon (think the same minus the schwhacking) taught me to love fleece. In those conditions, you're going to be and stay wet. If you generate enough body heat to stay warm when soaked and have the stamina to never stop moving in order to continue generating that heat, more power to you. I found that I didn't. I also found that synthetic insulation worked well when damp but sucked when soaked. So, I started packing ye olde fleece. Low and behold, it actually kept me warm when wet. And wringing it out and throwing it back on removed a significant amount of water, at least for awhile.

So, yeah, if you recreate in conditions that allow you to stay warm and dry enough that you don't need insulation while moving, pack the puffy. But for wet, cool/cold conditions, fleece is awesome. The minor increase in weight and packed volume is so very worth being able to actually enjoy trips in continuously wet weather.

Ed Biermann
(longstride) - F
Re: Fleece luv on 04/08/2013 22:10:11 MDT Print View

If you don't need it in your bag/quilt at night it does make a great pillow. Another positive for the lack of compressibility.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Fleece reconsidered on 04/08/2013 23:52:55 MDT Print View

I have a lightweight fleece vest that I wear in cold weather under my windshirt or my rain jacket, depending on whether or not it's precipitating at the time.

IMHO, the folks above who say fleece is best for insulation while moving while the puffy is best for insulation when sitting still, are correct!

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Fleece luv on 04/09/2013 00:33:07 MDT Print View

Miles said, " The minor increase in weight and packed volume is so very worth being able to actually enjoy trips in continuously wet weather."

Being out in cold continuously wet weather for days on end does not sound like recreational Type 1 hiking fun to me! Sounds more like work or an endurance journey where circumstances force total disregard for conditions or short term forecasts. Learning when not venture out into the wilderness should be part of the basic UL skill set too.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
softshell on 04/09/2013 01:33:20 MDT Print View

where the softshell shines is in durability ... i get pinholes very fast in windshirts climbing ... if your softshell doesnt breath decently well and takes forever to dry, you got the wrong type of softshell ... buy the unlined, non-membrane ones ... they also tend to be the cheapest

the other part of synthetic puffies is that they are "additive" ... that is you put them OVER your softshell/windshirt at belays ... if you are ever at a hanging/semi-hanging belay with the wind howling and need to take off your windshirt, put on your fleece, put back on your windshirt, you know what i mean ... with puffies you simply put on the needed layer without taking anything off ...

that said im always a fan of fleece for a mid layer .. my current MEC r1 copy has enough holes to prove it ...

a fleece is a great piece for newer people who dont need the fancy $$$$$ gear when they start out ... buy it cheap and on sale ...

as for fun in the wet ... plenty of people in the PNW go out in wet conditions ... i tend to ONLY "hike" in marginal to poor weather ... if its not raining and dry enough, im climbing ;)

Edited by bearbreeder on 04/09/2013 01:35:52 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Fleece reconsidered on 04/09/2013 05:34:13 MDT Print View

Fleece is good. One caveate that I may have missed is that these are usually recycled PET or similar. As such they do NOT take permethrin very well. It usually washes out. I don't even try. In the NE, with all the Blackfly's that show up in spring, I have to be carefull about which shirts I bring, though I far prefer the fleece as a sweater. Like good wool, they can maintain a certain amount of insulating value even if they are soaking wet. My puffy is reserved for after I get my tarp up at night, cooking supper, sleeping and in the morning getting breakfast and packing.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Cold and wet on 04/09/2013 07:51:14 MDT Print View

Rick M: "Being out in cold continuously wet weather for days on end does not sound like recreational Type 1 hiking fun to me! Sounds more like work or an endurance journey where circumstances force total disregard for conditions or short term forecasts. Learning when not venture out into the wilderness should be part of the basic UL skill set too."

Fair enough.

I've started a new thread about this issue.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Fleece reconsidered on 04/09/2013 08:30:22 MDT Print View

I agree Paul, both fleece AND wool (i also read and enjoyed your wool pants article) have their place depending on conditions. Re: wool pants, i also like these for colder temps, but i tend to use wool-poly blends--the poly for added durability and speeding up the drying time a bit, and the wool for odor control, moisture absorption, and naturally better breathability. I try to find pants with about a 60% wool to 40% poly blend + or - 10% in either fabric or direction. Then i soak the bottom half in nikwax.

We are going to Alaska in mid June to very beginning of July, and we will definitely be bringing some fleece.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Fleece reconsidered - in your pants on 04/09/2013 08:35:43 MDT Print View

For example, MEC's Watchtower pants, thick snug leggings of fuzzy unfaced fleece (not at all like sweatpants). They've been ideal as a seasonal midlayer, in cold rain, in camp and as sleepwear, for under 9 oz and under $40 (some $19, fyi). Now all my other bottom layers are four-season gear.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Fleece reconsidered - in your pants on 04/09/2013 08:47:29 MDT Print View

Thanks for the Mec tip B&B. I have experimented a bit with using the cheap micro fleece pajama/sleeping bottoms. Most of the ones i have weighed, weighed in from around 8 to 10 oz range. I just bought a pair the other day for 4 dollars. I'm just guessing, but maybe the Mec pants will be a bit more durable long term? Do you know if the MEC watchtower pants use micro fleece or regular? I like micro fleece because it's warmer per weight and more comfortable.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Fleece reconsidered - in your pants on 04/09/2013 09:18:20 MDT Print View

Hi Justin: the MEC pants are not a grid fleece. It's stretch-woven 100% polyester, 'furry' both sides, at least 1/4" thick. No membrane, highly breathable on its own (300 CFM). 245g/8.5 oz in medium.

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/MensClothing/PantsTights/PRD~5017-968/mec-watchtower-pants-mens.jsp

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: Fleece reconsidered - in your pants on 04/09/2013 09:27:45 MDT Print View

Thank you Bogs, i got that part earlier, was just wondering if the stretch woven polyester fibers are more the microfiber size or more the classic fleece size. One easy way to tell is by the softness. Microfiber fuzzy fleece will feel noticeably softer than regular fuzzy fleece. Microfiber (anything) will trap more air and thus be warmer, and depending on density/tightness of weave, usually for a lower weight. Can repel water better too depending on density/tightness of weave.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Fleece vs Puffy on 04/09/2013 11:10:12 MDT Print View

I don't think its an either or. I use fleece insulation to be warm enough when moving and puffys to go over top for breaks.

So for summer in the rockies I don't bring a fleece as a long sleeve base layer plus a rain shell while moving is good to zero degrees for me.

In winter, spring and fall the MEC R1 clone or the MEC T2(lighet than a Cap4) or both get added depending on temperature. These will generally be worn almost all of the day. For stops though I love the ex-lite in the summer and fall and my big down coat of the winter.

My philosophy in general is just keep adding fleece layers until you are thermal neutral while moving and then add puffy layers until you are thermal neutral at rest.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Fleece with down on 04/09/2013 11:16:54 MDT Print View

>>I don't think its an either or. I use fleece insulation to be warm enough when moving and puffys to go over top for breaks.


That's what I do, too.

Wear my fleece and wool when moving, but throw on my down parka (GoLite Bitteroot) in camp and sometimes at break.

Nothing is either/or. I like to mix, match, use, discard and replace as conditions and trips warrant. :)

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Re: Fleece reconsidered - in your pants on 04/09/2013 11:31:22 MDT Print View

Justin: I'm sorry, yes, hence the weight/thickness ratio, some water beading without DWR, some stretch without lycra, also softness and half-decent compressibility. Compared to my Polartec 200 buff, these (which are not Polartec) might be 300 weight? I'm guessing?

Richard Mock
(moxtr) - M

Locale: The piney woods
Re: Re: Fleece luv on 04/09/2013 11:45:18 MDT Print View

I total agree when applying it to myself but some people are always pushing their envelope and like everything else much of this is relative to an individuals strengths, skills and tolerance to severe conditions. Safety should be paramount but that too is relative. I guess the most important skill is recognizing ones limitations. (to paraphase 'Dirty Harry').

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Fleece and windshirt on 04/09/2013 13:17:34 MDT Print View

I've had the same issue as Dale regarding softshells. My jacket has been relegated to city use or climbing only. It's just not light or warm enough for overnight trips.

Pants on the other hand seem best as softshell. For core insulation softshell just isn't warm enough, but it does breathe decently but is better at wind blocking and has great abrasion. For legs you don't need as much insulation but you do need wind protection (hence so many people love their UL wind pants as primary leg wear) and the added abrasion resistance of softshell is welcome. One light/medium softshell also can be worn in a 60F degree range (20-80F) fairly well, and the 30F range the most people recreate in rather comfortably.