Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
This is what I use:
Base layer--some kind of synthetic wicking layer--no cotton! For inexpensive options see places like Target, KMart, Wallyworld, discount sporting goods stores in the athletic (not sporting goods or camping) clothing department. You should be able to find tall sizes. The idea of the base layer is to wick away sweat, so it should be thin.
Shirt--can either be your baselayer top or a synthetic shirt, maybe supplex nylon. Some people like oversize silk shirts from a thrift store. Again, no cotton. Pants--any synthetic fabric will do. Some like the convertibles whose legs zip off to turn the pants into shorts. Nylon supplex or similar fabric is good. Cheaper version would be nylon track pants from Target, KMart, Wallyworld, etc.
For temps such as you describe (50's sounds downright hot--we have snow forecast in the Cascades starting tomorrow and lasting at least through next weekend), two thin layers are far better than one thick one (such as the REI MTS shirt you link to). That MTS shirt will definitely be too warm to wear while hiking with temps that high. I have a women's version and it's just right for hiking with temps in the 30's. If you sweat up a lather you will then have a wet shirt. When you stop, the wet shirt will chill you. It's better to regulate your body temperature using what I call the "onion" principle--remove layers as you exercise and add them back when you stop. This gets even more important the colder the weather--you want to avoid sweating as much as possible.
Insulating layer--I like a "puffy" synthetic insulated jacket (lighter but pricier), but fleece can be picked up cheap at a thrift store. As long as you can't see through it when holding it up to the light, there's no reason to spend the big $$$ for the fancy fleece at REI. For winter hiking you probably want two insulating layers, one of which might be a vest. Again, I'd rather have two thinner layers than one heavier one, allowing for better regulation of body temperature.
Outer layer--your waterproof layer, such as rain jacket, poncho, etc. Most people prefer waterproof and breathable. If the jacket is breathable enough it can double as a wind shirt.
Also remember the saying, "If your feet are cold, put on a hat." It's true--your head contains a lot of blood vessels right next to the skin, and you can lose a surprising amount of body heat there.
Maintaining proper body temperature--not too hot, not too cold--is vital when you're engaged in outdoor activities. It becomes even more critical when you're out hiking away from "civilization" and your body is your only heat source.
Edited by OregonMouse (09/27/0906:59 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I pretty much second what Mouse said: think layers.
I live and hike in Ohio and Kentucky, not a whole lot different from Tennessee. Just a couple of weekends ago, I was in the Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands area near Damascus, VA - right where Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Kentucky touch Virginia. Nighttime temps were in the low 50's or upper 40's; morning and evening hiking in the high 50's, daytime hiking in the low 70's - with fog and light mist tossed in, just for grins and giggles. Sound familiar?
During the day, I wore shorts and a lightweight synthetic T-shirt (short sleeve); in my pack I had a down sweater-weight vest, a pair of midweight synthetic long-johns, and a midweight synthetic shirt. I also had windshirt and a lightweight synthetic beanie. I wore the windshirt most of the time, and addedd the other layers in the evening as needed. One morning, because it was chilly and misty, I wore my rain pants and rain jacket, and it was just right until the sun came out - then it was shorts, T-shirt, and windshirt again.
When I go out in cooler weather, I'll often hike in lightweight top and bottoms (worn under my shorts - I just don't like hiking in pants.) In my pack I'll have the midweight top and bottom, plus a down sweater (like the vest, but with arms.)
I've used MTS - it's pretty good stuff. I'd suggest a set of midweight top and bottom. (My lightweight set is mostly for hiking in cold weather.) Then add an insulating layer (a midweight fleece jacket is cheaper than down, and works just as well - it just takes up a little more pack space.) I think REI still has a house brand of fleece that is pretty good. A windbreaker (the lighter weight the better) is also a really versatile layer; if the budget won't quite stretch, let you rain jacket do double duty.
You might also check out Campmor's house brand of synthetic underwear and fleece - I used it when I had to outfit both me and my teenage son, and budget was more of an issue than now. It worked quite well, and was a really good value.
If you're out when it's a little colder than the long johns and fleece will handle, add your rain pants and jacket for a little more warmth - but in our neck of the woods, I've found it has to be down below freezing for that.
Third what was said.. Have a look at the gear list in my signature, I basically wear that down to about -5 centigrade, so that would be the mid 20's.
Having said that don't necessarily belive what works for us - you need to know that *you* are comfortable in it, because some people just need more clothing than others to be comfortable. (like me, with evolutionary ties to the walrus)
I can tell you now that it is not as pack worthy as we would all like it to be...but Polar Tec is your best bet to stay warm.. This stuff is bullet-proof if you can keep the wind off of it and that's pretty easy with a shell...It just doesn't pack down as well as most of us need it to. I usually put a couple or three pieces in a "roll" like a sleep roll on the outside of my pack.. I have water proof bags I can put these in. This gives me a system that can handle most any type of weather. It is pretty light and it is a life saver as far as warmth for weight...sabre11004
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!
Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
I don't know if you have a Dunhams near you, but there are a couple where I used to live and they have a lot of sale racks. I stocked up on base layers and got a nice medium weight moisture wicking longsleeve for $15 (along with some pants for the same price).
I would hesitate to buy something from REI without looking in your local store (although $21 isn't bad). I am 6'5" and 180lbs (long and skinny), and I don't usually have too much of a problem finding shirts that fit. Quite often the name brand stuff is over priced (but not bad stuff).
Basically to reiterate what the other guys said, stay away from cotton if you are going to be doing anything remotely hardcore. Honestly, 50 degree camping is right around the sweet spot, in my humble opinion. Once you get moving around, it feels perfect. You don't really need to start worrying until it gets real cold. I have camped in -20 windchill...that was a little chilly. I am sure there are people on here that have done better than that though.
scarves are amazing too! provide a lot of warmth and easy to ditch if you overheat! shemaghs (those military scarves) work great too! in fact i see more people wearing those now (i guess they are now a fashion statement?)