Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rethinking My Pack - Clothing

I started up the approach trail on March 19 last year, packed for cold nights and snowy days. Instead it was unseasonably hot with highs in the 80s and lows on the 60s. Between carrying too much food, a 15 degree bag, extra layers, and an ill-fitting pack, I was grumbling.

I'll soon be starting where I got off last spring at Rock Gap, NC, and heading into the Smokies. It looks like it could be a cold/snowey one this year, offering me a different reason to grumble.

What I'm Packing - The photo shows what's going to be in my pack when not worn. From the upper right and going clockwise, I've got a mid-weight merino base layer that will be my dry, sleeping clothes. On top of the bottoms are my spare Icebreaker merino briefs. Below them is a Smartwool microweight merino tee for warm/laundry days. My spare pair of Vermont Darn Tough hiking socks, and a pair of Dirty Girl gaiters.

More after the break ...

That yellow and black thing in the corner is a Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil 20L Day Pack. At 2 ozs it's not real heavy. I use it to pack my clothing, as a pillow, and in town for grocery shopping and laundry duty.

Next to it is a merino BuffSmartwool liner gloves and a Smartwool beanie for hiking and sleeping when it's cold.

By now it's obvious I like merino. As a next-to-skin layer, it transports moisture well, and it doesn't develop hiker funk as bad as synthetic versions do. The down side is that it's expensive, and it doesn't dry as fast as most nylon type synthetics. Choose yer poison, and shop sales and the outlet web sites.

The cammie-looking things are Acorn VersaFit fleece socks. They'll be my "Sacred Socks," packed with my sleeping bag in a waterproof bag, and used strictly for sleeping. They weigh considerably less than my hiking socks.

Next is a light pair of shorts for laundry day. This, along with the tee shirt are my hard-to-justify, probably-gonna-leave-em-home stuff. Nice to have something to wear when doing laundry, but I have rain gear I can use for that ... Combined they total 9.8 ozs ...

For insulation, I replaced my 11 oz Patagonia Down Sweater with a Luke’s Ultralite Down Vest. Featuring a Momentum 90MR shell, a soft-hand Taffeta liner, and 1.8 oz of 900 fill. Certainly not as warm as the Patagonia, but combined with a base layer, a wool hoody, and my shell, I should be good to go for spring in the mountains. It weighs in at 4.4 oz. That's a 9 oz weight savings, and at $110, that 9 oz savings cost me $12.22/oz - About half the cost/oz of swapping out any of my big four items

If I leave out the shorts and tee, total weight of clothes in my pack will be 32 ozs.

What I'm Wearing - I'll be wearing a pair of Columbia Silver Ridge long trousers, an Icebreaker long sleeve, zip-t, merino top, Vermont Darn Tough hiking socks, a pair of Icebreaker merino briefs, my Salomon 3D Fastpacker GTX boots, and an Ibex Nomad FZ Hoody. I'm waffling on whether to bring a pair of light base-layer bottoms, and maybe a more windproof pair of gloves, to hike in... I'll probably check the 10-day forecast just before I depart.

Foul Wx - I'll be packing my old 8 oz GorTex PacLite Marmot Nano. Those things are really light, not well ventilated, and spendy. I managed to get one in a two-year-old obnoxious orange no one wanted, at a deep discount. If I were doing it over, I might go with eVent fabric, and strap on a few more ounces for some pit zips. For my bottom half, I'm packing my 8 oz Mountain Hardwear Epic Pants.

Strategery -A lot of this stuff will go home in Pearisburg where I'll swap shoulder-season gear for summer-weight stuff. At that point I'll don my old permethrin-soaked bug suit - ExOfficio's BugsAway Halo LS shirt, and Columbia's Insect Blocker Cargo Pants. I wore them last season, and tho I never got into the heart of tick darkness, I never had any of the other flesh-eating or bloodsucking insects bite me thru them.

Walking out of Pearisburg is shaping up to be a real treat ...

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