Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gear Selection for the Continental Divide Trail

Today I pulled out three contestants for the insulating top layer. This will go over my silk long sleeve hiking shirt when its really cold, and also under my silnylon Gram Weenie rain jacket, which I designed and used to sew for Dancing Light Gear.
Photos of the three contestants and weights -perks given below each photo.
This black Brooks-Range jacket has four pockets, two for the hands, one chest outside, and one inside. I wrote a gear review for it on this blog, March 24, 2011. Other than the zippers being a little too light (one has already separated forever and refuses to stay shut, its been a fantastically great piece of gear. Its down, weighs only 11.25 ounces. Feels like nothing. I could easy sleep in this jacket, as well as ball it up for a pillow. It packs down to nothing. The sleeves are extra long. I love that, too. When hiking with poles, you don't want wrists to freeze, sometimes gloves are overkill.

Second contestant is my Patagonia Fleece pullover. Only one chest pocket, weighing 15.25 ounces, it doesn't pack down as well. I used it on my thru hike of the Colorado trail and it was really warm and reliable. Old friends are hard to leave home. No hood, the sleeves are bound with a thin edge. Fleece dries fast, unlike the down. 

This Free Country jacket is so comfortable, I always wear it for my outer layer when skiing up at Lake Yellowstone. It does weigh 22 ounces however, but has a good collar and hood. I wished the down jacket had a hood, then it would be perfect.
This jacket is polyester-spandex. There are two inner pockets and three outer. Its sort of fitted and feels great. It packs down like the fleece. However, it doesn't breath that well. Sometimes its been damp after a ski, in spite of multiple wicking layers.
I used our kitchen scale which goes up to 2 pounds. I put each jacket in a clear sack to weigh it, check the compressablity for pack volume.

After work I took a walk in the cold snowy wind. Each contestant was layered over a think polyester long sleeve shirt, one I could take on the trail.
Amazingly, the Brooks Range won hands down. Warmer, much lighter, much more comfortable, I've decided that jacket will do wonderful. Now, I know at the end of the trail, I'll be washing it to restore the loft, just as I did with my Marmot 30 degree bag, bringing new life to this great piece of gear.
If the light zipper on the jacket would give out on me, I am prepared to sew it shut half way up and use it as a pull over too.
Stay tuned for more gear discussion for my upcoming CDT section hike.


  1. I really like the Brook Range jacket. I got a lightweight down vest that saved my butt on my last camping trip that I will definately bring!

  2. I might even wash my jacket before I leave here, thereby insuring maximum loft. Its so comfortable, I'll probably live in it most nights we're out, Flo...going to be great!