Warmest, lightest middle layer?

11:15 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi, I am looking for a lightest middle layer which can provide the best warmth during rest time when I am backpacking, and doesn't make me look like a Michelin man.

Some background info here: for my coming backpacking trip for JMT this early July, I need some middle layer which can make me comfortably deal with mid 20 at night when I am idle. Currently, I decide to bring my Arc'teryx Beta AR jacket as hardshell, icebreaker 260 or Under Armor's base 2.0 as base layer.  I originally planned to use Arc'teryx Atom LT hoody as middle layer because I really like its light weight, however I doubt it can handle the night in windy mid 20's. I can of couse throw in another Patagonia down sweater, however that's another 370 grams of weight!

So here I am looking for basically:

1. the lightest and also the warmest middle layer possible.

2. Breathability is relatively less concerned here since I will probably only use it during the time when I am not moving a lot. 

3. water/windproof is not that vital, again with my Beta AR hardshell.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

11:57 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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I doubt if you can find anything that will exceed down's warmth-to-weight ratio.

I have two down sweaters (one is Patagonia) and one is without mfg's label, but it is made in Japan, and it is the finest down sweater I have ever seen, much less owned;  and several synthetic-down sweaters (Patagonia, again, with PrimaLoft and  PrimaLoft Sport).

I don't have a gram scale, but there is not much difference among all of these in weight.   The down sweaters like a roomy shell over them; nothing body-hugging.   That would negate much of down's advantages.

Yogi Robt

12:58 a.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I have some Primaloft vest and pullovers from MEC in Canada that are tough to beat. Unfortunately MEC does not make these in house any of these but the Patagonia Puff Jacket is really similar and would make a great mid layer for under a parka. I don't know about Taiga either anymore, another good Canadian manufacturer that I've had good luck with.

On the subject of Canada, you might also look into Integral Designs (now Integral Tactical). They make some of the best gear. I use their Dolomitti Jacket (also Primaloft)...remember I'm in the Pacific NW so its DAMP and cold...for most winter trips.

I've weighed many of my items and agree with Robert Rowe...in a jacket there is little weight difference in these and down whereas these maintain their loft and value. If you work hard and sweat into your down it becomes useless while the synthetics maintain a good portion of their value.

Do a Google search on Primaloft jacket and be prepared to sped a good bit of time wading through the possibilities

12:46 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, guys. I believe Arc'teryx's Atom jacket use similar technology as Primaloft, they called it Coreloft™. Someone explained as

"I emailed Arc'teryx about the Atom LT and this is the response they sent me......... Coreloft is a fabric that we have made for us. It's similar to Primaloft, but we have tweaked a few things to try to get better performance. Core Loft is constructed of a double strand of continuous polyester filaments. The finer yarns (1 denier) are "crimped" to help trap air molecules which in turn help trap body heat while the larger yarns (3.5 Denier) provide loft and resilience from compression. The fibers are siliconized to help add resistance to moisture and decrease drying time. The Atom is a lightweight insulated shell for more active pursuits in cold/wet weather that offers more breathability than a belay jacket while still offering enough wind/water protection."

Anyway, do you guys have any SPECFIC item in your mind your can recommend? Like I described, I am looking for middle layer less than 500 grams with greatest heat retention. Thanks.

1:34 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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OK.   The Patagonia PrimaLoft synthetic down sweater ... and, the one I have and prefer is an Anorak cut (pull-over, with neck/chest zipper, down to bottom of sternum).   On the label (inside the garment) is this:

Cut: 3008

STY: 84020F0

BIU  (?)

RN: 51884

Made in Vietnam

Hands down (pun), it is my 'go-to' midlayer ... for almost EVERYTHING and EVERY cold-weather condition.  Pay attention to what Mazama has just said about moisture-retention in down.   The PrimaLoft negates this important factor.

Yogi Robt

4:26 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Robert! I will google search on the one your mentioned.

4:53 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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it's an idem easy to miss, but Arc also make the solo jacket - it's warmer then the atom, and I love it! supper warm, it's cut a bit short but great to wear and stay warm - I used it down to around 10-15 with a cap 3 and an R-1 (both Patagonia). you can see my review...

I think it's a bit warmer then the Pat down swe...

sure win my vote!

5:24 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey nepal- I have a Montbell thermawrap 50 grams and I use a MH conduit silk hardshell.. Been useing it presently on my thruhike...I cant complain at all it's synthetic fill.you might want to check it out as well also the Montbell Down inner as well then thats onlu 7.3oz...Hope this gives you another option..


6:23 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I have just started using the new REI range of thermal / layering clothing, REI Polartec Power Dry Zip.  It comes in several density / thicknesses.  You choose.

7:09 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I really like this question...currently, I think that title has to go to either a Nunatak Skaha Hoody Sweater (w/an ounce or two of overfill), or the Westcomb Kokanee Hoody Jacket. I'd think the Skaha would be warmer on account of the baffles, and the option to tailor it to your body. At regular price, I'd go for the Nunatak every time; if you can find a deal on the Westcomb, however, get it.

Also, as mentioned above, don't count out Montbell, especially their Ex. Light or Alpine Light series. They use insanely thin, technical fabrics and really good down to create mid-layers of unparalleled lightness. Like a 900-fill, six ounce down jacket that I'd bet I could use in camp, under a shell and over my Cap 3, into the 20's...but I'd still be thinking about a Skaha...

8:37 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank you, Pillow. These are two brand names I am totally unaware of. Westcomb Kokanee is too heavy (555 g) so probably not for me but Nunatak looks really attractive here! I will certainly do more research on this bad boy. 

8:40 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi: Nirotem, I am actually looking into Atom SV hoody and Solo now. They are about the same weight but SV does has a hood which is a plus but probably a bit less warm. Thanks for the suggestion.

8:45 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I got a Northface Polartec 300 fleece and really don't like it. It's too heavy, bulky (especially underarm area) and doesn't really provide more warmth than my Atom LT. It never got a chance to leave my closet.  :( 

8:50 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, Denis.  Montbell does look very attractive. I went to their website and found their products are insanely light with really good price! My only concern is their down is too lightly filled and not very sure about its thermal retention. Will certainly do more research.

9:39 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I looked up the thermal for the alpine down jacket.Say your 30 yrs old and the temp is 20 degree's and your not moving around alot. It's the equivalent of polartec 300 in warmth..And still weighs way less...I believe 11.3oz if that helps. younger hikers can get away with a lower thermal level..i am not young just lucky in being warm blooded..LOL

12:29 a.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi Denis: unfortunately I am already 44 and happen to be a cold blooded, that's why I started all this fuss. Thanks again. Cheers!

6:38 a.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm 99, with clotted blood.


2:54 p.m. on May 12, 2011 (EDT)
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"Bit the bullet".

Just encountered a great deal (Post-Winter Sale at outdoor store) on a Patagonia "Special-Edition" Down Sweater.

This particular model has a color (?) called "FOG" ( I think?).   It is amazingly light ... almost translucent.   You can actually SEE the down inside the garment.

I't a "KEEPER" !

Yogi Robt

8:00 p.m. on May 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I have and absolutely love the Pantagonia nano puff as a midlayer, it is my go to layer/insulation piece.

11:28 a.m. on May 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I have to agree with TheRambler. I can't say enough positive things pertaining to the Nano Puff as a mid-layer. Incredibly light, but warm. I always have it in my backpack while snowshoeing/bushwacking in the Adirondacks. If I remotely get 'chilled' I throw the nano puff on under a softshell and I'm off to unknown lands warm as can be. The nano puff can be purchased for under $100 too if one was to look carefully....

2:02 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Hmmmm. "warmest" when? wwhen sweating, or in camp?

6:37 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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300winmag said:

Hmmmm. "warmest" when? wwhen sweating, or in camp?

 Good question.   I wondered about that, also.


8:58 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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I have a Montbell U/L T-wrap and like it very much, it is my summer backpacking jacket (this is BC, after all) and I also have two ID Rundle jackets and  an ID Dolmitti. I never wear my old Egge double duvet down expedition parka in  winter, anymore and gave my Marmot Mtn. G/T-down sweater to one of my nephews as the synthetics are so much more useful in BC's cold, wet climate.

For your posted needs, I would go with an ID Rundle jacket or a Westcomb Himalaya Hoodie  and their build quality is the finest I have ever seen.

April 24, 2018
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