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Base layer recommendations for PCT thru
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The Bundyloco
Base layer recommendations for PCT thru on 02/28/2014 10:18:49 MST Print View

I'm planning on doing a thru hike this year and stuck on base layers. Originally I was going to just go with wool, something like a 185 weight top and bottom. However, I have started looking at the MECT T2 zippered top (bottoms no longer available online) or the REI baselayers both made out of Power Dry. My interest is due to some of the high praise I've read for power dry on this site.

I'm worried about getting too warm a baselayer and sweating out and of course too light and freezing at night. Right now I do plan on taking hiking pants from San Diego thru the Sierras for sun protection and warmth.

Any other recommendations? Thanks, in advance.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
SPF on 02/28/2014 10:42:59 MST Print View

Southern CA is hot and sunny. Northern CA is hot and sunny, too. Get something with good SPF. Between the border and KM, you'll see very little tree cover and tons of sun. Even if you don't burn easily, that much sun is not good for you.

I wore a l/s nylon shirt on my thru and would definitely do so again. Bugproof, high SPF (like 50), and it dried fast enough. Also mostly smell-free (at least compared to synthetics).

For me, PowerDry would be insanely hot. I think even 185-weight wool might be too hot. Don't base your hiking shirt weight on sleeping--if you're cold at night, bring a better sleeping bag or a warm layer to sleep in. You don't want to be overheating all day long just to stay a little warmer at night.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Baselayers on 02/28/2014 11:43:00 MST Print View

I wouldn't worry about a baselayer being too light/cool. Too hot sucks, but too cool and you always just toss another layer on, such as a windshirt.

I'm thru hiking the PCT this year. I'm starting with a long sleeve nylon button up shirt (Patagonia Gone Again) for sun protection., and then a short sleeve light nylon baselayer (GoLite Wildwood Run Top). I can wear both or either one at a time. Once I hit the Sierra's I plan to switch out the button up nylon shirt for a nylon windshirt (MEC RD) because it seals up better if needed to block bugs.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
+1 on 02/28/2014 12:35:05 MST Print View

base layers are not needed for hiking
instead +1 on a thin, long sleeved, nylon shirt
many brand names to choose from such as Patagonia, Ex-Officio, etc
or go to your local thrift store and pick up a simple men's nylon dress shirt

some people bring a set of baselayers for pyjamas and extra warmth around camp at night
in that case the material used is not important

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Base layer recommendations for PCT thru on 02/28/2014 14:19:22 MST Print View

It depends on what you are using a base layer for. I don't like using them to hike in unless its cold as I prefer loose thin clothing when hiking in sun. And on the PCT, you will be doing a lot of hiking in the Sun even in the pacific northwest. There is a reason the PCT has so many views. This isn't the AT where you are hiking in a dense green tunnel in shade.

I sleep warm and I've found that my body generates a good amount of heat, especially if I hit a climb while hiking. As such, on the PCT I found that a lightweight baselayer was all I needed for sleeping at night in below freezing weather with a 20F down quilt. And for hiking in cold predawn morning or the snow I had just before Canada under my normal hiking clothes with maybe a rain jacket. I did have a 6oz down jacket for wearing around camp, but never hiked in it (too hot) or slept in it (it was my pillow). Your mileage may vary.

So anything by Marmot, Patagonia or any other major brand that says lightweight/silkweight should do unless you are just a cold person to begin with. Though you likely won't make many friends being that way. ;-)

By the way, southern California may be hot during the day, but it can be below freezing at night. The lack of humidity means there is no moisture to hold the heat when the sun goes away. I actually found Northern California to be hotter (except for the San Gorgonio Pass by the I-10) than Southern California during both the day and night time.

Edited by Miner on 02/28/2014 14:24:00 MST.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
t2 up north on 02/28/2014 14:54:08 MST Print View

I bet the T2 would be a good layer to have later in your hike depending on when you finish. My medium T2 hoody is 6.5 oz. Pair that with a light LS synth or wool shirt & you've got a lot of base/miflayer versatility for not a lot of weight. If you're set on having a pair of sleep clothes, the T2 would do well for that, but for sure a light airy layer with good sun protection, like others have said, will be a better go to hiking layer.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Base layer recommendations for PCT thru on 02/28/2014 17:28:12 MST Print View

I would go with something along the lines of Patagonia Capilene 2 or maybe 3. I typically only used my baselayer while hiking on cooler mornings or evenings. I did wear it one some rare days when temps dropped and the snow started falling. I also wore it all the way up Whitney. Mine ended up getting about as much use as my rain jacket (almost none).

The Bundyloco
Thanks for all the recommendations so far on 02/28/2014 18:16:43 MST Print View

To be honest, I just kind of planned of taking a top and bottom base layer the entire trip, but you guys have me rethinking that. My hiking experience is very limited, I have traditionally been more of a "camper"

How would this sound then:

L/S Nylon shirt (dont' have yet)
S/S leightweight wool or synth t shirt
running shorts with liner like the mesa trail shorts
nylon pants (don't have yet)
BD Alpine start hoodie (already have it)
MH Gost Whisperer jacket w/ hood (already have it)

Possibly add L/S baselayer and/or pants for the sierras and later on in Washington (Northern Cascades)

I'm just a little confused what I would sleep in though. Wouldn't I want to take the L/S nylon shirt and hiking pants off at night to let them air out?

I have a 20degree quilt, borah gear bivy and hexamid solo plus for more information.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Sleeping on 02/28/2014 19:54:26 MST Print View

On long hikes, I usually carry a spare t-shirt for sleeping in and for town. On the PCT, I actually slept in my hiking short a lot of days. It was dry enough that even if I was sweaty when I got into camp, I was dry by the time I went to bed. But I also had a silk bag liner to keep my sleeping bag clean.

As for jackets, I don't think that the BD jacket is really waterproof (or is it?). Some people don't bother with a rain jacket for southern CA, but I would not leave Campo without one. You'll definitely want a real rain jacket for OR/WA and probably for the Sierra.

The Bundyloco
I will have a waterproof jacket, on 02/28/2014 20:15:43 MST Print View

most likely driduk starting out in addition to what I have listed above

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Thanks for all the recommendations so far on 02/28/2014 20:50:55 MST Print View

You really don't need that many layers. I carried the clothing that I hiked in the entire time for sun protection and then I carried a couple of layers for resting or bad weather.

I hiked in convertible pants for sun and leg protection. I rarely converted then to shorts, but the zippers were nice for venting.

I hiked in a long sleeve button down shirt from Mountain Hardware that was designed for desert travel. I rolled up the sleeves when I got too hot.

Also carried: sun gloves, light wool hat, rain jacket, windshirt, extra socks, light down jacket, fleece mittens (used in so cal just as much as the sierra!), sun hat, base layer top. I don't think I carried base layer pants. I also picked up a cheap pair running shorts just to wear while doing laundry.

On the first day you will climb from a small creek bed up a decent sized hill before you reach Lake Morena. You will probably reach it when the day is hottest. I saw a small pile of junk that someone ditched. Included was an extra pair of shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Think really hard if you want to carry a change of clothes for 2000+ miles.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Base layer recommendations for PCT thru on 02/28/2014 21:12:58 MST Print View

bundyloco, you might enjoy reading this 4 part series Hiking Through Hyperbole: The Vortex of Fear , it includes a gear list and how it changed throughout the trip.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Base layer recommendations for PCT thru on 02/28/2014 21:59:18 MST Print View

as to the T2/cap4 it tends to be a cooler weather layer, especially if you are wearing it under something

something to consider ... remember that you can always add layers, but you cant take away ones that are too warm if they are our base


Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Single base layer on 03/01/2014 05:51:36 MST Print View

I wore a single long sleeve base layer the whole PCT. it was at the time the absolutely lightest weight synthetic I could find, Golite BL-1. Thankfully I bought two since they no longer make them. Also, I believe color matters. I went with white, which soon became somewhat dingy brown, to reduce the amount of absorbed heat. I would take that shirt again if I were heading again to Campo.

PS. You can't get too light. Your base layer should be uber quick drying. If you get cold put on a wind shirt or insulating layer. I don't believe a base layer should be used for warmth

Edited by gg-man on 03/01/2014 05:53:02 MST.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
base layers on 03/01/2014 16:25:24 MST Print View

I use some lightweight shorts, Patagonia gi3 even when it's cold. They have a belt and two zippered pockets. I am not a fan of pants unless it's snowy winter.

If needed I still bring merino baselayer bottoms and wear then under my shorts if it's a cold morning or at night in camp. Shorts are about 8oz and tights are 5oz.

From there I usually bring a 8oz puffy.

Right now I have a 2oz wind shirt and I bring a 2oz disposable poncho for rain.

If I were to add warmth I would look for a wool hoodie at about 8oz.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Lightweight synthetic on 03/01/2014 19:11:47 MST Print View

Danskin makes some really nice lightweight long sleeve shirts, seven or eight bucks at Wally World and they work great for summer base layers.