Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
Gear Guy

Can you give me a New England gear makeover?

I just moved to New England from Scotland, where the lack of defined seasons and nearly constant chilly rain make three-season gear essential. Should I shop similarly here or aim for two entire get-ups, one for lightweight summer trekking and one for colder months? Callum Boston, Massachusetts


Well, here in the Pacific Northwest, where I live, one might argue that we lack well-defined seasons and from October through May suffer from near-constant, chilly rain. And yet I have the same outfit for the entire year. I just think in terms of a clothing continuum.

L.L. Bean Mountain Pile Fleece Jacket

Mountain Pile Fleece Jacket

I should think the same would work for you in New England, where there ARE well-defined seasons (hot and humid summers; nice falls; freaking freezing cold winters, usually; and sweet springs).

Here’s the system. Start with a set of light long underwear such as Patagonia Capilene 1 T and Bottoms ($36 each;, and add the Ex-Officio Amphi Short ($46; Then you’ll need a set of midweight long underwear. I like Icebreaker’s merino wool stuff, such as the Skin 200 Mondo Zip T ($69; and Bodyfit 260 Leggings (also $69). Add a soft shell top such as REI’s One Jacket ($199; or a fleece piece such as L.L. Bean’s Mountain Pile Fleece Jacket ($69; Over it all, use a waterproof-breathable shell set, such as Marmot’s Tamarack Jacket ($200; and Light Streak Pants ($225). Add some gloves and a hat, and maybe a super-warm insulating piece such as The North Face Nuptse down jacket ($199;, and there’s nothing you can’t endure.

The beauty of it is, you can start with the light layer and just keeping adding stuff over it from August through February, then start peeling it off. Or mix and match. Capilene 1 and the One Jacket. Icebreaker Mondo Zip and Mountain Pile Jacket. Capilene 1 and Mondo Zip and Pile Jacket and Tamarack Jacket. And so on. You can fine-tune your comfort level in five-degree increments from 90F to minus 20F.

So, that’s the system. Hopefully you already have comparable versions of some or all of the pieces, or this will get kind of expensive. Remember, you don’t need to buy all this stuff at once, and shop around for the best deals.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive apparel section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Base LayerMid LayerSoft ShellPants
Lead Photo: courtesy, L.L. Bean