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General Gear Discussion The General Gear Discussion forum is for the discussion of traditional and lightweight (ultralight) backpacking gear that is not covered in other Practical Backpacking™ forums. [Please post about Backpacks, Shelters, Sleeping Gear, Backcountry Kitchen (Food, Stoves) in those respective forum areas.]


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  #1  
Old 12-30-2014, 09:46 AM
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JohnHenry JohnHenry is offline
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Pants for colder weather

When out for extended periods in colder weather (above freezing, but not by much), what have you found that works best for pants? There may be times when you get some light rain and get a little damp, so is wool the best material? Various synthetics? Do you go for some insulation or wear an underlayer if you need one?

In Texas, we are often hot, so the synthetic fishing type pants (convertibles mainly) work really well and dry out fast. But I'm looking for a colder weather option and don't want to consider cotton.

Any advice?
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2014, 10:06 AM
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Perkolady Perkolady is offline
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For many years, when the weather was bitter cold, windy, and even slightly damp, my wool army surplus pants were always a sure thing, especially when hanging around in camp. Heavy though!

Most times I've just layered. Base layers, mid layers, with either rain pants or wind pants (or even both in the worst conditions). I find the layering system to be the most versatile. The weight of several layers is still a lot lighter than those wool pants.

Two important things to consider is how warm you get while hiking, and how cold you might get in camp. For example, in cold, windy, slightly damp weather, I found that hiking with shorts and wind pants worked great for me, and at camp, I would switch to some layers and the heavier rain pants. My legs would keep warm while hiking, even if the wind pants soaked through some. I was more concerned with the wind. Rain pants were too warm for me to hike in. So... a lot depends on what works for you in different circumstances.

It's important to have confidence in whatever clothing you are bringing with you. I would suggest that whatever you decide to choose, test them out in the worst conditions you would plan on using them in.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:00 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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It depends on the trip - my anticipated/possible activity level, temperature etc.

In general, I'll opt for a base layer, a mid layer if very cold with minimal activity, and outer pants that are a heavier than my summer options.

For example, I could use a base-layer (merino or synthetic), a mid-layer (in pack or on body), and Rail Riders VersaTac pants or similar. I'll likely have a pair of rain shell pants available too.

When snowshoeing, I've often used a pair of Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Tech Pants (no longer available) or similar.

When I'm unlikely to get wet, I'll sometimes wear typical hiking pants over layers.

Reality
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Old 01-02-2015, 11:49 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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I really like synthetic convertible pants as an outer shell, with layers underneath. If the weather is balmier than the above freezing you mention, I'll convert them to shorts and have light long johns on underneath (looks dumb, but feels great). For somewhat colder weather (assuming I'm snowshoeing and working), I'll zip the pant legs back on, but leave the zippers half open. That leaves a large vent around both knees and lower legs. The vent size can be tailored to conditions by zipping up more or less. If it's just plain cold, and especially if I've stopped working, the nylon pants - fully zipped - make a great wind resistant shell that helps trap heat some. As long as I've chosen my layering well, it works great.
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:58 PM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
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^ Exactly what he said. I love my synthetic, somewhat water resistant zip-offs. Snow and often light rain won't absorb into them, and I too use the vent method. It's great. I do have some close fitting fleece "pajama pants" that I got just for wearing under the synthetics. If they do get wet, they should still maintain some loft and retain some warmth, and are nice and cozy under the synthetics. That pant pairing has worked well for my limited early spring/winter hiking so far.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:00 AM
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JohnHenry JohnHenry is offline
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Rail riders pants

I went ahead and bought some Railriders pants for me and my wife. Nice quality, very comfortable, but I notice that the rear pockets sit a lot lower on my thighs than normal pants. This has the effect of situating my wallet lower on my leg and is less comfortable. Is this typical of these kinds of hiking/backpacking pants? If this bothered you, what did you do to fix it? Put the wallet in another pocket? Not bring a wallet and put your necessary cards, etc. in something else? Just curious, because it was pretty noticeable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
It depends on the trip - my anticipated/possible activity level, temperature etc.

In general, I'll opt for a base layer, a mid layer if very cold with minimal activity, and outer pants that are a heavier than my summer options.

For example, I could use a base-layer (merino or synthetic), a mid-layer (in pack or on body), and Rail Riders VersaTac pants or similar. I'll likely have a pair of rain shell pants available too.

When snowshoeing, I've often used a pair of Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Tech Pants (no longer available) or similar.

When I'm unlikely to get wet, I'll sometimes wear typical hiking pants over layers.

Reality
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  #7  
Old 05-07-2015, 12:01 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnHenry
If this bothered you, what did you do to fix it? Put the wallet in another pocket?
Hi JohnHenry,

I'm not sure which RailRiders' pants you have, but one of the key features that I like about the VersaTac pants in the leg (cargo) pocket unzips on front side. This side zip opens parallel with the top of the side of my leg when sitting.

So, I'm not only avoiding sitting on a wallet, but I have very easy access to my wallet when sitting in the car etc -- I don't have to lift myself up to try to access a back or front hand pocket.

Reality
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:00 AM
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JohnHenry JohnHenry is offline
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Reality, I got the extreme adventure pants. I've yet to wear them much, but will let you all know when I get some miles on them. Thanks for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
Hi JohnHenry,

I'm not sure which RailRiders' pants you have, but one of the key features that I like about the VersaTac pants in the leg (cargo) pocket unzips on front side. This side zip opens parallel with the top of the side of my leg when sitting.

So, I'm not only avoiding sitting on a wallet, but I have very easy access to my wallet when sitting in the car etc -- I don't have to lift myself up to try to access a back or front hand pocket.

Reality
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  #9  
Old 05-13-2015, 08:19 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle
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JohnHenry,

I use RailRiders Eco-Mesh pants when I hike but I'm not often out in extreme cold with them. If it is pretty cold, I'll wear polypro under them and even my rain pants over them if I still need an additional layer.

Regarding your comment on the back pocket for the wallet: Yes, the pockets do seem to be lower. I notice it when I have my wallet with me while wearing those pants. If I'm seriously on the trail, I leave the wallet in the vehicle and take only a few necessary items in a Ziploc snack bag.
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