Gear Guy


What's the best layering strategy for hiking Mt. Washington?

I seek wisdom from the experienced Gear Guy on winter clothing layering. I will be hiking up Mt. Washington in January and I am hoping I can beseech your advice on finding the best layering combination (starting with base-layer clothing suggestions to mid-layer clothing suggestion and finally the outer shell layer suggestion). Thank you, exulted Gear Guy!
St. Louis, MO


One word. Layer, layer, layer. Okay, that's one word three times, but you get the picture. Maybe even moderately hefty layers—Mount Washington in January is potentially a pretty nasty place. After all, it has an official record low of -50 F, and once recorded a wind gust of 231 miles per hour. That is not a typo. Two. Three. One.

I'd start with a good, light, wicking T. Mountain Hardwear's long-sleeved Wicked Lite Double T ($40) is a good one. It provides some light insulation next to the skin, but more importantly keeps you dry. Over that, a warm base layer. I'd recommend wool, such as the Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Mondo Zip-T ($80). Then another, heavier insulating layer. The North Face's Pumore Fleece Jacket ($99) is a classic piece. It's made with Polartec 200, and feels light yet offers a surprising amount of warmth.

Over all of that, toss a good shell. I currently like REI's Shuksan ($299) because of its great price and use of highly breathable eVent fabric. Arc'Teryx's Theta AR ($500) is rather pricey, but comes in a longer cut for more coverage and uses Gore's excellent Pro Shell material. It's a totally bomb-proof shell.

That would be my basic kit—and there are equivalent pieces for your legs (although there you probably could get by with either a wool or fleece layer and a shell over that). But I'd carry a few other things. Some sort of fill-insulated piece, for instance. Maybe Patagonia's Nano Puff Pullover ($149) because it would layer nicely under a shell, yet add a lot of warmth. Hat and gloves, obviously. And something for an emergency—your basic ten essentials, of course, plus some sort of desperation shelter, such as a Space Emergency Bag ($10).

Filed To: New Hampshire, Base Layer

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