Summer Layering System

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    Jericho Cain


    I am planning an 8 day hike from Springer Mountain to Helen, GA in August on the AT and wondered if anyone had any suggestions about what clothing I should take.

    I understand the layering system but was wondering whether or not I need this in its entirety in the hot muggy climate of Georgia.

    Here is what I own so far:

    Base Layer: Two wick tees, Synthetic Columbia hiking shorts

    Insulating Layer: Fleece Jacket

    Outer Layer: Packframe Poncho

    Other: Coolmax socks, hat and gloves…

    Do I need to add a pair of thermal bottoms (non cotton of course) to my mid layer? If so I own some bicycling pants that are polyester (I think)…will that be adequate to replace the thermal bottoms?

    Instead of purchasing another pair of shorts, should I purchase some pants instead?

    I basically need to know what I am missing on this list and cheap ways to fulfill those gaps.



    Ken Bennett


    Locale: southeastern usa

    Having hiked in August in Georgia and North Carolina, I can tell you up front it likely will be hot. Dang hot. And possibly wet.

    Here’s what I bring in the summer: 2 pairs of lightweight synthetic hiking shorts (GoLite Terrain shorts, 4 oz each), 2 synthetic t-shirts, a 3-oz windshirt, and 2 pairs of thin coolmax sock. I keep one set of clothes inside my pack, and change into them at the end of the day, then put the nasty wet set of clothes back on to hike the next day.

    For pants, I might bring my ultralight wind pants, just to have something to put on in camp if it gets really buggy or maybe a little chilly, but I wouldn’t bring any sort of warm layer for my legs. Nor would I bring a fleece or other warm layer for my top, but then I don’t get cold very easily. (You can always mail your fleece home from Neel’s Gap.)

    The poncho is not a bad idea, just as a last resort if the rain gets really, really bad. In general, I prefer to get wet, knowing I have dry clothes for later. Heck, on most summer hikes, I want it to rain, just so I can cool off a little.

    I do bring a pair of camp clogs, so my trail runners can dry out a little, and I swap out my socks each day. I try to rinse out the used socks, and hang them from the back of my pack while hiking.

    I always pack a lightweight hat and gloves, but I have never needed them in the summer, and I am reconsidering that option. (I know, if I get up the creek and lose my paddle, I might appreciate the gloves and the hat. We’ll see.) I carry several bandanas, for use as sweat rags as well as in camp. I rinse them out and dry them on the back of my pack daily.

    A ballcap and bug spray are very useful, as are lightweight gaiters. The trail can be very overgrown in the summer (depends on the trail maintenance schedule), with poison ivy, stinging nettles, etc. growing over the treadway.

    Hope this helps. I enjoyed hiking that section.


    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    Most of my hiking is done in north Georgia, and I think you’re on the right track. My basic summer clothing is something like:

    Thin t-shirt or sleeved shirt
    Running shorts
    Thin socks & shoes

    Bandana, warm hat
    Fleece gloves
    Montbell Thermawrap Vest or a microfleece Pullover [6-8oz]
    Lightweight tights [4-5oz]
    Bug headnet

    So, I’d make one of your wick tees long-sleeve, and use the cycling pants you already own.

    I don’t like messing with gaiters or bug sprays, but that’s just me. I also don’t carry any change of clothing, as things are mostly body-dried before I go to bed. It’s hard to get too chilly when the nightly lows are around room temperature.

    Enjoy the trip, it’s a nice stretch of trail.

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