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Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket?
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J Mag
(GoProGator) - F
Re: Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 05/28/2014 15:17:50 MDT Print View

"Going hypothermic without rain gear... Time to drink my own piss."

Haha Bear Grylls is alright if a bit dramatic. Laugh at that meme every time though.

Alex Herron
(AlexHerron) - F

Locale: Front Range
Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 05/28/2014 17:38:50 MDT Print View

tried it, didnt like it, dont like hiking in my shelter

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 05/28/2014 17:43:38 MDT Print View

Are you thinking of trying this out on the same trip as as waterproof quilt and no shelter and ground sheet?

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 05/28/2014 19:20:43 MDT Print View

Only once have I hiked in the high country without full rain gear and I don't care to repeat the experience. Rain storms may only last an hour or two if your lucky, but man are they cold! My son and I were hiking fast to seek shelter from the storm. Still tough to stay warm. I carry a hooded wind shirt for dry weather, but the rain gear comes out even if moving. Others may see it differently, but for me fleece and wind shirt in weather is too uncomfortable, even when walking.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
re: locale on 05/30/2014 12:37:21 MDT Print View

"If you were in the southern Appalachians in the heat of the summer, I don't think it would be so much of a concern"

I've been there and learned the hard way that it's a dangerous way of thinking. Last July in Tennessee: blistering mid-80s one day, then 50 degrees, 30 mph winds, and 24 hours of nonstop rain the next day. Not an alpine situation by any means--maybe 4,000 - 5,000 ft max. I had a rain shell, but no rain pants, and definitely not enough insulation. I did a 30-mile day similar to Lawton's to get to the highway, where I was able to pick up enough cell reception to call a friend for a ride to someplace warm. I was cold enough that I could barely dial the phone number, my fingers were trembling too much. Hypothermia sucks. Bring waterproof things, baselayers, and extra calories.

Alex Herron
(AlexHerron) - F

Locale: Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/04/2014 15:40:21 MDT Print View

haha I would try all these crazy ideas in my backyard or local hiking trails. But yes the ideas do connect somewhat. The fleece would allow me to layer under a Vapor barrier.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/04/2014 16:28:05 MDT Print View

I've been hypothermic on a breezy day in Panama following a typical monsoon when the temperatures dropped down to the 70*s.

I always look for gear I can leave home but a hardshell or poncho will always be with me regardless of the weather forecast. Some ponchos double as a ground sheet though.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Being unprepared on 06/04/2014 19:20:50 MDT Print View

"It only takes being severely hypothermic once to never want to be that cold again."

This. Took the words out of my mouth. If you are going to try the "wet fleece" approach going solo AND you are going to be out of range of walking out, AND there is a good chance of being soaked for a good part of the day in temps in the 40's or low 50 AND you never tired it, and felt the result when you stop moving, then you are an idiot. Even an idiot that experiences this once will not make the mistake again. And I WAS that idiot once. My experience was similar to some of the above stories, soon as I stopped I started shaking enough to make setting up the tarp and getting undressed and re-dresses in dry stuff very difficult. It it every went over the threshold to impossible, well...

There are a few alternatives - always day hike or hike in day hiking range of your car - and don't stop moving. Another way - like the old joke about not being faster than the bear, but faster than the guy you are with - always hike with someone smarter and better prepared that you. Other wise don't be a numbskull.

The good news is it doesn't take much to be miserable, but safe. As mentioned a poncho, or even a garbage bag with neck and arm holes in a pinch.

Edited by millonas on 06/04/2014 19:32:28 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/04/2014 19:55:09 MDT Print View

Alex,

Been there/done that.

I can assure you that soaking wet with the gear you are describing at just above 32 degrees F with rain/slush falling on you will chill you significantly. Add some wind and you can get into big trouble fast.

I recall one such trip where I was able to keep tolerably warm while moving up switch backs at a good speed with a heavy pack. Once arriving at camp, however, I got real cold real fast. Getting into my tent and into dry clothes was essential for my survival. Also keep in mind that your hands won't be working as well as usual as the cold sets in.

Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/04/2014 20:07:46 MDT Print View

I would caution Alex against trying this out in the wilderness first, etc, but again, the idea of fleece with a windjacket isn't completely faff. Quite a number of people essentially do this all the time in the Highlands of Scotland of all places.

But again, there are some important, specific differences between a Paramo system and just throwing a fleece and windjacket together. However, at the end of the day, that's all that Paramo really is, a one sided, thinnish DWR treated polyester micro fleece like mid layer with a wind resistant and water resistant outer windjacket. This is not to say, go out there with a regular fleece and windjacket... cause that's not what i'm saying.

I do think when using Paramo and Paramo like systems, that you should always bring a backup super cheap and light poncho, just in case.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/13/2014 16:53:27 MDT Print View

As J Mag said:
"Two words:
Poncho"

I find that a wind jacket and a fleece combined are good enough 98% of the time, but I always have a UL poncho in my pack for those rare times that it is too wet, windy and cold.
Especially important when you are at rest.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/14/2014 01:38:24 MDT Print View

Not worth it. Dry warm insulation as backup does very little to warm you. Remember insulation only prevents heat loss, it does not generate heat.

Once hypothermic you have an even harder time warming up (your body is shutting down, so your metabolism is slow to respond and generate heat). With uncontrollable shivering, it becomes nearly impossible to start fires, even with a canister stove, to boil water for warmth.

As others have pointed out, it only takes once to teach you the lesson. For me it was caught 6 hours in a 30-40F rain storm with just a softshell. I learned two things, survival is a great source of stamina, and never again. I immediately dropped a few hundred dollars on a proper 3 layer jacket (which is now replaced by a $100 OR Helium).

Do it, once, in an area where you can rescue yourself. Do not spreadsheet the decision to go without until you've actually tested yourself. A big box fan and sprinklers may be a good test a la the Bear Grylls experiment.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/14/2014 09:43:07 MDT Print View

To answer the original question: It depends on both the weather as well as the gear. I use a fleece jacket with a very clammy windshirt when cross country skiing. The windshirt is fairly waterproof, but not very breathable (I only use it for this -- otherwise I would get rid of it). If it is really dumping slush (common in the Northwest) then I put this on over my fleece. This is all happening while going uphill. I zip and and unzip quite a bit since I tend to sweat a lot. But by having at least my arms and shoulders covered, the fleece doesn't get soaked. It works, but mainly because at some point, I get above the freezing level, and it turns to snow. Then I can put away the windshirt, and just use the fleece. If I stop for lunch, then I'll put on my down jacket. While going downhill it is the opposite. I use the windshirt for wind and don't worry about internal moisture, since I'm not sweating much.

I've done it for summer day hikes and regretted it. I got caught in a nasty Sierra rain storm and got pretty well saturated (using a different windshirt). Generally speaking, most winshirts get soaked, so they don't offer much protection. A few degrees above freezing with saturated clothing is not pleasant and potentially dangerous.

Personally, I would carry a Propore jacket if you think there is a chance of rain. It offers the perfect combination of breathability, weight and water protection. If it wasn't for the fragile nature of it, then everyone would carry one. It works fairly well as a windshirt (it is more breathable than some windshirts). But I don't carry it when I go bushwhacking, and neither should you. But 99% of my hiking is on the trails or above treeline (when I do go off trail) so I don't worry about it. I've had the jacket for years -- it has a few holes, but Goretex wears out as well (and in a less obvious way). If you bushwhack a lot, then the compromises get a lot tougher.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wind jacket plus fleece with no rain jacket? on 06/14/2014 10:33:56 MDT Print View

You need rain gear. Going without rain gear is an invitation to hypothermia. Consider a poncho for light rain gear with good coverage, including your pack.

Windshirts are fantastic, but they don't replace rain gear. They block wind and can handle light precipitation, but that is it. Think "shirt" rather than "jacket." This shirt weighs 3-4oz rather than 10oz and has jacket-like features like full front zipper and hood and is far more compact. It's all about performance/weight.

The R1 is good for insulation at rest or active use when it is very cold. Makes great sleep gear too. Think "sweater" for the level of insulation. I might wear a snug fitting R1 for a winter base layer, but it would have to be very cold.

I dial in my base layer for the general temperature, add a windshirt if I'm too cool when climbing or exposed level traverses and downhill sections. I size my windshirt for layering under, using fleecy mid layers that benefit from the windproof outer layer, just like a 3-in-1 jacket. I use a light color so it can provide sun and insect protection. I add a puffy jacket or vest for my cold insulation layer. Note that all these layers can be used in many combinations.

And I have the rain gear for the heavy precipitation. Always. Even on summer day hikes I have a poncho for rain gear and emergency shelter, along with a space blanket bivy.

There can be some duplication between windshirt and rain shell, but the windshirt breathes better and is so light and compact that it has little impact on base weight, particularly for the utility it provides.

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/14/2014 10:47:24 MDT.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Windshirt + fleece on 06/14/2014 12:06:10 MDT Print View

I've tried this, and find it much more comfortable than even a 3 layer gortex parka with pit zips. "If" I'm hiking in light rain, and the temps are around 40-50, and it's not windy, and I have a shelter and warm dry clothes to put on when I stop, and I stop for a 45 minutes or so to warm up every 4-5 hours - like for a hot lunch :).

Notice the number of "ands" in that statement...

Basically being damp from light rain means I need to use a fleece layer that I'd normally use for temperatures that are 20 degrees colder. If it's a hard "soaking" rain, then subtract 40 degrees instead. If it's a medium wind, then subtract another 20 degrees. If it's a hard wind, then subtract 40 instead.

In the mid Atlantic spring and fall weather, fleece and a wind shirt is a great system :) Rain gear is waaaay lighter than enough fleece to make this system work in Colorado mountain weather.

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
Pile/pertex on 06/18/2014 11:52:04 MDT Print View

The concept of a wind resistant shell over a fleece is pretty similar to the pile/pertex set up invented by Buffalo Systems in the 1980s. And, as has been said, also similar to Paramo.

Buffalo and Paramo differ in the thickness and direction of the pile. Original Buffalo pile faces inwards, and is good at wicking sweat into the pile. Paramo has the micropile facing outwards, and is treated with Nikwax DWR to make it force water away from the body, using the proofing to create a capillary depression. Whilst the Buffalo ppertex shell originally comes with a DWR 'stain protector', some people argue that a Buffalo shell shouldn't be proofed, so as to allow internal water to wick and evaporate. Personally, I think that's a dangerous route, and prefer my shell to have a good DWR, or to carry a lightweight waterproof to put on top.

Then there's shelled micropile, where the pile points towards the body. I know people who have experimented with proofing micropile fabrics to make their own Paramo-like systems.

Whilst Buffalo was popular in Scotland, and still has it devotees, I think most people have moved on to other systems that are lighter weight and more waterproof, and use synthetic duvet to give insulation. Even Buffalo warn about the situation where you're drenched and static. One of their solutions was to carry an extra layer of Buffalo. But Buffalo pile/pertex is bulky and heavy.

Whilst I'm a great proponent of wearing a windproof in preference to a waterproof as long as possible, I always carry a waterproof unless I'm sure of the weather or ability to get to safety. Given that waterproofs can now be found weighing less than 80g (e.g. Berghaus Vapour Light Hyper Smock), not a great burden.