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Critique my mountaineering layering system
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By randy88fj62
Mar 13, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

I have done beginner mountaineering trips and I want to take the next step to hitting a lot of the 14ers in the Sierra Nevada over the next few years.

My most recent achievement has been 14 pitches on the venusian blind route (5.7) on temple crag in the palisades.

As I push the envelope for harder routes and higher peaks I have updated my gear.

Here is my list of layers that may or may not be used based on the conditions. Looking to optimize my clothes so that I'm not carrying extra dead weight:

Icebreakers merino wool tights
mountain hardwear conduit shell pants
wild things bib with fleece lining to replace the MH pants for colder trips
Nike Pro synthetic t shirt
patagonia R1 hoody
patagonia nano puff (no hood)
patagonia super alpine pro shell jacket
MH Nilas down jacket
Kayland mountaineering boots for spring
koflach plastic boots for cold weather under 25F.

What's missing?

What's overkill?

What would you change?


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 13, 2013
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Where is your chocolate pudding layer?

Whipped cream?

Huh??


Nut sprinkles go on top.


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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Mar 13, 2013

What seasons are you looking to do CA 14'ers?


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By randy88fj62
Mar 13, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

NorCalNomad wrote:
What seasons are you looking to do CA 14'ers?


Whitney Mountaineering Route in winter
Mount Sill Swiss Arete in summer
Easier 14ers in early spring

No full out winter ascents at the moment.


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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Mar 13, 2013

I like a flece vest, either medium wieght or thicker depending on the ocnditions. It adds a lot of warmth without any notcieable restrictions.

Also, on really cold days, a neck gaiter is awesome.


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By Mike Belu
From Indianapolis, IN
Mar 13, 2013
Summit of Rainier.

You might want to check out a guide site like international mountain guides and see how your gear matches up vs. their gear list for the whitney climb they guide. Balaclava might be good to keep the wind off your face on Whitney.


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By RacerXK1
From Redlands, CA
Mar 14, 2013
Joe on the FA of Grape Nuts.

+1 on the balaclava. I've found that sometimes the R1 and jacket hoods aren't enough to keep my head (read ears) warm. Also, it's nice to sleep in, no surprise brusts of cold air on my neck or face when I roll around!


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Mar 14, 2013
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

Number and weight of layers looks about right.

If you're thinking of making any changes, you might want to consider replacing the synthetic base layer w/merino. Synthetic holds on to the funk way too well.

I've never thought much about the post climb smell while driving home when wearing merino. But, when I wore synthetic, whoa...it's bad when you can hardly stand the smell of yourself.


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By Cale Hoopes
From Sammamish, WA
Mar 14, 2013
Profile Icon

Hmmm...

I have some suggestions - but take them with a grain of salt, ok? You have to figure out what works for you...

1. Hard Shells have a tendency to stay in my pack OFTEN. Therefore, I've gone super light. Instead of something like a Super Alpine Pro Shell, try a Torrentshell Plus - that's a half pound shaving that I find worth it. I'm still reluctant to drop my shell to below 12 oz, but I've since abandoned my 18oz shell.

2. I run cold so I hardly ever wear a t-shirt - just a base layer shirt. That's up to you, but a baselayer 150ish shirt is breathable enough to be worn all the time and still provide enough breathability. It also has a tendency to cover more skin in sun. Just a thought.

3. I don't find that I really use the lower insulated layers that much any more. If I want more insulation, I'll often beef up the base layer. I have a Icebreaker 260 that I'll wear under climbing pants that only provide wind protection. The OR Coulior pants rock my world because they also allow me to skip gaiters (which I hate). EXAMPLE: I had 260 + OR Alibi pants on denali and I think I only put my puffy pants on once. The Alibi pants are fleece lined and I've only used em ice climbing and on denali. They never go up Rainier with me - always just a stretchy softshell (REI) and heavier base layer...

4. +1 on the neck, but I prefer Buffs.

5. Consider a really lightweight wind shirt. I recently bought this layer for the first time. And despite my comment about baselayer on the top - I might consider a spring/summer/fall combo on the upper to be t-shirt + wind shirt = top base layer. Super diverse layer!

Anyway, I hope those suggestions help.

Also, check out this for the insulation upper layer:
cascadeclimbers.com/synthetic-insulated-jacket-layering-revi>>>

Good stuff!


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By randy88fj62
Mar 14, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

I'm 6'5" so wearing gaiters in snow is a necessity as pants never go up to a 36" inseam. I recently purchased a MH buff that turns into a balaclava for summer use and I also have a fleece MH balaclava that used to join me on trips before I purchased the R1 Hoody.

I like the idea of a lightweight fleece vest. Still need to find one cheap, preferably used. Anyone selling an old thin fleece vest size large?

Regarding the shell: In cooler early spring weather the shell seems to me to be the best option to keep rain, snow, and wind off. I have used it a lot this season ice climbing in the winter and I wear a long sleeve top and that shell and nothing else when moving.

Seems silly to me to buy two shells and use the slightly lighter one for summer alpine. I guess I'm not good enough yet to start splitting every gram and buying double the clothes to match the different conditions.

The heaviest things I will be carrying will be a rack and water. I feel the rest of the other gear will have marginal savings when added up.

I've never been an ultralight person. I always have a tendancy to carry too much on day trips and only start shaving weight when looking at backpacking weekends.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Mar 14, 2013
Bocan

randy88fj62 wrote:
I like the idea of a lightweight fleece vest.


Go with polypro..if you can find one the Cloudveil wister vest is great.

I don't know why people still buy fleece other than to use around town. It's heavy, dries slow, doesn't breath as well etc. Any polypro material beats the pants (pun intended) off fleece.


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By Cale Hoopes
From Sammamish, WA
Mar 14, 2013
Profile Icon

All good reasons Randy! That's why I said - take with a grain of salt. I think you probably have a good enough system. I've gotten a lot out of reducing my kit. I've reduced a great deal of weight over the years and can do a 4 day trip on Rainier under 40 lbs (not counting the rope) so I feel pretty good about what I've done.

Good luck with your travels!!!


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By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Mar 15, 2013

For the most part, I've gone to full merino for any base or mid layer. Just like it better. It takes a LONG time to to figure out your best layering systems for various situations. Looks like you have a good start on basic pieces. One thing to keep in mind is bulk. I HATE bulky short of a micro puff vest. Some thing to keep in mind to stay warm... it's all about the core, and the head. You keep these zones just right and the rest of you will be happy. One rule I go by is to start out almost cold. I tend to run very hot, so if I am warm right out of the chute, I'm done and sweating WAY too fast. Good luck! It really is a life long effort


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Mar 15, 2013
Imaginate

didn't quite understand if you are wearing a short sleeve t-shirt, but in my opinion there is no reason to wear a short sleeve base layer. I like a medium weight baselayer long sleeve shirt, a 1/4 zip fleece (or R1 hoody would be good), and then a down or synthetic sweater followed by a water resistant softshell. None of my layers have a hood because they are expensive, so I use a neck gator and a beanie.

That's for ice climbing, for summer alpine on cold walls, I'll leave the softshell at home and bring an ultralight rain jacket (with hood).

For the legs long underwear and softshell pants. Gators in the winter. Hardshell pants seem like extra baggage and a waste. I'm not climbing in the rain; I might be hiking out of there, but I don't need dry legs for that.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Mar 15, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

Nilas down jacket sounds like overkill.

Unless youre climbign 14ers in winter in fridgid temperatures you dont need a jacket that warm.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Mar 15, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

Also instead of a really light wind layer you could get rid of the r1 and get a piton hybird hoody which is basically a wind resistant r1. and a muhc more veristle piece. its like the r1 on crack.


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By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Mar 15, 2013

I disagree on the down. As a layer... Yes WAY overkill, but my MH Phantom is ALWAYS in my pack on winter or high altitude adventures. And it is almost always used, at one point in time or another. Usually as a belay jacket. But I have had it, and worn it, on back country ski trips, 14ers etc.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Mar 15, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

The only time ive ever needed a belay jacket was ice cragiing. Not climbing a mountain like rainier or shasta etc If youre cold move faster or simul climb isntead of belaying pitches out.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Mar 15, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

if youre climbing 14ers in winter or going to denali then sure the nilas is prob useful.


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By randy88fj62
Mar 15, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

At 1.4 lbs and the size of a nalgene when compressed I consider the MH Nilas Jacket to be a great jacket for belays, bivies, and any other emergencies that may occur. I would hate to be climbing in the Sierra and have to bivy overnight without a down jacket.

Who climbs peaks without an insulating jacket?

I used to have a MH Absolute Zero Parka. I sold it and bought the Nilas as it was heavy enough to be a good insulating layer and not overkill for the majority of day climbs. I also carry a mylar space blanket bivy sack. Combine that mylar sack with my wild things ice sack and you have a nice bivy overnight in 0F temps. You may not enjoy it but you'll be warm enough over night.


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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Mar 16, 2013

randy88fj62 wrote:
I like the idea of a lightweight fleece vest. Still need to find one cheap, preferably used. Anyone selling an old thin fleece vest size large?


Look for one at Savers. You can usually find one for about $5-7.


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Mar 16, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

c+


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By Wyatt H
From Casper, Wy
Mar 17, 2013

Tips for clothing that work for me (especially to keep things simple and light):

-The thinner the base layer (bottom and top), the drier your skin will stay - which is the whole point of a base layer - getting moisture off your skin. If you need to be warmer, beef up your insulation layer.

-You need much less insulation if you wear a lightweight windproof layer. Wind can suck heat out of your clothes really fast.

-As said above, fleece is heavy and hard to dry. If its cold enough that you need an insulation layer while moving, you might be better off wearing a thin synthetic puffy as an insulation layer.

-You shouldn't need waterproofs unless for some reason its raining. If you need to, just carry a super light and cheap shell jacket in the bottom of your pack just in case. If your clothes are super breathable and you stay moving, your body heat dries you off faster than you can get wet while its snowing or sprinkling. If it is raining too hard, put your light waterproof on and slow down so you don't soak yourself from the inside.

-When stopped throw on a big puffy to keep that generated heat from leaving. Down is lighter, warmer, and compresses better but if conditions might be wet or there are alot of pointy things around, wear synthetic.

-For legs, lycra or thin breathable softshell over a baselayer. Legs produce alot of heat so don't need much in the way of insulation or shell unless you're stopped or moving slow. Might be worth carrying a light side zip waterproof shell you can throw on if you expect to be standing around alot or wallowing in deep snow. I find wallowing in mostly dry snow I still stay dry in just lycra.

-Its way quicker to regulate or fine tune temperature by removing or donning gloves, hoods, hat, or buff and pulling up or down sleeves than it is to shed or gain a layer.

-Midlayer insulation is a horrible way to regulate temperature because it takes forever to put on and take off a layer that goes on underneath another. Insulation best goes on top.


Putting it all together, the layers I use are:
-Thin merino (150 weight) or synthetic long sleeve base top
-Marmot Driclime jacket (windproof layer lined with wicking pile layer)
-Thin synthetic running tights
-Thin softshell pants

This system will keep me warm and dry over an enormous temperature range if I stay moving. I vent with the main zipper on the driclime and by pulling up the sleeves. If it gets really warm I also pull up the sleeves of the long sleeve or take off the driclime.

In my pack I will always carry:
-Sub 4 ounce windshirt (Montbell Tachyon, CAMP Magic, etc) as an emergency windproof layer when its really blowing on ridges 'n stuff.
-Down or synthetic puffy (first thing in the pack) for ANY time that I'm stopped

In my pack I will sometimes carry depending on expected conditions:
-Superlight synthetic puffy for when its cold even when I am moving
-Shoeller softshell jacket if I'm going to be rock climbing (more to protect the other layers and add a little more warmth and protection since I'll be moving slower).
-Light rain jacket
-(rarely) waterproof side zip shell pants. Nice thing about using these on top of tight softshell pants is it gives you more versatility than just wearing a heavier pair of lined pants by themselves on the days you think it will be cold.


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By randy88fj62
Mar 18, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

Wyatt,
Thanks for the long explanation. I don't have a lightweight windproof layer so that may be something to think about in the future.

David,
I will probably eliminate my short sleeve t-shirt and go with a long sleeve top to keep the sun off.

Still evaluating the super alpine gore-tex shell and what could be substituted to lower bulk and weight.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Mar 19, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

sell the super alpine and buy any softshell made with neotech or polartech powersheild pro, or dry Q elite.

then you dont need a hardhsell, and have a garment that actually breathes super well.


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By randy88fj62
Mar 19, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

I love the hard shell. It is perfect all by itself for ice climbing in the teens.

Other than the weight, I can't find any other major negatives. How much less does it really breathe compared to a softshell?

Not to mention the material is burly and has already taken a lot of abuse this season with no signs of wear.


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