Multiple layers of long underwear?
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Home › Forums › General Forums › Winter Hiking › Multiple layers of long underwear?
- This topic has 17 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 3 months ago by Eric Blumensaadt.
Feb 27, 2017 at 7:21 am #3453083
I get cold easily. For an upcoming trip, I anticipate low temps around 20 F. I am interested in keeping my legs warm while being inactive, standing around camp.
For leg insulation, is using multiple light layers of long underwear an effective way to keep legs warm? Or am I better off using a single, heavier long underwear?
What I like about using two layers is the ability to add or subtract a layer to adjust to my needs like having a light layer for the morning when hiking in colder temps until the day gets warmer. I would get overheated doing that in my single, heavier layer.
MichaelFeb 27, 2017 at 10:39 am #3453125Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
There’s nothing wrong with multiple base layers if that’s the best way to achieve the insulation you need with the gear that you have on hand. On really cold backcountry ski trips (single digits or lower), I used to wear light weight long undies under expedition weight long undies under heavy GoreTex bibs. Down pants would be a light way to keep your legs warm in camp. Be sure to use a foam pad to sit on around camp of course.Feb 27, 2017 at 11:48 am #3453145
I would wear a heavier base layer (Cap 3, Thermal Weight, R1 as you own or need) and maybe fleece bottoms with my rain pants over. Military L2 Gen III bottoms are the same as R1 and pretty cheap on eBay. Great cold weather pajamas too.
But for winter camping how much time are you planning on being outside of your tent? With limited daylight, it’s more like pitch, eat and crawl inside.Feb 27, 2017 at 1:16 pm #3453177Russ WBPL Member
@gatome83Locale: Southeastern US
Nothing wrong with multiple baselayers, but in solving the same issue effectively, I’ve used a 100 or 200 weight base layer, down pants, and a Patagonia Houdini shell (or comparable shell). Wouldn’t want to hike with all that, but for sitting around and eventually sleeping under a quilt, this combination has has worked out really great.Feb 27, 2017 at 1:16 pm #3453178
Thank you both! Would love to hear about others’ experience/ideas, too.
Probably won’t spend too much time outside, but between chatting it up and having dinner, etc. it adds up and the days are getting longer so that means more exposure. I could always hop into my hammock to warm up from time to time.
My options are: (1) Cap 3 bottoms as a single layer; or (2) layering a very light silk bottom with a light poly Patagonia bottom. The items in #2 together weigh about the same as the Cap 3 bottoms and I’m guessing that they would be of equal warmth. I might bring all three and experiment and hop into the Cap 3 if I am getting cold.
I haven’t found much information about using multiple base layers like this. I think a lot of conventional wisdom is that if you wear two base layers they will be too restrictive on your legs and you’ll get cold. I suppose this makes sense, but if my layers don’t feel too tight I don’t see why it wouldn’t be an effective layering choice.
@satori: Definitely bringing a CCF pad for sitting/standing around meal times. I used one in December and was glad to have it.
MichaelFeb 28, 2017 at 6:10 am #3453351chris sBPL Member
I’ve always layered, as long as it fits properly, it”l work perfectly. I too bought into the patagoinia cap 4 base layers. Unfortunately, they are the exact same thins as my Cabela’s ECWCS base layers of which I have all 3 weights and have worn them all. The patagonia thermal weight cap 4 long johns are the same as the medium weight cabels version, with the cabaelas thermal weight being much thicker and warmer.
layering always worksFeb 28, 2017 at 7:50 am #3453362
Saying that layering works is rather broad.
As others have noted, wearing layers that are too tight is not good for circulation, so your multiple base layers need to fit properly when worn together.
And then there is the science of getting the most warmth for the weight in a layering system. Performance to weight is what ultralight equipment is all about. Throwing layers together is usually warmer and can be less expensive, by piling up what is handy, but it is a rather haphazard, make-do approach. It’s typical of winter hiking, usually not done as often or foras many days as summer trips and the UL paradigm breaks down in an effort to patch together a spur of the moment winter trip.
And then there is cold and very cold. A 20f kit is a whole other thing than a -20f kit. And if you get above the freezing point, traveling in cold rain conditions is a whole other thing.
If you are going to do regular winter ULTRALIGHT outings you need well researched and coordinated clothing, sleep and shelter systems to keep the performance high and weight to a minimum. Unfortunately that means a heathy investment and gear that isn’t very useful for the peak hiking seasons. It can be a like whole other sport.
As far as base layer weights and marketing terms, look out! You mentioned Cap 4 items which have been made with a couple very different fabrics over the years and then some cross over with the new Thermal Weight series. Cabela adopted the military ECWCS (Extra Cold Weather Clothing System) acronym for their own marketing and then adding their own weight terms. REI has made similar twists and turns over the years. Polartec has added to the fray by producing a number of various products under the Power Dry label. The wool oriented manufacturers have added their own weight and marketing terms to add to the confusion.
My $0.02Feb 28, 2017 at 10:09 pm #3453590
Well said, Dale. And all good points. It is always best to use the right tool for the job. In this case, the temps won’t be outrageously cold (the temps should be no colder than 20 degrees F and will likely be much warmer) and I won’t go stupid light just to save a few ounces. But I think it’s a concept worth trying when the situation allows for it.
With that being said, if anyone was going to try to accomplish what I’m seeking to do–use two lighter long underwear bottoms instead of one–what would you use for temps ~20-25 degrees F? Or would you add different layers to long underwear, e.g. wind pants, rain pants. (Yes, I know everyone is different and YMMV, etc. but some examples would be great. And, I’m not talking about adding down pants; believe me, I would LOVE to do that, but it’s not going to happen THIS season.)
MichaelFeb 28, 2017 at 10:52 pm #3453597
What I have worn in those conditions while snowshoeing is tights with windproof fronts and tall gaiters. That leaves just the back of the thighs with a layer of tights and those upper leg muscles are generating a lot of heat while moving.
Another layering scheme would be long johns with soft shell pants. Silkweight bottoms would be good enough while active. Go thicker if you get cold easily. Soft shells rock for pants for colder, wetter, darker weather.
Adding rain pants for more warmth and wind cutting would be okay, but avoid sweating. If you are carrying rain pants anyway, use ’em.Mar 2, 2017 at 6:42 pm #3454035jared hBPL Member
layering leggings should not be an issue for comfort/warmth, but not recommended if you are going for versatility.
as long as they fit separately, they should be fine over each other. base layers are not very thick and plenty stretchy. doubling up on base layers, however, is only when expecting very low temps or activity. removing base layers is a pain–this is especially the case with my legs because adding/removing is even more difficult over shoes/boots.
if you are going from moderate to low activity, try more breathable base layers that still have decent weight (polartec makes some airy stuff, maybe patagonia merino air). not too warm for hiking, warm enough for sitting around when you throw a hard/wind/soft shell over it. i use these instead of power stretch when i expect a broader range of conditions. for colder temps i like to have an insulated layer that is easy on/off. i have 100g primaloft or 60g alpha pants that are both full zip for multiple changes, or some patagonia nano air light pants (40g fullrange) that have no zips, but are stretchy enough to get on and comfy enough to leave on all the time (for one or two changes per day).Mar 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm #3454037Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Compare the weight of the lightest Montbell down pant or a 100g synthetic pant versus your favorite silkweight or midweight base layer and I think this question will answer itself in favor of the puffy pant.Mar 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm #3454058Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
yeah, synthetic (like Apex) is twice as warm and half as heavy as fleece or wool or whatever base layer you have. Best to have a thick enough synthetic for the minimum temperature. Base layer is better for absorbing body oils, preventing sunburn, preventing bugs from eating you.
down weighs half as much as synthetic for the same weight, but more sensitive to water. It depends on the situation you will be inMar 5, 2017 at 8:21 am #3454494
Great! Thanks everyone for chiming in. This was very helpful and gave me lots of food for thought.
MichaelMar 5, 2017 at 10:52 am #3454522Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
This can get complicated. I find trying to layer base-layers is kinda difficult because the materials stick to each other when putting them on/taking off, which gets frustrating when I am cold. I use several methods depending on the trip. So I no longer try to layer base-layers, but use a combination of other garments.
I might wear a Cap 1 bottom under trousers while hiking or just the trousers. I have a couple different weight soft shell trousers, which are my go-to winter hiking choice… if things get unexpectedly warm during the day, Cap 1 under Patagonia Baggies or even lighter shorts works well.
- REI Mistral pants (Schoeller material)
- REI Acme pants (heavier Schoeller material)
- At camp I might change out the Cap 1 for Cap 3 bottoms and add MB ultralight down pants
- For sleep I might change back to the Cap 1 bottoms depending on what quilt or sleeping bag I brought
I might wear a Cap 1 under a Patagonia Heavyweight Thermal Top (50 wt fleece) or a R-1 Hoodie. At camp I might just simply use my NB Fugu jacket or a heavier SD down parka. Sometimes I will bring a R-2 zip up jacket, which I might need during the day, and layer with a down jacket. The R-2 is really easy to put on over any base layer. At times I will layer a MB XUL vest under a MB XUL jacket instead of the Fugu or SD parka. I may also add a shell on top of everything else (I have a larger shell just for this purpose). What I use for my torso is more important for warmth than my bottoms. All of this depends on the trip and what I need during the day. Hiking on flatter terrain using microspikes is a lot different than 3,000′ elevation gain using snowshoes.
Heads and Hands
The biggest thing for me is to keep my head and hands warm. Even with a hooded down jacket I might bring an extra down or synthetic hood, fleece or wool cap. I bring 2 or 3 wool glove liners (they seem to get wet), waterproof overmitts, sometimes fleece mitts, or insulated gloves.
My 3 season clothing choices are simple and I don’t have a lot of variation (or inventory). Winter is different.
In winter, I could just go to bed to keep warm and cook inside my shelter. But I like to sit outside and watch the night sky, so I often bring more clothes than I could actually get by with, especially on a 2 or 3 day trip. Also keep in mind that I have lived in a desert for 40 years, so my body has changed a lot and over the years and the cold has become more problematic.Mar 5, 2017 at 11:58 am #3454532
Thanks so much, Nick. This is very, very helpful with all of the detail you provided.
I hadn’t really thought about how cumbersome multiple base layers might be to get in and out of. This trip is on the west side of the San Jacinto Wilderness, an area I know you are quite familiar with. Short hike up/stay overnight/ breakfast/go home–just need to recharge my battery a little. Night temps shouldn’t be too drastic, but chilly enough, so I was hoping to find some light ways to stay warm without missing the mark by sacrificing safety and comfort in the name of shaving some weight. It’s useful to hear what others have found to be effective.
BTW, the article on your blog about your winter hiking footwear has been very helpful. I modeled my footwear system on your approach. I appreciate you taking the time to show others what works for you.
MichaelMar 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm #3454545Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Thanks for the kind words.
You really want to be careful with San Jacinto weather; forecasts can change quickly.
Most weekends I am backpacking or camping, so me posting on a Sunday is rare. This is because I had planned a 3 day trip in the San Jacinto Mtns. Good thing I have been watching the weather. Today’s high will be 19F and the low 9F. 30mph winds with gusts up to 70 mph. I skipped doing a desert backpacking or camping trip as an option — strong wind advisories in effect in all my desert places.Mar 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm #3454556
“You really want to be careful with San Jacinto weather; forecasts can change quickly.”
Indeed. I will continue to monitor the weather. So far, it’s good news, but I know how that goes. Never hurts to be cautious, that’s for sure.
MichaelMar 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm #3455003Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
My solution (this year) is “polar weight” polyester log johns base layer with Duluth Trading “Dry on the Fly” fully fleece lined nylon cargo pants.
The fleece lined cargo pants are exceptionally well designed for winter and have a very high quality. Warm but relatively light. And for $89. a real bargain compared to RailRiders’ equivalent nylon fleece lined pants at $130.!
But for even more sever weather I wear GTX hunting pants (camo, natch) over Thermolite Micro insulated middle layer over polar polyester base layer. Good to at least -20 F. (Tested OK at -40F.)
If it’s colder than -20 I usually stay indoors. ;o)
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