Showing posts with label Clothing Systems. Outdoor Clothing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clothing Systems. Outdoor Clothing. Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

My Tramping Gear: A look at my tramping clothing system

I thought I would chuck together a quick post about the clothing I wear when I am tramping, so to that end I give you...

 The "Jon Moake Outdoor Clothing System" or JMOCS

Summer tramping at its best, t-shirt and shorts weather

I wont go deeply into comparisons of natural vs synthetic material, discuss layering theory or spend a lot of time comparing brands etc. There are multiple websites which explain all of this. What I am discussing here is the particular gear I use when tramping, commonly called a "clothing system". 

What is a clothing system? 

It is a system because all of the items worn or carried can be interchanged to suit the particular climatic conditions you find yourself in. You add or remove layers to maintain your body temperature at a comfortable level. What is required is a compromise between:
  •  material choice
  • fit
  • weight
  • ruggedness 
  • cost. 

We are looking for the maximum coverage of all the potential conditions we might face while carrying the least amount of weight. This set of gear does that for me. 

All my tramping clothing laid out
To be frank I find the term "system" slightly irritating as well as pretentious. Calling your tramping clothes a system denotes some sort of forethought, and most people (me included...) just settle on gear that works through trial and error. Still, it is the easiest way to categorise what this is, so here in all its splendour is the "Jon Moake Outdoor Clothing System" or JMOCS... (TM), patent pending, don't tell the dog, rada-rada, etc, etc...

Base Layers 

Base-layers draw perspiration away from your body in a wicking action, it then transpires into the atmosphere (or at least that is the theory...). Therefore, the material your layers are made from needs to have these wicking abilities. There are many materials both synthetic and natural which do this, you should do a bit of research before selecting yours.

Trampinggear for  warm weather tops/shorts
All synthetic base layers
My base layers are all synthetic, it is much easier to clean and dries a lot faster than wool or one of the other natural materials.  I wear nylon shorts and boxers and my top is made of a technical material called Powder Dry these all have wicking abilities.The top and shorts are cheap Warehouse (like Walmart to those in the US...) items, the boxers are from Russell Athletic.

I needed that sun hat, 30 Celcius... Kowai River Valley in December!!!

I carry two tops: one for tramping and the other for wearing at night, that way I don't have to sleep in wet clothes.

 Thermal base layers

If it is cold then you need to wear warmer base-layers to insulate you from heat loss. These can be either synthetic or a natural fibre depending on your preference. Knit is better than woven material when it comes to heat retention.

Merino/synthetic thermal gear
In my case I use a knit merino wool top (Thermerino) and merino leggings/long-johns (ColdPruf), with a generic fleece hat and polypropylene gloves. Wool had all but disappeared from tramping apparel but the advent of merino clothing has lead to a resurgence of this ancient fibre. It is soft, light, warm, doesn't stink when wet and is now made in many colours and styles.

My thermal gear for tramping laid out

Wearing merino up a snowy Howden Valley

Middle or insulation layer 
You need something to keep you warm- most people will start to feel the cold within 10 minutes once stationary. There are different schools of thought about what these warm layer should be: fleece or down, thick/thin weight, single/multiple layers.

What works best for me is a fleece top, in the 200 weight range. I have been using Hunting and Fishing fleece for over 10 years now and have never had a problem with them. They are light weight, rugged, cheap and come in several colours, my current one is blue.

Wearing my fleece on top of a windy spur Banks Peninsula

If it is very cold I will pair these with my long-johns, wet weather pants or wrap my sleeping bag around me.

 The outer shell layer

New Zealand is a temperate country which means it can get windy, cold and really WET at any time of the day/year. For that reason I usually carry a head to foot shell set so that I can continue to tramp in foul weather. Your shell is your first line of defence against wind, cold and rain.

If I am on a day tramp and it is hot and sunny I will often leave the over-trousers behind, otherwise I carry all three items on all my tramping trips. 

Tramping shell gear
  My jacket is a Macpac Copland, the over trousers are from Stony Creek and the gortex over mitts are Outdoor Research. My jacket is due to be replaced with something lighter but as always quality gear means big dollars required....

Wet weather gear aka "the Outer Shell"
Windy conditions on the Lewis Pass Tops, 2015

Wearing a 'baller cap' will stop the hood of your jacket falling over your eyes...

In the rain but still walking, Summit Walkway 2016

 I wear boots: at the moment mine are La Sportiva Valojets, but I also wear mountain running shoes on day walks. Personally I like boots but there is a growing movement towards lighter footwear, which decreases the overall amount of weight you are carrying.

I imagine as I grow older this shift will become more appealing to me.

Tramping boots and socks
Medium weight and lightweight socks

Boots and gaiters on the Lewis Pass tops

I use both light and medium weight socks. I am currently using Lorpen socks, the T3 Lite Hiker is a light hot weather sock while the Merino Lite Hiker is a warmer medium weight sock.  Both work well with my current boots and are made from a blend of synthetic materials and merino wool.
Some good quality socks your feet will thank you!

Here is a link to an article by Andrew Skurka (a well known American outdoor personality) about this kind of layering which he calls the Core 13. This is aimed at the US but the basic tenents are applicable right around the world. 

 Some examples of how the system would be used

  By mixing and matching these few garments we can keep our bodies running in tip top shape. 

The entire Jon Moake outdoor clothing system laid out
Warm and Dry: In warm, dry conditions all you need is a top (long or short sleeved) and a pair of shorts, make sure your underwear will wick sweat away from the body. Short thin socks make more sense than heavier ones in these kind of conditions. Don't roast your toes in merino wool when it is 30 degrees outside...that is madness.

Warm, dry weather layers
The quintessential Kiwi tramper: A short sleeve t-shirt and shorts over a pair of long-johns, awesome look since the 1940's. The long-johns protect your legs from the cold but more importantly from the sand flies and bush lawyer. Nothing quite like the slap of a thorny bush lawyer vine across bare skin....invigorating!

Thermal leggings added for total body coverage
Cool but Dry: If it is cool-cold but not raining a a merino top paired with your long-johns will normally see you right. If you have your longs on then the boxers are optional, long-johns are basically thermal underwear anyway.

Cold, dry weather layering system

 Cold but dry:  In very cold but dry conditions maintaining warmth is your number one priority so I add my fleece top to my tramping attire. This is put on and taken off as required, you want to stay as dry as possible without getting hot and sweaty.
Wet, cold body draws away heat and can lead to hypothermia so minimising perspiration is important.

Very cold, dry weather layering system
Cold and wet: For cold, wet conditions I wear warm merino base layers for warmth and a shell jacket plus over- trousers to keep me dry. A warm fleece hat for the head polypropylene gloves and over mitts would complete the look.

Clothing layering for cold wet conditions

 The actual Jon Moake outdoor clothing system or A-JMOCS

 Disregarding all that I have stated before, the photo below shows the actual clothing I most often wear when I am tramping. 

Clothing worn 90% of the time: shorts, tee shirt and boots...
My summer tramping attire atop Mt Richardson...

...and on top of Mt Herbert, summer of 2014
On the Queen Charlotte Track in 2016...

I mostly tramp in fine, dry weather so you will usually find me wearing a tee shirt, shorts and boots. In reality this is what I wear  90% of the time so it is my real system. All the other stuff is just there in case it rains (common) or it gets cold (not infrequent).

Otherwise it is simply ballast in my pack.