Layering System and Recommendations for a Beginner

2:04 p.m. on January 2, 2018 (EST)
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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!

3:05 p.m. on January 2, 2018 (EST)
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In the summer and fall/late spring I tend to go with a more lightweight approach, but when winter rolls around I change my tune a bit.

I have tried a lot of shells and various layers over the years, and almost all of them have been adequate during moderate temps and weather in all seasons.

You really start to see flaws in your equipment when you get down into real bitter cold with high winds. I have found your typical thin, lightweight backpacking shells to be inferior for my needs for the winter season.

I'll list what I use below, and I have now been using this setup for several years and am very happy with it.

I would recommend sizing your insulating and outer layer, especially the outer layer, at least 1 size up to accommodate a more comfortable layering experience. As well as to prevent inadvertent compression of the other layers. Sizing up also allows more air to be trapped between and in the layers which greatly aids in warmth.

Head: Merino wool buff, merino wool beanie, a detachable synthetic fill hood from an old hunting jacket. ((my main issue with hoods on jackets is them not moving with your head, I have found this standalone hood approach to be very versatile and fits my needs perfectly))

Body: capaline 3 long sleeve baselayer, 1/4 zip UA cold gear shirt-,simms montana wool pullover,  simms water resistant down jacket(review coming at the end of this season, prior to this I used a waxed cotton down jacket from llbean for quite some time), ECWCS goretex parka

Hands: marmot stretch wrist gaiters, merino wool liners, fingerless fleece gloves/mittens-1 size up(to fit easily over the liners if needed), UA storm gloves(for wear alone when moving, or when processing wood or doing other camp chores etc), OR endeavor goretex mitts

Legs: capaline 2, winter weight bdu pants, cabelas down long johns, OR croc gaiters, ECWCS goretex pants

Feet: merino wool liner socks, merino wool crew socks, merino wool mountaineering socks, muck artic pro boots with an additional insole cut out of blue foam sleeping pad material. 

I probably forgot something, but that is the most of it. All of the layers are not always in use, but this basic setup has taken me down into the -30s with relative comfort.

I really like the military surplus ECWCS goretex outerwear for winter use. The pants are with me even during the other seasons a lot of times because they pack up so small and are pretty lightweight for what they are. The parka is a good bit heavier than many other options, but after trying many other options I always end up going back to it. It's extremely durable and abrasion resistant, fire retardant/resistant, fits very well over layers, has snaps, velcro and zippers, blocks the wind extremely well, fits well over a helmet, has pit zips and a snow skirt, and most importantly I do not have to baby it or even worry about it failing me in any way. I have been using this parka for well over 10 years now with no complaints other than its a little heavy in comparison to other options.

Issues with other shells that keep me using the ECWCS parka. Zippers freezing up or otherwise somehow failing in cold weather. Granted my ecwcs zipper has also frozen up, but due to it having snaps and Velcro closure I can still seal it up tight. I also like to have a fire, especially in the winter, and I have ended up with holes in several shells due to embers, the ecwcs shell has a tough outer shell that mostly eliminates the concern with a stray ember. I also don't have to worry when carrying a armload of wood etc about something happening to the shell material. I have witnessed shells be ripped and torn through various incidents, and a compromised shell in the winter can put an end to a trip quickly in some situations. Generally speaking it's just tough as nails, but it's camo and it's heavier. I also have grown to appreciate the toughness of the fabric with the pants when they accidentally get snagged by some manner of traction aid device(crampons, microspikes, snowshoes, trekking pole tips etc)

There a lot of options available that will work. I usually tend to be by myself, and have a tendency to go off trail so for me, this incredibly cheap option is my choice in the winter. They can typically be had for anywhere from $30-100. Most of the options are one of the patterns of camo used in the past 15 years, OD green, or black. The woodland pattern is usually the cheapest.

5:41 a.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Ken:

Thanks for your lengthy response to the OP, from a regular forum browser. 

I often battle in my mind over which item(s) to use on a winter trip. You have given us, once again, a tested system (that works at least for you) at a low cost point (Important for some of us).

Happy Trails,

Rod

10:27 a.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Mountain climbing is not for everyone. One of the important skills after you acquire the equipment is regulating your body temperature.  You have to adjust your clothing depending on the conditions and your level of exertion.  Sweat is the enemy in the cold. You always want to avoid sweating but stay warm enough. 

I had aspirations of mountaineering and studying glacialogy at the U of Washington.  The reality of big mountains is that it is a world with really bad weather, moving ice and snow, rockfalls, crevasses and avalanches. 

If you get into it, you are going to start to meet people with dead friends and people with no fingers or toes.  It is like serious kayaking.  It is a dangerous sport that is not for everyone. Carefully consider the risk to reward ratio before you commit to anything hard like Alaska.

11:58 a.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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ppine said:

Mountain climbing is not for everyone. One of the important skills after you acquire the equipment is regulating your body temperature.  You have to adjust your clothing depending on the conditions and your level of exertion.  Sweat is the enemy in the cold. You always want to avoid sweating but stay warm enough. 

I had aspirations of mountaineering and studying glacialogy at the U of Washington.  The reality of big mountains is that it is a world with really bad weather, moving ice and snow, rockfalls, crevasses and avalanches. 

If you get into it, you are going to start to meet people with dead friends and people with no fingers or toes.  It is like serious kayaking.  It is a dangerous sport that is not for everyone. Carefully consider the risk to reward ratio before you commit to anything hard like Alaska.

 

Good advice; thank you. What draws me toward mountaineering is the really bad weather but rockfalls and avalanches are intimidating. That's why I'm trying to find reasonably priced gear that will work for taking beginning classes in mountaineering  but will also work for winter camping/hiking - since I know I enjoy that. Highly specific gear (mountaineering boots, technical gear, etc.) I plan on renting initially.

Also, a big thank you to TheRambler for taking the time to respond with his system. I actually work as a defense contractor at a company that developed some of the treatments used on military fatigues so I should have thought to check what they use for cold weather gear. For winter camping, I do like the idea of heavier and more rugged gear. In past lives, I've worked as a machinist and welder in some very cold climates. The battle was getting gear to keep me warm while I stay mostly motionless but can also stand up to sparks and drops of molten metal!

6:09 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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I'm tall/slender (6'4", 175 lbs) like you, but I actually have more trouble finding pants that fit rather than jackets -- a lot of my extra length is in my legs. In winter I'm mostly a backcountry skier and (usually) live in Norway, where there are few trees and plenty of wind. I will tie in to a rope occasionally as necessary to reach a summit, and use ice axe and crampons to ascend steep couloirs.

For jackets I usually go with XL, which gives sleeves and body long enough and plenty of room for underlayers. I have any Arcteryx 2-layer waterproof/breathable that I got on sale somewhere. It's pretty light, has a hood big enough for a helmet with a drawstring to lock it on helmet/head, zips up over the chin, and has slash pockets on the chest but no handwarmer pockets (useless when wearing a harness) -- these are all features you should look for in a winter outer shell. Waterproof/breathable works best in the cold, where there is a strong temperature gradient to drive moisture through the membrane, anything coated will wet or frost up on the inside much faster.

For me finding pants that fit is much harder, and I don't want to pay hundreds of $$ for pants that fit poorly. I currently have a pair of REI wp/b (eVent, I think) pants that actually came in mixed waist/length sizes but they are a little high-waisted and loose. I've put in a lot if ski days in them regardless.  It's an unsolved problem.

If you're looking to save money, try REI or maybe LL Bean brand knockoffs -- these can be reasonably well-made and cost less, but sometimes the fit is not so good. Or stay on the lookout for online outlet deals -- REI has its clearance garage, and just about anything can turn up on Sierra Trading Post, if you're not already aware of it. If you find something, read the reviews here on TS or elsewhere, they can help you assess quality if you are ordering online. But you don't want to cut it too close -- in full-on winter conditions you'll want good gear, and weight and bulk matter both on the body and in the pack. If you're going into avalanche country, sooner rather than later you'll want an avalanche beeper, and they aren't cheap either.

9:23 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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I have to agree on the ruggedness, durability, and economy of the ECWCS gear. I’ve found commercial pants to be pretty much equivalent to the ECWCS models, though quite a bit more expensive. The ones I have (3-color desert camo) are just shells, with no lining or gussets behind the leg zippers and pass-through slash pockets. The parka is definitely more rugged than anything I’ve seen. I’m planning on having waterproof zippers added to the chest to be able to access the Napoleon pockets from the outside, because the handwarmer pockets are covered by hip belts.

5:38 p.m. on January 4, 2018 (EST)
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i don't have much to add, but a few observations.

at really cold temperatures, coated nylon vs. waterproof/breathable isn't a deal-breaker. whatever moisture you emit tends to freeze on the inside of the outer shell layer regardless. still, because keeping all that moisture in can result in frozen and less effective insulation, it's worth spending on a waterproof/breathable shell. also, don't go up there with a jacket that could lose the hood - wind can be obscene in the Presidentials.

sizing, go with your initial impulse, something large enough to fit over the other layers. PS, the very warm down jacket i use in the winter wouldn't fit under any shell and doesn't need to. 

brands tend to fit differently, so it's hard to assess what works best without trying things on. if you want to save $$, REI and EMS store brand clothing or Eddie Bauer's First Ascent are all fine and usually available at a more reasonable price than some of the specialty or well-known brands.   First Ascent and REI can run narrow in my experience.  

I do the white mountains in shell pants, not bibs. bibs are warmer and give you better coverage from the wind. i prefer shell pants with full side zips because i tend to run pretty warm, and they are easier to take on and off. so long as the shell jacket hem runs to your hip, pants are fine for most purposes up there.

Finally, on making the summit, whatever the weather permits. Sometimes, the wind and cold are just too much to spend a lot of time around the summit cone. There are many days where the wind alone creates such bad white out conditions that you can lose your way. I have turned back at least as many times as I have gotten to the top. 

6:11 p.m. on January 4, 2018 (EST)
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This might an example of a sport where good judgement, training, team work, and lack of ego are extremely important.  More so that what gear you bring along. There is a lot of good equipment now available especially in the US. How you use it is really important. 

The summit of Mt Washington is famous for terrible weather as in below zero with 100 mph winds and no visibility.  Peaks in the West are much higher and require much longer treks to the summit. Know when to turn around and cancel your summit attempt. 

4:53 p.m. on January 5, 2018 (EST)
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current summit conditions, influenced by the Nor'Easter: -21F, 65-75 mph winds, wind chills -65F. plus a lot of moisture, so dense frozen fog. you wouldn't want to be up there this weekend. 

file this away if you like the White Mountains but want to try something a little more manageable in the winter first: Carter and Zealand huts are open year round - unheated, of course, so you still need a good winter sleeping bag, and no caretaker in the winter. But, it allows you to sleep and cook inside a structure, out of the wind, and they are very well-situated for nordic skiing and snowshoeing.  do the mountaineering skills class, but also log some weekends in the cold to hone your winter skills and awareness.

other options for going higher up: Randolph Mountaineering club's Crag Camp, Grey Knob, and lean-tos. Grey Knob has a wood stove - not warm, but not frigid in there. Crag has floor grills, open to the air, so it's as cold as outside. because they are at 4200-4300 feet, great places to go if you want to start your day reasonably high and see the Adams summit or others on that side of the Presidentials. 

5:55 p.m. on January 8, 2018 (EST)
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ppine said:

This might an example of a sport where good judgement, training, team work, and lack of ego are extremely important.  More so that what gear you bring along. There is a lot of good equipment now available especially in the US. How you use it is really important. 

The summit of Mt Washington is famous for terrible weather as in below zero with 100 mph winds and no visibility.  Peaks in the West are much higher and require much longer treks to the summit. Know when to turn around and cancel your summit attempt. 

 

That's exactly what I hope to find - both in terms of weather and a sport that requires judgement, training, teamwork and lack of ego. As part of my day job, I work as an emergency response hazmat technician. I train with a small group of guys. We wear fully encapsulated level A suites with SCBA in environments where a small tear in the suite can quickly become life threatening. It's all about teamwork, training and good judgment - not about how "tough" or fast or "awesome" you are.

6:03 p.m. on January 8, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply and offer some great advice.

Andrew f. - I'll definitely check those out. I'll try to absorb as much as possible during my mountaineering skills courses and maybe try to hook up with some other winter hikers to gain some experience before trying anything on my own but I've jotted down Carter and Zeeland huts as good places. Also, thanks for the advice on gear selection. I wound up finding a jacket that I think will work for me in "last year's colors" (who cares?) at about a 75% discount, which I'm pretty excited about!!

BigRed - have you tried any Mountain Hardwear gear? I've been really impressed with them because their sizes fit me perfectly. A medium sized jacket is just right around the chest and torso length but has sleeves long enough for my ape-length arms! Same goes for the pants. I have a small waist but really long legs but MH's ski pants in small-long were actually just a bit tight on the waist and a bit long in the legs. That practically never happens for me, even after eating a big dinner ;)

8:50 p.m. on January 8, 2018 (EST)
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Hi Tom

We have two MH tents but I haven't scored any of the shell clothing. But I think most of what they make is of good quality so if the jacket fits, wear it! (But maybe check some reviews first).

I myself am not a big fan of full-on winter camping. I now live in Norway (except fo rthis year) where we mainly use huts. NH was my main stomping ground for many years, and Andrew's advice is spot-on. One of my favorite memories from my early backcountry ski days is of skiing into Zealand for a night, the crossing the rest of the Pemi via Shoal Pond and out to the Kancamagus. Mount Carrigan, Carrigan Notch, and Nancy Ponds are also in that neck of the woods and all are primo in my book. Guyot and the Bonds are a bit further out there but would be challenging winter goals if you want to take it to the next level. And Gray Knob is a great entree to the northern Prezzies, although it's been many years since I've been there.

6:29 p.m. on January 15, 2018 (EST)
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Tom, who are you climbing Mt. Washington with?

When I did Mt. Rainier, I used Alpine Ascents. One of the things I liked about them was the gear shake down the day before the trip. Each participant emptied out their bag, and the guides went through it all to make sure what I had was sufficient. 

Some of the stuff I had, they told me I didn't need. Some of it, they told me wasn't up to snuff. I was able to rent what I needed for that trip. 

If this is something you plan to keep doing, you can add more to your gear as you learn. 

7:51 p.m. on January 15, 2018 (EST)
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The problem with insulated ski pants (for mountaineering) is that you'll generate way too much heat in them. On a climb like Washington the first couple hours are completely protected from the wind/most snow and they will be far overkill. On up and back, or one day trips thats all fine and they'll dry whenever you get indoors. On multiple days/nights that moisture will condense and freeze within the pants. At best, its miserable, at worst your at a big risk for hypothermia.

I generally go with a merino base layer (the thickness will depend on the conditions) over a soft-shell pant. The two I use most frequently are the Arcteryx Gamma AR (I'm pretty sure I have those on in the attached photos) or the Outdoor Research Trailbreaker. I'd much rather have air movement and slightly chilled (sometimes) for my lower half. I've used both on Washington multiple times.

I did a TR of a climb I did with EMS a couple years ago here...

https://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/166390.html

The other thing I'd caution is that you get what you pay for. I completely understand being on a budget, and keeping options cheap, but Washington, and cold weather in general, will tear apart budget gear pretty quickly. Look for used items, or as you are, sale items before you sacrifice quality.

Lastly, watch the weight. Sure some military stuff, or coated fabrics work great, but they weigh a ton and they don't pack down well at all. If you keep having items that don't pack down small then you have to increase your pack size which just adds more weight, its a circle.

Save your money to buy what works best for you. Try it on in the stores so you know what size, etc you are, then look online, eBay, craigslist etc. Theres tons of people that buy expensive stuff to go on one trip only to find out they don't like it. Buy once, cry once.

9:07 p.m. on January 15, 2018 (EST)
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When I hiked Chocorua in deep subzero wind chills last March, I wore a silkweight ECWCS polypro baselayer, lightweight Stoic Merino baselayer over that, TNF shell pants I got super cheap from REI, and an EMS rain jacket. On my head I had a cheap fleece hat, and uninsulated EMS softshell gloves kept my hands warm. I actually had to take the rain jacket off because I was starting to sweat. Once we got above the treeline I added a medium-weight Stoic Merino blend shirt and the rain jacket, swapped the hat for a fleece balaclava and the softshell gloves for EMS Summit Ascent gloves. In my pack I had a Marmot Odin down jacket from STP, but never needed it. I doubt I had much more than $400 invested in all my clothing, and all of it was new. I was absolutely comfortable without even a hint of a chill standing still near the summit in wind chills in the -30s F range. 

Store-brand gear, like EMS, REI, and Stoic (Backcountry’s house brand) is good quality at lower prices than the big names, some of the nicer features may not be there but they’re completely serviceable. Those EMS Summit Ascent gloves are CRAZY warm!

12:00 p.m. on January 16, 2018 (EST)
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G00SE said:

Tom, who are you climbing Mt. Washington with?

...

If this is something you plan to keep doing, you can add more to your gear as you learn. 

 I've decided to go with Synnott Mountain Guides. I was trying to decide between IME-IMCS and SMG. I eventually landed on SMG somewhat arbitrarily. Maybe next season I'll do some ice-climbing through IMCS just to see what they're like and what ice-climbing is like!

Both companies do a gear review and publish a gear list. I'm sure I'll add and remove gear to my collection as I learn what works and what doesn't for me. I just want to make sure I have something reasonable to start with.

12:44 p.m. on January 16, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks Jake and Phil for the input.

I'm starting to see what you mean about the insulated ski pants, Jake. I was out for a little 7 mile hike over the weekend. Only 1000 feet of elevation gain about halfway into the loop and weather was 22*F, sun and almost no wind. I was wearing mid-weight micro-fleece base layer, insulated ski pants and the MH Quasar II Jacket (decided to nab it on eBay for $100. Last year's colors but brand-new w/ tags). Even with the vents open, I was near sweating at one point and this was not a very strenuous hike.

I definitely appreciate the advice regarding quality. That's what I'm trying to navigate now - where do I really need high quality and where can I get by with something more temporary? I've been hunting for clearance items, salesman's samples, used and other good deals on quality equipment and I think I'm building up an okay assortment. I'm still missing a good parka and face mask.

Gear list (posted for suggestions and feedback - not as an attempt to brag or anything like that):

  • Marmot Lithium 0 degree down sleeping bag (I love this thing! It was a splurge and I feel like a king every time I slide into it)
  • Sea-to-Summit Comfort Light Insulated sleeping pad (impressed by this, as well!)
  • Osprey Aether 85L pack
  • Alps Mountaineering Chaos 2 tent (3-season, not for mountaineering, just backpacking. A bit heavy and not the best tent out there but the price was right. I'll probably want to replace it at some point)
  • MSR XGK EX stove
  • GSI Halulite pot (I have some plans to tinker and experiment with stove and pot)
  • OR Alti Gloves
  • Gordini Polar Mittens
  • Thermasilk liners for hands and feet
  • Darn Tough heavy-cushion wool socks
  • Terramar mid-weight micro-fleece base layer (pants and top)
  • Patagonia mid-weight base layer (top)
  • Misc. fleece pullovers 
  • Ghost Whisperer 850 fp (not the Micro Ratio like I said earlier) down jacket from MH
  • Quasar II jacket from MH
  • Returnia insulated ski pants from MH
  • Old but unused Eddie Bauer parka with Thermore insulation (would like to replace with a down parka that is easier to pack)
  • Kahtoola microspikes
  • OR Crocodile gaiters
  • Giro Semi goggles
  • Made-in-China fleece balaclava and face mask - keeps me warm but doesn't fit well and freezes over pretty easily
  • Black Diamond head lamp (primary)
  • Petzl mini headlamp and whistle (backup)
5:00 p.m. on January 16, 2018 (EST)
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1. which boots?

2. in the white mountains, crampons, snowshoes, and an ice axe are pretty much essential. assume you left those out, they aren't layers.  

on insulated pants (puffy pants). great for sitting around during breaks or at night. too warm to hike in unless you're in the worst possible weather (like they saw a weekend or two ago).  

5:25 p.m. on January 16, 2018 (EST)
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leadbelly2550 said:

1. which boots?

2. in the white mountains, crampons, snowshoes, and an ice axe are pretty much essential. assume you left those out, they aren't layers.  

on insulated pants (puffy pants). great for sitting around during breaks or at night. too warm to hike in unless you're in the worst possible weather (like they saw a weekend or two ago).  

 Good catch; boots, crampons, snowshoes, ice axe, helmet and harness are provided as part of the course I'm taking. Eventually I will have to buy my own but figured this gives me an opportunity to try some and see what I like / don't like before buying.

For normal hiking, I have a pair of lace up Chippewa boots. They're actually work boots with steel toes so eventually I'll replace them with hiking boots but they've been with me on some pretty long days including 25 miles a day for a couple of days in Hawaii. They've also been with me kicking steps in packed snow when the windchill was -20. It was a short trail and I was only out for a couple of hours but, to my surprise, my feet didn't get cold. I figured the steel toe would do me in pretty quickly.

Since we're on the subject, though, recommendations for boots would be great.

I'll also look into some puffy pants. I definitely need to revisit my legs at some point. I'll probably end up passing along the ski pants and replacing them with several layers as was previously suggested. I'm hoping I can get away with what I have (with the possible exception of the parka) for my upcoming guided hike up Mt. Washington.

4:18 p.m. on January 17, 2018 (EST)
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Boots. I bought a pair of Asolo Alta Via GV last July, I haven’t worn them in the cold yet but have put about 30 miles on them for breaking-in and they are COMFY. Every time I put them on they seemed to get more comfortable. They have a great rocker action that makes it very easy to walk on level ground, and there’s enough flexibility at the front & back of the ankle to keep full sole contact on ascents & descents. 

The Alta Via GV with the Grivel G12 crampons I bought, both from IME. The cat toy was extra.


6FC7B0E4-3860-4F01-BCDE-93A8F0735838.jpg

10:10 p.m. on January 30, 2018 (EST)
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Tom, my  choice for backcountry skiing and winter camping is Duluth Trading fleece lined Dry-on-the-Fly cargo pants. (about $85.) They are made of a heavy nylon with a generous crotch gusset.

These pants have many features, like double knees, and great quality for such a low price when compared to RailRiders' similar fleece lined nylon cargo pants.

Duluth Trading also makes an ALASKAN version that has even more features.

Eric B.

10:43 p.m. on January 30, 2018 (EST)
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Also you can wear "polar weight" polyester long johns under fleece lined pants to greatly increase their warmth.

I have used GTX and Thinsulate lined ski pants for extreme cold weather but only for hunting and alpine resort skiing. 

Eric B.

8:47 a.m. on January 31, 2018 (EST)
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Eric, thanks for that awesome recommendation for the Duluth Pants. Honestly that thought never even crossed my mind even though I wear their firehose pants daily for work. If the quality of the fleece lined dry on the fly pants is anywhere near the firehose pants then I am sold. Think I will definitely pick up a pair to try out.

And their "No-Bull Guarantee" is real. I had been using their Duluthflex firehose pants and had a problem with where I wear my holster on my hip wearing a hole near my back pocket. They definitely are not nearly as tough as the regular firehose pants, despite them claiming to be. They exchanged five pairs for the regular ones without issue. I really liked the flex pants, they just aren't as tough as the regular version.

September 19, 2018
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