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Re: [at-l] Clothing?

Hello Phil -

You asked:

>... Right now I am looking for suggestions on what daily clothing to buy.
>What >lasts?...

I used cotton blend shorts during my entire AT thru-hike ('93 southbound,
June thru mid-Dec).  I used cotton blend t-shirts during the warm summer
months and moved to a mid-weight capaline t-neck as the weather got colder.

I started with rain pants in Maine and accidentally left them behind during
a town stop at the Andover Arms (VERY nice stop!).  They were mailed to my
home and I didn't bother with getting them back until fall.  I would put
them on over the shorts when hiking below freezing and the wind was blowing
pretty good.  I would layer my parka (Moonstone 3-layer gor-tex) over the
capaline shirt when it got really cold (single digit), the wind was
particularly bad, or I was hiking in freezing rain.  I used gaiters (OR
Croc's) in all but the hottest weather.

In the hot weather I slept in the raw at first...then I got tired of
sleeping in a bag that I couldn't keep clean.  I started using "sleep
clothing" that could be washed during town stops as the weather got a
little cooler (learned from my son who had spent a couple seasons as a
ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch <g>).  I bought some light-weight capaline
long johns to use as sleep clothing.

By the end of the trip, I had learned to change out of my hiking clothes
(hang 'em up to dry/air out) and into my sleep clothes as soon as I hit the
shelter each night.  I carried a light nylon wind suit (single layer,
anorak shirt and pull-on pants) to wear over the long johns as I putzed
around the shelter before going to bed.  As the weather dropped below
freezing most of the time, my wife sent my old fleece paddling vest which I
wore under the wind shirt when outside my sleeping bag.  The wind suit and
the vest shared a stuff sack and became my pillow when I shucked down to
the long johns for sleeping.

I carried the following clothing to hike in during my AT hike:

1 pair hiking shorts
1 t-shirt (mid-weight capaline as the weather got colder)
1 pair underwear (cotton at first, then capaline for the rest of the trip)
3 pair hiking socks (Thorlo trekking, rotate during the day)

Rain pants (as weather got colder)
bill cap
Thermax liner gloves
Outer mittens (OR gor-tex shells)
Boggen (as weather got colder)

I went through two pairs of hiking shorts on the trail (still wear them,
but they are more than a bit worn out).  I went through 5 or 6 t-shirts.  I
had to get a second capaline mid-weight t-neck (fried the first learning
how NOT to use kero to relight Rusty's wood stove <g>), but it is still
going strong.  I used a total of six pairs of the Thorlo trekking's, but
only had to throw away a couple pairs.  The rest are still being used.

Did I learn anything about clothing for distance hiking?  You bet!

I will never EVER use cotton again on a distance hike for ANYTHING but a
bandanna.  Period.  I discovered that I prefer to hike in shorts even when
well below freezing, as long as the wind isn't bad and I have gaiters to
help keep my knees warm.  I found that I do just fine with one set of
clothing for hiking and another set for sleeping...no more is needed
(everything gets washed during the town stops).  I found that the Thorlo
trekking socks do fine for me (both hot and cold weather) without liner
socks and that rotating the Thorlo's helps them keep their loft between
town-stop washings.

I did the PCT a couple years later ('95 northbound) and carried slightly
different clothing:

1 pair hiking shorts w/zip-on legs (Sportif, supplex, tan)
1 long-sleeve shirt (Sportif, supplex, white)
no underwear
3 pair Thorlo trekking socks (rotate every two hours)

same set of outer clothing except that I didn't bother with the rain pants
(the rest of it was same stuff that I used on the AT).

My sleep clothing was slightly different (no shelters - we slept in the
open unless it was raining, then we used a trail tarp):

light-weight capaline long johns during summer months
mid-weight capaline long johns in upper Cascades and above 9,000' in
Sierras (we had done a snow-induced skip and came back to do the high
Sierras in October).
Same wind shirt to wear at night (all cooking, eating, etc. was done while
half-in my sleeping bag).  I usually wore a fleece boggin to bed (kept the
bag clean and gave me a place to put my watch where I could hear the

Didn't use the wind pants as sleep clothing, but did carry them (couple
ounces) in case of need while hiking...used them only once to protect my
leg-meat after dark on an ice-covered trail with plenty of sharp ice and
stones to fall into.

Did I learn anything new about clothing for distance hiking?  You bet!

Supplex does fine for me on the trail.  I don't carry soap (LNT nut <g>)
and the supplex stays relatively clean and odor-free with simple rinsing at
water stops.  The white long-sleeve shirt worked great in desert temps
(105f plus near Palm Springs) and in the October high-Sierra passes (kinda
cold!).  The zip-leg shorts proved to be surprisingly robust - the fabric
was VERY protective of my hide and the dinky little zippers managed to last
1300-1400 miles (I was given a replacement set of shorts and shirt at about
the midpoint of my hike).  The Thorlo's did great in the hot desert and
while slogging thru all the snow - I changed to a new set of 3 pairs at the
midpoint because the loft was getting low in the ones I had...then I
discovered that one washing with fabric softener brought the loft right
back!  I can't tell that my sleep clothing is worn at all.

I still use everything I wore on the PCT hike.  In fact, I am wearing one
of the supplex shirts and a pair of the Thorlo's (AT/PCT - I can't tell
them apart anymore) even as I sit here typing <g>.

My clothing for my next distance hike (CDT?) will probably look much like
the stuff I used on the PCT.  In fact, if I don't inherit or win the
lottery before then, I might just start out with my "PCT experienced" stuff

Don't worry too much about making the perfect choice from the getgo...you
will have PLENTY of time to figure out what works best for you <g>.  Carry
a few extra $ and plan to upgrade as you get smarter and can yogi a ride to
near-trail outfitters (don't forget that Campmor and REI are pretty good
about getting stuff to your next town stop...that's one good reason to
either carry plastic or have somebody at home order for you!).

If you DO decide to wear anything with cotton in it, be sure to stay
downwind of anybody you care about and don't plan on any LONG rides in a
car with the windows rolled up.  Heaven help 'em if they turn on the car

Good luck on choosing what to start with...a LOT of the fun of a distance
hike is in the deciding what to do...and then changing your mind later!

y'all come,
            Charlie II

charlie2@ro.com    Huntsville,Al

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