Friday, November 12, 2021

Gear: Hiking in the cold, wet seasons (vs. warm/hot, dry) in the Pacific Northwest

The Challenge

When I'm hiking, it doesn't take a lot of vigorous activity for me to work up a sweat. My old North Face backpack has been a trusty companion for 20 years, for both work and play, but it lacked a lot key features. After a busy summer on the trails, I realized it was time to upgrade. I purchased a new backpack by Osprey that has a mesh back and allows a lot of air flow between the pack and me. It also has a pocket for a 2-3 L bladder.

In the Spring and Summer when the weather is dry & warm, it's easy to manage perspiration by wearing quick-dry shirts and/or changing into a clean shirt for my descent. I have a couple of long sleeve shirts by KÜHL that are rated for UPF 50 and a quick drying.

Preikestolen, Rogaland, Norway

However, now that it's getting colder and wetter, it's a different ballgame. Perspiration could potentially be dangerous.

According the the CDC: "While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water." (source)

Search for winter hiking clothes

I've been looking for clothing (base layers, other) that will be appropriate for winter activities. I looked online and where I buy gear (REI, Dick's, Next Adventure) had options but just not quite what I wanted. Years ago, I found 32 Degrees base layers at Macy's. They tops are light fabric but provide a lot of warmth. I used then for just keeping warm in the city but also for skiing, snow boarding. I don't perspire nearly as much when skiing as I do while hiking. Plus, I'd have a thick ski jacket I wouldn't think of bringing on a hike.

Because I couldn't find thermals for winter, I just grabbed what I had to use in the meantime: my 32 Degrees Heat™tops.

Turns out they ARE moisture wicking and still retain body heat, even when damp.  

Black/White: 40% Polyester│34% Acrylic│22% Rayon│4% Spandex

☑︎ Lightweight for Easy Layering
☑︎ Retains Body Warmth
☑︎ Wicks Moisture
☑︎ Machine Washable
☑︎ Odor control







*I don't have any affiliation with 32 Degrees, I just like the gear.

Best materials for keeping you warm

(Source: #3 link in Related Articles)

Merino Wool

Pros: Natural material, versatile, it can be worn without washing for more than one day day.
Cons: Often expensive, very sensitive skins may find it a little rough


Pros: Natural material, super soft on the skin, not bulky
Cons: Expensive, requires frequent washing

Synthetic Fabrics

Pros: Cheap, easy to care for
Cons: Build odor quickly, need frequent washing