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Creative Clothing Solutions for GF
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Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/18/2014 15:52:52 MDT Print View

I need some advice from the great minds of BPL to help dial in my girlfriend's summer clothing. We hike in the Yukon territory, and are doing the Chilkoot Trail in August. The item she needs more than anything is a nice warm puffy. However, I was at our local gear store this morning and found an Arcteryx Atom LT on for $100. I couldn't pass it up, despite the fact that it isn't ideal as a belay/camp jacket.

Now, I would still rather just buy her a nice down puffy, but it's not going to happen. You'd think she'd be thrilled with me spending money to ensure her comfort, but she just jokes that I'm her expensive little girlfriend.

So, these are the items she currently has at her disposal for summer hiking trips. Can you offer any suggestions on the lightest system we can set-up, while still offering optimal warmth down to freezing?

Any advice is appreciated.

-light merino sports bra
-light merino tank top
-MEC T2 long-sleeve shirt

-NF 100wt fleece hoodie
-Icebreaker 260wt full-zip
-Vapour-Rise Lite jacket w/o hood
-Arcteryx Atom LT hoodie

-Arcteryx Alpha SV

She brings along the base layers and the shell on all our trips, but how can we mix-match the mids to get the most warmth and versatility for her?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

PS - I know this isn't exactly lightweight stuff, but we are slowly working on it. She does love the Alpha SV though, and refuses to rid herself of it.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 12:12:44 MDT Print View

I think I'd be ok with any one of those mid layers down to freezing, assuming a good wind shell. (My wind shell is my rain jacket.)

I'm not familiar with the last two mids. I wouldn't want to use anything with synthetic or down insulation as my mid layer. Other than that, have her pick the one she likes best. Maybe add a second favorite if she tends to be cold even while hiking, or if high winds or hiking fairly slow for some reason.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Creative Clothing Solutions for GF" on 03/19/2014 12:19:31 MDT Print View

Without addressing your specific options (because I don't have experience with them specifically), I'll tell you what my layers generally look like in Alaska spring/summer/fall.

Synthetic sportsbra, synthetic undies, merino wool toe socks with merino wool regular sock.

150 weight Merino long sleeve shirt (light enough even if sunny, better coverage if windy or wet)

Quickdry nylon pants.

NB Trail Runners.

200 weight fleece top
Patagonia Nano-puff pullover (I don't use down for a coat in spring/summer/fall due to odds of precipitation)
OR WPB Shell with full side zips for venting
Wool Buff (for neck, face coverage)
Fleece or merino wool beanie

My goal is to have enough layers for any condition and in a manner where I can wear everything at once if necessary. If I'm backpacking it, I'll add one more pair of socks or down booties and will switch out the beanie for a balaclava.

This system is my go-to system and works well for me. I actually change it up very little in winter. In winter, the Nanopuff gets exchanged for my down jacket, and the shoes might be exchanged for boots and I may take snow pants.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 12:22:20 MDT Print View

Return the Atom; she already has 3 mid layers. Use the money to order her a poofy Hadron from That's what I would do.

Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 12:42:37 MDT Print View

Ben, part of the reason I picked up the Atom is that it will work perfect for her layering throughout our cold fall/winter/spring. She does have a large winter puffy (MEC Reflex) for deep winter, but she hates the look of puffy's and doesn't want another one. That's why I'm hoping to work with what she has available already.

Anyone with thoughts on using the MEC T2 as base layer, using the Rab Vapour-Rise lite as a mid-layer (light insulation plus wind protection) and then using the Atom LT as a camp/belay jacket. That seems to me to offer the most warmth for the lighest weight.

Or would the 260 weight icebreaker be better as a layer underneath as she does have the wind protection from the Atom LT as well as her hardshell?

My biggest concern is around camp at night. Even in the warmest days of summer it can get pretty chilly at night, and generally we are camping with friends which means a few hours of sitting around the fire chatting, etc.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 14:31:33 MDT Print View

Building on what you have, I would take the base layers plus the Atom and add a puffy vest. Taking both the Rab and Atom is just too many shell layers and not enough insulation. If not the puffy vest, then the Icebreaker I guess. Gotta have a rain shell, so the Alpha needs to be there.

The tank top seems to be "extra" but it can't weigh much.

My own layering system is more like base layer/R1 fleece/windshirt/puffy and a rain shell or poncho. I substitute vests for full jackets with warmer weather and less weigh/bulk.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 15:03:09 MDT Print View

The T2 is a nice baselayer with a windshirt. It would be too hot for me in summmer, but I am a bit south of you. I used my T2 on a January trip that had daytime temps of 25-35 with wind. It was perfect in that range as a baselayer with only a windshirt over it. I don't think I would wear it if your daytime temps went over about 55, even without a windshirt.

I would assume your summer is a bit like our fall. Ideally, I would want a lighter base, a windshirt, and a light poofy for camp only.

Based on what she has, I would take the merino bases, the Rab Vapor-Rise, and the new Atom for camp. And pack the rain jacket.

If you bought just a windshirt, I would then pack the lightest of the mid layers-maybe the 100 wt fleece, to go along with a light base and new Atom.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 16:28:21 MDT Print View

> You'd think she'd be thrilled with me spending money to ensure her comfort, but she
> just jokes that I'm her expensive little girlfriend.

I think you have missed the whole point. Your correct reply should have been a single word: 'yep'.
Then ask her to model it for you, and say she looks nice wearing it.


Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 16:31:11 MDT Print View

Good lord, man -- she "hates the look of puffies"??? In the Yukon, at night while sitting around doing nothing, she *may* find that she hates the feeling of uncontrollable shivering MORE than she hates the look of puffies, LOL! ;^)

I think the only other alternative is to leave at home one of the mid-layers, bring a 200/300 wt fleece, and combine that with the wind jacket to "create" a thick nighttime jacket for around camp. But it won't have the warmth-per-ounce of a puffy.

Dena's day hiking list sounds eminently sensible for the northern climes, but sitting around camp gets cold in a hurry! Although I'm a Great White Northerner, I bring a (thin) puffy to the Grand Canyon in summer, and by dinner time, I'm WEARING it!

Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Re: RE: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 17:19:24 MDT Print View

Val, she usually stays plenty warm, but it's because she brings along her favourite Value Village wool sweater for the cool nights. I'm hoping to get the weight of her clothing down a bit.

And yes, ideally I'd like her kit to look like Dena's. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Atom LT similar in warmth to the Nanopuff? The reason I got the Atom LT is because i figured it would function well in her layering system throughout the year, with it being more of an outerlayer around camp in summer.

Roger, I just can't handle the harrassment anymore. She's broke me. haha.


Jason Robichaud
(j4design_build) - MLife
Atom LT on 03/19/2014 18:56:37 MDT Print View

I have and enjoy the LT with the suggested 200wt fleece for really chilly nights. The nano puff is not as warm as LT. The rest of the layering options you have seem reasonable. I think instead of worrying to much about the LT and layers I'd add some simple things like a warm hat, gloves and socks. My girlfriend rarely complains about a cold torso and more about cold extremeities. She now packs a very light weight scarf for "sitting around the fire" nights.

And you can always dance to stay warm ...

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 19:11:18 MDT Print View

Does she get very cold? I'm hot when I'm moving (Doug, insert joke here...) but literally freezing about 10 mins after I stop. Even in the summer I get awfully chilly at night.

So for me, here's how I would layer from your list in temps down to freezing:

Merino tank
MEC T2 hoody
Fleece hoody vs 260 merino (depending on fit...which actually fits without being uncomfortable?)
Atom LT

And serious +1 on a neck gaiter, hat, gloves as needed depending on temps

How would she feel with a down puffy under her shell? Then there's no puffy look.......

Edited by Jenmitol on 03/19/2014 19:12:13 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 19:26:52 MDT Print View

"I'm hot when I'm moving (Doug, insert joke here...)"

Aw shucks, I'm sure you're hot when you're sitting still too.... :-) (and people say I don't follow orders well.....)

Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Re: Re: Creative Clothing Solutions for GF on 03/19/2014 20:06:35 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the input. My girlfriend is currently standing over my shoulder laughing at the fact that I spend time thinking about stuff like this. She also wants everyone to know that it's not just the looks of puffy's she doesn't like, she just doesn't like buying things, especially when they are ugly. The last pair of pants she bought was over 3 years ago. Ha.

She always has a buff, toque, and some wool liner gloves in her pack year round and they get used pretty much every night we are out.

I guess we'll have to test out some different combo's this summer to see what works for her. I think the T2, 200wt fleece, Atom LT, and hard shell would work pretty well for her. Maybe I can talk her into a lightweight down puffy. Any recommendations?

Jason Robichaud
(j4design_build) - MLife
ex light down jacket Montbell on 03/19/2014 21:42:32 MDT Print View

I like the EX Light down jacket from montbell but if she is looking for a hooded jacket, to be warmer than the LT, I'd say the Montbell Alpine Parka, Montbell Frost Smoke jacket, or Backcountry Hardon. Those are the best priced pieces. You can spend more on a Patagonia, Rab or Montane but those three are the best bang for the buck. I think.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: ex light down jacket Montbell on 03/20/2014 07:01:42 MDT Print View

The women's version of the MB alpine light looks rather nice actually. And Patagonia's down offerings are also rather understated in the POOF department.