Jan 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm #1254384
Hello everyone, I'm planning to thru-hike the appalachian trail from Connecticut heading northwards for the entire month of August this summer, and need help with my rain gear set-up. It is as follows:
-rocky gore tex socks
-perma eVent gaiters
-and a 100 wt north face glacier fleece
Other than the socks these are all items I already have. What I want to know specifically is if the EMS poncho is adequate for a month in the mountains, or if I should invest in a better poncho, or lengthen the one I already own. I don't want a tarp/poncho, only something to alleviate the weight of an eVent jacket and pants (by the way does anyone know the weight of the perma gaiter with eVent?).
I am also wondering if using a poncho with only a 100 wt fleece for insulation in my pack would be dangerous.
My budget is 50 dollars.Jan 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm #1565418
Hmmm, for $50….you might want to consider a DriDucks rainsuit. about 12 ounces for jacket and pants for about $25. Its a few ounces heavier than the poncho, but it offers more protection, including against bugs. I suspect there will be mosquitoes in that part of the country in August. Mosquitoes can't get through the DriDucks material. I know this from extensive experience!!
I'm not sure you'll need the gaiters. Or the gore tex socks. If you're worried about hiking in the rain, or brushing up against wet foliage, the Dri Ducks pants will take care of much of that. As far as your feet go, if you've got some UL breathable trail runners and some good socks, they'll dry quick enough from your body heat.
What's the fleece for in a rain gear set-up? Is it part of your insulation? I consider those separate things.Jan 23, 2010 at 12:23 am #1565422
I agree on the DriDucks; you'll either be on pretty exposed ridges or in dense forest, and the poncho will drive you nuts in both. Take the gore-tex socks, at least for the Whites. You might have nice weather in the Whites, or you may have rain and temps in the high 30f's. Those socks will pay off if the weather turns nasty. If you can find a cheap rain hat with a nice brim, it makes a rain jacket much more comfortable in less severe conditions.Jan 23, 2010 at 10:22 am #1565502
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
"… you'll either be on pretty exposed ridges or in dense forest, and the poncho will drive you nuts in both"
I'm a poncho user, planning to thru-hike the AT this year, so this comment caught my eye. I'd appreciate if you would expand on this. What in particular would drive a person "nuts"? I.e., is this an AT-specific comment, or just a personal (lack of) preference w.r.t. ponchos? The exposed ridges comment suggests an assumption that ponchos aren't useable in wind (which isn't my personal experience). Perhaps the "dense forest" suggests that a loose, flapping poncho will catch on stuff?
I don't mean to start an "are ponchos good or bad" debate (!), just curious what specifically you're thinking of here.
TIA !Jan 23, 2010 at 11:47 am #1565542
I know nothing of EMS's poncho, but people have successfully used ponchos for more ambitious trips that this; I think particularly of Andrew Skurka's Sea to Sea, where I believe he used a poncho/tarp for all of the non-winter distance.
It could get annoying flapping in the wind, or scraping against bushes. You'll have to keep moving if its cool, to be sure, especially with only 100wt fleece underneath.Jan 23, 2010 at 11:48 am #1565543
For the particular area mentioned, which I've spent a bit of time in, IMO a poncho is not the best choice. In August, the trails in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine will have developed pretty significant brush growth. I use ponchos in other seasons, but it seems late summer I'm constantly catching the poncho on every trailing branch. In addition, there are a number of places you'll be crawling over or under things, which I find to be a huge pain in a poncho.
In addition, there is the Whites. Unless you're far luckier than me, you will have rain, fog, maybe sleet and snow. And the wind will blow. Not a breeze, but a nice sustained 25-30 mph wind with gusts to 40-50 mph. And that's a decent day, it can get far worse than that. I wouldn't be caught dead in the Presidentials with a normal poncho. That said, my preferred choice for backpacking is a version of Roger's "Mountain Poncho" but to me it is functionally closer to a parka than a poncho.Jan 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm #1565551
@hammer-oneLocale: Walking With The Son
Brian, not to highjack this thread but, I used to use an ID silponcho until I hiked on the AT in Maine. B/c the terrain is so steep and rugged I didn't like the fact that I couldn't see my feet on the downhills. I crossed the Barren Chairback Range during hurricane Ophelia, and finally took it off at the cliffs just north of Chairback Gap. I managed to tough out the rest of the trip with my windshirt.Jan 23, 2010 at 1:01 pm #1565568
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> and the poncho will drive you nuts in both
Depends very much on the poncho.
The right sort of poncho worked very well for us in France. We were very happy to have them on, in alpine country!
CheersJan 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm #1565617
thanks for the advice everyone. So I take it that because hiking the white mountains with a regular poncho will be suicide, I should invest in dri ducks. 12 ounces is a big improvement over the eVent gear at 29 ounces, but I think I would be fine with a poncho that can be tied at the waist and will cover to halfway down my shin (i'm 5' 11"). Is there such a poncho at under 50 dollars, or some material I can order to lengthen my EMS poncho with… or am I underestimating the seemingly awesome power of the white mountains and should settle with the ducks?Jan 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm #1565664
And since you apparently think world wind speed records and such are a pittance, I think the poncho will be fine for you. Have Fun!Jan 24, 2010 at 1:11 am #1565730
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> but I think I would be fine with a poncho that can be tied at the waist and
> will cover to halfway down my shin
Depends on the design of the poncho, and especuially thwe sleeves or arm holes. If you are a member you can read the MYOG poncho article those photos come out of, at
Recommendation: try both ideas on SHORT trips (even day walks) first. See for yourself.
CheersJan 24, 2010 at 2:34 am #1565732
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
> or am I underestimating the seemingly awesome power of the white mountains
Do not underestimate the winds above treeline there. Mt. Washington has seen 231 mph. Winds of 60+ mph are not all that uncommon above treeline in the Franconias and the Presidentials. I'm not saying that happens all the time. I am saying that it has happened to me, and it can happen to you.
Lest you think I am just over-estimating the winds, one winter day we got up to the top of Mt Washington and the weather station up there told us the winds we had just come up through were 60mph gusting to 80mph. In our igloos in the Alpine Garden we had not even known there was any wind (until we got out of the igloos to go on up to the summit).
Note that I am not advising for or against your poncho — just pointing out conditions that you could well encounter. That said, the amount of your time that will be above treeline in the White Mts is pretty small. In the event that the wind up high is more than you are comfortable with, you could just lay over a day.
— BobJan 24, 2010 at 9:47 am #1565796
@ukulelebillLocale: Northeast Ohio
I was wondering about the rest of your gear. I didn't see a gear list posted for you yet. There may be other items in your kit that could add to your wet weather protection in the Whites that we're not seeing. For example, I use a DriDucks Poncho at 8.5 oz and also carry a GoLite Ether Wind Shirt at 4oz. The wind shirt can add a little extra protection and therefore safety in cold, wet, windy conditions like the Whites may through at you. Another thought– if you are uber-fit then pushing the limits is more acceptable. But if you've spent too much time behind a desk recently, it happens, then you may want to go for a safer, more protected option like the jacket and pants. There are so many considerations–close to the top imo is fitness level and experience, not just the technical merits of the gear.
Another example of a major undertaking with poncho would be Flyin' Brian Robinson's Triple Crown. This is an interesting example as he used poncho in warmer weather and jacket/pants in colder temps. Here's his gear lists:
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