Q:

What hiking apparel is most appropriate for moderately cool weather?

I'm going on a trek through the Indian Himalayas near Darjeeling in early March, and don't know what, or how much, to bring. We’ll spend several days hiking between villages in moderately cool weather. What should I bring, and are iodine tablets sufficient to make the water safe? Chris Cincinnati, Ohio

Feb 14, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Jacket

Monkey Man Jacket

A:

Um…a little late in the game to be thinking about what to pack for a big trip like that, eh, Chris? But we’ll see what we can do.

Weather-wise, you can expect lows around freezing, highs in the 60s, and a chance of rain. Although it will be chillier in the surrounding hills. But overall it sounds quite a bit like my fair city, Port Townsend, WA, more or less right now.

So here’s what I’d pack:
A light base layer. Ideal would be wool (Icebreaker Bodyfit 150, $50 each for tights and long-sleeve crewneck shirt; icebreaker.com). But a good synthetic is fine too, such as REI’s Lightweight MTS (rei.com) is fine and costs about half of what wool does.
A midweight fleece jacket, such as Mountain Hardwear’s Monkey Man Jacket ($140; mountainhardwear.com).
A warmer layer for your legs, something such as the Midweight version of MTS ($30).
Rainwear, such as the Marmot Oracle Jacket ($160; marmot.com) and Marmot Precip Pants ($90).

I’d be inclined to also take one light insulation piece, maybe Mont-Bell’s UL Down Inner Jacket ($140; montbell.com).

And of course you’ll want general trekking gear, such as Ex Officio’s Amphi Pants ($70; exofficio.com) and Air Stripe Light Shirt ($70). And accessories such as light gloves and a light fleece hat, that kind of stuff.

Are you part of a group? If so, they’ll surely have water-filtering gear. If not, it’s true that Potable Aqua iodine tablets ($6.50; potableaqua.com) kill baddies. But you also want to clean the water, so I suggest a filter and purifying solution. Pack an MSR SweetWater Microfilter ($70; msrgear.com) and SweetWater Purifier Solution ($10).

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