Friday, June 14, 2024

Winter Pant Layering for Hikers Who Sweat

Winter Hikers wearing Short Pants

One of many largest challenges confronted by winter hikers is determining a clothes layering system that retains them heat and dry throughout all kinds of temperatures, wind chills, and exertion ranges. It takes quite a lot of experimentation to dial in a system that works for you and it’s one thing I’ve been tweaking for years. On this put up, I clarify what I take advantage of for winter pants layering and the method that led me to the clothes I take advantage of immediately.

This put up can be a response to a reader who’s combating the difficulty of sweating in winter, and who appreciates the truth that I discuss sweat in my evaluations.  Yeah, I sweat. Particularly in winter, after I want to hold a minimum of twice as a lot security and survival gear for mountaineering within the mountains. Winter mountaineering, snowshoeing, mountain climbing, and mountaineering are so completely different from the three-season mountaineering I do, that I’ve to virtually consider them as a separate sport.

Pant Layering Elements

Listed below are the elements of the winter pant layering system I take advantage of immediately:

I do most of my winter mountaineering within the White Mountains in New Hampshire the place the temperatures vary from 30 levels all the way down to -15 levels Fahrenheit with wind chills all the way down to 30 beneath zero. My winter hikes sometimes final 6-10 hours and I ceaselessly modify, add, or take away clothes to stop perspiring relying on my exertion degree. Layering is the one technique to modify your clothes to such a variety of temperature situations.


I generate quite a lot of warmth after I climb elevation in winter and I want to have the ability to vent it in a short time or I sweat. Sweating is regular, but when it soaks your base layer, you’ll chill extra quickly while you cease shifting. The important thing to stopping perspiration is to vent the warmth and/or transfer it away out of your base layers up into your mid-layers the place it will possibly evaporate with out chilling you.

For temperatures all the way down to about 10 levels, I put on the Underneath Armor Boxers, REI Activator V3 Smooth Shell Pants, and the OR Crocodile Gaiters. This successfully provides me two layers of protection for the reason that boxers finish simply above my knee and the gaiters begin just under it. I nonetheless generate quite a lot of warmth, however most of it’s vented by my pants. That is all I want for many of my winter hikes.

It’s a bit completely different beneath the knee and below the gaiter, the place I are likely to sweat rather a lot. That was an issue for me as a result of the sweat would soak my socks and decrease legs. Nonetheless, I’ve began sporting oven-roasting baggage over a sock liner and below a heavy sock in my winter boots. I’ll discuss that have extra in a subsequent put up, however the net-net is that I don’t get moist socks anymore as a result of the perspiration can’t cross by way of the non-breathable oven-roasting bag. I primarily do that on in a single day winter journeys however not day hikes, so my boots don’t take in moisture and freeze in a single day. If you’d like one thing a bit bit extra upscale than oven-roasting baggage, attempt Rab Vapor Barrier  Socks. They’re designed for a similar factor however are simpler to clean and reuse.

If it’s colder than 0 levels and if there’s a wind chill advisory, I put on a KUIU Extremely-Merino Zip-Off Lengthy Underwear below the REI softshell pants, for extra heat. It needs to be actually chilly for me to do that. This KUIU underwear is basically distinctive as a result of it has facet zips alongside every leg, that allow you to take the lengthy underwear off with out eradicating your footwear or pants, or placing it again on. This makes it actually versatile for layering. Initially developed for hunters, I believe they’re a finest purchase for winter mountaineering.

If I’m feeling chilly throughout the hike, I put Outside Analysis Helium Rain Pants on over the REI Activator 3.0 Smooth Shell Pants. The Helium Pants are very light-weight waterproof/breathable shell pants (6.7 oz) with ankle-high boot zips so I can put them on or take them off with out eradicating my boots.  That’s a giant benefit. I primarily use the Helium Pants as a wind barrier, though they’re completely waterproof as effectively. If in case you have bigger boots, attempt the Precip Full Zip Rain Pant. These rain pants have full-length zippers down every leg so you possibly can put them on or take them off with out eradicating giant boots. They’re additionally straightforward to vent as a result of they’ve full-length zippers alongside the skin: I used them for a few years myself.

I solely put on my Mountain Hardwear Compressor Alpine Pants within the night whereas cooking and melting snow on winter backpacking journeys or if I want to face round for an prolonged time frame outside. I additionally pack them on day hikes as a type of insurance coverage in case I damage myself or want to assist an injured hiker. They’re nice when you’re not shifting a lot, however I instantly sweat in them if I begin to hike with a pack on.

Softshell Pants – My Huge Breakthrough

My largest breakthrough by way of winter pants was after I began sporting softshell pants. These are hotter than regular three-season mountaineering pants, they’re far more windproof, waterproof, and extremely breathable. I began off with REI Mistral Pants (now not made), REI Activator 1.0 Pants (now not made), REI Activator 2.0 Pants (now not made), and now put on REI Activator 3.0 Pants. I put on them each time temperatures drop beneath freezing. They’re simply improbable and I can’t advocate them extremely sufficient.

Earlier than this, I used to put on lengthy underwear and the Marmot Precip full-zip pants on most hikes. The great factor about that system is that you may vent the shell pants throughout a variety of temperatures and exertion ranges by opening or closing the zips. Nonetheless, I used to be at all times too sizzling and tended to sweat. On prime of that, I discovered it awkward to hike in shells that had been unzipped on a regular basis.

Classes Discovered

If I had been to summarize the teachings I’ve discovered about pants layering, it’d be the next:

  1. Don’t spend some huge cash on one garment and count on that it’ll carry out in quite a lot of situations. You’re higher off spending your cash on a mixture of skinny layers that every do the factor they’re designed for very effectively.
  2. Don’t fear about being too chilly. In case you are shifting, you’ll generate quite a lot of warmth. As a substitute, intention to be barely cool.
  3. Do not forget that your underwear (boxer shorts) and gaiters depend as a layer. Including one other base layer on prime of them could make you sweat excessively.
  4. Wind-proof or wind-resistant layers entice warmth as a lot as they maintain out wind and may have a very massive impression in your heat degree even when it’s not windy.
  5. Attempt to use clothes which can be excellent at shifting sweat away out of your pores and skin to the subsequent highest layer in your layering system. This may be completed by utilizing a wicking baselayer, a porous grid-like fleece sweater like Patagonia R1, or full zip shell pants which could be unzipped to shed quite a lot of additional warmth and quickly evaporate sweat.

Final Up to date October 2023

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