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I intend to hike and camp where the forecast temperature is around freezing. It can get windy in exposed areas, but I would be starting low and camping amongst the snow gums.

During the day air temperature is typically 5C. Can be windy, 30kmh up to 60km (although not if you trust this forecast).

Screenshot of forecast from http://www.mountain-forecast.com/

I don't want to over pack or get cold. I have not camped in temperatures this cold previously.

Does this sound appropriate?

  • beanie and sunglasses
  • long sleeve polypropylene top
  • fleece for insulation layer
  • waterproof shell for rain/high wind (it is gortex, I think)
  • long polypropylene pants
  • full length cargo pants (these are cotton)
  • waterproof/windproof over-pants (overkill?)
  • thick wool socks and hiking boots
  • waterproof gloves

My sleeping bag is rated to -8C "comfort", so I assume that will be sufficient. I also have one of those small self-inflating mats for ground insulation. I have a small three-season tent.

It's only a short weekend trip. Friday night will be camping by the car (elevation 350m), and obviously I can take all manner of warm things. Saturday morning, drive to start and then walk to Wombat Creek (elevation 1400m) and set up camp. Depending on energy/time/weather, then explore further. Sunday, return to car and home.

NB. Similar to this question, but a 18 degree difference seems significant enough to me that the answers would be different.

  • Is that 0°C air temperature? What about wind chill? Wind chill can lower an air temperature by many degrees. It might help if you say where your going to give context. My first impressions are your sleeping equipment seems fine, I'd suggest your moving about equipment seems a little light. But I'd be able to give better advice with more context – user2766 Jul 30 '15 at 14:05
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    cotton cargo pants that's a no. You want fast drying, wicking pants, wind resistant pants. – njzk2 Jul 30 '15 at 16:17
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    Is the waterproof stuff because you think there's a chance of rain, or just for wind protection? In general, your proposed clothing layers sound all right to me for a front-country day hike, but since you're camping, they sound a little inadequate unless you're willing to huddle in your sleeping bag all evening and all morning. I would add a wool base layer (I have a smartwool one that I love) and a down jacket of some kind. – Ben Crowell Jul 30 '15 at 18:08
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    Aside from the cotton pants, that seems all right, though you may be a bit chilly in the mornings before you get moving. After hiking 15 minutes you'll be taking things off, even at -10, if the wind isn't too bad. – Michael Hampton Jul 30 '15 at 20:06
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    You don't say how heavy the insulation layers are. I have fleeces that range from a light shell to heavy insulation (so heavy I have never used it). The heavy one plus a windbreaker shell would be great at 5C with 30 km/hr wind. The light one would be a disaster. Generally you look to be OK. I would look at the beanie-head covering is important. A neoprene cap is amazing and the more area it covers the better. – Ross Millikan Jul 31 '15 at 4:34
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So at 5C, with 60Kmh winds, that gives you a feeling of about -2C See here. Not zero, If the air temperature gets to 0C then there's a potential for about -9C.

You want to be aiming for a laying system so you can adjust your core temperature with movement, if you stop you'll want something to keep you warm.

I'm not sure you have anything like that in that list. I'd say what you have is fine for when your moving but if you need to stop for any period of time your going to get cold fast.

I'd add at least another thick fleece if not a down jacket if you can get one.

Also be wary that if the worst should happen and you get injured, in those temperatures hypothermia is a real concern. I'd also pack some kind of survival bag (or bothy bag) to give you shelter from the wind.

I'm a bit concerned by your full length cargo pants (these are cotton) also, see Does cotton really kill?. Cotton is a bad material for these kinds of situations, typically. You'd be better off with some kind of man made fibre.

TL;DR

Seems a bit light to me, you may be fine but if your the temperature drops more or you need to rest/stop then you likely going to get cold fast. If you have too many layers then you carry a little too much weight, if you don't have enough then you could get into some dangerous ground. If in doubt be cautious.

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    even if cotton didn't kill, walking in damp cotton pants is very uncomfortable (and heavy). – njzk2 Jul 30 '15 at 16:18
  • I am amazed that a 60 km/hr wind only drops the wind chill from 5C to -2C. That's a lot of wind. Otherwise, good advice. – Ross Millikan Jul 31 '15 at 4:28
  • Wind chills not to be underestimated. I spent last winter in scotland in the Cairngorms with the wind chill the "feel" temperature was -26C. I had a woolen base layer, a insulated jacket, under trousers, goretex coat, thick over trousers, gloves, etc. etc was still cold. This year I've bought a good down jacket.. We saw some people who fallen from a corrie (getting rescued by mountain rescue) they had a bothy bag, I'd imagine it was a life saver as staying warm in those circumstances while not moving is hard. – user2766 Jul 31 '15 at 7:42
  • I agree with this post, what you have is fine but you'll want something for when you aren't moving, like a light/mid down jacket, perhaps with a hood. I use mine from -12 to +12c and it packs down to nothing. It's more satisfying than a chocolate bar when you pull out the down! – furtive Jul 31 '15 at 14:52
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I would add an extra insulation layer for the morning. A light down or synthetic jacket would help you warm up when you get out of bed.

Don't wear cotton pants. Not only will they keep you cold if they get wet, they will never dry, and will be very uncomfortable.

When it does not rain, you'd want your fleece to be wind-stopper, or have a windproof jacket to throw on it.

Always keep a dry change of cloth (especially a pair of socks) with you, that you can wear when you get in your tent. Don't let those get wet.

Keep the clothing you are not wearing dry, in a waterproof stuff sac.

I would trade the long sleeve poly for wool, but not every one likes wool. I find it nicer and warmer, especially when wet.

With that kind of night temperature, you probably don't need the inner part of your tent (I assume you camp in a tent, I may be wrong), that's usually 1/3 to 1/2 of the weight of the tent, and you'll have more room.

Then it is a matter of how long you are going to camp. For more than a couple of nights, I'd pack a few extras, in case the first one get wet (which they will if keeps raining).

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I just browsed the meta site, and am encouraged to add an answer. I agree with the above answers and comments, especially (1) don't wear cotton pants; (2) carry spare socks and mitts; (3) poly is lighter and warmer than wool when wet; (4) your clothing is on the light side; consider the additions suggested. I'd ADD: a neck gaiter. This is a fleece tube to protect your neck; unless your collar comes up to your chin the wind is going to get to your neck. You don't mention a tent. If you need a waterproof shell, you need at least a bivvy sack. Windproof overpants are not overkill.

  • +1 for the neck gaiter; you'll definitely want something to keep the wind from your neck. A wool scarf would also work, as would a balaclava / ski mask, a jacket with a hood, or even a turtleneck sweater. But you really want something other than bare skin there. – Ilmari Karonen Jul 31 '15 at 11:59
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It's a simple calculus: weigh the inconvenience of carrying some extra layers (weight and bulk) vs. the danger of being under prepared. Keep in mind that weather forecasts are only advisory, and conditions can change (sometimes for the worse). When I hike in the mountains (White Mountains, New Hampshire) or backcountry ski, I always err on the side of carrying extra layers. I consider a trip a success when I come back not having worn everything I brought (the alternative is that I used all my layers and may have been wishing I had another or different one). Besides, if you're not doing a very serious hike anyway, some extra weight isn't going to hurt that much.

And even for short trips near freezing - cotton pants are not the best choice. In terms of your list: non-cotton pants, another warm layer (like fleece) for the top. Layers are your friends. Even multiple thin polypro layers work wonders, and add very little weight or bulk.

TL;DR - discomfort of carrying extra weight vs. discomfort of being miserable from temperature - easy choice

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