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#107049 - 11/26/08 01:00 PM Ultralight winter clothing dilemma....
outspoken Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/16/08
Posts: 12
Loc: East Tennessee
I have been whittling down my base weight all summer and now have been confronted with the harsh reality that it is getting cold here in TN Smokies. I have been very zealous in my quest to lighten up but in doing so have neglected the upcoming winter weather.

My setup for cool/cold weather is silkweight long underwear top, light weight microfleece top, Frogg Togg rainjacket for my upper and for my lower its silkweight long underwear bottom, nylon hiking pants, and frogg togg bottoms. I am starting to realize that this may not suffice as proper apparel for diddling around camp. I have typically gone straight to the sleeping bag if I get cold, but would rather get a recommendation on lightweight midlayer sweaters or some other systems others use to stay warmer so I don't end every winter night at sundown.

Sean

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#107050 - 11/26/08 01:42 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
I use:

Expedition weight top and bottoms,

TYVEK pants,

MontBell Down inner sweater,

Brawny silnylon pullover.

I have worn DryDucks in snow. It seems like the cold makes them brittle and prone to tearing.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#107051 - 11/26/08 02:47 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: ringtail]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
How does the TYVEK perform in snow? I know it would make good snow camouflage.
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#107052 - 11/26/08 06:29 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: finallyME]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
You are right, you don't have enough clothing to be comfortable around camp, or stopping for lunch, or walking out in really severe weather. Also, if you are wearing all that, you will likely get wet from exertion, and it sounds like you don't have any dry clothing to change into when you stop hiking.

I'm a firm believer in lightweight hiking, but not at the expense of killing myself <grin>. So for winter hiking, I take layers that can be used together or separately, in various combinations depending on the weather. In addition, I carry separate layers for camp and sleeping.

I like a four-layer system: base layer, light windshirt, insulation layer, hard shell layer. For a winter hike, that would be a light wool long sleeve shirt, a Marmot Driclime wind shirt, a down jacket, and a waterproof/breathable shell jacket. Under normal conditions, I hike in the base layer and the wind shirt. If it's sunny and warm-ish, just the base layer. Raining or snowing, or just really cold and windy, add the hard shell. (This is *very* similar to your system, so far.) The down jacket is for breaks and camp, not for hiking, of course. This is the crucial piece for a winter hike, IMO. A good down jacket (and a good hat) means I can sit around and enjoy dinner, write in my journal, and otherwise hang out in camp, and be pretty comfortable down into the teens. I find this more suitable, for me, than climbing in my sleeping bag as soon as I stop hiking. The down jacket serves double duty, adding much warmth to my sleeping bag when draped over my torso inside the bag. Thus I can get away with a slightly lighter bag.

In my pack I carry Powerstretch fleece tights and a microfleece zip tee. These have several duties: first, they are dry and warm when I change out of my wet hiking clothes. Second, they add quite a bit of warmth to my sleep system. Finally, in very bad weather conditions, I can use them as warmer clothes to wear for the hike out. (But that negates their primary purpose, so this needs to be seen as an emergency only option.)

Sure, this is hardly "ultralight." And it's way more than I carry in warmer weather. But the weather in the Southern US mountains is somewhat unpredictable and localized, and I'd prefer to come home with all my parts attached.

EDIT: you asked for recommendations, so here are a couple: 1) A mid-weight insulated jacket like the Montbell Alpine Light Parka (with hood) or the Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Parka. This amount of insulation will keep me warm down to 20 or so. 2) carry some dry clothing.


Edited by kbennett (11/26/08 06:34 PM)
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#107053 - 11/26/08 08:15 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
outspoken Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/16/08
Posts: 12
Loc: East Tennessee
Thanks for the advice. Got a trip planned this weekend and have opted to take my HEAVY military goretex jacket and some heavy duty military long undies for camp. I guess I can tote 3 more pounds for comfort sake, until I can afford to upgrade.

Sean

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#107054 - 11/26/08 08:26 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
Yeah layers. My girlfriend keeps buying me mostly mid-weight fleece garments at thrift stores.....and I take several, depending on climate in addition to a very light "soft-shell" and/or a rain parka.

If it's much below freezing I usually take fleece pants also, in addition to mid-or light-weight long underpants.

I always take a light-weight wind-shirt. The one I have cost about ninety dollars.

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#107055 - 11/27/08 05:14 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
photohiker Offline
member

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 147
Loc: NC Pa.
Last week on a overnite hike the morning temp was 6 degrees, about 10 colder than forecast. I wore synthetic T-shirt under Marmot Dri-clime windshirt, a thick but waistlength fleece for insulation. Unlined parka over all. Was quite comfy even when taking down the tent. Fleece liners inside mitten shells are the best for me w/thin glove liners for manipulating camera & fastex buckles.

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#107056 - 11/27/08 06:15 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Quote:
Thanks for the advice. Got a trip planned this weekend and have opted to take my HEAVY military goretex jacket and some heavy duty military long undies for camp. I guess I can tote 3 more pounds for comfort sake, until I can afford to upgrade.

Sean
I find the 20F-35F range most difficult to figure out, even though that's what we get the most of. If you prepare for wet weather, you get hit with wind and extreme cold. If you prepare for extreme cold, you get hit with wind and rain. So you gotta prepare for both, then you get warm sunny weather and no wind. lol

I suggest bringing a thermometer so you can be objective about what you actually encounter, and wear the clothes you actually want to test, and keep some emergency clothes stashed deep in you pack just in case. Long underwear are good emergency clothes because they usually fit well in between the skin layer and mid layer that your testing. The goretex jacket sounds like great insurance also. I would be happy to stick with that until I found something lighter that was exactly what I want. Currently I use a 4oz cheap nylon wind shell as a wind layer and a cheap sylnylon poncho/tarp as my rain layer / shelter. I have a HEAVY military gortex bivy sac that I've been thinking of converting into a rain cape / bivy, then maybe get a different tarp.

Have a great weekend.

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#107057 - 11/27/08 08:17 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

My "summer in the mountains" - which may end up being much like
your winter (I want to be ok down to about -5C in the summertime) is a -3C rated sleeping bag, along with the following - some or more of which I usually sleep in:

1) Fleece Toque
2) 2 merino wool long sleeve T-shirts
3) 1 midweight poly long john bottom
4) a lightweight primaloft pullover jacket (MEC northern lite - no longer made) You could also use something lighter like a patagucci down sweater, or heavier like a fleece.
5) dry warm wool socks.

I also have a poncho like your frogg toggs and a windshirt outerlayer, and I have
pants to wear around camp.

I typically sleep in from just a long john and shirt, up to all of the above, depending on how chilly I expect it to be. I almost always wear the toque at night. I rarely wear the jacket
in bed unless It gets really ugly, or I get sick or something so I'm chilly, although it's
always in bed with me to put on in the morning.

"winter" to me here is a much more serious thing, usually involving the above with the
addition of a full fleece layer, and much more substantial sleeping bag(s)
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#107058 - 11/28/08 05:16 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: phat]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Margaret and I hiked out to Big Salmon River on Monday. Sunny day, -5C, about 2-3" of snow on the trail. We both opted for our sneakers and wool socks. I managed to keep her feet dry and mine wet. I don't mind wringing out wool socks now and then, but I wish the trail runners themselves wouldn't absorb so much water. I think the only real way to compare footwear is when fully saturated and drip dried for 60 seconds. Next time I go shopping for shoes, or fleece, I'm taking a bucket of water and a stopwatch.

Thinking about ripping all the padding out of my old trail runners, maybe even ripping the uppers right off and rebuilding.

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#107059 - 11/28/08 07:22 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: finallyME]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
finally ME,

I use the TYVEK only for shoulder season here in Colorado. In snow my camp outfit is insulated bibs and anld GoLite 6 month night parka.

I was trying to answer for TN. I have use the outfit I described down to 15 and was comfortable.

I gues the short answer is - I do not know.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#107060 - 11/28/08 06:06 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: ringtail]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
So then, getting away from the original topic, how does the TYVEK do in Colorado. If I remember correctly, you have about the same humidity as Utah, and you are roughly at the same altitudes, so your experience would be worthwhile to me. I think I might just try it for myself sometime.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#107061 - 11/29/08 08:18 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: finallyME]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
finallyME,

I bought a box of 20 TYVEK pants for less than $3 each. Weight 2.2 oz. I wear them around camp over my longjohns.

I would buy another batch when I use these up, but I have only used a couple in several years.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#107062 - 11/29/08 11:02 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: ringtail]
gearup5000 Offline
member

Registered: 11/10/02
Posts: 123
For flexibility and a range of temps, I really like silkweight bottoms AND some powerstretch-type tights.
Together, they seem to hold a lot of heat in. Silkweights can be slept in, and the finish on the tights cuts wind if you are wearing them with shorts, or prevents over chilling when venting shell pants.

Wool is great, especially when you are stationary.

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#107063 - 11/29/08 01:09 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
outspoken Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/16/08
Posts: 12
Loc: East Tennessee
My original system of clothing ended up being very sufficient yesterday while in camp as the temps did not dip below the higher 20's throughout the night and there was an awesome fire courtesy of some of the other shelter dwellers. I wore nylon hiking pants, lightweight long underwear top, and a poly shortsleeve shirt, wool socks while hiking and changed into lightweight capilene top and bottom, midweight microfleece, heavy wool socks, and fleece beanie cap and was very comfy even away from the fire. My wife has offered to buy me some down pants and jacket for Christmas....I guess now I'm set.

Also this was my first cool weather trip with my WM Alpinlite and I must say it kept me TOASTY warm, woke up at midnight alittle sweaty but I have never been so comfy in a bag. Down is the way to go.

Sean

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#107064 - 11/29/08 01:34 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
rootball Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 112
I am in the same general area of the world. I watch the different weather channels and deduct for elevation. I do not use the Frogg Toggs in winter. I use a little more substantial rain suit - Patagonia Rain Shadow jacket, Marmot Precip pant. I got some of the nylon layers that Walmart started carrying - I think the fabric is called Revert??Revent?? drimore??Athletic works, maybe?? Anyways, it works fantastically. There are four different thickness and I have one of each - they go in rotation depending on expected temps. The best peice is a Patagonia micro puff vest. I retired two down vests and ended up with this - and would never go back. I have a North Face down jacket that also comes into play if its gonna be unforgivingly cold.
Walmart did sell a two layer - wool/polypro top and bottom, but they quit carrying it. I have two sets left. These are super versatile. They are available at Gander for two or three times what I paid a few years back.
In camp I always have my camp clothes that I do not hike in, unless I have to. They stay dry. Fire is always a plus. If I am going to have fire, I leave my hiking clothes on until the after camp is set then I dry them by the fire before changing into camp clothes.
I used to jump in the sleeping bag too soon because I got cold. But once you get in the bag it is hard to get back out - so I stay active in camp. I might build a fire, or throw on the headlamp and go for a little hike up the trail. I prep my lunch and whatever for the next day. Basically I keep moving until I'm ready to read and sleep.
I used to go with hiking partners and we would stay up by the fire and talk until late, but mostly I hike alone these days and unless I stay busy I get bored and end up in the bag too early.
Another thing I do is plan my camps accordingly. If I am going to Mount Sterling, where the wind always blows, I know I will have a heavy pack full of warm clothes and a tent. But if I want to carry a lighter pack I stay low.
And one thing for sure is that the first day out is always the coldest - it takes me a day to adjust to being away from a heated house/office/car.

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#107065 - 11/29/08 08:21 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
just_another_Joe Offline
member

Registered: 11/30/06
Posts: 117
I've been using the liners from military field jackets and field pants as LW midlayers, at least lighter, as warm, and more compressable than 200 wt. fleece. They are not fashionable. With fleece, add in the weight of whatever you use to make it windproof.

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#107066 - 11/30/08 12:53 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
chuck Offline
member

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 83
Last night hiking in the dark and this morning in central VA, it was high 30's to lows 40's and rained the whole time. I started my night hike with summer weight wicking shortsleeve shirt, 200 weigh fleece and Montane windshirt. I quickly got overheated, took off 200 weight fleece and put on rain jacket. I was very comfy. On legs I had REI insulated overpants and was very comfotyable. These are bombproof, not lightweight but solid in hard cold rains.

In AM walking out again high 30's mod - hard cold rain, I wore on upper body above hiking shirt, 200 weight fleece and Precip rain jacket. After 1/2 mile got too hot so took off fleece and felt comfy hiking out. Now my legs did get hot because I mistakenly left on mid-weigh wickers longjohns, hiking pants and Golite Reed rain pants.

I left longjohns on because I didn't feel like taking them off once I noticed I left them on and I was only going to car, but if I was staying another night I would have taken them off to prevent them from getting wet with sweat even though they are wicking, plus they were getting me a little cold.

Chuck

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#107067 - 11/30/08 03:31 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Outspoken

You've gotten a lot of great advice. I just don't think the evening/day travel/stationary clothes thing has been stressed, or maybe most feel differently than I, but I find that with my winter activity - ski, then camp, I wear maybe just mid weight long underwear top and bottom, with a 200 fleece jacket with pit zips and high topped gaiters. I also have shells - top and bottom that can go over any of my clothes, so I can put them on skiing if need be and the pants are full zip so no need to remove boots to put them on. Convenience is definitely worth paying a weight penalty for. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Once camp is set up, I put on down bibs or down pants and my shell bottoms to protect them. I then have an ancient 25 oz hooded down jacket from the REI attic in Berkeley that I paid $60 for, which goes over the fleece jacket and can be covered up by a very large parka shell. I have found that the huge long bombproof parkas actually do keep you much warmer. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

I don't consider 57 oz for down coat and pants to be excessive, they would be pretty warm sitting around down to maybe 20 degrees.

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
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#107068 - 11/30/08 04:24 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: Jimshaw]
chuck Offline
member

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 83
Regarding camp, I wore my hiking shirt, 200 weight flece and Golite Coal. For legs I used hiking pants with REI overpants. Morning I had mid-weight Wickers on. This can take me well below freezing.

I am getting a WM Flight Jacket to replace Coal and 200 weight fleece. Savings should be 19.5 oz, plus give me a lot more room in pack <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


Chuck

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#107069 - 12/01/08 06:21 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: chuck]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I like the idea of maybe using a down layers to replace my windlayers and 200wt fleece layers for extreme cold / low activity. If I did that I would use wool as my skin layer and middle layer, and I would still have a rain layer of course. I think I'm inclined to agree with Jim though, to go big or stay home. Meaning once you invest in the two lightweight shell layers to hold the down, you might as well add that extra down to make it a full 2", or at least 1.5". I'm still not sure about down pants though. I would prefer a knee length parka, but with a really light shell like the flight jackets and stuff. I don't think anyone makes them like that. Some women's coats from china come very close, but they don't have my size. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> Also I haven't found a good wool mid layer for pants yet, so I'll be sticking with 200wt fleece there until I do. The 200wt fleece pants are good in snow, and my legs don't sweat as much so I can overdress my legs at times and get away with it. Also I can pull the elastic cuffs up above the knee and blouse them back down. Exposing near knee length sock to the air now and then helps dry them out I think.

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#107070 - 12/04/08 09:56 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
hikerFedEx Offline


Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 19
Loc: United States
I no longer carry any fleece hiking. Love it at home, around town, and for that outdoors look. (I actually prefer windblock. I find it much warmer cuz it cuts the wind. Can add insulating layers as needed. By contrast my 100,200,300 fleece does not cut the wind (unless I wear a shell over it) so I'm often cold with even a slight breeze)

For layering while moving I use poly or smartwool of lighter or med weight. Otherwise, replaced my fleece tops, coats, layering with 3oz Montrail pullover 1/2 zip windshirt. traps loads of heat, and still breathes well. I repeat 3 OZ! Especially warm if I add a less breathable wind/rain shell over it. Add my cocoon style insulated pullover 1/2 zip top and bottoms for real insulation once I stop moving and to add warmth when sleeping. Probably among my best UL conversions from traditional outdoors/backpacking/camping.

My Cocoon style pullover 1/2 Zip Patagonia Micropuff synthetic insulated top is "heavy" & weighs ~12oz, my bottoms with full side zip weigh 14oz. Both are wind and water resistant & weigh FAR less than any fleece I've owned, but are also MUCH warmer - like wearing a down coat or pants. They are not as durable so I'm cautious if doing any camp work, etc. Cocoon versions at Backpackinglight.com weigh ~6-8oz ea. for pullover top & bottom depending on sizing. Not cheap but I swear by SUL synthetic insulating top/bottoms.

Highly recommended. Similarly my BPL Vapor Barrier Insulated Mitts weigh <4oz and glove liners <2 oz and are far quicker drying, water/wind resistant (& lighter) than any fleece gloves I've owned.

Same for beanie style hats.

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#107071 - 12/04/08 11:59 AM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: hikerFedEx]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
The whole idea of fleece and wool is to have to wear a windbreaker over it when you need to. They allows you to take the windbreaker off when you get moving again, and dry out the wool and fleece. You only need one wind layer, and you don't need to wear it all the time. Keeping a 4oz windjacket in your pack allows you to keep your thick insulation layers on while hiking, which saves you pack volume, and allows you to dry the insulation layers out while hiking. Your total clothing system will be alot lighter this way also, because you will be getting more loft per ounce.

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#107072 - 12/05/08 10:31 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
This is my outfit for spring snowcamping in the Sierra - nighttime temps usually in the mid-20's, occasionally the teens:
daytime - Terramar silkweight EC2 qwik-dri top and bottoms (when it's bright sun it can be very warm, so then I ski in just these), shorts (for the pockets mostly), shell pants I made from EPIC fabric. Depending on conditions, if it's cold and/or very windy, I might add an expedtion weight zip-t or my Marmaot Precip jacket. Since I'm skiing with a pack, I generate a lot of heat, so I've never gotten to the point where I'd wear the zip-t and the shell together while moving.
For camp and lunchtime, a homemade Polarguard hooded anorak. I guess similar to a Puffball jacket, but weighs less. For camp only, polargurad pants - never wear them during the day.
Lightweigh wicking balaclava, sun hat, double-layer fleece hat.
Powerstretch liner gloves, Orlon mittens my freind's mom knitted for me in 1972, and mitten shells.

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#107073 - 12/13/08 06:27 PM Re: Ultralight winter clothing dilemma.... [Re: outspoken]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
Lightweight clothing and winter don't mix well.

But here are my suggestions:

1. PacLite GTX shells are as light as you can get and have great wind protection (unless, of course you can afford eVent gear) Nylon windbreaker outfits are fine as long as the weather is not wet.

2. synthetic long johns are generally lighter FOR THE WARMTH than any wool undies

3. TWO layers of thin poly sock liners are better under a medium insulating sock than using one heavy sock

4. fleece neck gaiters are worth every ounce and nice for sleeping.

5. pile insulation dries fast but it's heavy for the warmth. Synthetic quilted or edge stabilized insulation like Thinsulate, Climashield, Primaloft or, my favorite, Thermolite, are much warmer for the weight and pack smaller.

6. Good luck finding warm but light winter boots. I doubt they exist.
For overnight camping you need a VBL to keep the insulation dry or you WILL have dangerously cold feet after the 1st day. Thin neoprene dive socks are very good. over poly liners. Then you can forget insulating socks as the neoprene is very warm inside insulated boots like felt pacs. But don't forget to turn the VBL neoprene sox inside out at night to dry. & take a fresh pair of poly liner sox for EACH day. Told ya, winter means "lightweight" takes a back seat.

And don't forget to take your insulating liners in your sleeping bag at night. You'll bless yourself in the frigid morning when you put on warm liners.

Eric


Edited by 300winmag (12/13/08 06:34 PM)
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