Jan 1, 2007 at 6:05 pm #1221024
I was reading the earlier post by Derek H and the wonderful responses that he has received and I began to wonder what clothing choices would be good for the Appalachian Trail (from Springer through Great Smoky Mountains National Park) in late May and early June. I am very new to backpacking and am unsure of what the best choices are. I understand that different people have different preferances, but any general guidance would be very much appreciated. Thank you
-StephenJan 1, 2007 at 9:16 pm #1372643
As you say, different people will have different preferences, but here's what I took last spring for a mid-April section hike from Springer to Unicoi Gap. It turned out to be unseasonably warm, so I didn't use the jacket much, but I was comfortable even in the warmer weather.
Wearing: REI Sahara convertible pants, Patagonia Tee, Wigwam ingenious socks, undies, and sport bra (don't think you'll need that one based on your name!)
In pack: Big Sky Products Epic jacket & pants (raingear and the pants doubled as 'town' pants while doing laundry), nylon shorts & Ex-officio tank (sleeping and lounging at the hostel), mid-weight Patagonia base layer pants & zip-T (sent back from Woody Gap since it was unseasonably warm), UnderArmor cool gear shirt (sleeping/lounging), Big Sky Products convertible sweater, Wigwam Hiker socks, extra pair of undies, fleece hat, Isotoner gloves (weird for hiking I know, but they work for me), light fleece gloves (the 2 different sets can layer together).
I will make a few changes on my next section hike, probably bring silkweight base layers for sleep gear and lounging, keeping the nylon shorts to go over them. I'll drop the UnderArmor shirt and probably the Ex-Officio tank even though it's very light at only 2.2 oz. Or, I might keep the tank, add a Black Diamond fleece zip-T and skip the silkweight top. I'll probably only bring one pair of light gloves. I plan to keep the Big Sky epic jacket and pants – I really like them as rain gear and they are suitable for town use. I'll probably keep the Big Sky Convertible Sweater as my insulation.
I keep playing with different clothing layers, and I usually end up bringing more than I need, but I like the safety edge of an extra layer in case it gets colder than I expect.Jan 2, 2007 at 7:24 am #1372668
Thanks pamela, I appreciate your insight. I don't think that I will need the sports bra. I also don't mind cutting it close on safety/warmth because I can always just climb in my sleeping bag which is now protected by and EPIC bivy.
right now I am planning on taking these items
very short brooks running shorts as underwear (2.8 oz)
lightweight walmart brand nylon wicking shirt (4.8)
royal robbins convertable pants/shorts (15.2)
Under armor cold gear (6.6)
Go Lite wind shirt (2.8)
Liphe hat (.8)
aasics kayano socks 2@(1.2)
total weight from clothes=.78 lbs (some worn & some carried)
I also carry a poncho and some spinnaker chapps as well as a 30 degree bag and a bivy to incorperate into my sleep system. I think the combination of the pants, the under armor, and the wind shirt should be warm enough for evenings. Do you think that this is enough?Jan 2, 2007 at 9:21 am #1372675
I assume the UnderArmor cold gear is a shirt only at that weight? I think I would want to add at least silk weight base layer pants to go under the convertible pants, an insulating jacket of some sort and a pair of gloves, since May/early June in the mountains can sometimes get pretty cold and windchill could be a factor.
Hopefully someone that hikes this area regularly will chime in. It looks like you've really worked at getting your clothing system light.
PamJan 2, 2007 at 9:48 am #1372677
I managed to et by on a similar set-up in late May of 2005, but I was fairly uncomfortable in my hammock, due to a period of extended rain. For this time of year, a warm hat can make a big difference in warmth around camp. I would also suggest a light microweight fleece pullover. For a few ounces, you get a pillow in warmer weather and a blessing when you would otherwise shiver on a 45 degree night at 5000 feet in the Smokies. I was subjected to a 48 degree night at Double Spring Gap Shelter in late July 2005 when the valleys were feeling 90 degree days. You probably know your comfort level for legs well enough, though I often don't even bring long pants during this time of year, except possibly for a lightweight pair of wind pants which are more for bug protection than warmth or wind.
But I would particularly consider he extra warm layer in your case since the shock of Central FLorida to the southern Appalachian Highlands can mean dramatically cooler temps than you would expect. A good analogy for the Smokies is that at 5000 feet, the climate is more like southern Vermont. Just food for thought.Jan 2, 2007 at 10:50 am #1372682
Thank you Shawn, I will be going from Springer to the Double Spring Gap Shelter, so you certainly know the area. I'm not one of those Floridians that freaks out when it gets below 50, Cold weather doesn't bother me too much, maybe because I'm young-at 17. For the legs, I figured I could just use my sleeping bag like an elephant's foot and even put my torso in if my top got chilled while sitting around camp. In an effort to save weight (and money), do you think my sleeping bad idea would work for the few hours before bed?Jan 2, 2007 at 11:06 am #1372686
I admit to having draped a sleeping bag or quilt over my shoulders when temps have gotten chilly. It works alright if you're sitting around watching the stars and the like, but it's a bit of a pain when you're cooking dinner and so forth.
From the clothing you've written in your original post, I don't think you'll be unsafe (in terms of exposure) for this time of year, just possibly a bit uncomfortable from time to time during rainy periods. Just remember that if you start getting the shivers, you'll need to get to some shelter and warm up fairly quickly.
Are you set on the Appalachian Trail? For this time frame you could through-hike the entire Benton Mackaye through the same country. The BMT makes a figure 8 with the AT and covers 300 miles, starting at the summit of Springer and ending at Davenport Gap on the northeast edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail is narrower than the AT and there are only a couple of shelters, but you would have it much more to yourself.Jan 2, 2007 at 1:24 pm #1372701
Thanks Shawn, I don't mind pushing the limits on being comfortable, so I think I'll stick with what I have. I can always do some push-ups or jumping jacks to warm up too. Worst case scenario seems that it rains while I am above 5,000 ft in the smokies and it gets into the 40s and I have to make dinner from my sleeing bag while under a tarp beacause of a full shelter. I appreciate the BMT idea, but I really like the idea of completing a tenth of the AT-plus I just spent $30 on the guide book and maps for this section from the AT Conservatory. One thing that i have wondered about was the comfort of my nylon pants/short if the temp. gets high while in the lower parts. I have been looking at some GoLite shorts that look much more breathable, but its hard to beat the conveinence of zipping off pants from a cold morning and immediately having shorts. Weather.com is only for nearby (low altitude) cities, How hot can it get?Jan 2, 2007 at 11:18 pm #1372752
The thermometer on my pack hit 90 F while we were hiking Cowrock Mountain last April. This was unseasonably warm according to the locals.Jan 3, 2007 at 8:29 am #1372774
"Weather.com is only for nearby (low altitude) cities, How hot can it get?"
Pamela is right that it can get hot,even in the spring. But the higher country is where a lot of hikers go in the summer to escape the most intimidating heat. In the time frame you're looking at, I would say typical daytime highs are probably high 70's with lows around the high 50's. The spoiler is humidity, but that's nothing new for you.
A good rough estimate would be to look at the surrounding cities, most of them between 1-2000 feet in elevation. Then subtract about 2.5 degrees for every 1000 feet of higher elevation.If your report is for Bryson City (around 2000 feet) and you're heading for Shuckstack from Fontana Dam, expect temps to be 7 or 8 degrees cooler than the Bryson City report. This isn't gospel, but it's a good guideline.
If you want a great pair of GoLite shorts, look at the Baseline shorts. These are the best hiking shorts I've ever owned. At $60 they seem outrageously expensive, but they are worth every penny. They offer pocket space for plenty of gear, are tough on the exposed areas, with a super flexible inseam that gives the most awesome range of motion I have experienced in anything except lightweight running shorts. And you can find them at discount prices at several online dealers right now.Jan 3, 2007 at 1:31 pm #1372821
thanks again, you all are a wealth of info. I like the sound of those shorts, but I am tempted by the cheeper GoLite Motion shorts that also weigh less (5 oz vs 8 oz). I also don't typically put anything in my pockets on my shorts/pants, so lack there of wouldn't bother me. also the motion shorts have a liner, so I could leave my running shorts/underwear at home.
In an effort to save weight, what do you think about bringing new balance running tights to layer under my spinnaker chapps for cold and wind protection on my legs and leaving my zip off pants at home. Then hiking in some golite shorts. This has the added benefit of having something to wear while I wash my clothes as well as dropping 3 to 7oz off my skin out weight.Jan 3, 2007 at 7:09 pm #1372868
Seems reasonable if you like hiking in shorts.Jan 3, 2007 at 7:34 pm #1372874
@idroptapulLocale: The Smokies
I think leaving the zip-off pants is the way to go. The tights will give you more warmth. You've got the chaps for wind and rain protection. The golite shorts will be cooler and less chafing than shorts with a zipper around each leg. I did the same section and others with the same setup and was happy as can be.Jan 4, 2007 at 10:41 am #1372949
"what do you think about bringing new balance running tights to layer under my spinnaker chapps for cold and wind protection on my legs and leaving my zip off pants at home. Then hiking in some golite shorts. This has the added benefit of having something to wear while I wash my clothes as well as dropping 3 to 7oz off my skin out weight."
As I mentioned earlier, I rarely bring long pants for this region in late spring, except of course for my wind pants. You seem to have a similar system. I think it should work perfectly fine. Warmth for the legs isn't such an issue as long as you can block some wind on cool rainy days.Jan 4, 2007 at 12:13 pm #1372967
so, should I even bother with the new balance tights or whould the chapps be enough?Jan 4, 2007 at 1:41 pm #1372983
Hey Stephen, good question you've posted. I, too, am curious because I plan to do the same hike (Springer North) starting in June and ending where I feel like. I am also from central Florida, will be hammock camping, and I just turned 18. Strange set of coincidences…
Anyway- I had planned on wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and carrying long underwear, a fleece jacket, and a fleece hat. Hopefully that will keep me warm enough.Jan 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm #1373026
hey scott, yeah that is weird. But there is more, I love digital slr photography too. are you a UF student?Jan 4, 2007 at 7:55 pm #1373031
That is crazy. I am a photographer and have been for almost 6 years now. I love all types of photography, but my DSLR is my workhorse. I am not a UF student yet; I am a senior in high school. My plans are to go to UF's Journalism school and major in photojournalism. Feel free to AIM me at "Racaryu".
Back on the subject of clothes to wear- I tested my Teko EcoMerino wool/synthetic socks for 2 hours this evening. I hiked on pavement, on a few trails (beautiful full moon tonight), and forded a few creeks. The socks remained toasty when wet and dried to a light damp condition very quickly. Best part: the socks are made from organic wool and 100% recycled polyester. They are manufactured using 100% wind-generated electricity. I am glad to see a outdoor apparel manufacturer get the right idea about conservation.Jan 5, 2007 at 12:35 pm #1373120
Looks like I good start, but I think you could expand the temperature range a bit in both directions. I spent about a month on the AT from Springer to mid-VA, from late May to late June. My suggestions…
As you proposed, I don't think you'll need the RR convertible pants if you're on the southern end in May/June. I'd replace them NB running tights. Coupled with the chaps, you'll do just fine. And the tights will probably pack smaller.
I'd use the running shorts as your dailywear. I've used tiny running shorts with the built-in liners, and also cut out the liners and used spandex boxer-briefs underneath for less chafing. See what works for you.
I'm not sure how warm the Under Armor shirt is, but having 1 more layer came in handy for me. I'd suggest something like a Montbell insulated vest.
I'd recommend a poofier, warmer hat that'll probably only cost you about .2-.5oz. A cheap knit cap should work fine. My last suggestion is to add a basic pair of fleece gloves. You can probably find a pair for less than 1oz at your local Wal-Mart. These can be very helpful if you need to push the temps a little bit.
It looks great, though. The hard part is waiting until May :)
-MarkJan 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm #1373136
Thanks mark. I am sold on the shorts and tights idea. I just need to select a pair. My research on the Golite baseline was good, and I really like them. Did you use the golite spandex boxer-briefs? That combo seems good. Also on the hat, do you not thin the Liphe is enough? It seems warm enough for mild conditions and it covers the ears. your last statement is definately the most true. just 5 more months.Jan 6, 2007 at 8:37 pm #1373328
Good luck with the Baseline. Those pockets would drive me crazy, and I like a much shorter length. I use plain running shorts (a la GoLite Marathon or similar) in combination with a basic pair of spandex boxer-briefs from Walmart. I forget the brand, but the spandex were about $8-12. They've gotten 800-900 miles (and counting). I also turned them inside-out for minimal seam exposure.
As far as the Liphe hat goes, I need to go ahead and stick my foot in my mouth because I've never used one before :) I just made baseless conjecture because they look tight-fitting. Your experience is worth more than mine. But a couple notes in favor of a larger knit cap: I like the looser fit for easier adjusting & ventilating, which makes them easy to use to make micro-adjustments when I'm on the move and still generating some heat. Easier to doff and don than gloves or a windshirt. That helps in the early morning and late evening hikes And there's also more fabric from top to bottom, which comes in handy to pull over my eyes to make some artificial darkness when I sleep. In those summer months it can be pretty bright out until 830-10pm.
To give you an idea of the temps. The warmest I got was in the high 80s, Fahrenheit; lowest I got was high 30s in the Smokies @ Icewater Springs shelter, and a couple in the low 40s in the Smokies and on Mt. Rogers in VA. Most of the time it was high 40s at night.
Got my fingers crossed that I'll be out there too, come summertime.
-MarkJan 7, 2007 at 10:38 am #1373385
I will certainly start looking for those spandex briefs, thanks. I like the Liphe becase it is tight, and it doesn't fall of my haed in the night like other beanie-style hats do. It isn't as warm, but seems like it would be adaquate for sumer conditions to minimize head chill wihout causing perspiration. The tiny running shorts, I have some from my track/cros country uniform that are maybe 10 in in length, but as a courtsy to other hikers, think that they are too small. The are certainly comfortable and do not restrict movement, but the full splits make it look as if I am wearing little more than underwear. Would the spandex unerneath make me appear more clothed?Jan 7, 2007 at 11:04 pm #1373486
The spandex will help if you're looking for more modesty, yes. But I don't think thru-hikers would have any problem with you showing a little leg. Things like that tend not to matter very much on the trail.
-MarkJan 8, 2007 at 7:57 am #1373510
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
Test out your pant combo as much as possible before you leave in order to check on chaffing as someone else mentioned. If your "cold armor" shirt is similar to a long sleeved underwear top, another warm layer such as a 100 wt. fleece would be nice. Last August, hiking from Double Spring shelter up Clingsman, I was cold wearing just a t-shirt under raingear on a wnidy rainy day. Later a windshirt over a fleece warmed me right up. The Golite windshirt is a great piece of gear, lightweight and functional. Another option to a fleece glove is a glove liner. These are often wool and roll up into the size of a pair of street socks or a fist when you are not wearing them. I've been glad to have them on windy ridges both in June and August in NH and Maine. Even at 5000' in the Smokies, however, the trail is amazingly in the trees and often huge trees at that. BTW When NC and Tenn. agreed to donate the land to become a National Park, part of the agreement was that no fees would ever be charged. There is no fee to enter the GSMNP!Jan 8, 2007 at 10:12 am #1373522
Thank you everyone. I am certainly debating the clothing issue a lot. If conditions got really bad, It would be nice to have some warmer clothes. Does anyone own the Go Lite Spandex shorts? They seem like they would be long enough to prevent chaffing yet retain excellent freedom of motion and breathablity.
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