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Clothing system synth vs wool?

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Postby Andes6000 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:49 am

Sweat soaked layers that can't transfer moisture quickly become an issue because of weight, wind chill, discomfort etc. and that was basically the reason behind my question. I'm tall and have some knee pain so the weight to warmth ratio is a factor I take into account by counting grams which is why I'm going to try the wool base layers which do fit tightly and should absorb and transfer most of the moisture. I'm thinking the key with wool is to ventilate proactively as I climb, to avoid over-saturation. Even with synthetics I've noticed that once they are drenched (such as training indoors) they just stop wicking, won't cling to the body and take ages to dry. I wish my parka had pit zips...
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Postby Damien Gildea » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:56 am

chrisjahn77 wrote:I wish my parka had pit zips...


Don't wear a parka. How often does it rain high in Bolivia? I was there six weeks in 1999 and I don't remember a drop of rain. Wind though ;-)

Gore, eVent etc are overkill and can't possibly breathe well enough to keep up with real-world climbing activity. Light, hooded windshirts are much better - Patagonia Houdini, Arcteryx Squamish, Marmot Ion, Rab Alpine Pull-On etc etc. Or a hooded softshell like Arc Gamma MX Hoody or similar, though these can be too hot down low.

D
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Postby Andes6000 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:08 pm

Damien Gildea wrote:
chrisjahn77 wrote:I wish my parka had pit zips...


Don't wear a parka. How often does it rain high in Bolivia? I was there six weeks in 1999 and I don't remember a drop of rain. Wind though ;-)

Gore, eVent etc are overkill and can't possibly breathe well enough to keep up with real-world climbing activity. Light, hooded windshirts are much better - Patagonia Houdini, Arcteryx Squamish, Marmot Ion, Rab Alpine Pull-On etc etc. Or a hooded softshell like Arc Gamma MX Hoody or similar, though these can be too hot down low.

Hi Damien, you're right about synthetic outperforming wool, and the stink isn't an issue for me so I'll just take most of my stuff to the base camps and try different systems and trial and error it. I actually have the Gamma MX Hoody Jacket and Pants and wasn't going to take em because they lack windstopper but the soft shells breathe super well so I'll use them for the warm up on Huayna Potosi or Pequeno Alpamayo. I think it could be possible for the thin wool baselayers to transfer and dry under soft shells thanks for the tip.
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Postby albanberg » Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:44 pm

Interesting discussion!

When I'm cycling I sweat and only wear good synthetics. When I'm backpacking/trekking/on approach and it's hot I wear a synthetic button up shirt. When I get up on the snow it's cold and I just don't sweat much even if I have to do some ice climbing pitches. So up there I wear wool base layers. Maybe if I was doing a long multi-pitch ice climb I would sweat more. But since it's cold up high I think it's a bit easier to regulate temperature by unzipping and knowing how much to wear etc. Having said that I definitely would not want soaked through wool up high.

Also note that the highest I've been to is 6000m and only in the Blanca which is very dry.
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Postby Damien Gildea » Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:27 pm

chrisjahn77 wrote:... wasn't going to take em because they lack windstopper but the soft shells breathe super well


Yep, that's the trade-off, though the softshells are also more comfortable and stretchy for more technical climbing, and when travelling light you can wear them at night in town, whereas hard shells look a bit funny.

The other thing to keep in mind is that above 5000m, and certainly above 6000m, you will be going slower, so generating less heat. The lack of absolute windproofness in garments like the Gamma MX is a problem in serious conditions, but chances are that if the weather is that cold and windy and you are around 6000m, a hardshell won't really keep you any warmer and you will probably need to have on an outer layer of insulation anyway, either a light down jacket or synthetic jacket. Normally they would be too sweaty to climb in, but that high, in cold conditions, you are probably not moving fast enough to sweat much. If it's lower down, snowing and blowing a strong wind, you should stay in the tent ;-)
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Postby rasgoat » Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:44 pm

Dow Williams wrote:Smartwool offers the best first layer and socks on the planet. Everything that touches my skin on a big alpine objective is smart wool or a product from someone simulating their product (backcountry use to do that).


+1

I also have thier Boxer briefs which although expensive, Rock!.
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Postby Snowslogger » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:47 am

As long as we're beating this to death, what happens to merino wool if it accidently gets thrown in the drier - drastic shrinkage? Capolene seems very resilient to this, as opposed to the old polypropylene which would melt. I keep thinking I'll try the wool when my capolene wears out, but it never does.
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Postby John Duffield » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:15 am

sneakyracer wrote:I have Patagonia's Capilene3 1/4zip long sleve top and bottoms and they are awesome though, very warm for the weight. But on a multi-day climb/hike or expedition wool smells MUCH less while most synthetics develop a very nasty stench.



I like the Patagonia Capilenes as well. To minimize weight, I usually go with the Capelines Days and my old PolyProps Nights. I've worn the Caps two weeks straight more than once. I rotate socks every three days.
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