Core 13 Backpacking Clothing


In the Core 13 Clothing series, I present thirteen articles of clothing that can be mixed-and-matched to create an appropriate backpacking clothing system for the full range of 3-season conditions:

  • Normal daytime temps 50-90 degrees F, with extremes 10 degrees F colder and hotter
  • Normal nighttime temps 30-70 degrees F, with extremes 10 degrees F colder and hotter
  • Sunny or thick overcast, and everything in between
  • Downpour, rain, mist, and dry
  • Low, moderate, and high humidity
  • Thick forest canopies, open woodlands, or big skies with relentless sun
  • Intense bug pressure, mild pressure, or none
  • On-trail, cross-country, and bushwhacks

If your backpacking trips are concentrated in a particular region or season, you need even fewer than thirteen items. For example, take 9 in the Colorado Rockies, and 7 for a summertime thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

I wrote this series to make easier the task of selecting clothing for a backpacking trip. It’s an intimidating and confusing process — there are thousands of clothing SKU’s available from hundreds of brands, with tremendous marketing hype surrounding each product. The series has been hugely popular, and has helped many readers refine their systems. I hope that it will benefit you similarly.

To read Core 13 Clothing from the beginning, start with the Introduction. If you simply want to be told what to pack, consult the capstone post, which details specific clothing systems for multiple locations in North America.

Recommended clothing systems: Backpacking in the Mountain West

By Andrew Skurka / August 23, 2017 /

What clothing is necessary for backpacking in the Mountain West in 3-season conditions? Let’s discuss. I define the Mountain West as the semi-arid ranges of the Sierra Nevada, Intermountain West, and Rockies. Examples: Pacific Crest Trail in California and southern Oregon High Sierra, including the John Muir Trail and multiple high routes, e.g. Sierra High…