Sunday, February 2, 2014

Learning to Layer for Trail Hiking

There is a large learning curve to my ability to dress for the hike and for the weather simultaneously.  To hike in Boise in the winter you have to contend with a variety of factors and conditions.  Trail conditions change from day to day and it often forces you on the trail during the coldest part of the day.

This morning was a prime example of us needing to be at Seaman's Gulch before the warmth of the afternoon was upon us due to the muddiness of the trails once they have thawed for the day.  It was in the 20 degree range at 8:00 a.m. and that meant layers for the short 2.4 mile hike. 

I often over dress for the conditions having a difficult time judging when I will internally warm up during a hike.  It is the elevation gain that seems to be the deciding factor in my case.  If I am really working I warm up rather fast and find myself shedding jackets, hats and gloves pretty quickly.  But if I am not working an incline I need to stay bundled up and actually end up with a chill if I shed too many layers or do not dress warmly enough as soon as I start the hike.  Too many layers and I perspire and catch a chill.  Too few and I am cold to the bone.  It's really a juggle in finding just the right combination of clothes for the weather and trail conditions.

Although none of this is a great revelation I can't imagine I am not the only one who has struggled to find the exact balance to being comfortable temperature wise on the trail.  On Friday I zipped over to Go Lite to snatch up one of their Vermillion Thermal 1/4-Zip Top's that they have for an additional $10 off.  The fast-drying athletic fleece is said to be good to wear in all seasons.  I doubt most people consider dog hair in their clothing choices but with one black dog and one tan dog I also needed a jacket that would not show tons of dog hair thus I picked a grey jacket vs. black (my go to color).

Today I wore my new jacket with two additional layers.  I started with a Go Lite base layer and then a second thin long john layer (I borrowed from Anthony).  Just in case I did bring my fluffy hot pink down jacket which I carried in the backpack.  I also carried a baseball hat in case my stocking cap became too warm.  Although I was "cool" while hiking I was not "cold" and the stocking cap was needed.  At least for today's hike the layers were just right.  Last weekend I hiked distance and not elevation and I needed the down jacket and stocking cap the entire time.  Slowly but surely I am getting the hang of layering effectively.  Now if I can just figure out what do with all that hair of mine on the trail. 

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