Jul 30, 2020 at 10:55 pm #3667685Christopher RBPL Member
Just curious, do you usually bring a pullover type fleece and an insulated jacket/hoody backpacking. I currently use a Northface 1/4 zip fleece and an Arc’teryx atom lt hoody. Looking to cut some weight, but not sure if I should give up one or the other. I like both, but not really sure how necessary they both are. I’ve never left home without both, and always use both, so I am hesitant to let one go. Thoughts would be appreciated.
I know the weather largely dictates what I use, but lets assume a long distance hike where I don’t know what the weather will be.Jul 31, 2020 at 6:06 am #3667708
When I’m longer trip, particularly when there is a strong chance of cooler weather- I bring both.
Not sure what your fleece weighs, but I went with a Kuiu Peloton hoody- 5 oz in size large, couldn’t find anything lighter. It’s the perfect weight for a mid-layer on the move, nice as an insulating layer in warmer weather and makes a good sleep piece if the temps drop below expected.
You could probably shed a few ounces on the LT, maybe something along the lines of EE’s Torrid- 8 oz vs 12 oz.
But yeah, in Montana I typically bring both.Jul 31, 2020 at 8:13 am #3667713Todd RaishBPL Member
I use the exact same set up as Christopher R: Northface TKA 1/4 zip fleece and an Arc’teryx Atom LT hoody. The environmental conditions dictate your layers. If you hike in the Rockies between Colorado north to Jasper, Alberta, or into the British Columbia Rockies, then you need both. My third piece of layering is a Rab Momentum jacket, made from 3 layer eVent. These three provide enough options for warmth and rain protection. Worn together, you can ride out any storm.
While its always good practice to pare down your kit and take only what you actually use, you also need to account for Mother Nature. She doesn’t care and she doesn’t have to. <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Taking the North Face fleece just might save your life</span>, unless you plan your routes such that you are always one day hike from the car.
Further, we have all hiked routes where someone packed “stupid light” and didn’t bring the proper layers, so I loaned my TNF TKA to them, otherwise that hiker would be miserable.
Good luck on trail.Jul 31, 2020 at 8:25 am #3667714HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Puffers are more efficient warmth-wise but fleece is better if a hiker gets cold on the move. Getting a typical long trail shake-down, the advice is choose one or the other.
Been thinking about getting vest puffer or making a “microfleece” vest out of a Powerdry with ruined sleeve.Jul 31, 2020 at 8:35 am #3667716
Getting a typical long trail shake-down, the advice is choose one or the other.
that’s certainly not everyones advice; I’m sure there are a few areas and times when you could get by with one or the other, but plenty of places and times where both are appropriateJul 31, 2020 at 9:11 am #3667719HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
[when] both are appropriate
Think if it gets even a little “colder”, basically winter storms, some form of both is warranted.
Many don’t but then there’s the strategy of trying to outrun the storm to shelter or lower elevations.Jul 31, 2020 at 1:53 pm #3667749Paul SBPL Member
I always bring a thin fleece (Mtn. hardwear “Microchill fleece hoody, 8oz.) and a puff jacket. Ever spent an unexpected night out? Bring both, always. So little weight for so much warmth and health insurance. :-)Jul 31, 2020 at 2:13 pm #3667755Alex WallaceBPL Member
@feetfirstLocale: Sierra Nevada North
Weekend warrior here.
For typical 3 day/2 night trips, during summer, with a solid forecast calling for daytime highs above 60 and nighttime lows above 40, I’ll just bring one or the other (usually the puffy). However, for my few week long trips, and especially so in the fringe season, I’ll bring both.
Majority of my trips are at elevation (9-14K ft.) and having a fleece while hiking the day’s last pass makes a huge difference. Especially if it’s windy and/or there’s rain/hail. Then, hopefully with camp setup, as the sun sets and freezing temps approach, being able to add the puffy allows an extra hour or two of time before jumping in the sleeping bag is necessary.
Being able to enjoy the alpenglow and a bit of stargazing makes the extra weight worth it.Jul 31, 2020 at 2:29 pm #3667758Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
synthetic (like atom II) weighs twice as much for the same warmth as down
fleece is more like 10 times as much weight for the same warmth
I only wear fleece hat and gloves because they’re so little area it doesn’t matter, they weigh little even in fleece
I don’t wear fleece jacket – for the same weight, synthetic is much warmer
Fleece and synthetic both perform pretty good when wet, down not at all, so I always bring some synthetic insulation just in case I get wet
For real warmth in cold weather I’ll also bring some downAug 1, 2020 at 12:12 am #3667845Christopher RBPL Member
Thanks all. Appreciate it. I didn’t mention that i also carry my Zeta AR as a shell. I could definitely lose some weight there, but I consider a rain shell a must, and I’m hesitant to shell out big bucks on another shell. I’ll probably jsut get a frogg togg rainshell.Aug 1, 2020 at 12:19 am #3667846Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Down jacket for high altitudes, 3 season. Tried my light fleece vest and it wasn’t enough.Aug 1, 2020 at 5:54 am #3667847Erica RBPL Member
If you never wear all 3 layers at the same time, one is extra.Aug 6, 2020 at 10:08 am #3669366Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Surprised no one brought up how a layering system should work. We are familiar with the “3 layer” system.” Base layer, mid layer, and shell. This is a “heavy work” system, heavy work being backpacking during the day. In colder weather the base layer wicks moisture from the skin, the mid layer (fleece for me) transports the removed moisture as vapor through the fleece, and a wind shell helps keep us warm in windy conditions because fleece is highly breathable, which is why it allow water vapor to move through it. A rain shell helps keep us dry in rain. We may not wear all pieces at one time, which is the beauty of layering, we can mix and match the three layers.
But there is a fourth layer — insulation for times of “light” work or times we are “at rest.” Light work is usually doing chores while one is in camp. It should also keep us warm in camp when we are basically at rest. In really cold weather, the insulation piece should be worn during rest stops while backpacking (heavy work).
Down is usually the best 4th layer as it provides the best insulation per ounce of weight. You should almost never wear down while doing heavy work (backpacking), although I do so in unique situations occassionally.
If I will not need fleece during daytime “heavy work,” I don’t bring it. If I don’t need fleece during the day, I will bring a lighter down jacket for night. In winter I will bring a fleece mid layer, and a heavier down jacket for periods of rest or light work.
I’ve been using this system for around 40 years. It was Patagonia who really dialed in the layering system for us backpackers and other outdoor pursuits, and it was Patagonia who actually educated the public.
Below is a link to my blog, where I discuss layering systems in great detail, and share Patagonia’s influence on modern day layering systems. I think it is worth a read.
Disclosure: I am not any sort of clothing expert, so keep that in mind if you decide to read the article. If you need car repair advice, I am an expert on that subject :-)Aug 6, 2020 at 4:09 pm #3669408Dondo .BPL Member
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Most of the time, I’ll take both. IMO, a light fleece is invaluable under your shell while hiking in a cold rain. A puffy is great if you spend any time hanging around camp in the morning or evening. If you do photography, it’ll get you through the blue and golden hours. Plus, you can wear it to bed and go with a lighter bag or quilt.
If rain is unlikely, I may leave the fleece behind. If mornings and evenings look like they’ll be relatively warm, I may curtail the puffy. But for most trips, a fleece and puffy are both great to have on hand.Aug 6, 2020 at 9:32 pm #3669721Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
I’m with Dondo.Aug 7, 2020 at 11:05 am #3669740
I’m with Dondo.
AND Mike M, Todd R, Paul S, Alex W and whoever else said bring both if headed into the mountains for any length of time :)Aug 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm #3669776Ross BleakneyBPL Member
HkNewman nailed it. Fleece breathes really well, but is very heavy for the same amount of weight. That is the trade-off.
Everything else depends on the conditions, as well your own comfort level. In the winter (while cross country skiing) I always have fleece on, while bringing a puffy down jacket for lunch. For day hiking/skiing in the Spring and Summer, I bring along a fleece jacket. For backpacking in the summer, I just bring a synthetic puffy. The weight savings are so big that it is worth it. Like rain gear, it typically spends most of its time in the pack. Day hiking in the Fall is a lot like skiing in the winter — I wear fleece, and carry a down puffy. I haven’t done any Fall or Winter backpacking.
This is for the Pacific Northwest — your conditions as well as preference may vary.Aug 7, 2020 at 2:12 pm #3669777Ross BleakneyBPL Member
I’ll probably just get a frogg togg rainshell.
Can’t beat the price, that’s for sure. They are also very light. I have several Frogg Toggs (all in various stages of disrepair). But I eventually bought this, which is lighter and stronger: http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com/2016/04/gear-review-berghaus-vapourlight-hyper.html. I’ve been in big, long rain storms, and it worked fine. It probably doesn’t breathe as well as a $300 jacket and doesn’t have pit zips, but it is reasonably priced, extremely light, and effective. For a jacket that spends most of its time in the pack anyway, you can’t beat it (so far as I know). The only drawback is that it is compresses so much that it is practically useless as part of my pillow system — but that’s what extra socks are for :)
(Sorry for the thread drift, but I couldn’t help it)Aug 7, 2020 at 8:34 pm #3669818DanBPL Member
I used to carry both a lightweight 1/4 zip fleece and a down puffy (Cerium SL), but ultimately found that I didn’t need the fleece in the summer (high altitude in Colorado). I also bring an OR Helium rain shell and even in the early morning a base layer, puffy, and shell are plenty. I can’t imagine needing base layer, fleece, puffy, and shell.
In October I bring them both.Aug 7, 2020 at 9:33 pm #3669824
I can’t imagine needing all at once either, save maybe the dead of winter BUT- you don’t hike in your puffy, if you do you’re not going to like the results.
If it’s spitting cold rain all day and you’re planning on moving, then a lightweight fleece (mine weighs 5 oz!) under a hard shell is a godsend- a down puffy under a hardshell is not a godsend.
A puffy when stopped or at rest in camp, can be a godsend.
They serve two different purposes, but both are important in the mountains.Aug 9, 2020 at 7:40 am #3670074DanBPL Member
I think it’s best not to make dogmatic statements about what is necessary or “important” for other people, it comes off as a bit patronizing. And making statements that are already obvious to everyone (like recommending against hiking in a puffy under a shell) comes off the same way. We are all making our own decisions regarding compromises between weight and convenience/comfort for our particular conditions, and many members of this forum have a lot of personal experience. Ross expressed things in a nicely nuanced and balanced way, IMO.
Noting that a certain item would be nice to have under particular circumstances (which may be uncommon for me) is simply not compelling. And while I don’t completely rule out taking items with a single use, or that are rarely used, I certainly scrutinize them carefully. So if I have spent hundreds of summer nights in the Colorado high country with a down puffy and no fleece, and only experienced mild inconvenience or discomfort on a few occasions, then that’s a acceptable balance for me, and it would not justify the extra weight and bulk of a fleece. Again … for me … under my conditions.
Perhaps you have more summer days with freezing rain, in which case your choice makes sense … for you. Or perhaps you are willing to carry more on every trip to make sure you are always 100% comfortable, but that’s a choice, not a necessity.Aug 9, 2020 at 8:32 am #3670080Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I find it useful to get ideas. Try something. If it works for me I can adopt it, or otherwise reject.
Like polycro ground cloth. I thought it better to just have a waterproof bottom on my bivy. After trying the polycro, I find it works better, so that’s what I do currently.Aug 9, 2020 at 12:12 pm #3670116
I know the weather largely dictates what I use, but lets assume a long distance hike where I don’t know what the weather will be.
Thoughts would be appreciated.
from the OP
can’t speak to Colorado, but can speak to Montana- I’d bring the lightweight fleeceAug 9, 2020 at 12:35 pm #3670121Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I don’t think anyone is being dogmatic, nor are they saying that their choice of gear is superior.
What we need to focus on is how fleece works and how down works. To thoroughly understand this will allow each individual to make intelligent and informed decisions based on the conditions expected.
At times, fleece is exponentially superior to down, and visa versa. And really, each fits a different need and requirement. In summer, in the Sierra, I am usually not going to bring fleece. In the other three seasons, yes I am. In deserts in December and January when most of the annual rain falls and temperatures can easily dip below freezing at night, I bring fleece. This is my daytime active mid layer.
If I need insulation for nighttime camp use, it is always down, whether or not I bring a fleece garmet.Aug 9, 2020 at 3:59 pm #3670156bradmacmtBPL Member
I think some of the responses are dictated by geography. For instance, the Sierra’s are mild in the summer. OTOH, here in Montana I’ve had it snow sideways every month of the year.
For summer layers here I carry a lightweight 1/4 zip t-neck. A 1/4 zip 100 wt fleece, and a lightweight down (or synthetic) jacket. I’m currently in love with a Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody @9.9 oz’s. Remarkably warm for its weight. A rainshell is always a must.
I suppose I’m reaching veteran status, having backpacked now for over 45 years. What I can say is I’m a believer in “systems redundancy.” Complacency in the mountains can kill you… Fugg UL if you’ve put your life in jeopardy.
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