Episode 75 | Winter Layering for the Legs
Feb 7, 2023 at 5:32 pm #3772672Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Episode 75 | Winter Layering for the Legs
Much attention is paid to layering for the torso, head, hands, and feet – but the legs are often ignored. However, during winter conditions, an intentional layering strategy for the legs can make the difference between comfort and misery. For mild winter conditions, a layering strategy may look similar to a 3-season lower body layering system. However, when temperatures drop below freezing, and snow and wind increase, the strategy needs to change a bit. Listen to this episode to explore some of these strategies so you can stay warm and comfortable when the mercury drops.Feb 7, 2023 at 5:45 pm #3772673Justin WBPL Member
Don’t know if it my primarily Scottish Highlander-Germanic-Scandinavian heritage, growing up in northern New England wearing shorts most of the year, or what, but it has to be very cold or cool and very wet for me to even start to think about my legs.Feb 8, 2023 at 9:43 am #3772727Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
I started my hiking career in the WA Olympics and Cascades in the 70s, and long underwear under shorts was the most common way to dress in all but the coldest and wettest weather, then rain pants on top. We used fleece as winter insulation because we didn’t have many high-loft options other than the quilted Early Winters pants.Feb 8, 2023 at 12:02 pm #3772750Bill BudneyBPL Member
@billbLocale: Central NYS
Tall gaiters serve as “legs” for my (long-ish) shorts, or as mini “overpants” for wind and moderate cold. Add a kilt if I need to warm the thighs.Feb 8, 2023 at 2:42 pm #3772760Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
If it’s really cold I’ll wear polyester long underwear under my nylon pants.
But, I hate having layers like that polyester or fleece or … because they are very heavy for the warmth
I made some pants with 2.5 oz apex synthetic insulation which is much warmer for the weight. 6.4 ounces. I wear them under my nylon pants. I wore it when it was 25 F and they were quite warm. The only problem was it then warmed up above 32 F and they were too warm. Next time I do a trip under 25 F I’ll wear them.Feb 8, 2023 at 3:54 pm #3772761Adrian GriffinBPL Member
Try legwarmers. I backpack in shorts in the Sierra summer, but need something on my legs for cool evenings and mornings in camp. Most of the weight of longjohns is the waist and butt area, where I don’t need the extra warmth. Legwarmers are a lighter solution. They’ve rotated back into fashion in Asia, so there are many choices on Amazon and Ali Express.Feb 8, 2023 at 9:06 pm #3772790Justin WBPL Member
I like the idea of leg warmers Adrian. Besides the weight issue, I like to keep the nether region cool and dry as possible.Feb 9, 2023 at 10:30 am #3772810Paul SBPL Member
Like Ryan, I started, a long time ago, wearing this base layer legings under shorts…..and still do to this day…I’m in the Pacific Northwest (where I have lived for the past 25+ years) but also back when I used to do a lot of backpacking, and snowshoeing, in New Hampshire. My current leggings for cold weather hiking are Outdoor research, and they are a blend of merino wool and polyester. I forget what the exact product name is.Feb 9, 2023 at 1:52 pm #3772826Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I used to wear shorts
I switched to pants for sun, bug, and scratch protection.Feb 10, 2023 at 10:16 am #3772863Steve CollinsBPL Member
@chicagomooseLocale: North Carolina
Great podcast! I, like others here, started winter backpacking by dressing one way when I left the tent in the morning and not changing until my snowshoes or skis came off at the end of the day (other than maybe throwing on a pair of heavy full zip WPB pants if wind or west snow necessitated it).
This podcast actually made me re-think things a bit more in terms of a full zip synthetic WPB pant based on most of the conditions I typically experiance.Feb 10, 2023 at 10:25 am #3772864Weekend Gear GuideBPL Member
Thanks Ryan for this episode.
I have a very similar winter layering system for my legs I use primarily for ice climbing but also hiking and backpacking, which others here can visualize in this winter layering guide.
Although I’m using Arc’teryx in my layering system since their clothing fit my upper/lower body type the best (YMMV), plus some good Black Friday sales, for my sleep system in -20F and lower, I do use a Rab Argon Down pant to help fill the extra side sleeping space in my Nemo Sonic sleeping bag with this lofty down pant, in combination my Rab down jacket and use a lightweight Therm-a-Rest synthetic blanket in a quilt configuration overtop of my sleeping bag to help absorb moisture vapor/condensation away from my down bag.
Another difference from Ryan’s system is I will use an integrated base + windshell pant, like the Arc’teryx Proton Pant or Rab Incline Vapour-Rise Pant, which both utilize lightly insulated, highly breathable Teijin Octa insulation which feels comfortable next to skin and provides good thermal management across wide temperature range and activity levels, in combination with their respective integrated shell fabric which is abrasion and weather resistant but with good CFM.
Then, similar to Ryan’s system, and as shown in the links above, full side zip shell and/or full side zip lightweight insulated synthetic pants used on top, based on temp/wind/precip/activity.
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