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Topic: Kitting for 4 season mid-Appalachians< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 7:03 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello everyone, this is my first post (IIRC).*

I am currently buying and researching gear so I can start hiking and camping, and eventually do some backpacking. So please forgive my general ignorance and noob-ness.

I live in Charleston SC, but I want to build a kit for everything from the lower Appalachians to the middle Appalachians, 4 season. Say, the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee in winter at the coldest, and the swamps of South Carolina in summer at the hottest.

I know how dress for the latter, but not the former. What kind of clothing selection will I need for 4 seasons in the KY/TN mountains? A link to a gear list tailored to these conditions would be great. I'm trying mightily to keep costs down, but I'm not on a shoestring budget, either.

I also have a question about gaiters. Are they something I can wear over my shoes/boots and wade through water and keep the footwear dry inside, or are they more for rain/dew/splashes?

*  (I see that it's actually my 3rd post, lol. I posted back when I was a fat man looking to become a not-fat man, and in need of snake boots. I'm happy to report I'm no longer a fat man. Well, almost. I went from 270 to 215, and still dropping weight)
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 8:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Itchnay on the gaiters question.

As for the clothing: get lots of layers.  I use pretty much the same clothes all year round, but when it's warmer I lose some of the layers and zip off my pant legs.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 8:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello there, I also hike the Applachians - mid atlantic - and I can give you what works for me, but you'll find this kind of stuff is pretty subjective. My gear works for me, but maybe not you.
I have a four season setup that basically starts out with my warm weather gear, and I just add to it as temperatures drop.
My clothing:
nylon pants and shirt
Will add micro weight base layer (I prefer wool in cooler temps, synthetics for hot sweaty summer.)
Right now I'm using Nordic Trak base t shirts from Sears that work as well as any of the more expensive hiking-specific gear I've used. Works well for summer heat.
As temps drop further, I'll add midweight wool baselayer. Colder still, I'll combine them in camp.
Midlayer for fall/winter - fleece sweater
lightweight synthetic fill jacket (montbell thermawrap. expensive but worth it. There are other less expensive choices out there.) I prefer this over fleece outerwear due to it being lighter in weight and much more wind resistant.
Hardshell hooded rain jacket and rain pants.top it off.
For snow and really cold xc camping conditions, I add a synthetic fill hooded parka and insulated pants, insulated  boots.
I choose all my clothing so I can layer it as I need it. My sleeping bag is just big enough that I can wear my insulated thermwrap and insulated pants if its colder than I expect. Saves carrying a really warm bag. There's a number of ways you can make your gear multi use and save weight.

Shelter is a tarptent that is rated for 4 season. Adequate for the conditions I hike in (below tree line), down bag, exped downmat pad.
So in a nutshell, this is the basis for the system I use.

I've grown to prefer synthetic fill for garments, down fill for sleeping bag. I figure I have more of a chance of getting my clothing damp or wet than my bag. and since I hike alone most of the time, I like the added tiny bit of insurance.
As for gaiters, they'll keep your boots dry for short quick crossings. But that's it. Big streams, I either just wade in, or change into other shoes.  I wear a short eVent gaiter to keep my pants dry(er) on muddy trails. I like using them. Many of the ultralighters don't.
Pay attention the the weight of items you choose. It adds up quick.
I can send you a more specific list if you want. I avoided brands in this post because they are really unimportant. I look for the features I need, and buy that. Inevitably, something I really wanted was way out of the budget. So I saved for it and waited for it to go on sale. You'll end up getting it all eventually!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 12:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(3pinner @ Jul. 23 2013, 8:18 pm)
QUOTE
Hello there, I also hike the Applachians - mid atlantic - and I can give you what works for me, but you'll find this kind of stuff is pretty subjective.

Thanks, great response. Let me back up a bit and mention some of my gear, since, as you mentioned, everything's tied together.

My sleep system right now is military surplus, the MSS (Military Sleep System). It's basically two synthetic sleeping bags and a bivy. The lighter, 3 season bag goes inside the larger, cold-weather bag. Combined, they're rated to -20deg (I just read a page reviewing the MSS, and it gets hazy about the rating, because the military standards assumed a base layer is worn). It's very heavy (10 or 11 lbs. IIRC), but I got it for about $100 which was much cheaper than any of the new commercial stuff I've seen reviewed. I wanted something now, and figured I could buy something better down the line when I want to and budget allows (I've read a lot of folks saying the same thing you do, that down bags make more sense since it's not too hard to keep your bag dry).

Anyway, I was thinking that my tent or tarp decisions will be based around the bivy. I don't think I want a full tent, at least not until I get everything else loaded out and see where I am weight-wise. I don't really know anything about the little tent-like things that go over bivvies, so I'm going to hold off worrying about tents until I've had a chance to thoroughly research the options. But I'd welcome your input since you're experienced with the weather conditions I'm planning for.

Here's the clothing I've purchased so far:

The North Face Hedgehog III GTX Shoes

RedRam by Icebreaker Merino Wool Base Layer Top - Zip Neck, Long Sleeve

RedRam by Icebreaker Merino Wool Leggings - Base Layer

Columbia Men's Mountain Tech III S/S Shirt

Columbia Sportswear Cool Creek Stretch Convertible Pants

Condor synthetic microfleece watch cap
Rip-stop boonie hat
Darn Tough merino socks

AFAIK, the Redrams are considered a lightweight base layer.

I definitely plan to get a fleece jacket with a hood.

I figured I'd need something more for winter but I have so little experience with cold weather that I don't know where to begin. I wasn't sure about the hard shell rain jacket and pants but it sounds like I'll need them, and a set of winter pants, too.

QUOTE
There's a number of ways you can make your gear multi use and save weight.


That's exactly what I'm trying to do, make sure my stuff plays well together and eliminate redundancy and thus, extra weight and bulk.

You mentioned that you stay below the tree line, yeah, I don't plan on sleeping any higher than that. You mentioned everyone's unique. I run pretty warm. I produce a lot of body heat and I sweat a lot. I don't know if it's because I'm of northern European extraction, or what.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 8:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was looking at all the $500 hard shells (jackets alone!) and escaped again into the arms of milsurp. I bought ECWCS Gen II outer gore-tex layer, parka and trousers. Got 'em both for about $140, shipped. I hope I'm not kidding myself that they constitute a "true" hardshell (assuming they both really are Propper/US issue as advertised, and not knock-offs)?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 9:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Now I'm looking at midweight fleece jackets, and I can't help wondering if a 200-weight fleece/Polartech midweight is a 200-weight fleece/Polartech midweight is a...you get the idea. Is there something inferior about this Cabela's Granite Canyon Jacket that justifies the $100-200 price tags of the favored brands, or should I go ahead and grab it? Why are the big brands all so much more expensive?

Edit:

You know, the more I think about it, the more I become convinced that these review sites are totally full of $#!^. Take outdoorgearlab.com, for example. At first glance, it's really nice; you get really extensive comparisons of a wide array of gear. You want a fleece jacket? They've got a review of 22 "top-tier" men's fleeces. What more could a shopper ask for? Except, there's no baseline. It's all Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, North Face, Arc-Teryx, Outdoor Research, Columbia.

Where's the military surplus? Where's the Cabela's? Where's the generic stuff? Sure, they could include one or two, and give them low reviews whether they deserved them or not. But I think they might - consistently - exclude this stuff because they don't want to lie. They'd rather lie by omission. I mean, if they were really interested in giving their readers the biggest bang for their buck, why don't they review any of the milsurp stuff? The off-brand stuff?

And where are their reviews of Kifaru, Mystery Ranch, Eberlestock, KUIU, Sitka, etc?

Am I the only one who thinks something stinks here?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 2:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm going to ask everyone to sit before asking this question.

I'll wait.

Okay, how much does your pack weigh?


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 2:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

3 or 4 pounds, depending on which one I take.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 3:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(reubenstump @ Jul. 24 2013, 1:42 pm)
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3 or 4 pounds, depending on which one I take.

So...about the same as the OP's rain gear. Why so heavy?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 3:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(reubenstump @ Jul. 24 2013, 2:42 pm)
QUOTE
3 or 4 pounds, depending on which one I take.

Oiled canvas and leather straps?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 3:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

First, you don't have to spend a bunch of money to get decent, lightweight equipment. I posted such a list here: Budget Backpacker's Gear List

It doesn't mirror mine, but it's close. I have a two-person tent I bought for <$100 and comes in under 5 lbs -- not bad for a two-person when you divide it. Otherwise, I'll be opting for a tarp/groundcloth setup when the bugs are gone. About two pounds and $70 for the cheap option (Equinox Egret 8x10, $50; a 5x7 generic footprint for a tent $15; aluminum tent stakes, $5.) Add DWR as necessary. For warmer weather, get a mosquito net -- military surplus/Coghlin's, $15, add a half pound. You can get down to a pound and a half (or less!) for several hundred dollars (silnylon, cuben fiber, high-tech sail cloth, titanium, carbon fiber, etc.)

And there's the option of a lean-to if you time it right. Even then, a tarp over the opening can block heat-stealing wind and win-borne precipitation.

Speaking of timing; as a budget backpacker, your best friend is timing. And a loyalty to particular retailers. I never pay full price for anything. Instead, I get an email from Sierra Trading Post, an online retailer. They have already great deals, but I make a wish list and wait for a stack of offers, like free shipping and 30%, and get as much stuff as I can afford from the list. Join REI, buy stuff, and you get a dividend of 20% at some point in the year. They're a little pricey, but the dividend offsets it, and they have a peerless returns policy.

Military surplus gear, for the most part, is useless as it weighs too much -- made to last repeated, heavy use. Camping gear is lighter, and while it is meant to be somewhat durable, even heavy use is considered six to ten or so times a year. And you don't even use the same setup every trip. Backpacking gear is lighter, yet, and again, heavy use is considered perhaps ten times a year. Ultralight gear, typically used by thru-hikers and bicyclists, is the very lightest. Their trips may last days, but some spend weeks or months for a true thru-hike. Sometimes their gear survives one trip.

There are options. You can find some good deals at retail outfitters, but beware quality and weight. There are a bunch of gear trade/selling website links peppered throughout this site, or google it.

Get your pack last. Buy High Fill Power Down when you can afford it. Dress in layers. Let people know when and where you're going. Check this out: Ten Essential Systems


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 4:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(bigsilk @ Jul. 24 2013, 3:15 pm)
QUOTE

(reubenstump @ Jul. 24 2013, 2:42 pm)
QUOTE
3 or 4 pounds, depending on which one I take.

Oiled canvas and leather straps?

That's up to her.   :D
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 5:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh, and there are different gaiters for different applications. I have two pair: One is a pair meant for colder climes, bullet cloth, GoreTex, go up my knees. The other is embedded with Permethrin, an insect repellent, and only go up to my lower shin.

Some gaiters, like scree gaiters for runners, are very tight and often have no fasteners.

They always go outside your shoe, and are almost never meant to keep your feet 'dry,' but to avoid them from getting wet from precipitation or snow you're kicking through, as well as from dirt, rocks and scree, and from getting your laces stuck on every branch, root, and rock you pass.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2013, 6:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow! Lotta replies in one day!
You mention military surplus gear, I started out with some of that in the beginning, and in all honesty, there are a couple of things I still actually use that are mil surplus. One is some Swiss wool pants for some winter trips where it is cold enough to actually wear them while hiking. Warm as the dickens, and very breathable as well. Cheap. 10 bucks plus a tailor to fit them.The other is a navy turtleneck wool sweater. Now my fleece sweater is lighter, and I usually carry that, but on occasion, I'll still bring the wool one because I started out with all wool stuff.
My old winter gear list ran kind of like this:
Wool pants and wool shirt (about flannel weight) for hiking in cold.
Heavy (in thickness and weight!) sweater,
Hooded insulated parka (my most expensive piece of gear at the time)
60/40 shell, and waterproof rain pants.
Felt lined boots
I was never cold in that getup. but it was quite heavy. I didn't care at the time, I just didn't go far, and still had a great time.

My point is - there's so much to choose from it can be very intimidating when starting out. You really don't need a $500.00+ rain shell to stay dry.( A lotta guys just use a pancho for both their rain gear AND their shelter). There are many nice modest priced jacket/pants combinations that work well.  Use what you have. Get what you can. Get out there and see what works.
My gear selection is always morphing in some way or another, yours will too as gain experience.

Lastly - try winter camping in the back yard - literally! You'll find out real quick whether something will work or not.
You've entered the black hole of gear mania! Welcome. We'll see ya on the trail.
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