Jackets for Backpacking-advice greatly needed

5:07 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Ok, So I ahave been looking at Jackets now for awhile. I Know the difference between down,synthetic, and fleece; However, I am not sure which one is the best for backpacking. Currently, I am looking at some synthetic jackets like the Patagonia Nano puff and the Mountainhardware Zonal jacket, but the outer shells on the jackets seem to be very thin and durable. What I want in my jacket, prefferably a synthetic is good breathability, windproof up to 60 mph winds, water resistant, and for it to be durable enought that I can Backpack in. I would also like it if it would be warm enough to wear around 25 degrees without being active. It would also be nice if I could get this as a 3 in 1 Jacket with a laminate hard shell that has pit zips and is Waterproof but is not necessary. My price range is $150 for a jacket up to around $230 for a 3 in 1.  Any advice would be awesome!! I've been looking for weeks and can't find anything I really like. Thanks!

5:09 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Sorry, I forgot to add that I live in Colorado and that I'll be bacpacking from 8,000 feet up to tree line. Also, I would love some advice on rain gear to and to know which ones are good. thanks.

5:26 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Breathability, warm down to 25F, windproof, water resistant, durable. Realistically you can't get all of these in one jacket. There may be some 3 in 1 jackets but i don't like 3 in 1s so i wont comment on that aspect.

I do have the Pantagonia nano puff and really like it, but it is far from durable but meets all your other requirements....well its windproof but i dont know about up to 60mph, it has been fine in 20-30mph winds for me. I just put a l/s columbia hiking shirt over my nano puff in camp to protect it. Which works plenty well enough. Or I can put my hardsell(stoic vaporshell) over it.

My 3 season setup is a Pantagonia nano puff and a Stoic Vaporshell. My Winter setup is a waxed cotton down jacket, for camp and the stoic vaporshell as a shell when moving. If I am bushwhacking no matter the season I use a ECWCS goretex parka because its as durable as shells come.

There is another thread going specically talking about the durability of these modern puffy layers, I would suggest taking a read through it as well.

8:05 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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First welcome to trailspace!!! I hope you get alot out of this website like I do. Now I would agree with The Rambler about the patagucci nano puff. Best for hiking garment can catch one on ebay for about 90 dollars used. The shell since your asking about rain gear as welll. Have you thought of useing your rain gear top as a hardshell? Marmot precip and Mountain hardwear Epic come to mind when paired with the patagonia nano puff and a warm baselayer. Like Rambler say's throw a wool shirt over the patagucci for protecton from embers/ All backpackers do it..A nice 100% Canadaian military button up costs 14.00 can't beat it and you can use it as well as another layer.Just a thought. But welcome again..

8:23 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Consider reading some articles on this web site, regarding layering of clothing to stay warm.  I say this because your specs are contradictory; for example something to stay warm down to 25 degrees, yet durable to back pack with.  The thing is a coat warm enough to be comfortable while sitting around camp is way too much coat for wearing while backpacking, that is unless you are hiking in sub zero weather.  Read, then come back and ask some more questions.


9:17 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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To carry Ed's advice a bit further - having backpacked, backcountry skied,and climbed in Colorado, layering is mandatory for the conditions you are contemplating. If you type in "layering" in the little search window at the top right of this page, you will get a list of threads about how to layer. One good thread is here (click on "here"). And another is here.

The main reason for layering is, as Ed said, when you are standing still or sitting around, your body is not generating much heat. So you need more in the way of warm clothing. But when you are moving, particularly when moving uphill with a load, you generate a lot of heat. So you will want much less clothing. Layering will allow you to adjust your insulation to match your activity level to the weather.

Read the threads. But here are some basics:

Rule 1 - NO COTTON! exception is really hot weather. Cotton tends to hold moisture (your sweat) and the fibers collapse providing no insulating value. That's ok in the desert or in the bayou in summer, but not ok at 8000 ft in the mountains of Colorado.

Skin layer - wicking top and bottom. In summer this may just be T-shirt and underpants, while in winter it will be long johns of anything from light weight to expedition weight. Wicking materials like Capilene or other polyester or merino wool work great. If it is really cold, you can combine 2 or 3 layers of long john into your skin layer.

Insulating layer - shirt and pants of some poly-related microfiber synthetic (Supplex, for example), perhaps heavier in colder weather. Merino wool works well for a shirt. Here is where your jacket (and maybe pants) of fleece, or synthetic (Primaloft is currently the best choice) or down come into play. The Patagonia NanoPuff is filled with Primaloft. The advantage of synthetic fill, as you apparently already know, is that it does not hold moisture, and even when wet retains some insulating value. The NanoPuff, as already mentioned, has a very thin shell, so you have to be careful not to snag it. There are thicker versions (more loft) in Pata's MicroPuff and Puff. Other companies make similar insulating jackets. Fleece in some ways is warmer, but heavier and doesn't compress as well (important for storing excess layers in your pack, while still keeping them close to hand).

"W-layer" - This is your weather protection layer - wind, water, and weather. If you were going to an area that was very cold, so that the snow would not melt (like Antarctica, as in my avatar at left), you could get along just fine with a wind-proof shell. In Antarctica, I used a Wild Things Gear wind shirt and a Marmot DriClime jacket, which I wore over my NanoPuff, even at -40 deg, while I was moving. I added a Integral Designs Dolomiti jacket sometimes and a Marmot 8000 meter down parka when standing around (along with Primaloft pants). But in Colorado in winter, I never found the 8000 meter jacket to be necessary. However, in Colorado, especially in summer, you will have to have waterproof outers, both jacket and pants. The two primary fabrics are eVent (which I have found best) and Goretex. Both are waterproof/breathable fabrics, with the eVent breathing better. This is changing by the month, though with lots of new fabrics coming out. Both eVent and Goretex provide a durable protective cover for your more fragile layers like the NanoPuff. A number of companies make good hardshells from eVent and Goretex, plus some of the new competitors. Some people recommend PreCip, which I find to be virtually non-breathable and incredibly hot when hiking in summer. Some good hardshells in one or the other of the fabrics are from Wild Things Gear (order direct from North Conway, NH, where they are located), Marmot, and Patagonia. Since you will be hiking in summer and carrying a pack, pit zips for ventilation are essential, as is a hood.

Continue reading and looking through the threads.

9:25 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for welcoming denis!! This is a great website and I am really glad I bacame a member. The forums really help with advice. thats not a bad idea using the nano puff with some sort of hard shell over it. I was also looking on REI and the had a fllece with a hard shell coating. Have you had anything like that or know if that would work well in around 32 degree weather?


TO: Whoomeworry: Thanks, Ill definitely check out those layering forums. Yea I  wouldn't be wearing it when I go backpacking just when I stop, however I would still like it to be pretty durable. im not to big about UL Backpacking or gear.

9:53 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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I had a Montbell therma wrapp synthetic jacket and warm base layers with my Mountain Hardwear cohesion rain jacket as my hardshell into 24 degree's with no problem. As long as you layer correctly, you can add or subtract layers to keep warm or get cooler.

10:39 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Like everyone else is saying, layering is the key.  Baselayer, insulation, hardshell.  What you pick is up to you.  Midweight synthetic baselayers seem to work for me, the Primaloft synthetic insulation is great (I also have a Patagucci down sweater for dry conditions), and I like Gortex Paclite as the shell.

10:51 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Be sure to read this thread. These guys have posted tons about this exact subject there as I am struggling with some of the same decisions. I got the puff but failed to protect it twice and am not happy with myself. Welcome to TrailSpace. I have learned more here in 5 months than I ever could have imagined. Plus the peeps are nice!

11:40 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Haha I was just reading the thread you posted write before I wrote this one. Ill go back and read the posts I didn't get to. Thanks for all the information everyone...Do any of you use fleece and would recommend it over synthetic/down?


11:52 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Hey mnagy777, welcome to Trailspace. Great to have ya aboard. 

I use fleece very often. The current fleece that I use is the Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Tech jacket. 

I really like this fleece alot. They can be snagged up pretty cheap now because MH made some material changes on their new one dubbed the Mountain Tech jacket.

It also has pit zips. On trail in 40s to 30s its great when on the move with a base layer under it. In very frigid conditions it also works well as a midlayer when combined with a hard shell.  

Here is a link for it if ya want to take a look. 


I have the jacket on in my avatar photo.

2:04 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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that looks like a great jacket, I think I'll add that along to my list of jackets I need. Do you use any other good fleeces that are pretty solid around 32 degrees?....Also If anyone has any advice on good hard shells with pit zips that would be awesome, I would like something with really good breathability. Since I am in colorado it doesn't have to be very waterproof just solid. The most it rains is light rain for a couple of days. So maybe a softshell would do? I'm not to sure on where to draw the line between softshell and hardshell. I know that softshell is good for light rain but not to much.

10:55 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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The jacket Rick recomended on the other thread from First Accent is the bomb! I called all over the country to try to get one but alas, they are out of my size....I even called all the EB stores in Colorado and that will be in my arsenal next year in September when they release the new ones.  Colorado has them, by the way, so you should grab that. Great down with a durable exterior. Here is thelink to the men's version.

11:14 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Welcome to TrailSpace, mnagy!

The advice by everyone above is spot on. I like fleece quite a bit, though from my subjective experience, it is a bit bulkier for the same warmth as a down or synthetic sweater. 

Currently I use the following for my cool/cold conditions layering:

- Merino wool base layer (weight depends on severity of conditions)

- Mid Layer Insulation of equal or heavier weight than base (Wool or sythetic knit)

- Loft Insulation Layer (Either primaloft sweater or down jacket)

- WPB (WaterProofBreathable) "hardshell" outer layer. My jacket is currently a North Face Mountain Lite. My Shell pants are by Sherpa Gear. Any serviceable quality hard shell will work. 

9:06 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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so I'm thinking about getting the Marmot afterburner fleece or the monkey man, and The montbell Thermal Ul over the patagonia nano puff. Any thoughts on this selection or which ones would be best?

10:11 a.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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The Marmot afterburner looks good fleece wise because it has the windstopper. Which might be needed with the altitude you will be hiking. It is also water resistant. The montbell do to the weight of the item for me and I own both fleece and montbell items. I fimd I go to my montbell thermawrapp in a pinch when the temp changes.But it's what you feel comfertible in micheal and what you want the item to do while your hiking.It's about will the item handle the job and make You happy. So which one or two have you decided or are decideing on and why?

10:41 a.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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i am a little different than most cats in this regard

i use the cabellas wind-proof wool sweater (shooting edition) instead of fleece.  i like the shooters version, because it has scuff protectors on the fore-arms and front shoulders.  which helps protect the actual wool from pack straps and brush. 

with a mid-weight base layer seems to work well for me when i am moving and working.  add a down vest when sitting and it seems to work very well

just a thought......

3:11 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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denis daly said:

The Marmot afterburner looks good fleece wise because it has the windstopper. ....

 Everyone has their preferences, of course, and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else. I personally find that Windstopper and WindBloc do not work well for me. They just do not breathe well enough for me and are much too hot when hiking of climbing, even in sub-zero conditions. I ended up giving my WindStopper jacket to my son a number of years ago. He finds it great (he lives in Wisconsin). I have an OR Windstopper Peruvian cap and a Mountain Hardwear balaclava, which work ok for me. The OR hat (I am wearing it in my avatar at upper left) has the problem that when I have the ear flaps pulled down, it is really hard to hear. In fact, I know a couple of guide services that forbid Windstopper balaclavas, hats, and caps for that reason. The MH Balaclava has mesh where the ears are to get around the hearing blockage problem. I used to have a balaclava that was all Windstopper, and it really blocked hearing.

What I do now for the jackets is wear a fleece or soft-shell with a windbreaker or wpb hardshell over it. In really cold conditions, when it is cold enough that the water is thoroughly frozen (subzero F), the windbreaker provides enough breathability while still blocking the wind. I have several windbreakers, with the Wild Things Gear hooded windshirt and Patagonia Houdini being the main ones for those conditions. The hardshells have to have pitzips for me to get enough ventilation while exercising.

Again, layers, so you can adjust the properties as needed. There is no such thing as a "does everything in all weather conditions" jacket, as stated a number of times in this thread.

7:07 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

 "does everything in all weather conditions" jacket, as stated a number of times in this thread.

 It seems ludicrous that such a thing could exist....but then, when I was a wee lass, I never thought I would be able to tell my phone where I wanted to go and have it tell me how to get there. Will be fun if some weird technology does accomplish this as well.

7:13 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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It kinda goes with the perfect tent subject...

Perfect?... when, where, and for who? :)

2:31 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for all the tips and advice, if I didn't have it I would still be deciding what to get three weeks from now. My final descion is the patagonia micro puff because it has 100g of Prima loft and will work really for layering in the winter. It is also very compressible and light weight. I am also buying the MH Mountain Tech fleece, Because it had pit zips, I couldn't find any other fleeces that also had pit zips, and it had two drawcords to tighten when it gets really cold, it will also be a good layering piece and will be good for spring and fall. I really liked the Marmot variant jacket because it was form fitting however that didn't have a drawcord and I wouldn't something a little more durable...Now its time to find a Good pair of hiking boots!

5:13 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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I like a merino wool 1/3 zip hooded base layer, with thumbholes, and a polartec Windpro (highly wind and water resistant with a hardface finish. Mine is a Lowe Alpine piece. Windpro is my favorite of the polartec fabrics in its combination of insulation, wicking properties, wind and water resistance, and stretchability.

My go-to shell is my Lowe Alpine Goretex Pro Shell worn over the fleece and hoodie. I don't have problems with breathability, and it has proven bulletproof. My Stoic Luft down parka for the downtime. If I need a 4th layer for really cold conditions (around zero-cold for me as a SoCal guy), I use a Polartec power stretch crew over my base layer.

9:33 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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mnagy777 said:

...Now its time to find a Good pair of hiking boots!

 Hahaha. You really like opening the 'ole can of worms'! First the jacket question, now boots? The members here LOVE their boots! Myself included. Your gonna get another 30 different opinions for 30 different people. I guess I'll get the ball rolling, I'm in the Zamberlan camp. There are probably 10 other real quality bootmakers. Zamberlan just fits for me! Cue Rick and his endorsement of Scarpa! hahaha. Man the boot thing never gets old!

11:39 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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Jake W said:

mnagy777 said:

...Now its time to find a Good pair of hiking boots!

 Hahaha. You really like opening the 'ole can of worms'! First the jacket question, now boots? The members here LOVE their boots! Myself included. Your gonna get another 30 different opinions for 30 different people. I guess I'll get the ball rolling, I'm in the Zamberlan camp. There are probably 10 other real quality bootmakers. Zamberlan just fits for me! Cue Rick and his endorsement of Scarpa! hahaha. Man the boot thing never gets old!

 I think he could get 60 opinions from 30 people!

I love my Keens. I use the Keen Oregon PCT's and am getting the ERICKSON PCT's for a full on leather choice. They are on the same last as the Oregon's and simply have the leather upper. Rick told me about the Erickson. I did the Asolo's and those were NOT build for me...though they are perfect for my brother! 2-3 opinions from just ME!

11:43 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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Glad you found what works for you micheal. Because thats what its all about. How it works for you and learning along the way..

You also brought the new topic about boots and we all love boots and you will get 30 different answers if you ask 30 different people. But they will tell you they need to fit right have some room in the back heal etc.

8:19 p.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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Haha I knew this would start another good debate. I Love the look of full leather boots and from what I read they're the best. I was looking at Zamberlans, the panther 992 and the trekkers RR, and the Scarpa SL M3.

10:17 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I can attest that the Scarpa is a bomber boot. Zamberlans are great too from what a few of my buds have told me from their own experiences. They just don't fit my feet.

Make sure you try whatever you are looking to get on. A boot can be very well built but if it doesn't fit you its worthless. 

On a side not I notice ya mention the SL M3.

Scarpa has a new version of this boot coming out in the next few months called the SL Activ.

Here is a photo of the boot:


Here is a lil more info if you are interested(I picked a link with a video:)


Here is another link that is a lil more in depth:


I have the current SL M3 and its a solid boot that I am very happy with. 

10:24 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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wow memory foam! That is seems like a very comfortable boot, and really nice.  If I can find a retailer that sells them, which is pretty hard to find in colorado for some reason, I would definitely like to try those bad boys on. Do you also use this boot in the summer time or do you have another pair of boots?

10:39 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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I have the current version the of SL M3. The boot is a tank. I use them for anything that is rocky with a pack weight of 30+. 

The boots pictured are the new version that are not released yet. They are hitting the states in the next month or so(at least thats what the Scarpa rep said that I talked to.)

They are on sale over seas now. 

But the current SL is a monster of a boot. I do use them year round. I like them alot. 

Scarpa makes a very good product if they fit you. 


I do have lighter weight boots, shoes that I wear dependent on terrain, packload, distance, weather conditions, etc.

I like the rand on the new version. 

Do yourself one big favor(I am always preaching this.) When ya go in to try boots on do it towards the evening. The reason I say this is as you are on your feet they swell. They will be at their peak at the end of the day. This will compensate for your feet swelling on the trail. Also take whatever socks you plan on using as well as whatever aftermarket insoles you use(if you do) with you to try boots on. 

These 3 factors will dramatically alter the fit of a boot that may have fit great in the store great but when ya add the insoles, your feet swelling, and thicker socks the boot is tight and truly doesn't fit. 

Then there are the foot problems you can encounter on trail from this. 

There are alot of great boot companies out there.

What company makes the best boot is the company that makes the boot that fits your foot the best. ;) 

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