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Updated SUL Clothing 40F
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/29/2014 17:49:17 MST Print View

I don't understand the issue here. A poncho + windshirt + base layer sounds fine for hiking in the rain at temps around 40-50. I understand that extended rain with that set up would get cold and uncomfortable and a light midlayer would make all the difference but this is a matter of looking at the weather forecast.
Yeah, you would be very cold when setting up camp but he has a sleeping bag. There is a difference between discomfort and danger. Discomfort is ok by me if the chances of it aren't very high. If discomfort is likely then I would carry gear for that specific discomfort. By that logic I would say to the OP that your kit is fine but if you are heading out into rainy weather you should add a mid-layer.
I don't know anything about the OP's local weather so I may be talking out of my butt on this...

just Justin Whitson
Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/29/2014 19:59:52 MST Print View

Just a quick point out. If you're using untreated polyester socks, and you do any lengthier trips, your feet are going to get stink arse stanky and fairly quick most likely.

I opt for thin merino wool with high nylon content for that reason, MUCH better. Now if you can find some high polyester blend socks with say polygiene treatment (or similar, but it's supposedly more durable than many other odor treatments), then you should be good to go.

I also use a specialty item sock, which is really hard to find, for warmer temps. It's a mostly linen sock with some polyester. Also stays really fresh.

Edit: very much agree with the T2 or Cap4 recommendations.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 01/29/2014 20:03:41 MST.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 00:50:42 MST Print View

"There is a difference between discomfort and danger."

Yeah, I guess I should have been more specific in my story. I'm very used to discomfort, and was immersed in it for 8-10 hours before that, so some of my safety alarms might have been deadened leading up to that point. When I said that I started shivering as soon as I stopped, I did not mean I said "burrr, it damn cold". I meant I started loosing control of my body, *shaking* enough to make it hard to do stuff like drive in stakes, and there was definitely some questionable thinking going on in my head. Its a bit of a catch 22 trying to use your messed up brain to analyze your messed up brains changes, but the shaking part was not subtle, not those little shivers you get. So, very preliminary stages of hypothermia, yes. Scary, yes. Dangerous, no probably not since when it started I knew I needed to take steps quick.

But I was alone, and if not standing on the precipice, I could see where it was off in the distance. Quite possibly I am just more susceptible than you BAMFs out there, but I have experienced enough pain and discomfort in my life to know this was something different. Main point is don't take it for granted, this episode happened in high 40's, but developed over many hours of insufficient core layering for the particular situation.

Anyway, sounds like we came to exactly the same conclusion about what to bring, just differ on the potential consequences. Yeah, and also tO check the forecast a few days out. LOL

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 10:59:01 MST Print View

I've been there. Hypothermia can really sneak up on you. And I've found that when soaking wet it can be hard to tell how cold you really are.
I now carry a powerful firestarter that I can light it, throw on wood, and be almost guaranteed of a fire. When you are cold and wet all day it can be hard to warm up in your bag without an external heat source.
So yeah, I agree that going into extended cold rain without a midlayer that will keep you warm while wet is not a good idea. I really like my fleece vest, it's easy to slide on and off when I need warmth and it doesn't soak up much water.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 11:43:28 MST Print View

This is ass-backwards; to make the required clothing system fit into an arbitrary weight. The way to approach this is to determine what clothing you need to meet the conditions and then, and only then, will you know what it will weigh. What works on a spreadsheet does not necessarily work in the field.

I have seen 24 hour weather predictions calling for highs in the 60's and low's in the 40's turning into high's in the 40's and low's at or below freezing, and this has happened during backpacking trips -- in Southern California.

There is nothing worse, and possibly more critical to your well-being, than windblown rain that is just above the freezing point or even in high 40's F. You can hike in it and stay somewhat warm and somewhat cold at the same time, but when you stop you better have something warm to wear, and sometimes it needs to be put on immediately. Hypothermia is serious business.

In these conditions, if your shelter is your rain gear, you need to have lots of practice on how to set it up quickly, get warm, and not soak your insulation at the same time.

For this reason, I do not have a standard do-all kit. The requirements for each trip often varies. My base weight might be 4 lbs, or it might be 10 lbs or more. And when it comes to weather, you need to be prepared for worse than the forecast.

I do not want to discourage you, just think things out and be prepared. Below is a link to a trip report (remember the audience is my kids) for an XUL trip with temps down to around freezing and rainy days. This was mostly a "what can I do and be comfortable" exercise, not my everyday normal kind of trip. I am no stranger to kits of 5 lbs or less, but they are predicated on the trip, with room for extremes. But the gear I chose for this trip might be helpful. Also remember I have been doing this hiking thing for a long time, and experience plays a big part -- what I am implying is that as the experience level and skill increases, then one can start moving to a more minimalist kit.

A couple notes on this trip...

I brought a Montbell Ex UL vest. It was not warm enough for this trip. However, I planned on using my quilt as camp-wear if needed. But the inner and outer material is completely Cuben, so I was confident I would not get the insulation wet. With a different quilt or sleeping bag, I probably would have brought a warmer jacket.

My poncho is smaller than what most people use. The hiking shorts hung below the bottom of the poncho and sometimes caused me to get colder than I wanted when they got rain-soaked. Since then, I often bring a cuben skirt with this poncho. Hiking with a conventional poncho or something the size of a Gatewood takes some getting used to. Plan on using a draw-cord around your waist for windy days or brushy areas.

Sub 4 lb Base Weight trip

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 12:49:38 MST Print View

+1 Nick "This is ***-backwards"

Jeremy, please read Nick’s post again and then read his link. They may make the remarks below better understood.

Maybe your confidence comes from knowing the amount of time you will be out or your ability to bail.
I have been on trips where the weather was perfect and the low was around 60*. I didn't even carry a shelter or insulation because I knew that if things turned south I could bail and walk out during the night if I had to.
I'm a little older now (not necessarily wiser) and maybe lazy, but I don't like to be uncomfortable or I don't like the idea of having to bail. So now I carry the minimums (insulation) as described above by the other posters. Like Nick my base weigh could be 5 lbs or 10 lbs. either way it is what I think I need at that given moment (you can call it XUL or whatever title you give it, it for me is right for the given situation).

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/30/2014 12:50:10 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 13:16:54 MST Print View

"This is ass-backwards; to make the required clothing system fit into an arbitrary weight."

Welcome to ultralight backpacking.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Misundertsanding on 01/30/2014 13:21:37 MST Print View

Yes I think some things are being assumed that may not be true. For me this is a preliminary list. If the forecast called for consistent rain/overcast I would bring additional rain gear. SUL for me is fast packing, not meeting an "arbitrary" weight. Also, those who say that the weight is arbitrary I think you are mistaken. Of course one should carry what it takes to be prepared no matter,the weight. Weight classifications are not arbitrary because they generally do communicate ones experience. We could say that a medical degree us arbitrary because it is the KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE that matter, but the degree is a universally recognizable certification, as are weight classifications like UL, SUL, XUL, and SXUL. I also want to push back against what you are saying about 24 hour weather change. Of course it happens and exit strategy is important. I know my area and my weather, if the weather calls for 55 lows all of you would take a 40F bag/quilt. You don't take a 30 or 20 just because weather CAN change. I do appreciate pointing out cold rain hiking, I spent alot of time looking at sheets , which was a bit disconnected from reality. BUT people still carry down don't they? If the weather says little to no rain, of course it could change? But that is where skill, margins, and bailout are important. I myself have pushed myself near hypothermia in 40F weather and learned a lesson but I hike to push myself. You want to carry all synthetic in case of rain? Hike your own hike man I'm not going to stop you. I like to push it to 30 miles a day eat then sleep. So I genuinely appreciate the comments and I have altered my list a bit, but the condescending language from a few should be checked and edited.

for those of you reading this for the gear list I have changed my setup to be a marmot half zip reactor and a 15d nylon windshirt for top insulation. 12 ounce combo plus beanie/socks/mittens is around 15 oz

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 13:46:33 MST Print View

I agree with you that something a little fleecy would be a welcome addition if its 40 degrees and raining. And then you can probably drop the silks. I think the Cap4/T2 would suffice in the temperature range you are looking at also and be a little lighter.

I think its a great to push the limits of your gear if your willing to have a little discomfort, especially if you're doing long mile days. With that fleece, you have plenty to keep warm in 40 degree windy rain. And it sounds like you won't be spending much time in camp to need a lot of camp clothes. If its really cold, get in your down bag. I encourage your SUL quest.

I know your area well enough to know that there are always bail out routes. You're never too far from a road.

I think Nick has a good point on something to belt your cape in for wind. I use a cuben skirt too and have found it very helpful. You may not need it if that cape goes low though.

I haven't used a Gatewood Cape, but I can see that putting it up in the rain might be your toughest part. I like the idea of using a groundsheet to keep you dry, but I think you're still going to get wet somewhat. Hopefully the dwr on your windshirt will help you out enough.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Misundertsanding on 01/30/2014 14:16:37 MST Print View

Jeremy, hopefully you don't mistake my post as condescending, if so that was not the intent. I appreciate your aggressiveness towards your kit and working to lower your weight. But you might want to calm down a little. No one is telling you, you have to do it this or that way. They are giving you real live experiences of what has happened, when they tried the very same thing you are doing. I think they are saying “keep trying, but this is what happened to my when I tried what you are doing”.

Your original post did set an arbitrary number for the clothing weight (a foreign concept to some of our thought processes). I use to try and get everything’s weight as low as it could go, there was no set number. In fact, when someone tried to put the LW, UL, SUL, XSUL numbers out there regardless if I agreed with them, I still tried to get lower then what “they” set. If someone set a number I tried to beat it. There is always something out there that is lighter. You should have seen the spreadsheets adjust when Cuben came on the scene.

As I said in my post, things have changed and now I am comfortable both physically and mentally with where my kit is now (thought it does constantly change).

Keep pushing the envelope; we need some younger guys to keep everything evolving so I can reap the benefits of their successes.

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/30/2014 14:17:31 MST.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re: Re: Misundertsanding on 01/30/2014 16:21:08 MST Print View

No its quite alright, I just noticed that the general attitude of the forum was going towards the negative despite a few and I wanted to reestablish my intentions for finding a clothing list that would meet my needs. And honestly, in conversation with others, I have expressed that after a season of SUL I will likely level back out around 7 or 8 with full comforts and a light pack. But for this season I want to push myself and ride along that line.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 17:35:56 MST Print View

Nick, nice post and great blog post. I've always thought you were rocking a kinda Colin Fletcher vibe/look in some of the pictures on your blog (might be the beard) - now I can see that the resemblance and talent extend into your writing as well.

I've also always really liked the look and layout of your blog.


Edited by millonas on 01/30/2014 17:42:33 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 21:20:00 MST Print View

We were walking in 40f weather last weekend. A cap , light gloves, long sleeve Cap3-ish base layer, windshirt and light softshell pants were perfect while walking uphill. I added an R1 vest for the downhill part.

It's interesting to think about SUL in terms of clothing. It's not too difficult to keep things very light for a trip in the middle of the summer, but 40f is a practical bottom limit.

It's pretty easy to get SUL until you get to clothing: a tarp shelter, Spartan CCF pad, a quilt and a minimalist kitchen, chemical water treatment, and a pack to match. But clothing can be a whole list in itself and more items mean weight. The only thing that changes from mid-summer to shoulder seasons is extra or thicker layers and that magic 5 lb base weight slips out of my grasp.

I carry a light beanie and liner type gloves, one spare set of socks and then comes the debate on mid-layer and puffy insulation. I like vests whenever practical, giving core warmth, low packing bulk and easy arm movement. A long sleeve base layer goes with that and a windshirt in cool weather.

As much as I don't like down insulation, it is the only way I can see to keep the weight in line for SUL. A vest may allow more core loft vs a thinner jacket, assuming that you are wearing a heavier base layer and a windshirt. I definitely recommend a windshirt for use with a poncho or cape.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 21:23:18 MST Print View

Good post Dale.

We all need to remind ourselves that we are tropical animals.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 01/30/2014 22:08:45 MST Print View

I have to agree. I am going to test out my Marmot Reactor and Windshirt Combo and bring a backup insulation layer of the next month to see how it feels. It might be how hard I am walking but the last time I went on a day trip when it was at 32 F I was just in my wicked lite and a windshirt. If it does not quite get me where I want in terms of comfort I could supplement with the MEC T2 hoodie and a Borah vest, which would be about the same weight as my Marmot Reactor but give me more versatility. The only thing keeping me from doing that now is money lol.

Clothing does add up quickly, and it can be tough to get it just where you want it in terms of versatility, comfort, and weight.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re. on 01/31/2014 14:21:58 MST Print View

What is your favorite 40F clothing?

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 02/01/2014 08:03:06 MST Print View

Everyone is different, but my 40F set up looks like this:

While hiking: Wool T-shirt, 2oz Luke's UL hooded wind shirt, MHW Mesa hiking pants.
At camp: Wool T-shirt, 7-8oz Montbell UL Down jacket, 2oz Luke's UL hooded wind shirt, MHW Mesa hiking pants.

No beanie, gloves, etc. This doesn't change when 40F and rainy except for added rain protection. I would take a 1oz poncho for those times when you need to setup the Gatewood and it's pouring. The loss of loft in down garments in 1-2 days of rain hasn't made much difference in MY warmth. For others it sounds like the kiss of death. YMMV. A synthetic puffy will only add another 3-4 oz to that if you are worried about it. Worse case, just get in your sleeping bag. Problem solved.

You and I hike the exact same trails. Our weather rarely has wild swings although it can happen. Have a contingency plan - If it drops to 25F instead of 40F, what will I do? Hike out? Wear all of my clothes to bed? Use my raingear as a VBL?


Edited by ViolentGreen on 02/01/2014 14:04:31 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Updated SUL Clothing 40F on 02/01/2014 10:13:47 MST Print View

Jeremy, Here is my basic 40+ degree clothing system.
BPL SS Merino Wool T-shirt (medium)4.050z
BPL Merino Wool Shorts (medium)3.70oz
REI Sahara Convertible Pants (medium) 12.40oz
Smart Wool PHD Mini Crew 2.35oz
Columbia Booney Hat 2.75oz
Worn total: 25.25 oz

Rab Pulse Jacket (medium) 7.30oz
LytW8 Cuben Rain Wrap 1.25oz
LytW8 M50 Down Pullover 5.10oz
Blackrock Hadron Down Cap 0.60oz
Smart Wool PHD Mini Crew 2.35oz
Carried Total: 16.60oz

I tweak it a bit depending on what conditions I expect and how unpredictable I think the weather will be, but it does not stray far from this. For example if the weather is more like 55+ I will drop the cap, down pullover, and replace pant with shorts. If the weather is 30+ and maybe rain I will add some fleece gloves and possibly replace the rain skirt with golite reed pants. Overall the above list has proven to meet my needs time and time again.


Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Reply on 02/01/2014 12:45:50 MST Print View

Ryan and Jamie

It seems that neither of you carry a fleece/synthetic midlayer. It could be because we are all local to the South Eastern region of United States, but it seems we have different expectations for weather. I will definitely consider something a little extra for setting up my gatewood or when I have to pee haha.

My original plan for packed was Montbell Ex Light or Borah Down vest and my windshirt.

Jamie- I have to say after out last interaction on a thread I spent a couple days reviewing your gear lists. I like you way you have everything setup. I also admire how much gear you make yourself, I wish I was more skilled with DIY.

How well does your cuben catenary tarp hold up in heavy wind and rain for you?
You hike for yourself and make your own gear, but is there any way I could pay you to make something for me?

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Reply on 02/01/2014 14:06:45 MST Print View


Right. I don't bring a fleece until I expect around 25-30F temps. In theory, I could go slightly lighter by replacing the fleece+puffy combo with a warmer down jacket. However, I like the versatility of the fleece, plus it gives me a little fudge factor since is still pretty warm if wet.

There are many ways to skin a cat.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 02/01/2014 14:10:44 MST.