How to Pack for Fall Backpacking
Blog, gearup, Outdoor Skills

How To Pack Clothing For Colder Temps

Weather can change pretty fast on the trail. As we found out backpacking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in late August. In some parts of the County there is a very fine line between Summer and Fall. Usually when colder temps do arrive we are bewildered as to what clothing to pack. Warm during the day, cold at night. . Once the weather starts to turn chilly again, the fear of being cold, or worse, wet and cold is real. On the other hand, you don’t want to lug around a bunch of extra, unnecessary clothes for 4 days on the trail if you don’t have to.

The key is to wear almost every single piece of clothing you pack, which is the goal, not to pack too much extra stuff. Your clothing should be so routine that you don’t even think about it. The temps are the temps and your clothing should match.

What to wear while hiking:

These are the clothes you’ll wear during the day, while you’re hiking, throughout your whole backpacking trip. When you get up in the morning an it’s chilly, you will be tempted to layer up big time. But remember, your body is a furnace. Trust it to warm you up pretty quick. That is why only bring one set of hiking clothes.

Ariane usually wear a short sleeved synthetic tshirt, capri leggings or hiking pants, with FITS socks and our hiking boots during the day. Scott wears a short sleeve Merino Pull Over. Then also pack a fleece or fuzzy sweatshirt that ideally is just worn at night around camp, but it could double as an extra hiking layer if it’s real cold or windy out during the day.

Pack one outfit that is designated for keeping you warm and dry at night. So, you’ll have two outfits total, one for day time hiking and one for sleeping. Your hiking clothes might possibly get soaked during the day in a rainstorm, which is fine – as long as you have a pair of dry clothes to change into at night to sleep in or wear to warm up in case of an emergency.

We usually wear a long-sleeved synthetic t-shirt, that was part of a base layer or long john set, and Ariane has been loving LuLaroe leggings to wear around camp and to sleep in while backpacking. Unless we know it will get well below freezing, then we may pack thicker, fleece. Or bring a good lightweight down puffy. We also add in some warm, fuzzy sleeping socks, that again are designated to stay dry and not to hike in.

Plus we almost always pack a puffy jacket to wear at night or on high, windy peaks. Depending on the forecast we’ll either pack a lighter weight Eddie Bauer 650 Goose down jacket or if it’s going to be closer to freezing, We’ll bring our thicker, down winter jacket. Like the Outdoor Research Blacktail Down Jacket

The only other clothing related items you should be packing is rain gear and possibly gloves, a warm beenie for sleeping, a baseball style hat for hiking, a fleece buff and/or gaiters depending on the weather and trail conditions

Hopefully this gives you more clarity on exactly what you should be wearing and packing for your next Fall hiking or backpacking trip. But always remember to Plan & Prepare.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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