8 forum posts
I know... another newbie asking all the same old questions. Thanks to anyone who takes the time to respond!
I'm hoping to get some advice on layers - particularly for a good waterproof/windproof shell. Let me tell you a little about what I want to do and what I currently have and like/dislike about it:
This winter, I'm taking a mountaineering course that includes an overnight and (hopefully) summit of Mt. Washington. The course is geared towards learning about glacier travel and crevasse rescue because I have an opportunity to maybe climb Mt. Rainier with some friends this spring and some day (in the distant future) I may be interested in doing some climbing in Alaska.
I'm also interested in hiking, backpacking and winter camping - so even if I never make it onto any big mountains, there is plenty to keep me happy here in New Hampshire.
I started buying gear roughly in accordance with a general gear list published by the mountaineering school and some of the gear (e.g. mountaineering boots and a parka) will be provided or are available for rent. But I'd really like to get a good jacket and pants/bib myself.
1) The Jacket - I'm supposed to have a waterproof/windproof jacket to go over my base layer, mid layer and insulation layer. Right now, I have a variety of base layers I'm happy with and some nothing-special-fleece mid layers. I also have a Mountain Hardwear Micro Ratio down jacket that I picked up on a clearance at the spur-of-the-moment. I was planning on using that as an insulation layer (it's thin, lightweight, highly compressible and is a snug, tailored fit) but I'm a bit concerned about an outer layer compressing it. It's also a terribly ugly gold color, so I'm not sure how much I'm actually going to use it ... Any thoughts here are welcome.
Anyway, for the actual jacket, I currently have a high-visibility work jacket from Majestic Glove. It's got a removable fleece liner and a PU coated polyester shell. I was out this past weekend in negative 20 Fahrenheit windchill with nothing under it except a lightweight base layer and was comfortable with a slow stroll on level terrain. For the money, it's a great jacket but the hood detaches too easily and is too small for a helmet. Also, there is no drawstring for the hem, so wind and snow can infiltrate pretty easily if you get a blast coming up off the face of a ridge. Although it's not particularly breathable, it doesn't do too badly. I've worn it on some more demanding hikes in warmer weather and never felt too clammy or wet under it, despite even breaking a sweat once or twice.
I'm looking for a replacement that is tailored more for climbing/backpacking and less for work. I'm a slender but tall individual so finding jackets that actually fit well can be a challenge. I typically need something like a medium-tall. I'm also partial to yellows and oranges - I thought I found the perfect shell in the Mountain Hardwear Quasar II in electron yellow, but no one carries it in a medium anymore.
Any advice? How about fitting - should I plan on going a size large to accommodate layers underneath or just order my "normal" size? How good of a jacket do I really need? I see some with $500 price tags (and more!) but my $70 hi-viz was pretty good by itself. I'm thinking I should be able to find something that will suite my immediate needs/wants for less than $200.
2) The Pants - I currently have some Returnia Dry.Q ski pants from Mountain Hardwear with internal gaiters. Those have been great at keeping me warm and dry, even when I'm running hot and generating a lot of water vapor inside. But they are just pants and I'm thinking a bib with side zips is probably better than pants for mountaineering. Any suggestions or advice here?
Since I'm just starting out, I don't want to break the bank on top-of-the-line gear, but I also want to makek sure I have high enough quality gear that the experience isn't hampered by failing gear.
Thanks for reading!