If cotton is a no no

Posted by: Mike6158

If cotton is a no no - 07/30/07 07:49 PM

Everything I read says cotton is bad... so what does everyone recommend for:

Pants (I wear Levi's or Wranglers... I've always worn Levi's or Wranglers... I didn't know anything else existed <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> )

Lets limit this to Spring / Summer / Fall... sort of southern states (New Mexico / Colorado / Big Bend country in Texas. I can't see myself hiking in the snow... yet.

Rain gear I have covered.
Posted by: 90RunnerRed

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/30/07 07:54 PM

I have had really good luck with wool socks. A lot of my friends use wool underwear (i.e undershirts), but I tend to go with the synthetics like Underarmor, they seem to wick better for me.
Posted by: Mike6158

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/30/07 07:58 PM

Ah... good... Under Armour I have and like. Thank you! I have never given any consideration to clothing. Sounds odd but I typically haven't packed in to camp... or had to live out of my pack. I have been missing out...
Posted by: billk

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/30/07 10:40 PM

Socks...wool or synthetic, like Thorlos

Underwear...I like Capilene (Patagonia) or REI's "MTS" underwear.

Pants...I used to wear Levi's for summer backpacking. I still think they're OK for summer in many places, but they're heavy. There are lots of nylon "travel pants" out there. They're thinner than I like, but many people seem to like them. For me, the ideal would be jeans made of medium-weight nylon or polyester, but I haven't found any yet.

Shirts...the nylon "travel shirts" abound. "Viyella" shirts, usually 50/50 wool/cotton are nice, but I don't know if they're available except maybe occasionally at the Goodwill. Pendleton makes nice lightweight wool shirts. The wind, of course, blows right through both. An old cotton/poly dress shirt is probably as good as anything for summer.
Posted by: Ender

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/31/07 02:19 PM

Socks - I use Thor-Lo's, which are synthetic fabric. Wool socks are also good.

Underwear - Any wicking, synthetic fabric works well.

Pants - Nylon shorts. Could even use a swimming suit. They dry very fast.

Shirts - Again, synthetics. Or wool, though wool is expensive (and yet, really lightweight wool is good for the summer).

A side-note though is that cotton is not always bad. In the desert it breathes very well, and is a great fabric to use. Of course, you have to always be careful with boiling water when wearing cotton, as it'll bring all that boiling water right to your skin and hold it there if you spill it on yourself. My favorite desert hiking shirt was actually an old 50% cotton, 50% nylon white work shirt... that thing worked great.
Posted by: mockturtle

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/31/07 05:35 PM

I love my convertible nylon pants [convert to shorts by zipper]---I have four pair and wear them most of the time. Shorts may get you by in Texas in summer but up here in the NW, nights get cold. And for that reason, I always pack my LLBean poly fleece pullover, which is cozy warm, yet dries very quickly.

My Outdoor Research hat is nylon & polyester, has a brim, and is extremely cool [in the thermal sense <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />]. It folds up easily and can be packed away. The crown is some type of mesh that really breathes as well as being very quick drying.

Underwear for me would not suit you---- <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Socks: Smartwool or Wool/synthetic blend socks made for hiking [they hug your feet in the arch, don't slip around, so help prevent blisters. My favorites are from EMS and LLBean.
Posted by: Mike6158

Re: If cotton is a no no - 07/31/07 07:00 PM

Ahhh more good advice... I love this place <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

mockturtle... You are correct. I don't think I would enjoy your underwear choice <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I hope not anyway <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
Posted by: TomD

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/01/07 06:54 PM

MIke, there is a lot of info on this in the archives. Try searching and see what pops up.

The knock on cotton is that once it is wet, it loses all warmth and stays wet. In dry, hot weather, I would wear a t-shirt if I didn't have a fancy synthetic. Wool, on the other hand, will keep you warm even if soaked. So will fleece.

Levis are bad for all kinds of reasons-not all that warm, heavy and worse if they get wet. I'd rather wear nylon wind pants or something similar.

I don't do much summer camping, but you can buy all sorts of synthetic hiking clothes for summer-similar to biking or running gear-Coolmax is one brand I have seen.

Get an REI catalog or look online-go to the Portal (the colored link at the top of the forums) and look at the online stores.

For underwear, I have some synthetic briefs made by Jockey. For cooler weather, I have a midweight Capilene top and bottom. For socks, I have some Thorlos, Smartwool and some lighter ones.
Posted by: Mike6158

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/01/07 07:19 PM

I'll try searching. Maybe I didn't do something right. I got 0 hits the last two times I searched for something.

Good info. I've got a lot of what I need through the links here but for clothes I think I'll go to the store. I have a Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, and REI within an hours drive from me. Jeans are out sounds like. That's fine with me. One thing I've thought about a lot lately is weight. Mine, my clothes, and my gear so if I can save some weight on clothes I'm all over it.
Posted by: BarryP

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/02/07 06:42 AM

It appears the “search” function is fidgety. If I do a search on COTTON, then I get every and all messages that has nothing to do with cotton. But if I put quotes around “COTTON”, then I get better results. For example, this one popped up: http://www.backpacking.net/forums/showth...sb=5&o=

Posted by: kbennett

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/02/07 07:02 PM


My first backpacking trip was a four day hike in southern Virginia. I brought a clean pair of jeans for each day -- that's three pair in my pack, plus maybe a ton of other clothing, none of it particularly well thought out. This went a long way toward making my pack weigh 65+ pounds. (What can I say, I learned how to live in the woods from Uncle Sam....) We got lucky and had perfect weather -- I hate to think what would have happened if we had cold rain the whole time.

Warm weather hiking in the arid Southwest is different from my usual deep-South hiking. Around here (NC, VA, GA), I wear nylon hiking shorts with a built-in mesh liner (swim trunks would work fine), and the lightest synthetic short-sleeve top that I can find. A mesh ball cap, mesh trail runners, and lightweight synthetic socks round out my hiking clothes. I add some light synthetic layers as the weather cools down -- a 3-oz wind shirt, a long sleeve zip-tee, that sort of thing.

Last summer we did some hiking in the Southwest, and it was different (and beautiful!). Covering all my skin was a really good idea -- not many trees -- and I liked the lightweight nylon fishing shirts and very light zipoff nylon pants. I also liked a wide-brimmed hat. Given the weather, jeans won't kill you, but they weigh a lot, and I find them too warm to wear in summer. But a lightweight cotton long sleeve shirt would certainly work well under those conditions. However, when you start hiking in seasons and places where you can get wet and cold, it's time to leave the cotton at home.

Good luck and happy trails,

Posted by: TomD

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/07/07 11:35 PM

Mike, Make sure when using Search to put the right dates in the "newer than" and "older than" boxes. If you get no hits, that's usually the reason.

I typed in cotton (no quote marks) and newer than 3 years and got lots of hits. I usally don't bother with the older than box unless I know I'm looking for something in particular and have a vague idea when it was posted.
Posted by: Mike6158

Re: If cotton is a no no - 08/08/07 07:37 AM

Thanks Ken,

If the lightweight fishing pants / shirts work well then I'm good to go. If I could back pack offshore I would be all over it <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Guess I'll stick with a boat.

Tom- Doh... yeah... actually putting a date in there is probably a good idea.

Barry- Thanks for the quotes tip
Posted by: cowboy

Re: If cotton is a no no - 02/13/08 11:49 AM

i like wool fleese or a sinthetic blend myself you can wear cotton socks in the the summer but you will need to change your socks a few times a day and let your feet breath i bit also to make sure your feet are dry but thats alot of socks for a few days in the woods
Posted by: finallyME

Re: If cotton is a no no - 02/15/08 06:49 AM

Mike, looks like you started this a while ago.

If you are in Texas, go to Academy. Their Magellan brand makes nylon convertible pants and nylon shirts with spf ratings for a lot cheaper than Bass Pro and Cabales. They use the same material, and the clothes are cut the same as well. The difference is at the least $10 and sometimes $50.