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AT (March departure) layering system question
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Nicholas Ward
AT (March departure) layering system question on 01/04/2014 13:58:53 MST Print View

Hello all - I'm hoping that I could get some help here. Basically I want to know if you all think I'll be warm/comfortable enough with my proposed upper body layering system or do you all think I should add a piece (down vest, wind shirt, etc.)

Right now I plan on bringing:

short sleeve merino shirt icebreaker 150 weight
long sleeve merino shirt - I have an icebreaker 200 and 260, not sure whether to bring one or both.
Railriders adventure shirt
patagonia nano puff jacket
marmot pre-cip rain coat

I have an R1, not sure how I feel about adding that in. I've considered buying an UL down vest or maybe a wind shirt so add versatility to my system.

Basically I'm worried that I have too big of a gap between the long sleeve shirts/pre-cip and the nanopuff. This is why I'm leaning towards a vest but I'd be happy to save cost if it doesn't seem practical.

Thanks in advance - look forward to your opinions.

Nick Reid
(NickBReid) - F
layers on 01/04/2014 16:18:03 MST Print View

I'm also starting an AT thru in March and I've been trying to nail down my layers.

I own a nano puff — and I've taken it to some cold temperatures — but I don't think I'd feel comfortable with it as my only insulating layer.

I'm planning on bringing a merino wool T-shirt, a midweight zip-up (like the MEC T3), a Montbell down parka, and of course my rain shell. Even then I've been wondering whether that'll all be warm enough.

A down vest I think would definitely make a big difference, but I would be thinking about something you might be able to hike in for, as you say, those in-between temperatures.

March on 01/04/2014 17:03:05 MST Print View

In march, I would honestly bring a much better puffy than a nanopuff.

Wearing a light fleece, and nanopuff together, 45F is pushing the comfort limit for standing around. Id suggest the Montbell Alpine Light parka.

Be sure to have one midweight baselayer set kept dry for sleeping and after you stop. A UL set will do for hiking.

Goretex socks may be handy in smokies if you will wear trailrunners

Edited by livingontheroad on 01/04/2014 17:04:57 MST.

Nicholas Ward
thanks on 01/04/2014 18:17:39 MST Print View

I have considered goretex socks, I really like the idea of those but I've read a lot of mixed reviews.

I'm not overly concerned with staying warm at camp, I'm confident in my sleep system and if things get really cold I'll just get into my hammock and call it a night.

The MEC T3 looks nice, also like the price; a bit cheaper than its counterparts. I think I'm still leaning forwards a vest but if my pack weight comes in lower than expected I can see good reason to bring a mid weight fleece of some sort.

I'm with you on the sleeping layer, already have that packed away.

Nick, look forward to seeing you out there, not sure of my exact start date yet, it will be sometime early March.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
March 1 vs March 31 - very different on 01/06/2014 15:00:13 MST Print View

If early March, I think you need more insulation when not hiking then you are bringing, unless you are just planning on getting in your nice warm sleeping bag if you get cold (and you have a nice warm sleeping bag). I did find goretex socks useful on the AT for rainy day hiking in cool/cold weather while wearing mesh trail runners. My socks got damp rather than sodden and would dry overnight with body heat or on the outside of my pack the next day if not raining.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Windshirt on 01/06/2014 15:29:15 MST Print View

I really think you need a windshirt. A windshirt over your base T or your merino long sleeve shirt will be plenty most of the time while walking if you have a windshirt over them. The wind will cut right through them otherwise. I don't think you'll hike in the nanopuff or the pre-cip(unless its raining).

Remington Roth

Locale: Atlantic Coast
Re: Windshirt on 01/09/2014 09:54:30 MST Print View

I agree about the windshirt. They're very useful while you're hiking. I find I usually wear a thin merino long sleeve shirt with a wind shirt for most of the fall and spring while hiking the AT.

I also agree about the nanopuff falling short for March on the AT. Perhaps I get cold easily though.

Benjamin Jacobs
(bwjacobs) - M
Agree on 01/12/2014 11:06:46 MST Print View

I did a mid March start and used the following layering system:

* Icebreaker 150 weight short sleeve crew
* Icebreaker 260 weight long sleeve crew
* Montbell UL Down Parka
* Rab Momentum shell

Saw temps down to the low 20's at night in the smokies and this more or less handled it. I had a few chilly nights (the ones where we got to the 'low' 20's) but would move to my bag whenever that happened. I started a lot of mornings in both of the shirts plus the rab but would take it off pretty quickly after starting -- a windshirt would have been a perfect in-between for those days.

You'll want *something* for your feet if you're in trail runners, whether it's goretex socks or otherwise. I made the switch to goretex Salomons after tinkering with other systems and am pretty locked into them at this point whenever it's going to be a wet environment.

Nicholas Ward
great advice on 01/17/2014 10:20:40 MST Print View

Thanks all around. I've decided to go with a wind shirt. Backcountry has houdini's on sale right now so if I can't find one soon in the gear swap forums I'll bite the bullet and buy one (although I've heard that the 2013 model wasn't nearly as nice as the 2012).

I also appreciate the advice concerning the nanopuff - you all may be right about it not being quite enough. I think I'll bring my patagonia R1 as well (rather significant weight penalty, I know, but I don't have the funds to replace with something down right now). I slept outside during the polar vortex and took my sleep system down to 10 degrees wearing the nano and the R1 with merino base set, down hat and down booties. I wasn't cold - just not exactly comfortable either. Hopefully I won't come across too many nights like that but its not to know how that I'm prepared.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Maybe I'll see you there on 01/18/2014 08:42:28 MST Print View

A friend is hiking the AT this year starting mid-March and some friends of his (myself included) plan to hike for a while with him from the start; I reckon I might do a month or so.

Having started in late Feb on the AT once before, in a pretty high snow year for the south, I might be a little gun shy this time. But I'm bringing my Montbell Alpine Light parka, a light rain shell (OR Helium II), Montbell thermawrap vest plus light windshirt as a combo to hike in (might just use the rain jacket for that). Goretex socks, PL-400 mitts with eVent shells. Might bring rain chaps and rain skirt, as the combo is pretty light, and can always mail stuff back home.

Going with a 20F bag, but the parka plus a pair of down booties augment that quite a bit.

Base weight is looking to be about 18 pounds (!), but I should be plenty warm.

Downside is that some or all of my hiking friends will start out in better shape than me (a couple are hiking the Florida trail right now ...), so it's probably going to suck getting my trail legs at their pace! :-)