Clothing advice for winter hiking (NE Pennsylvania)

12:13 a.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I am somewhat new to hiking. I plan on doing a lot of day hiking (including multiple days in a row) throughout the fall/winter in Northeastern Pennsylvania (snow and average temp: ~30 degrees F).

Any advice on clothing for women (features, styles or brands you'd recommend?)? Specifically: outerpants, middle layer fleece and gaiters.

Outer pants for women? I own base-layers that I use for winter running. So, I am looking for a good outer pants (not snowpant). Someone had mentioned arc'tercyx, which seem fancy but neat. Or, carhartt, which seems like it would be fine, but I do not see a style for women...though I'd consider a men's pair. I'd prefer to spend less than $100.

Some features I would like to have include durability and stretch/flexibility. Based on my summer/fall hikes, I feel I want cargo pockets... though perhaps in winter my coat pockets are sufficient? Any advice?

Middle-layer fleece? What about advice for fleece middle layers? I have a good base layer and a reasonable shell. I am wondering about good fleece as a middle layer.

Gaiters? I plan to wear my regular hiking boots that are decent in winter. Should I consider getting gaiters?

Thanks for any thoughts or wisdom you can pass along!

7:17 p.m. on October 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I'd go to your local outfitter and get advice from them. I could write a book about the types of clothing you mention that are available, but the problem is that your area may be unique to weather patterns or other things, and the local folks would know best.

a couple tips:

There are tons of options for mid layers. I wouldn't recommend getting anything expensive - just go with a basic zipping or pull over fleece from walmart or a consignment shop - as long as it's fleece and doesn't contain ANY cotton, you'll be fine.

The outer layers are typically more expensive and would need to be waterproof/breathable if you plan on hiking in snowy conditions so that you avoid getting into trouble with weather.

gaiters, yes.

8:46 p.m. on October 6, 2010 (EDT)
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At those temps, I would wear something like this-

base layer-Capilene 2 or merino wool long sleeve top and bottoms;

mid layer -200 wt. fleece jacket, mine is an inexpensive Columbia;

outer layer -pants-something like Marmot Precip full zips rain pants

Top-lightweight jacket-mine is an REI rain jacket with pit zips;

insulation (for when you stop) down vest or jacket (something like a North Face Nupste);

gloves-fleece or wool liner gloves with an outer mitt or glove;

hat or balaclava-fleece, something like Turtlefur;

gaiters-tall gaiters, uninsulated;

That is basically what I have on in my picture, some of which is in my pack;

Goretex, event, etc. are nice, but you don't need it;

Down jacket is nice, don't really need that either, a wool sweater will do, heavier, but warm;

There are plenty of ways to spend a huge amount of money outfitting yourself just to go walking; unless you really want to do that and can afford it, I wouldn't bother.

I went to college in the Midwest. In winter I walked around campus wearing a lot less technical gear than this and managed just fine.

What else you do need-a daypack (doesn't have to be fancy) with water, food, and what are called "the ten essentials" (the list can be longer depending on who made it. Some of the items include--

Even if you are just in a local park-map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them, flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, lighter or waterproof matches and some fire starter, maybe a small stove and cookkit, emergency space blanket, whistle, sunglasses, extra socks. GPS, cel phone perhaps, depending on where you are.

I know that seems like a lot just for a day hike, but I know people who carry a lot more than that (bivy sack, sleeping bag, shovel, snowshoes) just in case they get caught out. You can't really see it, but I do have a Voile Mini shovel with me in that photo, I can see the handle sticking out below my pack. They are really handy in winter.

1:42 p.m. on October 11, 2010 (EDT)
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I live in CT, and in the winter I use the following:

Outer Shell Pants: ECWCS Gore-tex pants (military surplus, bombproof and usually 30-50$)

I typically wear a capaline 3 baselayer with a 100wt fleece mid, or if it's really cold a 300wt fleece as a midlayer and a ECWCS Gore-Tex Parka as a shell. I use Pantagonia fleece items, but only because I get them for free from my airline miles from work. But Columbia or alot of other brands would work just as well.

I like to wear gaitors anytime it's either really muddy, slushy, or deep snow. I use Outdoor Research Gaitors, and I absolutely love them.

I use my ECWCS pants and parka year round depending on conditons, but primarily they only get used in fall/winter or early spring. They are bombproof, and work very well. You can usually get the set for 130$ or less. Check surplus stores, ebay etc. They are really cheap right now because the military went to a new style of camo, so the old woodland camo ones can be found dirt cheap. I replaced my really old set a few months back for 50$.

2:48 p.m. on November 15, 2010 (EST)
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Try Otterlegs.  They're fleece, and they zip on over whatever you're wearing.  Sort of like a legging that goes up to the top of your thigh.  They open completely, and wrap around your leg, so you don't have to take off your footwear.  Super warm.  I bought mine on the Ottertrek website.

May 22, 2018
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