Ok, I've got the top half of my gear set...mid-weight thermal base long sleeve top, 100 wt. fleece shirt, M65 liner, fleece/nylon vest and very warm wool/fleece beanie. But now I'm having a hard time trying to figure out my cold weather gear for below the waist. I already have a mid weight Polartec thermal base but what outer layer do ya'll suggest? Usually I wear flannel lined cotton cargos and so far I've been lucky to not be caught out in serious weather but I'm afraid if I get caught in rain, I'd be up a creek. Where I'm at, it snows little but we do get lots of days in the lower 30's to lower 40's that can be very wet. Nights can get into the 20's, occasionally cooler (like this weekend, down into the mid teens). So any suggestions? I need something sturdy like my cotton cargos, have insulating capababilties, dries quickly and since I'm on a school teacher's budget that has a family of four, I need it cheap (realitively). <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
No cotton in winter!!! None, no cotton undies, no cotton pants, nada. Repeat this three times before you go shopping. Even cheesy fleece from a big box store will be better than cotton.
Look on eBay if you are looking to save bucks. I have Marmot Precip full zip rain pants and some cheap fleece pants I can wear under them. I wish they were full zip, but they're not. I also have some synthetic insulated pants from GoLite-got them on sale a while back-more of a deep winter pants than what I think you are looking for.
Jockey makes some nice synthetic briefs that dry out quickly.
Wool-some people love it. I have some old wool gear I bought years ago. It will last a long time. Mine isn't the high tech stuff, so it is scratchy. Something like Smartwool or Merino isn't, so they say.
Oh, and before I forget-NO COTTON IN WINTER.
btw, If you think that is a myth, walk outside in 50F weather with a breeze wearing a damp t-shirt and wet pair of jeans, then come back and tell us how warm you were.
Edited by TomD (01/23/0809:49 PM)
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
I understand your point about not wearing cotton in winter...in fact,my cargo pants are the last cotton item that I have, everything else is synthetic or wool. I just need something that is water repellant, have some insulation, and durable/sturdy...and did I mention cheap? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Tom is right--absolutely no cotton--not just in winter but any time of year! My daughter was in the early stages of hypothermia after an hour of hiking in blue jeans along a trail through tall grass. The air temperature was 60 degrees, the air was still and it wasn't currently raining, but she was soaked from the hips down and that was enough to get her shivering, although she didn't bother to tell me until her teeth were chattering loud enough to be heard from 20 feet away. Her brother and I set up camp immediately, in record time, and got her (sans jeans) into her sleeping bag with multiple cups of hot cocoa.
Here's what I wear from the waist down, winter and summer, although I may not wear all of them at once.
Underwear--for me (female), cheap nylon panties. Whatever you wear, be sure it's synthetic. I plan to dish out a few more $ for something that wicks better than nylon. I've seen a number of favorable reports about athletic underwear from Walmart.
Base layer--Patagonia Capilene 2 (summer), Capilene 4 (winter)--these are both polyester. REI's MTS base layers (also polyester) are excellent, too, but they weigh several ounces more than the Patagucci. You can often find closeout models of either brand on sale (although you may have to grit your teeth on the colors). In summer I wear the base layer only in bed and (on cold nights) in the early morning. A lot of folks swear by Smartwool or Icebreaker merino wool, but those can be budget-busters.
Next layer--nylon pants (summer), wool-polyester blend pants (winter). The summer pants can be cheap nylon track pants. My fall-winter-spring pants are Air Force surplus tropical weight pants, of a polyester-wool blend that has worn like cast iron. I bought them in 1987 for, as I recall, $5. The cuffs have frayed but I stitched them up, and the rest of the pants are still good. I have no idea if such things are still available, but check out military surplus stores. Check thrift stores, too--a tightly woven polyester-wool or all-wool dress pant would be just fine for cold weather, and thrift stores may have lighter nylon pants for summer, too. If it were really cold I would use fleece pants instead. Here in the Pacific Northwest winter usually isn't that cold--I might not wear the base layer while actively moving in the daytime.
Outer layer--I use the same rain pants summer and winter. I have 3 different pair: an old pair of REI coated nylon full-zip pants, a pair of Frogg Toggs pants and a pair of Brawny Gear rain pants (silnylon) from AntiGravity Gear. I haven't tried the Frogg Toggs in the winter and find them a bit fragile for summer (they have several duct tape patches where they've snagged when I've had to clamber over deadfall). The coated nylon from Campmor are the cheapest and probably the best quality. I've never felt the need for breathable pants, unlike jackets--most of my sweating is done above the waist. Your Mileage May Vary.
If I were going out right now (27 degrees with a 50 mph wind blowing out of the Columbia River Gorge), I'd wear everything including the fleece pants--the wind chill factor is below zero!
Edited by OregonMouse (01/23/0811:07 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I agree with everyone else: no cotton. I usually just adapt my normal summer hiking outfit of a pair of Patagonia Baggies nylon shorts (the built-in briefs eliminate the need for a change of underwear.) I put on a set of midweight bottoms under the shorts as the weather cools (mine are Patagonia R.5; they no longer make the Regulator series,so I suppose Capilene 2 or 3 would be the equivalent.) Personally, I've never been able to hike in long pants, and prefer shorts.
If it's colder, windy, or wet (or any combination of these), I'll layer on my rainpants (Patagonia Rainshadow.) In the past, I've carried a wind shell plus a non-breathable coated-nylon rain suit. When I switched to a waterproof-breathable rainsuit, I found that the rain suit can do double duty since I'm not doing anything too abrasive, like climbing. Since you specifically asked about outer layers, I'd suggest Campmor or REI house brand waterproof-breathables (very reasonable prices) or, if you want to go a little cheaper, Campmor or REI coated nylon rainsuit (or any poncho) and a separate windbreaker and wind pants (both used to sell these, though I always went to the sale racks at WalMart or places like Burlington or Marshall's and found totally functional uncoated, unlined or polyester-lined garments for $10 or so apiece. The poly-lined garments, over midweight long johns, were very warm and comfortable for winter hiking, but too hot for summer use.)
In winter, I also carry a pair of Montbell Down Inner pants; these usually only go on in camp, and are too heavy to hike in. I've tried hiking in fleece pants (various 200 weight layers) and expedition-weight longjohn bottoms, but always found them too hot and too confining. Your conditions and needs might make them feasible for hiking, though.
Notice the Patagonia trend? It's only because their clothes have always fit me, every time, and not any implication that they're a superior product. I haven't had the same luck on fit with other brands. However, if they fit you, I could highly recommend Campmor's house polypro or REI's MTS garments; my son has used these two brands for years, with the same outcome as my Patagonia: warm and dry. I've also noticed that some "technical" underwear is now making its way onto department store shelves at reasonable prices. I found some polyester tops and bottoms at Kohl's the other day that looked perfectly fine. However, I also found some T-shirts there that were advertised as "Tek Wear" complete with packaging claims regarding "great technical performance," "wicking," and "responsive moisture management system"; when I read the label, I found that they were 100% cotton. So be sure to read those labels.
I like to separate the shell and insulation functions. The outer shell is typically nylon or polyester with DWR. Depending on temperature, I add or subtract insulation layers underneath. I'm partial to merino wool for that, but poly fleece should work fine (some would say better).
When it's too cold for the woollies, I go for a garment with pile insulation like the Patagonia Micropuff pants. They are anything but cheap, however. Down pants might be the ultimate, but I don't tend to go out in weather where they would be required.
Go to walmart! Prices are estimates. Synthetic boxer briefs (or whatever) $8 ( I wear these 365 days now) wool or synthetic thermal underwear $15 Wind pants $15 (workout pants. mine are surprisingly VERY wind/water resistant) Fleece pants $15
After that, you could get goretex shell pants, but probably won't need them unless you plan to sit on the snow. if so, check the ski section of a sporting goods store. The wind pants are cheap enough that you don't have to worry much about durability, but then they are pretty durable anyway.
Oh, and if you can't find fleece pants, look for fleece pajama pants. same thing.
Ok...let's see what I've learned. Base Layer - synthetic, wicking, not cotton - check, already have that (Bass Pro PolarTec XPS brand...just the right amount of warmth and extremely comfy)
Outer Layer- water proof preferably, not so much for insulation but perhaps windproof - Check, already have a pair of Frogg Toggs- durability is questionable though. Remember I'm in Texas...everything pricks you, sticks you or bites you. Lots of cactus where I go, often off the beaten path.
Mid Layer- this is where I falter. I need rugged pants to deal with scrub and cactus. I like the idea of the Air Force pants, although you're right about finding them. Should be durable...and cheap...style? Who cares about that, I'm on trail <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> I like the idea of the PolarTec thermals coupled with the 200 wt. fleece...good for days when I'm totally on the path, sounds warm too...off trail though would collect thorns, scrub, etc. like nobodys business <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> The Wal-Mart/Burlington/Marshall's choice of cheap wind pants over thermals is probably the cheapest and might just work. I used to do that when in college for everyday wear on really cold days...need to look into that. That should be durable, warm if it has a poly liner, somewhat water repellant, and cheap. I just don't want elastic cuffs at the bottom, but I guess those could be taken out. Hhmmmm...lots of food for thought. This is all good stuff, thank you all very much! Anyone else feel free to chime in!
Loc: Portland, OR
The old-fashioned answer for rugged non-cotton pants would be something like Filson whipcord wool pants. I don't even know if they exist anymore, but cheap they are not. Never were. You could sniff around on eBay for some rugged wool pants, I suppose.
Once I wore cotton jockey shorts under all wicking gear and skied in a snow storm. After I got back to my truck and started driving I realised that my undies were soaking wet and I had to pull over to take em off, only I had on so many layers of fleece that instead I cut the sides of the offending garment and tossed it in the back. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
A place called Brigade Quartermasters sells nylon pants that are heavier than normal summerweight ones. If you don't mind camies you can try nylon pants from various hunting outfitters, such as Cabela's. Some models are marketed as brushproof, which sounds pretty durable. Another option is to buy insulated nylons meant for kayaking.
Wall mart and zellers here sell cheap nylon running pant shells. these work pretty good for shedding dry snow and wind.
I generaly wear one of two bottom layers in winter.
both start with a pair of polyproylene long underwear (I wear NO cotton).
Then for option 1 I add a pair of fleece pants - usually 200 weight, and top with a rainpant or nylon shell pant - these can be found cheap at walmart usualy.
For option 2, I Might wear a light nylon shell pant over the longjohns, and then step into a pair of surplus british navy wool arctic watch pants. heavy, huge and totally warm, with a pair of suspenders on them. Often in these I dispense with the nylon shell pants inside.