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climbers ??? about clothing

What kind of clothing and brands do you wear, that provides the flexibility, warmth and wicking that you need? I understand the need to layer but when using long johns, pants shirt and rain or snow gear it limits your movement. In short what do you use when you go up, not so much interested in boots as I am the rest.    

I like the lightest baselayer possible, so I go with a Patagonia Capilene 2 1/4-zip most times, or a Cap 4 hoody, both about 5 years old. On the bottom is an old pair of their Guide pants, with or without their Cap 4 bottoms underneath. For insulation it's a Brooks Range Mountaineering down vest or a Rab Infinity or a Stoic Hadron. As far as outerlayers, I use mainly a Mountain Hardwear Seraction or a Patagonia Houdini. If the weather gets really nasty I throw either a Patagonia Nano Puff jacket or, when I'm tired of dealing with it, my Marmot Iceland. 

This works for all winter conditions I've encountered in the lower forty eight. Here in the UP, -20F temps are common. We're usually on snowshoes half the year, and have some of the best ice in the Midwest. 

I've tried to adopt the Mark Twight concept of changing activity levels to gain comfort.  I start with a basic "action suit" that suits me 70-80% of the time and if I'm cold I try to move faster, when I sweat I try to slow down or start unzipping things; it takes too long to stop and change layers. 

Me alpine climbing:

I go for a light base layer- pick your favorite; mine is a Patagonia wool blend but I have been happy in Walmart poly-pro and under armor too. 

Over the base layer, I usually wear schoeller-type stretchy pants and a windshirt;  My current pants are Columbia and the shirt is wool from REI. 

When it rains or gets windy I toss a WPB (Mountain Hardwear) jacket over that.  I rarely put on waterproof pants unless its pouring and I decide NOT to just bag it and go home.  I have a pair of OR rain pants that I can toss on without taking my boots off (lots of leg zippers). I'm starting to leave gaiters at home during spring and summer climbs (trap too much moisture) but I have a MH pair that I bring sometimes. 

If I'm still too cold or sitting still for a long time I toss a huge puffy jacket over it all (Cabelas, cheapo).  I may also pack the ECWCs army base layer bottoms but I rarely tolerate them because they are TOO warm to move in. 

I wear lightweight Mechanics -style gloves most of the time on the move and carry heavy duty mittens for when I really get cold.

I wear a thin beanie under my helmet most days and carry a fleece/neoprene facemask for emergency cold.  I find thick hats really hard to tolerate, I prefer hoods that I can raise and lower without stopping the group to deploy.  I carry a thick beanie to sleep in.

You can see that I wear a LOT of brands partly because I am a clearance sale shopper and partly because I'm a TS gear tester. 

Oh far as hats I've got a Lasportiva beanie and a Black Rock Gear Hadron. For gloves a pair of thin neoprene Serius liners and a set of Rab Ice Gauntlets. Mitts if it's really cold.

I've long held the belief that if you buy the best thing you can afford at the time, and take good care of it, you'll have fewer regrets. I've been amassing gear for a while, mind you.

stretchy clothing that don't impede  your movement as much are more important if you're climbing in the winter - alpine or ice.  so, too, is waterproofness, if you're going uphill and snow or wet is cascading down on you.

light base layers.  if it's warmer i tend toward synthetic, if it's colder toward merino or merino blend.  i like Patagonia's base layers, but there are lots of options out there.  the cold weather tights from Nike and underarmour are pretty good.

pants, i have a pair of stretch pants and a pair of waterproof/breathable shell pants.  i'll go with the stretch pants unless it's wetter or very cold/windy, in which case i'll wear both.  in extreme cold, i might substitute a heavier base layer (like patagonia RI pants) for the lighter baselayer.

tops, you need a mid-layer that wicks moisture really well, as climbing is hard work.  lots of mid-weight fleece out there.  Patagonia's Nano Air works well in a very wide variety of temperatures, it's an expensive but outstanding option.  over the mid-layer, if it's more windy or wet, some kind of waterproof/breathable shell.  if it's cold, and if you anticipate having to sit/stand still for a while, you need some kind of puffy jacket to layer over the mid-layer.  i like down, but some people prefer synthetic.  make sure it has enough room to layer over the mid-layer and that it has a hood.  

primaloft gloves with a good shell, similar mitts if it's very cold.  i like black diamond's guide glove in really cold but not mitten weather; have a couple of different brands of mittens from over the years.  fleece palms give you better feel than primaloft; good leather in the palm and fingers is preferable.  i usually wear a thin or thicker liner glove too.  

A buddy of mine (who is a guide) has a favourite line..

"Be bold, start cold".

Putting aside the fact that he says it too often, the most annoying part about it is that he's right. Even in the coldest temps the body generates tons of heat when exerting itself. If you left yourself get wet, especially in a multi day climb, your in for a world of discomfort.

Quite often I'll start out in a light base layer (as others have said there's a million options and even the cheap ones can work). I usually go for a light merino tshirt, my current favourite brand is woolpower.

After that just a wind shirt on the top. Breathable but still keeps ypu warm enough. 

On the bottom a light pair of long johns then a pair of soft shell pants. The Outdoor Research Trailbreaker pants are a game changer. I'm working on a review of these because they are so impressive. The calf to the knee are wpb, and the upper half breathable softshell.

A big puffy and a gore tex shell spend the majority of their time in the backpack.

Ive worn this combo, or some variation of it down to -40, while actively moving and stayed warm enough.

Seems I've been on the right track just needed more advice like this. Thanks for taking the time fellas good advice all

Pillowthread- I'll be checking out all you mentioned and I agree in buying the best you can buy I just don't always know what that is and you guys sure help

 Jeff- old clearance is a pretty good fella I like him too.  

Andrew-merino ??? never even heard of it. and as to gloves only a very thin pair that have would I trust if i had to hold onto a rope Its the only pair Iv'e found that I can use and still work in I have small hands 

Jake- most time I do just that even hiked on a 22deg day in sandals and socks but in the AM i prefer to start out bundled then then unzip or remove layers just haven't been in the extremes like you. but I've been told cold is cold an the deg don't matter. personally don't know if I believe him -40 seems like it might hurt just a little bit more. What do you say  

August 15, 2020
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