Preparing my wife for a mid-October GSMNP hike

My wife and I will be doing a thru-hike of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in mid-October of this year. To do so, there is a few more items that my wife needs to be able to do the hike a little more comfortably. So, we just purchased a few of those items, and they were all on our doorstep within about 4 days of ordering them. (Just so you know, the orders were at Land’s End and at REI.) So, here are the items we just received…

Land's End Sweater Fleece Hat

Starting at the top, we decided she needed something to cover her head since a large majority of heat is lost from around your head. We were not looking for a windstopper or anything fancy, just something that will keep her warm, breathe well and wick moisture, of course for a good price. What we came up with was this Womens Sweater Fleece hat from Land’s End. From Land’s End:
    • ThermaCheck®-200 yarn in a heathered knit
    • Double-layer construction with microfleece liner
    • Moisture-wicking for extra comfort

“Sweater Fleece knit hats feature the warmth of ThermaCheck®-200 yarn that’s knit for a classic heathered look. And to make them extra warm, these caps are lined with antistatic, anti-pill microfleece.”

This sounds like it will be an ideal hat for her, and what made it even better is that it was discounted nearly 50 % off! $7.99 made it a nice deal.

Buff Original Buff

Next we decided to get something that will keep her neck warm. We were initially looking at some of the light-weight balaclavas, however after watching a video on all the different ways to use the Buff, we were sold. These things will cover it all: head, neck, face, hold a ponytail, whatever. Also, this will compliment the sweater fleece hat mentioned above. So, we decided to get her one of the Buff Original Buffs, and this particular design was marked down about 35% which made it even better. Heck, I was so impressed with this that I actually ordered myself one (in black, not pink :))

The Buff came on a cardboard cut out of a head, and on the back it list 12 different ways to wear the Buff with pictures of each. According to the box, the Buff is lightweight, soft & comfortable, warm in the winter and soft in the summer. We are looking forward to using these on our hike!

Land's End SnowPack 700 Down Jacket

Continuing my way down, we next decided to get her a good insulation layer for her torso. I looked around at a few different gear stores web sites and was about to the point of expecting to spend at least $75 or more on this piece. Then I remembered some old threads on Backpacker.com about some Land’s End down jackets that had been marked way down earlier this year, so I gave it a look-see, and boy am I glad I did! I came across this Womens SnowPack 700 Down Jacket marked down from $99 to $39! And what’s better than that, these are offered in Petite sizes (my wife is 5’2″ and ~ 95 lbs). At first I expected them to only have one size and probably a bright orange color, but that wasn’t the case. She decided on this brown color in a size small (petite). The jacket was in stock and ready to ship.
According to Land’s End:
  • Ultra-light nylon shell with water-resistant DriOff™ finish
  • 700 fill power down that’s warm and ultra lightweight
  • Packs into its own pocket
  • Zip-front with inner storm shield
  • TEMPERATURE RATING: -10° to 15° Fahrenheit.

Our order was automatically given second day air mail so the package arrived very quickly. Upon arrival, I am impressed with the jacket, especially for the price. There are a few loose threads in about 3 different places, but nothing to cause any concern. The jacket weighs in at 10.4 ounces on my scale so it is fairly light weight, which is good for her. Overall we are happy about the jacket. (I will probably provide an update on my site on this jacket after our use this October.)

Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Gloves

Next I wanted to get her a good warm pair of gloves that would keep her hands warm while still being able to use her hands for things such as zipping zippers, or grabbing things comfortably without all the bulk. Also, we were not necessarily looking for a pair of gloves that had to be waterproof, but is low profile (so to say) so that they could serve as liners if needed.

So, we came across these Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch gloves for a good price on REI, and just about every one of the many reviews had great things to say about them, so we gave them a try.

According to REI:

  • Polartec® Power Stretch provides 4-way stretch, making it ideal for skiing, cold-weather cycling and other active sports
  • Constructed with soft, breathable, moisture-wicking velour inner face for next-to-skin comfort
  • Smooth-knit outer face slips easily into shell gloves (not included) for layering options
  • Gloves resist abrasion, dry quickly and shed snow and light rain

REI Midweight Polartec Power Dry Long Underwear Bottoms

Now for the bottoms, we wanted something that would be thick and warm enough to wear inside her down sleeping bag at night if temperatures dropped, as well as something that will lack in bulk so that she can wear them under her hiking pants during the day if needed.

We found these REI midweight pants for a good price, and better yet in a petite size. They seemed to be the thing we were looking for. We thought the midweight long bottoms would be a great compromise for the warmth vs bulk ratio. Also, the Powder Dry seems to be promising way to keep the moisture away which means dry, which means warmer.

According to REI:

“Polartec Power Dry utilizes different yarns on each side of the fabric to enhance comfort: interior yarn wicks moisture, and exterior yarn dries quickly.”

REI Trail Gaiters

Lastly, we needed something to keep her pants dry in case we had to trudge through snow (which is highly likely). We did not want to spend a lot of money on these since it is not too often that she will use the gaiters (maybe once or twice a year) so price was a big factor in this choice. The only requirement that we really had was that they needed to be “high” cut gaiters.

Surprisingly enough, we came across a few options that were less than $50, however we still we eye-balled the cheapest. We settled on the REI Trail Gaiters (which happened to be the cheapest by $0.50) mainly for the cord and cord lock cinch at the top of the gaiters. The cord locks seem to be a much easier way to keep the gaiters secured comfortably rather than the strap and buckle closure.

So, these are a few items that we picked her up to fill the gaps for winter hiking. There are some other things we may get to replace some of the other stuff she has now, but we will see as time gets closer.

If anyone has any suggestions about any of this gear, please let me know in the comments. Even better if anyone has any direct experience with any of this gear please feel free to leave a comment as to how it worked out for you.

Thanks for reading.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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