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The inside of my waterproof-breathable pants after a multi-hour rain storm. The DWR-treated face fabric wetted out, and moisture began to move inside the fabric, soaking me. This is typical of the performance of modern WP/B fabrics, especially with long-term use.

Speculative thoughts on new GTX Active & Outdry Extreme

For years I have been arguing that modern waterproof/breathable fabrics — including every version of Gore-Tex and eVent, plus proprietary fabrics like Patagonia’s H2No, Marmot’s NanoPro, Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q, and dozens of others — are technologically flawed. (Read this, this, maybe this, and The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide.) Relative to the marketing hype, these fabrics earn a […]

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insulation-screenshot-sd-live

Insulation geekiness: specs, pros & cons, optimal uses || SD LIVE (September 8, 2015)

Live recording SD Live: All Things Insulation from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Episode overview In the September edition of SD LIVE, we focused on the insulation materials most commonly used in outdoor apparel and sleeping bags, specifically fleece, down, and synthetic fills. Frank Kvietok, who manages the Advanced Development Center at Exxel Outdoors and who was the […]

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backpacking-in-the-rain

Backpacking in the rain: helpful gear and skills|| SD LIVE (March 31, 2015)

In last month’s SD LIVE event, I discussed multiple ways to help maintain a relative level of comfort and safety when backpacking in the rain. Some methods are simply a matter of packing differently or packing more: sleeping clothes, camp shoes, breathable footwear, group tarp, down insulation, and a pack liner. Other methods are techniques: […]

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And here, too? I think it is.

Core Backpacking Clothing || Check lists & systems for 3-season conditions

With just a 13-item collection of hiking and backpacking clothing, is it possible to be comfortable here? And with that very same kit, also here? And here, too? I think it is. Earlier this month I introduced the Core 13, a tight collection of hiking and backpacking clothing that can be mixed-and-matched to create appropriate systems for every […]

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Field-drying clothing and gear is like pushing the "reset button" -- it allows you to endure the next storm nearly as well as you did the last one. However, without reliable sunshine, low humidity, or mild temperatures, field-drying is a challenge.

Core Backpacking Clothing || Sleep — Items 12 & 13: Sleeping clothes

In climates with regular and long-lasting rain events, high humidity, and/or weak sunlight (due to shade, cloud-cover, or low sun angle), getting damp, wet, or even soaked seems to be an inherent part of the backpacking experience. If you wish to dry out completely during a backpacking trip in the eastern woodlands, Pacific Northwest, or Alaska, I’d recommend you find a […]

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Left: An old 22-oz GoLite baffled parka that is overkill for anything short of winter backpacking. Right: the 13-oz Sierra Designs DriDown Parka, which with a hood and 125 g of 800-fill insulation is about perfect for many of my 3-season backpacking trips

Core Backpacking Clothing || Stop — Items 8-9: Insulated Jacket & Pants

During cool camps, cold nights, and crisp mid-day rest stops, I retain my body heat with a puffy jacket containing down or synthetic insulation. If I expect nighttime temperatures below about 30 degrees, or long camps with temperatures below about 40 degrees, I will add insulated pants to my kit. Down- and synthetic-filled garments are far more thermally efficient […]

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Flyin' Brian Robinson atop Yosemite's Mt Whorl (12,033 ft) in late-September, wearing a 100-weight Patagonia R1 fleece top

Core Backpacking Clothing || Go Suit — Item 7: Fleece Top

In warmer months, a fleece top may offer adequate insulation for lower overnight temperatures. However, it is less thermally efficient (i.e. less warm for its weight) than down- and synthetic-insulated jackets, which I will discuss later in this series. So I do not consider fleece to be an optimal “stop” piece when backpacking. Applications Instead, I include a […]

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