I learned most of my wilderness know-how from experienced paddlers, who taught me that you should always have a set of dry clothes set aside for sleeping. Now, I'm branching out into hiking and wondering if that advice still holds true, or if I can shave a few ounces off my poor back and knees (and save a few bucks, to boot) by wearing the se polar fleece day and night. What do you think? Catherine Montreal, Quebec
As for fleece jackets and the like, there's absolutely no point in carrying a spare. The stuff dries quickly, and it's overkill to have an extra when you're backpacking.
Still, for summer use there is one thing I like to do, and it doesn't add much weight to the kit: I pack in a Patagonia Silkweight T-shirt ($30; www.patagonia.com), plus bottoms made from the company's same Capilene fabric ($32). I try to reserve this setup for nighttime, although of course it can come in handy during the day too. But having clean sleepwear does help keep the sleeping bag cleaner, plus it's just a little more comfortable. And the light Patagonia stuff weighs just ounces and takes up as much space as a pair of socks.