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Thread: Winter Traverse

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Default Winter Traverse

    Hello -

    I'm heading up to the Whites in late February for a crack at the Presidential Traverse. I've completed the hike numerous times but never in the dead of winter.

    I'm trying to decide on what gear to go with for base layering.

    In the past I've simply gone with a single baselayer that is light/mid weight, fleece pants, and a rainproof shell pant. Similar for upper body.

    I'm wondering if there's an advantage to going with a lightweight base and then a heavier weight baselayer on top of the light.

    Any thoughts? I feel my base layering system is most critical to my warmth.

    What brands are you guys liking for this stuff too? I've been a fan of smartwool in the past.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts

    Default baselayer

    Clothing choices are highly personal, and is something that each of us refine from experience. What is comfortable for one person may not work for another. However, you are on the right track, regarding paying close attention to your baselayer. I feel it's the most critical in determining your comfort level. There's not much difference between expeditionweight baserlayers and say microfleece insulation layers - pretty much a tossup. When I'm on a multi-day trip, on my upper body I wear a lightweight baselayer and bring an expedition weight top, micro fleece top with hood, MH softshell jacket, goretex jacket and parka. These can all be worn at once in the order listed, for cold nights around camp, or in any combination while climbing depending on conditions. The reason I bring the expedition weight top on a multiday trip is that in the event my base layer gets wetter than I would like, I can take it off and put it with me in my sleeping bag at night where it will dry, and wear the expedition weight against my skin. At night your body heat can become a clothes dryer for damp socks, gloves, etc in this manner. On a one day trip I often employ a different strategy and bring an extra lightweight baselayer, should I need it.
    p.s. - I've never used smartwool but have been using bergeline and techwick and have been very happy with them.
    Last edited by climbabout; 01-29-2009 at 02:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts


    There are a lot of variables that go into dressing. I run much hotter than many and therefore wear less clothing than most. However, I always have insulators in my pack for when I am not moving. The end of February could be -30 or +30 so you will need to watch the weather and plan accordingly. Also, wicking materials are meant to be worn in thin layers. Typically in the winter (subzero temps) I still only wear a poly T shirt and two zip necks for the initial ascent. Once I get just below tree line I usually take the first layers off and put them over the outer zip. Your body temp actually dries the first layers thru the poly material. There are a million ways to dress for the traverse, just keep in mind that you will need to be able to dry everything either on your body or in your sleeping bag for it to be of any value the following day.

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