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Layering Systems?
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Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Caustic Cock 11b redpoint
I've started to think about my outdoor clothing not as standalone pieces, but how they fit together into layering systems. Now this originally seemed vaguely like corporate bullcrap to me, but I've come to the realization that pieces aren't worn individually. They work together and are "assembled" to deal with particular conditions.

Here are a few of the scenarios that I've considered:

  • Nice summer day: light synthetic tee or baselayer and a light rainshell in the pack.
  • Rainy summer day: light synthetic tee or baselayer and a breatheable hardshell
  • Nice shoulder season day: baselayer, breatheable midlayer (R1 fleece), and a synthetic insulating layer and light rainshell in the pack.
  • Crappy shoulder season day: baselayer, breatheable midlayer (R1 fleece), heavyweight fleece or synthetic insulating layer, and hardshell
  • Nice winter day: baselayer, heavyweight fleece, softshell, and down jacket in the pack.
  • Crappy winter day: screw that.

Would you change anything about these?

There are two pieces that I am still trying to decide upon.

1.) Lightweight, packable rain/windshell: I initially considered the Patagonia Houdini, but most reviews it wets through quickly in anything but a mist, and I don't think it would be particularly useful in the case of rain coming in unexpectedly. As such, I'm thinking that either the Patagucci Alpine Houdini or OR Helium. Any thoughts on Pros/Cons between the two?

2.) Synthetic insulating layer: I already have a Patagonia Northwall softshell which features a fleece lining and a heavyweight Windblocker fleece. Neither of these were particularly lightweight or packable, so I'm thinking of splurging on a synthetic puffy. Are there any cons to this besides price? Probably durability, which may be an issue while climbing, but not so much for backpacking.

Thanks.
scienceguy288
Joined Feb 15, 2013
59 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hippos kill people
Rock Climbing Photo: this seems to work for me in most conditions.
this seems to work for me in most conditions.
germsauce
Joined Jun 14, 2010
71 points
Dec 30, 2015
I find the critical thing is that all layers need to be wind proof/resistant. Normal fleece fails this test. The reason is that wind is the real problem. If you belay with base-mid-shell then you will need to climb in base and shell or you will be too warm. If you climb in base and fleece the wind will kill you on the belay and the freece will be too hot on the climbing bits. this means you keep having to remove the shell to put the mid on and off.

You might like to read this to get a clearer idea of what I trying to say:

ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php...
David Coley
From UK
Joined Oct 26, 2013
70 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
Patagonia Houdini is an amazing/versatile piece (the regular one, not the alpine). You'll be amazed at how much wind it blocks, how much warmer you'd feel. I think if you wore it over your R1 under your softshell, you may not need a synthetic puffy (during an activity, you'd still need a puffy for standing around or when it's effin cold). I think the Alpine Houdini works in unexpected rain very well - I've hiked for about an hour in the rain in it, and stayed dry. It would probably not withstand a torrential downpour, but for unexpected couple of hours of rain it should work fine (like you said you're not into backpacking). doligo
Joined Sep 26, 2008
412 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Caustic Cock 11b redpoint
doligo wrote:
Patagonia Houdini is an amazing/versatile piece (the regular one, not the alpine). You'll be amazed at how much wind it blocks, how much warmer you'd feel. I think if you wore it over your R1 under your softshell, you may not need a synthetic puffy (during an activity, you'd still need a puffy for standing around or when it's effin cold). I think the Alpine Houdini works in unexpected rain very well - I've hiked for about an hour in the rain in it, and stayed dry. It would probably not withstand a torrential downpour, but for unexpected couple of hours of rain it should work fine (like you said you're not into backpacking).


The issue for me is cost. I just purchased a 3 layer hardshell rain shell which is far more durable and effective than a 2.5 layer rain shell. However, it is a bit heavier than I'd like if I am just carrying it as a backup on backpacking and climbing trips (sorry for the mixup, but I do backpack fairly often) in case of the odd shower. I like the idea of wind shells, but it would seem that a lightweight rain shell like the Alpine Houdini or Helium II could pull double duty rather than having separate hard, wind, and rain shells.
scienceguy288
Joined Feb 15, 2013
59 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
I agree Alpine Houdini is quite pricey. If you don't want to invest in it, try out the regular (not waterpoof) one - that piece is amazing, I wear it all year around. In the summer, over a t-shirt, in the fall/spring over a baselayer, in the winter over a mid-layer. It's a great piece for high-output cardio activities. Great for running too. Worth every penny, IMO. doligo
Joined Sep 26, 2008
412 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior
See if you can find a light weight neoshell jacket. it won't be as light as a houdini or OR helium but mine comes in just a couple of oz heavier then a windshirt and works as a hardshell, softshell and windshirt. I have worn it in the worst conditions, where neither a windshirt or hardshell was the best choice with amazing results. (Hiking out of the mountains 18+ miles in full slush conditions). For the money it is hard to beat a good windshirt. I still own and use the marmot driclime windshirt quiet a bit and you can find those on sale for cheap $25ish.
Dallen
Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Joined Aug 2, 2006
431 points
Dec 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: My buddy Andy and I making the best of the day aft...
Overall, my layering strategy is similar to what you've suggested except that I don't own and likely will never own a heavyweight fleece jacket (they're to heavy!)


FWIW, here is my layering system.

Summer
Backpacking
Last layer t-shirt, R1, OR Ferrosi (when alpine climbing), Helium II rain jacket, midnight down jacket (I refuse to be cold!), and Prana Stretch Zion pants. I'll add base layer bottoms if I think we'll encounter cold temps (<30ºF).

Alpine Rock
Base layer T-shirt, R1 or lightweight base layer. OR Ferrosi, Helium 2 in the pack, and Patagonia Nano Puff pullover. Softshell pants.

Fall
Backpacking
I may bring a more substantial softshell and maybe a warmer puffy. But overall my summer layering system is sufficient for winter. If it's going to be really cold, I'll add some fleece pants for around camp and replace the stretch zion pants for softshell ones.

Ice/alpine
Base layer, R1, Patagonia Kniferidge or BD Dawn Patrol, Patagonia NanoAir (worn over or under softshell depending on severity of conditions and maximum energy output when on the go), and a down or synthetic puffy (EB Downlight or OR Chaos)
For legs I'll go base layer bottoms and uninsulated softshell pants. If it's going to be really cold, I may switch to hardshell pants and may add in fleece pants too (I hate being cold and my legs rarely overheat!)

Winter
Backcountry Skiing / Ice climbing
Base layer t-shirt, R1, Pata Kniferidge or OR Ferrosi (depending on est. exertion level and severity of conditions, Patagonia NanoAir (over or under softshell depending exertion level and severity of conditions). OR Chaos puffy or Rab Infinity Endurance puffy. Base layer bottoms, fleece pants, and hardshell or softshell pants depending.

Spring
Backcountry Skiing
Long sleeve lightweight base layer, OR Ferrosi, Helium II, Nanopuff pullover, and midweight down jacket (EB Downlight).

With just a few pieces of gear, I've found that I can be comfortable in pretty much any environment. FWIW, I live and play mostly in Colorado where rain isn't too much of a problem. Since I picked up the Helium 2, I haven't used my goretex hardshell. I've had the Helium for over 3 years now and have used it on 40day backpacking trips (with plenty of rain!) and guided with it when you're pretty much stuck in the rain for days with no option to bail. It's a great peace!


If I were to start from scratch today, here is the gear I would buy that would pretty much suffice for most conditions. In order of my perceived value and importance: (BTW, if it comes in a hooded version, you can bet that's the wan I'd want!)

Patagonia R1 (hooded is key!)
Helium II
Midweight down (EB Downlight)
Patagonia NanoAir (or ATX Atom LT). (If I mostly did stuff in the summer, I'd probably go for the Patagonia Nano Puff instead as it's more wind resistant. Rab Xenon X is great too)
OR Ferrosi
Patagonia Kniferidge (or similar robust softshell)
Rab Neutrino Endurance (or similar overstuffed down puffy)


As for your question about a slightly heavier (midweight?) synthetic, I'd recommend the ATX Atom MX or similar 100g Primaloft Gold layer. Haven't used Primaloft Alpha, but have heard some good things. Alpha is likely more suited to lightweight synthetic layers, but idk without having used it first hand.

Best!

- Jeremy
Jeremy Bauman
From Lakewood, CO
Joined Feb 11, 2009
746 points
Dec 30, 2015
fleece is great when hiking in all week freezing rain where da sun dun shine ... not exactly climbing weather

as for actively climbing in fleece ... it depends on how COLD it is on the rock ... on cloudy winter days i climb in a fleece all the time, in the summer not so much

the nice thing about fleece and very stretchy softshells in mild conditions is that you can take the sleeves and tie it around yr shoulder bandolier style when climbing, and then take it off for belays

i find this MUCH faster than trying to stuff and unpack that windshirt/light puffy (that packs in its own pocket) at every belay

as for synthetic poofays ... theyre basically disposable items so dont spend too much on em ... get em on sale

someone did test on em and found they lost 30-40% of their insulative ability in a few weeks/months of use

The following are the reading for the four Rab Xenon's, the two I compared in the charts (bolded), and what they have been exposed to.

Juicy new = 8/16" – .016
Juicy used = 6/16" – .012 (CA rec use) Not stuffed; not slept in; and hung up between uses
Green used = 7/16" – .009 (CA for 2 wk) Not stuffed; worn for camp chores; and slept in
Brown used = 8/16" – .007 (AK for 3.5 wk) Stuffed daily; worn for camp chores; and slept in

-------

You asked, "The Xenon, stuffed, loses more than half it's clo?"

Yes. After a 3.5 week backpacking trip in AK, my previously new RAB Xenon tested at a 47% reduced insulation value.

You asked, "If we can extrapolate the 25% improvement by putting a wind-blocking barrier over the fleece, it looks as if the Xenon, once used in a backpacking scenario, slowly becomes only about 50% warmer than a 100 weight fleece with a windproof barrier?

Close. A 1/4 zip 100 wt fleece, with a properly sized wind-shirt or hard-shell over it, has an Iclo of ~.424 versus a RAB Xenon, after 3.5 of weeks of backpacking, at .642; so, the RAB Xenon is only 34% warmer. A related question is, does a synthetic garment's reduced insulation from use still provide you adequate static insulation value for your anticipated low temperature?

----------

50% is a clo loss plateau for short-staple synthetic insulations and it cannot be recovered. The first 30% occurs quickly and the next 20% a little slower.

I have MUCH less lab test data for continuous synthetic insulation (two Montbell Thermawrap Pro Hoodies). No stuffing occurred in these tests. After two years of casual wear there is a 40% clo loss.

It is interesting to note that the latest fleece versions (Thermal Pro) will also experience a maximum of 30% clo loss after approximately two weeks of conventional backpacking use. In contrast to short staple synthetics, they will recover 100% of their clo value by vigorous shaking or fluffing in a dryer for a short time. Classic fleece doesn't experience a clo loss with backpacking use but, its clo/oz is lower than an equivalent warmth Thermal Pro version.



backpackinglight.com/forums/to...

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Dec 30, 2015
Man you guys must run cold as hell to bring that much in the summer! As was said above, I find wind is what really gets me, so I typically wear a windshirt over a very light layer while active and then throw on something to be warm at belays. I bring very little on actual climbs, this list is what I bring on more technical climbs. Backpacking/mountaineering is a different story, I'll likely add more for those trips.
Temps and weather mean more than season so I'll split it that way.

Over 70, whisper thin poly dress shirt from thrift shop (I actually find that these dry faster than any "technical" crap and they cost $2-8). BD alpine start windshirt in case temps drop/shade/wind. I might bring a thin synthetic puffy, might not.

Mid 50s to 70ish, HH synthetic tee or Rab meco 120 tee, windshirt, and I do bring dead bird nuclei.

40 to mid 50s, same as above. I'll likely bring a very light montbell synthetic puffy vest that has stretch side panels (ala atom LT). That keeps the core warm, but still breathes well with the side panels, is very fast on/off over all the other layers, and is 1/3 the weight of most fleeces. It's just enough to keep you from getting *too* cold, but not be sweating either. A fleece or puffy jacket in these temps is still too much climbing.

High 20s to 40ish, base will be a thin long sleeve, probably light merino. I'll bring a grid fleece now instead of the puffy vest. A thicker belay jacket.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Dec 30, 2015
Oh and as for a shell, waterproof and sweatboxable is a poor choice. I have a very light 8 ounce shell that sometimes comes along if the forecast is questionable. I think it came out on the way out from a climb once this season.
If it looks like there is a good chance of rain I'll just go cragging or backpacking, I'm not a fan of climbing on wet lichen in the alpine.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Dec 30, 2015
scienceguy288 wrote:
I've started to think about my outdoor clothing not as standalone pieces, but how they fit together into layering systems. Now this may like some grade A corporate bullcrap, but I've come to the realization that pieces aren't worn individually. They work together and are "assembled" to deal with particular conditions.

Good job at rediscovering what was written in Freedom of the Hills over 50 years ago. Seriously, this is hardly a new concept.

outdoorgearlab.com/a/11061/Int...

smile.amazon.com/Mountaineerin...

google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&e...

sectionhiker.com/winter-day-hi...
Marc801
From Sandy, Utah
Joined Feb 25, 2014
64 points
Dec 30, 2015
Marc801 wrote:
Good job at rediscovering what was written in Freedom of the Hills over 50 years ago. Seriously, this is hardly a new concept. outdoorgearlab.com/a/11061/Int... smile.amazon.com/Mountaineerin... google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&e... sectionhiker.com/winter-day-hi...


You missed a better source: amazon.com/Extreme-Alpinism-Cl...
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Partner
For climbing ice in the Adirondacks/NorthEast, I've found this set-up to work pretty well:

-Patagonia Lightweight Capilene Long-sleeve (top)
-Patagonia R1 Hoody
-Windstopper soft-shell as my "shell." I currently use the Black Diamond Induction Hoody. Seam-taped and reasonably light for my applications. Not advertised as waterproof, but with the seams being taped, it is.
-I usually pack a 60g PrimaLoft Gold vest ( OR Cathode Vest ) or Nano Puff pullover; Temperature depending, in case my hands start to freeze. If the temps are 15º F or below, I usually always reach for the vest before the Nano Puff as it keeps my core that much warmer, but breathes ten times better than a full-on second mid-layer.
-Arc'teryx Dually Belay Parka for, you guessed it ... Belays.

For the Bottom Half:

-Synthetic Boxers
-Rab Nucleus Pants (Basically, an R1 type fleece for your legs.)
-Black Diamond Dawn Patrol soft-shell pants (Schoeller material).

On the approach, I wear everything but my Windstopper soft-shell while we hike to the base of the climb. The R1 Hoody breathes so well that I rarely ever get over-heated. Sometimes during the approach I wish I left the Rab bottom base-layer at home, but when we get to the climb and suited up, I'm glad I wore them. So are my toes.

Keep in mind, I run hot when I climb and even warmer during the approach. Your system may/will vary!
AlpineIce
From Upstate, NY
Joined Mar 2, 2011
215 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Caustic Cock 11b redpoint
Jeremy Bauman wrote:
Patagonia Kniferidge (or similar robust softshell)


How is the sizing on that? I have the Northwall (which is the older version of the Kniferidge), which fits pretty well in the body (accommodating a few layers underneath), but the arms seem too long and big. Lots of puddling near the cuffs.
scienceguy288
Joined Feb 15, 2013
59 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Caustic Cock 11b redpoint
bearbreeder wrote:
fleece is great when hiking in all week freezing rain where da sun dun shine ... not exactly climbing weather


Was hoping that all my climbing pieces could double as backpacking apparel. Maybe not...

bearbreeder wrote:
as for synthetic poofays ... theyre basically disposable items so dont spend too much on em ... get em on sale someone did test on em and found they lost 30-40% of their insulative ability in a few weeks/months of use


Good to know. Thanks!
scienceguy288
Joined Feb 15, 2013
59 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Caustic Cock 11b redpoint
AlpineIce wrote:
For climbing ice in the Adirondacks/NorthEast


As it so happens, that's where I play most often.

AlpineIce wrote:
I usually always reach for the vest before the Nano Puff as it keeps my core that much warmer, but breathes ten times better than a full-on second mid-layer.


Huh. I've heard mixed opinions of vests. I suppose you're right, but I have bad circulation and my hands get cold pretty quick. It's a space/weight tradeoff, I suppose...

AlpineIce wrote:
Keep in mind, I run hot when I climb and even warmer during the approach. Your system may/will vary!


I tend to warm up a bit, but run cold in general. I realize that it's hard to make recommendations because conditions and peoples' preferences/bodies vary. Thanks, though!
scienceguy288
Joined Feb 15, 2013
59 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Suicide with tahquitz during bee season
I'll agree with the R1 and regular shell Houdini combo. If you wait it out you'll see them pop up on MP quite regularly. I paid maybe $100 for my R1 and Houdini all together here on MP. It's nice having a jacket to ball up and clip to a gear loop. Justin. S
From Big Bear City, CA
Joined Feb 17, 2014
155 points
Dec 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Rump roast II, pistol whipped, Indian Creek  Photo...
Regarding your specific considerations:

#1- I have an OR helium (Don't remember the name but the slightly heavier/tougher version) and Pata M10. If the M10 had side/hand pockets it would be my single piece as it has tougher fabric. It goes climbing with me, but for everything else, I prefer the pockets. The helium seems OK for light duty, but the fabric and waterproofing seems to wear fast. I also have a Houdini, consider it a wind shell, not rain.

#2- Light hooded synth jacket, always more functional and warmer for the weight for me than heavy fleece in an outdoor setting. Exceptions: cragging doing chimneys and OW, then fleece, cotton sweat or rugby shirt

Also, for my skinny natural lack of insulation and metabolism, in any cooler temps I use/carry a micro-medium light fleecy layer. I am not caught up in the R1 hype, more like $15 Columbia etc closeouts, but similar weight. 1/4 zip or hooded depending on the particular day or trip.

Still haven't had a softshell that I really liked, a few insulating layers and hard shells work better for me.
mountainhick
From Black Hawk, CO
Joined Mar 19, 2009
222 points
Jan 8, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: My buddy Andy and I making the best of the day aft...
scienceguy288 wrote:
How is the sizing on that? I have the Northwall (which is the older version of the Kniferidge), which fits pretty well in the body (accommodating a few layers underneath), but the arms seem too long and big. Lots of puddling near the cuffs.


I'd definitely recommend sizing down. My friends who normally wear a Medium would swim in a Large. The Small fit much better.

outdoorgearlab.com/Softshell-J...
Jeremy Bauman
From Lakewood, CO
Joined Feb 11, 2009
746 points
Jan 8, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: OTL
FYI: The R1 is warm to climb in. I need 40s or lower and shade for the R1 to be an active layer, or its too hot.

Recently picked up the Cap 4 zip neck and new 'thermal' hoody, for chilly, not freezing days. This is in CA where I look at forecasts and try hard to not be caught in the rain, if possible.

windshirts are awesome. Marmot Ions could be had for ~$30 w/ coupon at sierra trading post. Mine has held up well too. Not uber light but 5.x oz I think. Cheap enough to wear while crack climbing too, if needed.

as I just did the most recent search on the R1/Cap 4 alternatives, here's a partial list from memory
R1 / MEC T3 (BB's fav) / Marmot thermo
Cap 4/Thermal / Rab AL / MEC T2

after extensive searching, I bought the new patagucci thermal hoody. Got backcountry to match basegear (35% off), plus 10% cashback from activejunky. So ~$70.
basegear.com/basetops.html?sb3...
^ limited sizes now. Had one L earlier this week.

Search out the alternatives and try to find a deal. No way an R1 is worth $160 (to my cheap ass).
Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Oct 20, 2010
378 points
Jan 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
This guy is selling a Houdini for half price: mountainproject.com/v/fs-black... doligo
Joined Sep 26, 2008
412 points


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