Patagonia 3 and 4

10:50 p.m. on August 5, 2010 (EDT)
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From what I gather around here the Patagonia Capilene base layers are some of the most respected around. I've pretty much decided I need to invest in these sometime before winter gets here. I heard something yesterday though that caught my attention and hadn't seen discussed here on the boards (not that it is some huge secret or anything).

What do you guys think of doubling up on base layers? Like if it's really cold wearing two pairs of Patagonia 3's. Does that work?

The reason I ask is because I want to invest in two pairs of this product. Initially I thought I'd buy a 3 and a 4 It seems strange they have 1 and 2 at all because if it were ever not cold enough to wear a 3 it seems then it must be in 40's-50's and in that case you don't need a light base layer you can just wear a fleece and jacket and be fine. (Am I wrong.) Anyway, back to buying both the 3 and 4 (I'm referring to top and bottom set btw), would it be smarter to just buy the more inexpensive 3 and if it ever got incredibly cold just double them up? It also seems like a good idea because if for some strange reason my 3 just got destroyed but it wasn't quite cold enough to wear a 4 I would not have to force myself to wear the 4 anyway and suffer and sweat. I'd have another 3 on standby.

Weird post I know. I analyze things too intensely, generate more questions than answers, begin to drown in self doubt and insecurity, and then come here and post something hoping for answers that will allow me to breath again.


10:52 p.m. on August 5, 2010 (EDT)
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I've been on a roll too lately. I've had like 5 new threads in the past couple days. I can't predict this it just happens.

11:11 p.m. on August 5, 2010 (EDT)
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You've hooked into one of the secrets of midlayering: Using two of the same product but in a large/extra-large. I've been doing it for years, in fact, I just got two Smartwool midweight zip tops in large/extra-large which will be worn together as my winter midlayer.

I've done this too with Wintersilk heavyweight silk tops(a medium under a large). And for real winter conditions my old standby was a set of Icebreaker merinos with a medium under a large zip neck 320 weight, etc.

I almost went the Patagonia 3-4 capilene route but decided at the last minute to prep for winter with some Smartwools as Icebreaker seems to have discontinued their heavyweight zip neck tops like the Tornado and Altitude. If I went the capilene route, I'd probably go with a 4 large under a 4 extra-large. Overkill? Maybe, but when it's 0F or -10F, who's gonna quible about being too warm? A layered "sandwich" is great for basecamp and for backpacking, and can be removed fast when moving up a mountain in the snow.

2:16 a.m. on August 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Yup, I have done much as Walter does for years and have two IB Tornado tops plus divers Smartwool and VERY GOOD, especially for the price, MEC merino tops. I never wear synthetics now and gave my last set to my nephew when he moved to "Oz" about a year and a half ago. I tried most synthetics from 1981 to 2009 and just went back to merino, works for me.

Definitely layer larger over your usual size as if you don't, you can get restriction in your capilaries and thus impaired blood flow and hypothermia. This is REALLY important in boots, especially the old and my favourite "Galluser" leather climbing boots like Galibiers and Kastingers...I learned this working in the Kootenays in sub-zero weather in forestry, long ago.

8:11 a.m. on August 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I have underarmor base gear 1, 2, and 3. I wear them when i am snowmobiling riding and i love the base gear 1 when its during the daylight hours, it really keeps you dry when its say 30 and your kind of sweating but it also helps to beat the wind. How does the underarmor base layers compare to the patagonias?

12:46 p.m. on August 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't think underarmor baselayers are good for severe cold. They are better for sports. I wore the heaviest cold gear in -10 and 50mph wind and they did not do as well as polyester or cotton base layers.

They are way better for sports like hockey when you are on an outdoor frozen rink so they do have ample justification to exist.

9:48 p.m. on August 8, 2010 (EDT)
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jj -

As mentioned, using two or more layers of longjohns is standard for winter, high altitude, and polar use, or anywhere with extreme cold. One thing, though, in your post just above, DO NOT USE COTTON! Cotton tends to hold moisture and cotton fibers tend to collapse when wet, both of which work against staying warm in cold conditions. Also, cotton is very poor at wicking moisture away.

If you want natural fibers, go with merino wool. Wool does hold moisture to some extent, but does retain much of its insulating capabilities. The alternative is one of the polyester long john fabrics (Patagonia's Capilene is highly thought of by many Trailspace members, though it is expensive). Polyester wicks well and retains minimal amounts of moisture. The modern proprietary versions are also treated to reduce odor retention.

On my Alaskan, Antarctic, and backcountry ski tours, I carry 2 to 3 sets of long johns - lightweight, midweight, and expedition weight. In a glacial valley, where the glacier surface and snow-covered walls act like a reflector oven, I use the lightweight layer. During the colder times I combine 2 or even all 3 layers. Just be sure that they are not so tight as to impede circulation. Plus, of course, depending on conditions I will use an insulating layer (fleece, down, or a synthetic like Primaloft) and a wind/waterproof outer layer. In some conditions, the insulating layer may be a very thick down jacket. I do not use the "snowmobile suits" - these are too heavy in weight for warmth and too constricting in movement (you don't have to move much sitting on a snowmobile).

10:30 p.m. on August 9, 2010 (EDT)
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JJ -

I don't know that you'll want to layer 2 of the same thing, but you definitely want to buy 2 of the base layers...I'll explain why.

Layering systems should be as such -

- a synthetic base layer of moisture wicking material - NEVER cotton it won't retain heat. It should be at least a medium grade thickness - I personally use the product TechWick from Easter Mountain Sports, and I use the medium thick top and bottom. Under the bottoms I wear a pear of compressing synthetic biker shorts, which wick moisture from my nether regions and provide the muscles with compression to help on long strenuous hikes.

-next should be a heavier weight layer. On top should be a fleece zip up or pull over. Down bottom could be a thicker synthetic material pant that provides insulation but is not waterproof.

-the next layer depends on what you are doing. If you are actively hiking, I strongly suggest a soft shell jacket. These are highly water resistant, so they can be used in just about everything but a soaking wet snow or a steady rain. They wick moisture so effectively, that many who wear them develop a frost on the outside of their jacket while sweating, and simply brush the frost away. It regulates temp nicely, because if you sweat too much, you'll get cold.

- if it's REALLY cold, or wet, instead of the soft shell jacket, layer an insulated hard shell waterproof jacket with gortex or something similar. If the shell isn't insulated, wear the previously mentioned soft shell under it. For the bottoms, wear a waterproof insulated ski pant type pant with large zips to allow boots to pass through. Just realize that these types of hard shells do not breathe as well as others because they are waterproof - the result is that the clothes you are wearing under them get wet from sweat more easily...WHICH IS WHY you should buy 2 pairs of base layers. When you are ready to set up camp, it will be nice to have dry clothes to change in to for sleeping, and keep them on ready to hike the next day.

in the mean time your wet clothes can be dried in your sleeping bag, or if they're too wet to go in with you, hang them up near some candle laterns and hope they dry a little. It's always a good idea to bring an extra base layer, a couple of extra fleeces, and ALWAYS bring a down jacket with a high quality fill - you should wear this while at camp and sleeping since you aren't working as hard and your temperature can fall more easily.

don't forget warm wool socks, hats, gloves, balaclavas - you lose a lot of heat through your head, feet, hands, and neck if you don't bundle up. Lastly, even though they are so expensive, double plastic boots are a must in my opinion. Unless you have leather boots with an overboot, leather is just too much of a gamble. The leather absorbs water as you hike through snowy conditions, and can freeze. The way to avoid this best is to keep them in your sleeping bag to keep them from freezing over night. The only other problem is that while you hike, if conditions are really abysmal and cold, they can freeze up right on the trail, sucking heat from your toes and possibly causing frost bite. Double plastics are warmer and never have a chance of taking any water in.

hope that helps!!

2:27 a.m. on August 10, 2010 (EDT)
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jjwagner18: I'd go with one Cap 3 top and one Cap 4 top, with the heavier 4 sized up for fit. I own a full set of Cap 3 baselayers, and find them great for all my fall-winter-spring needs. Only in the coldest conditions do I wear the Cap 4 top, or when I'm moving fast and using it alone. The fabric of the Cap 4 series is noticeably loftier than the 3, and one can discern clear channels crisscrossing the interior face. Both fabrics are extremely comfortable, and develop a (tolerable) funk after about three days without a wash. The Cap 3 top is supremely comfortable, offering more mobility and breathability than Cap 4.

Going with two different tops will give you more layering options and, consequently, a greater temperature range covered.

3:26 p.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Man you guys are all incredible and scholars of the outback. Umm...

Bill S - Do you ever wear two layers of long johns and then just a hard shell outer? No insulating? I inferred that might at times do from what you typed but I may be wrong. Curious if that was possible. To do just base layer and out layer. If that ever is ideal.

iClimb - I hooked into the biker shorts strategy. I bought some 2XU Triatholon shorts. I love them. Wear them to run and lift weights and plan on wearing them under long johns. They are supposed to be some of the strongest. ($80 though...which I was willing to pay because Under Armour pills too easily).

Secondly, do you use a softshell as an insulating layer or do you also wear an insulating layer inside the shoftshell as well? Most softshells seem to be made of fleece so it seems possibly immobilizing to have two thick layers of fleece.

Thirdly, what if I did long johns, a soft shell fleece, and then a hard shell. Could a softshell alone be a good mid-layer or would it be not breathable and/or not quite thick enough by itself to be a mid-layer.

Lasty, uh don't get me started on boots. I'm so depressed. Bought $300 Leather and their giving out on me. I'm looking into some sort of party synthetic boot but the emotional turmoil inside me has prevented me from looking. To look I then must fully internalize my $300 boots were a bad investment.



Like I said you guys are all really helpful thanks so much. Anyone can respond to anything I just wrote I just organized it by names to avoid confusiong.

7:14 p.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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...Bill S - Do you ever wear two layers of long johns and then just a hard shell outer? No insulating? I inferred that might at times do from what you typed but I may be wrong. Curious if that was possible. To do just base layer and out layer. If that ever is ideal. ...

If you click on my avatar, you will note that I have on a midweight zip-T top (it's from Campmor) and a Marmot sleeveless full stretch suit with no jacket of any type (no insulating midlayer, no wind/waterproof outer shell), plus a Marmot Alpinist 3 bib. Although you can't really tell, the bib (Goretex) had the full-length side zips open for ventilation.

Sometimes in glacial valleys, which are like a reflector oven, you will see people with just the long johns, or the long johns plus a pair of running shorts (if it's just the long johns, they are always a dark color - the light colored ones tend to show a vertical brown stripe on the pants about the 3rd week on the hill, hence the running shorts for modesty or offensiveness reduction).

I didn't make it clear, but when I take 2 or 3 layers, they are 3 different weights so I can layer in different levels (light, mid, or expedition singly, or any two or all 3, though I never felt the need for all 3 layers). The Marmot stretch suit is "expedition weight" with a full front through crotch to back zip (handy for the call of nature in really conditions - you don't have to bare it all - the Alpinist 3 bibs and also my Wild Things eVent bibs both also have full front through the crotch to the back zip for the same reason). Very few long johns are made that way, though I have a pair of Capilene bottoms that were made with a front and rear "bomb-bay" - no longer made, but Patagonia at one time had both mens and womens "bomb bay styles". I asked the Pata people about them at this OR Show and was told they stopped making them 3 or 4 years ago - not enough demand.

11:36 p.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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jj - It depends on the conditions, which is why it's best to be prepared for all of them. If it's a mild winter day, somewhere between 15F and 30F with some wind, I personally would start off cold. What I mean by this is at the start of the hike, it will be damn chilly, but as I get moving, I will warm up nicely. For that scenario I'd wear a heavy weight long underwear top and the soft shell over it. For the bottoms I'd wear medium weight long underwear and a heavier weight soft shell pant.

At times, obviously conditions will call for more of a midlayer rather than just a base layer and soft shell. The great thing about the soft shell is that it is so versatile, it can become a midlayer. If it's too cold for just the baselayer and soft shell, then throw on your insulated hard shell jacket. If your hard shell isn't insulated, throw a fleece on under the soft shell, put the soft shell back on, and add the hard shell for wind protection if necessary. If you are concerned about restricting movement with the fleece inners of a soft shell and the fleece layer under it, try a fleece vest. They don't have the sleeves to create that problem, but retain your core heat.

It's pretty much constant on and off with clothes until you get a working system down, and each time you go out it's like starting from scratch because you don't know exactly how well the layering system will work for that day until you actually do it.

As far as the boots go if you are looking for any recommendations, Scarpa Inverno's are a great plastic double boot. Full retail price they run a little over 300, but you can find deals for way less than that. My buddy just got a used pair of Inverno's with grivel crampons on ebay for $160.

5:30 p.m. on August 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Sweet thanks guys.

3:32 p.m. on August 23, 2010 (EDT)
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for me, patagonia's R1 layers better over the capilene 3 than a capilene 4, both for top and bottom. looser fit, similar warmth to the cap 4. (you could accomplish this by getting the cap 4 in a larger size, i suppose, as someone observed). if i have to layer over that, i use a 200 or 300 weight fleece jacket.

4:10 p.m. on August 23, 2010 (EDT)
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When in wet conditions such as river gorges & watersheds I use Capilene 3 followed by fleece in cool weather, in colder weather I like micro fleece.

For times when I'm going to be at higher elevations I wear the same Capilene 3 followed by wool in various weights.

I also have a Patagonia Retro X vest & I used to have a Puff Ball vest.

I like for my layers to be zippered so I can control ventilation

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