This is my current list of clothing for the Appalachian Trail. The best laid plans, etc. means it is subject to change especially once I get on trail and find what works and what doesn’t.
Cold weather clothing has to equip you to deal with the heat produced by hiking at the same time as living in extremely cold weather. March 20th 2013 saw the forecast for Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee reach -27c (-16f) and even in early April it was below freezing with snow and high winds.
L1: Rab MeCo 165 Hoodie (244g / 8.6oz).
65% merino wool, 35% Cocona. Long-sleeved, half-zip. Thumb-holes, balaclava hood. The Cocona content means it dries faster than pure merino, otherwise this garment offers the usual ‘warm when wet’ and no-stink benefits you expect from merino wool. If it just had a touch of Lycra (like the Icebreaker Sprint GT 200) it would be perfect.
L2: Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody (pictured) or Rab Baseline Hoody.
- Both fleeces are around 340g / 12oz, and both are Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency. Maybe this layer is the least essential but it can double-up as a (warm) base layer, useful as a pillow at night and it’s just so darn comfy.
L3: Rab Generator Jacket (376g / 13.2oz).
- Primaloft One, 100g in body, 60g in arms. Full zip. No hood. This is the ‘do it all’ mid and insulation layer, the one layer to protect from a rampaging bear above all others. You can put it on when you are soaking wet and it will warm you up and dry you off.
L4: Arcteryx Cerium LT Jacket (225g / 7.9oz).
84g of 850 fill down plus Coreloft 100 synthetic insulation on shoulders and 80 in collar, cuffs and under arms. No hood. Crazy amount of warmth from a mere 225g (less than half a pint of milk!) and the synthetic insulation in areas prone to damp means it is more practical on the wet AT than pure down jackets. Carried as much for its ability to supplement the sleep system as for evening camp wear. This is not a big puffy jacket, just ‘icing on the cake’.
Wind: Montane Slipstream Quantum GL jacket (67g / 2.4oz).
Full zip, no hood. I find half-zips too awkward to get on and off and the 10 denier fabric won’t stand up to too much abuse. Otherwise it is a pure functional wind resistant jacket likely to be found over the base layer in most conditions especially when exposed at altitude above timberline.
Rain: Zpacks Waterproof Breathable Cuben Fiber Jacket (138g / 4.9oz).
Cuben fiber sandwiched between two layers of eVent membrane. I’ve not purchased this yet as there are other contenders available in the UK I can actually try on plus a new version of the material was only released in September 2013 and I would like to read some reviews like this one first. My guess is that this garment works well but looks like hell (an issue when hitchhiking and when in town).
Sleep / Backup Layer 1: Rab Aeon Long Sleeve Tee (100g / 3.5oz).
100% polyester (treated with Polygiene). The archetypal silky summer baselayer. Really this is a luxury item but for just 100g it serves several purposes: a backup baselayer in case the primary one is too wet or too warm, to sleep in to allow the hiking baselayer to dry and air overnight, and to wear in town.
Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Longjohns (185g / 6.5oz).
Merino wool. Can be worn when it is very cold in the morning and at night to supplement the sleeping bag warmth. Merino stays warm when wet and can go a week or two without washing and not stink.
Craghoppers NosiLife Cargo Pants (420g / 14.8oz).
100% nylon. Built in Permethrin treatment causes grief to ticks. Not the best hiking pant in the world (no elastane for stretch, no knee articulation, no ankle cinching, no diamond crotch panel, etc, etc. Why am I using it then? The anti-tick Permethrin treatment trumps all other factors as far I am personally concerned.
Insulation: Montane Prism pants (302g / 10.6oz).
40g Primaloft Eco insulation. For camp use only.
Not at all sure if I will go with this though. I may be guided by how cold the 2014 spring weather turns out to be.
Wind and rain: Patagonia Houdini Pants (84g / 3oz).
Lightweight, breathable, good DWR system. To be worn instead of hiking pants if it is obviously going to be wet all day and it is not too cold, or over the hiking pants when it is cold and windy. I am not taking dedicated rain pants because I don’t think it is worth it over these.
Berghaus Polartec 100 Fleece Liners (23g / 0.8oz).
It might be these or something similar anyway. Must be thin enough to go under the important Seirus gloves.
Seirus Innovation Hyperlite All Weather Gloves (44g / 1.6oz).
Water and wind resistant while retaining dexterity. Great little gloves. Not very warm on their own but as part of a flexible layering system they are superb.
Berghaus Ignite Mitts (74g / 2.6oz).
Primaloft 133g insulation. Warm mitts for wintry conditions.
Rain: Mountain Laurel Designs eVent Rain Mitts (34g / 1.2oz).
Can be worn on their or over any of the other gloves and work well with hiking poles. Made from eVent so are very breathable for a waterproof shell garment.
Boots: Ecco Biom Mid Hike 1.2 (595g / 21oz per boot).
Insoles: Sidas custom insoles (30g / 1.1oz).
Socks: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew sock (72g / 2.5oz).
Getting past the Grayson Highlands in Virginia or after late May (whichever comes later since it touched freezing in late May in the Shenendoahs after hitting 80 degrees the day before) you can send back your cold weather clothing and take delivery of your summer gear. So your pack weight drops as you send back things like insulated mitts, pants, and the down jacket and swap items like base layer, fleece and hiking pants for lighter-weight summer equivalents. You then reverse the process when you reach Glencliff, New Hampshire later in the year before tackling the infamous White Mountains and Maine sections.
Hot weather brings its own challenges such as bugs, dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn. Clothing needs to protect you but also not contribute to overheating you.
L1: Columbia Insect Blocker Long Sleeve Shirt (215g / 7.6oz).
A nice traditional hiking shirt with vents in the back for (some) cooling. It happens to fit me well but the main reason it is on the list is because of the Insect Blocker (Permethrin) treatment. The light color makes it easier to spot the little pests also.
L2: Patagonia Capilene 4 1/4 Zip Hoody (235g / 8.3oz).
Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency fabric. Amazing warmth for weight ratio. It’s fierce.
L3: Rab Xenon X Hoodie (344g / 12.1oz).
Primaloft One 60 in body and arms. Pertex Quantum 20d. The same family as the Generator jacket but with less insulation and with a hood (which sounds odd for summer but it will be the only insulated head-wear available).
Wind: As per Spring/Fall: Montane Slipstream Quantum GL jacket (67g). Full zip, no hood.
Rain: As per Spring/Fall: Zpacks Waterproof Breathable Cuben Fiber rainjacket (138g).
Columbia Insect Blocker Cargo Pant (255g / 9oz).
100% Nylon. InsectShield (Permethrin) built-in. Lighter fabric than the spring pants. Again, they may not be the perfect hiking pant in some respects but the ability to repel and kill ticks is all-important.
Wind and rain: As per Spring/Fall: Patagonia Houdini Pants (84g).
Berghaus Polartec 100 Fleece Liners (23g).
Seirus Innovation Hyperlite All Weather Gloves (44g).
Rain: Mountain Laurel Designs eVent Rain Mitts (34g).
(Spring/Fall only): ZPacks Goose Down Hood (34g / 1.2oz).
Primarily for sleep system since sleeping bag has no hood but can be used also any time. It means there is no need for a hood on insulated jackets.
Buff bandana (24g / 0.8oz).
Multi-purpose item: headgear, scarf, water filter and tent dryer.
Black Rock Gear down beanie (24g / 0.8oz).
No real need but too light to leave behind.
Dirty Girl Gaiters (35g / 1.2oz per pair). Ankle gaiters.
Lightweight stretchy ankle gaiters that don’t need a cord running under the boot. Left my last ones in the Lake District somewhere.
Camp and river crossing shoes: Vivo Barefoot Ultra (120g / 4.2oz per shoe).
Two part trail running shoe with plastic outer for river crossings, attachable neoprene slipper for inside tent or put both together for camp shoes.