Aug 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm #1306503
@maiaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to:Aug 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm #2015021
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Great article…always good to challenge our pre-conceived notions of what is the "proper" way of doing things.
I see nothing wrong with wearing tights.
Runners have some wisdom that we can learn from.
My only concern with tights is on the trail durability.
The "traditional" nylon pants are very durable. I have slide on my butt a few times on granite with my REI ones for short distances. I have tumbled, tripped, and have fallen a few times with scrapped knees or shins, but my pants were fine.
My concern with tights is that I would be left with a gapping hole in them.
Is this much of a concern and are there durable options with tights that can offer similar protection?
Looking forward to the next half of this article.
TonyAug 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm #2015039
I have no issues with tights other than pants are easier to put on, have pockets. I would shred tights with the underbrush where I hike now. They have worked for me elsewhere.Aug 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm #2015040
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
I'm doing it! Hope y'all are prepared to see my skinny ass in tights. Don't be meat-gazing, now….Aug 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm #2015042
You can wear shorts over them and keep your secrets to yourself.Aug 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm #2015048
"My concern with tights is that I would be left with a gapping hole in them."
But Hammer pants are way cooler. All your consumables, clothing, and shelter can be hung in the crotch. Even better center of gravity than an Aarn pack.Aug 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm #2015062
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"My concern with tights is that I would be left with a gapping hole in them."
Nice floss. ;0]Aug 14, 2013 at 1:39 am #2015134
I see your hammer pants and raise you a Cameo Codpiece
DaveAug 14, 2013 at 5:17 am #2015149
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
OK, I admit to doing this sometimes. Flattering to my body form thay are not. 'Corse at my age it doesn't really matter.
I use my smartwool pants and shirt exactly as you describe at times. Usually I bring a second long sleeved UL Ibex or Smartwool shirt for hking in. I have been doing that for the past 10 years or so. I can confirm that they do act like a wet suit in heavy rains.
However, in the ADK's at least, they soon develope holes. Getting these layers off while wet, under a tarp is no fun, and putting on a wet sticky layer(after rinsing them out)is difficult. I often will put my thumb or finger through the fabric. And after 5-6 hours of steady rain, they start chafing in odd places, usually at the seams, somewhere. My lower back, underarms, groin, and chest often get very sore after two or three days. I look at these as more helping with about a day of wetness or occasional rain storms over the course of a day than a long term solution to being wet. There is no replacing a rain jacket in two or three days of steady rain when it comes to chafing.
A friend, a semi-professional bike racer, has tights that I tried, but these are actually worse for wear and tear than smartwool. They snag on leaves quite easily and are a mess to clean up after a full day of hiking through the ADK's. A single trip often causes major fraying and surface knots where the threads have come loose.
The bugs get very bad in some of the lower areas, mosquitoes being the worst … especially this year. A second layer of clothing is required for these areas. As you say, they are no protection.
Anyway, the drying is second to none, drying faster than my nylon pants most of the time. I often rinse my long johns in the local creek. This has other implications, but drying them by wringing them tightly and putting them on is a viable methode. As you say, body heat will soon dry them, provided you can avoid hiking in them through wet shrubbery or getting rained on again. If you are getting rained on, it doesn't matter anyway.
Multiple layers, such as at your waist or where your socks cover the bottom, or where your pack is against your back, do not dry well. Often, even two layers, such as shorts over tights, keeps both pieces wet for many hours longer than a single layer. The outer layer stops or limits air flow to the inner layer. Air flow is extreamly important to drying times. But, generally in 40-50F temps, I have found a single layer of long johns to be warmer than the nylon pants, simply because of the faster drying…once you are somewhere dry. A timely piece you wrote, and I thank you.
Regardless of hiking cloths, I always keep my sleeping cloths/camp cloths dry. Longjohns, socks and a down jacket are packed with my sleeping bag. As long as I am hiking, I can tolerate a lot of temp change. When I stop, I WILL get cold at 35F. My tarp, dry cloths, stove & hot drink become my priorities. A fire if possible, but if it has been raining for a couple days, I ignore it. I strip my wet shirt, and slip on my dry shirt. I strip my shoes, socks and pants and put on dry cloths, then I put my jacket on.
Rather than risk my sleeping cloths getting wet, I will often strip and slip my nylon pants back on if I have to leave my shelter for any reason. (I try to make sure I have relieved myself before "hiding" under the tarp.) I used to worry that I looked like a fool under my tarp: in longjohns, cuddled up around a stove, or drinking a cup of cocoa, maybe with my bag around my shoulders. Well, I guess I do, but I don't believe it is foolish to do so if I am also warm, dry and fairly comfortable. You can laugh at me, it IS allowed.Aug 14, 2013 at 9:02 am #2015186
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
Tights combined with hiking pants are my garment of choice in cold rain.
You get pockets, shred protection, extra warmth and you feel dryer.
I have even worn windpants over the top when it was really wet, cold and windy.
The three items, tights, hiking pants and windpants can be mixed and matched depending on conditions.
Tights and wind pants combined are warmer and can weigh less than your average hiking pants alone.Aug 14, 2013 at 10:08 am #2015201
I live in New England. I started seeing tights (especially on men) years ago, usually with a pair of shorts over them. It's a perfect layering strategy. Are you hot? Wear shorts only. Is the temp on the cool side? Wear tights under your shorts. Is the temp moderately cold? Wear your pants. Is the temp very cold? Wear your tights under your pants. Are you warm enough in your bag at night? Wear just your underwear. Are you cold in your bag? Wear your tights to bed. Etc.
There is such tremendous versatility in how you dress when you have tights. Plus typically they are a very light weight garment to add to your pack, worth it to gain that flexibility.
Pants are soaking wet when you get to camp? Change into your tights! :-)
Is this really something new?Aug 14, 2013 at 10:11 am #2015202
Thanks for the article.
I was wondering if you have discerned less muscle fatigue from wearing tights.
See this article, http://www.ehow.com/about_6511756_effectiveness-compression-tights.htmlAug 14, 2013 at 10:20 am #2015204
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Mandex is the way to go for sure. Ideally accessorized with camo and a rifle.Aug 14, 2013 at 10:27 am #2015209
women wear em all the time out here … we are where lululemon is based of course … and many of em seem to do just fine
theres a reason why all these men hike the grouse grind and squamish chief out here … and often it aint for the green outdoors =P
as to why? … modesty and self consciousness for the most part …
;)Aug 14, 2013 at 11:08 am #2015217
@dtougasLocale: Gaspé Peninsula
LOL! "Mandex", I like it! A new word to add to my vocab.Aug 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm #2015269
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Insightful article, thanks! I have a couple pair of cycling tights, but I've never worn them hiking; however, what I do wear in the Rocky Mountain shoulder seasons is NB running shorts w/ pockets (4 oz) paired with Craft leg warmers (3.6 oz), less than half the weight of your typical cargo pocket hiking pant. On very cold days I'll wear some old school wool cycling leg warmers (7.4 oz).
Now, don't be confused by what's being marketed so frequently in the catalogs as leg warmers, because they're actually knee warmers; leg warmers extend from the ankle to near the top of the thigh. Giver that, there is not much of a concern for double layer fabric overlap and the attendant drying time, and they're a cinch to get off or on to accommodate the whim of the sun and parting clouds without sacrificing one's modesty. It works for me, and I guess tights would, also!
Happy Trails!Aug 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm #2015275
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
I don't really like full length unless it's actually cold. I usually wear compression shorts, though, which I've heard called "short tights."
Still laughing at "mandex"…Aug 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm #2015298
@dtougasLocale: Gaspé Peninsula
Full length leg warmers sound like a pretty cool idea, thanks for the tip!Aug 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm #2015332
<- tight wearer- have a couple different pairs, use them for backpacking, running, skiing, snowshoeing- one pair (Mtn Hardwear 3/4 length) probably qualifies as mandex :)Aug 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm #2015345
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
When I run in the winter, I always wear light running shorts over thin tights.
This is how I hike when it's cold out as well. Nice to see others do too!Aug 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm #2015391
I was a competitive runner before becoming a hiker – and have continued to use running gear as hiking gear, so tights have always been in my toolbox.
I also like nylon pants and especially like the hybrid pants produced in the past few years. They fit slightly looser than tights, more like pants, but have good stretch, pockets and durability. Mountain Hardware, Kuhl and Outdoor Research each have a hybrid pant in their lineup. I think Craghoppers does too, and probably a few others that I haven't noticed. They cost a fair bit more than tights do however, so…Aug 15, 2013 at 12:44 am #2015433
A few observations:
I've used loose tights (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) a lot in the UK, particularly for two day adventure races. Commonly I've used Ron Hill's Tracksters in various weights and Paramo Stretch Pants. For such events I have tights and over trousers. The OTs are only worn if I get cold. I find that even after wading through streams or spending all day in the rain, I can wear them dry and sleep in them overnight. I also find that a small difference in thickness can make a big difference in insulation. On occasion it has been essential to add the OTs to keep warm, especially in wind blown rain. I also find these synthetic tights to be reasonably tough though susceptible to snagging, and suspect that they will be much stronger than wool. Most of my wool shirts have holes in them.
Perhaps the psychology of racing is a bit different to backpacking and thus shades my perception: I expect to suffer for speed. That said, I've been amazed how well these leggings work.
As far as the physics is concerned, I suspect that the conduction of the material is significant enough to be noticeable. I say this because the snug fitting thick and dense thermal sleeves I sometimes use (designed for cycling) don't insulate any where near as well as I would have expected and far less than loose fleece of a similar weight (when dry).
Also, my experience with wet none-stretch trousers is that they cling, chaff and feel uncomfortable and cold.
Finally, the loose/tights mentioned above are a bit less revealing than tight/tights.Aug 15, 2013 at 1:40 am #2015434
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
My friend Justin proudly rocking his $2 halloween store mandex in the Narrows last fall.Aug 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm #2015608
Good Topic for Thought, thank you for doing the trials and sharing your insights.
I have been considering switching to tights ever since my JMT hike last year. I met several hikers along the way who were wearing tights and it seemed to me that tights would be more comfortable and allow for better movement than my older nylon trail pants. I have seen several brands at REI (of different materials and thicknesses) that I thought would work. I am now encouraged to go out and buy a pair.
LVAug 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm #2015628
The title on the BPL homepage is "Backpacking Tight".
Brought to mind a whole different idea than stretchy leg coverings!
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