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#190814 - 06/01/15 01:35 PM Insulation Layer
sotafan Offline
member

Registered: 04/14/15
Posts: 22
Loc: Minnesota
I am looking to see what everyone likes to use for an insulation layer. I am in the market for something mainly around camp but could use on the trail if conditions require it. Upcoming trip will be in the alpine. Average high 70-75 and average lows 35-45. It needs to be packable and compress small. I have a Frogg Togg for my rain/wind jacket but need something for warmth.

I have done some research and have seen a few I like, Rab Xenon X ($215) and North Face ThermoBall (~$175). Is there something similar to these that is under $100?

Any help would be great. Thanks

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#190828 - 06/02/15 02:26 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: sotafan]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Small and packable usually means down which means pricey. At the low temps you are talking about, I may wear a base layer of Capilene, a fleece jacket and a lightweight REI shell, plus gloves and a fleece beanie. I also have a down vest and a TNF Nuptse, a down jacket which could substitute for the fleece.

I'm a big proponent of buying used gear and outerwear. To get clothes on a budget, try second-hand shops, eBay or Craigslist. I got my Nuptse at a TNF outlet store. Sierra Trading Post is a good website for bargains on new items that may be last year's stock or overstock. I found a great deal on a pair of mitts there. My down vest came from a member on another site. My point is that there are deals around, but you have to spend time to find them. And yes, that big parka in my photo (not the Nuptse)? Like new on eBay.


Edited by TomD (06/02/15 02:29 AM)
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#190831 - 06/02/15 09:03 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: sotafan]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I am still a low tech fleece guy. I think I might go for the thru hiker kinsman kit for my next project to upgrade. I recently went to a discount outdoor store and tried on all their primaloft and down jackets. The primaloft ones didn't fit me right and the down ones were heavier than they should be. REI is just too expensive for me for a midlayer insulation.
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#190840 - 06/02/15 05:12 PM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: sotafan]
sotafan Offline
member

Registered: 04/14/15
Posts: 22
Loc: Minnesota
Thanks for the replies gents. I was thinking about a fleece but assumed they wouldn't pack down to a manageable size. They are much more reasonably priced then the down or primaloft types.

One hesitation I have with fleece is the outside of the jacket. I know some are just fleece and then there are ones with a tougher outer shell. I am also concerned with the ability to dry out if they get wet.

Are there ones you would recommend over others?

TomD--How small/well does your Nuptse pack down? It seems like a large jacket to bring into the alpine in August.

finallyMe--I haven't tried any of them on yet but with myself being a larger guy I worry I may run into the same problem.

I have a 70 pack and will be carrying a bearkeg so space is a concern. We are going to the Beartooths/Wind River Range and am only looking at temp guides online to get the temp ranges from above. I don't want to get up there and not be warm enough without the option to have a fire.

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#190847 - 06/02/15 10:37 PM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: sotafan]
mimstrel Offline
member

Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 37
I use fleece! I've never had any trouble with moisture, at least not with high quality fleece. It can be fairly bulky and heavy, especially if you're comparing to down, but I've never had any trouble with moisture on my good fleece jackets. They both shed water fairly well, and even if they get soaked, they retain a lot of their insulation value. And they dry out quicker than I would expect.
If you can wear it under your rain layer, not a problem anyway.

My current fleece jacket is from Land's End - I'm not sure what style, I got it from my boss the summer I worked in Alaska (2007). Looks similar to the T-200 but it has interior pockets as well. The side tag says "Windcheck." It's very light and thin for as warm as it is. I wear it down to the 20's with only a T-shirt for a base layer (granted I'm a little bit more warm-blooded than most). If you're looking for something more reasonably priced and you're not planning on sub-zero temps, it would be something to consider.

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#190851 - 06/03/15 03:15 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: mimstrel]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Here's my take on various fabrics-
Cotton is useless when wet and will cause hypothermia; Leave the hoodie at home unless it's fleece.
Wool is a good insulator even when wet, and a good wool sweater or coat can be quite cheap. The down side is that it does not compact down and you'll smell like a wet sheep. It also takes a while to dry out. I wore wool in New Zealand in all kinds of weather and stayed warm. Wear it over a base layer to avoid itching if you are prone to that. It is good around fires, doesn't burn easily and will resist hits from sparks fairly well.
Fleece is lightweight, comes in several weights, doesn't absorb water at all, dries out quickly and seems to last forever. One of my every day fleece jackets is almost 20 years old and I've worn it thousands of times, no exaggeration. I've worn it camping, skiing and had it on Sunday night at the movies. I think it's 200 wt., made by Columbia and wasn't all that expensive. Fleece is a form of plastic, so be careful around fires, it will melt and burn you badly if you are not careful.
Down is very warm, delicate and useless when wet. It compacts down. There is a new treated down that is water resistant, but I'm not familiar with it and I think it's pricey. The Nuptse (not the parka in my photo) has a synthetic shell and will stuff into its own pocket with some effort.
Various other synthetic insulators are better than down when wet, don't compact down quite as much and are not quite as warm for the weight. I have a really nice Marmot ski parka with a zip out liner that I wear often by itself. Had it on tonight while out for a walk with just a midweight Capilene shirt under it. Plenty warm. Probably not as warm as the Nuptse, and definitely bulkier, but a nice jacket nonetheless.
Layer any of these, excluding the cotton hoodie, over a wool or synthetic base layer and you should be good. Experiment a bit if you can before heading out to make sure whatever you buy is warm enough.
Remember, you can always take off a layer if you are too warm, but if you don't have enough layers with you and it gets colder than you expected, you will be in trouble. A little extra weight won't kill you, but not having the right clothes might. Not trying to be dramatic, but it happens far too often.


Edited by TomD (06/03/15 03:39 AM)
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#190870 - 06/04/15 10:45 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: sotafan]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I generally hike in the Uintas, which are fairly similar to the wind rivers. I carry a set of midweight fleece long underwear, a nylon, long sleeve hiking shirt, a fleece jacket, and a poncho. 90% of the time I have the nylon shirt on with a t-shirt undershirt (not cotton). In the mornings I wear the fleece long underwear top and the nylon shirt. Sometimes, I put on the heavier fleece jacket. I haven't been cold with all those layers on. My next line would be to get under my sleeping quilt.
Fleece is heavier and bulkier than down or other synthetic jackets. But, it dries VERY fast and is almost bullet proof. Yes, it can melt. But sitting next to a fire with sparks just gives it a few more holes. My fleece are all cheap thrift store finds. The wind blows through them. A few more holes doesn't hurt it.

Personally, I think newbies are better served with fleece than with a down jacket. You need some experience to keep your down dry.
Sometimes it is more comfortable to walk in the rain with a fleece jacket (and just let it get wet) instead of a rain jacket. Kinda like the difference between waterproof, and non-waterproof fast drying footwear.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#190879 - 06/05/15 12:18 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: finallyME]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I agree about fleece. My Columbia jacket, which, as I said, I wear all the time, still looks good. Instead of down, the newer synthetics are worth looking at if you don't want fleece, but if do go with fleece, make sure it's 100 percent. I have an Adidas hoodie and it's mostly cotton with some synthetic mixed in. I'd never take it hiking. I just wear out around the neighborhood.
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Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#190882 - 06/05/15 11:01 AM Re: Insulation Layer [Re: TomD]
sotafan Offline
member

Registered: 04/14/15
Posts: 22
Loc: Minnesota
Sounds like I need to go and look at some Fleece. Thanks

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