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New Three-Season Layering Options

Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

A good layering system consists of base layers for moisture management and moving sweat away from your body, mid-layers for insulation and retaining the warmth, and outer layers to protect you from wind and rain. While it may seem counter-intuitive, wearing/carrying several high-performing layers can keep you more comfortable outdoors than a basic shirt+jacket system.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


With a goal to get my kit down to two shirts and two mid-layers, here is the most flexible system for my routes on the Camino, California Missions Trail, Florida Trail, and Appalachian Trail.

MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

This means I'm packing just two shirts and two layers.

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell.

Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid-layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.


Edited for clarity as suggested below.
 
Last edited:
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
So complicated. I wear inexpensive tee shirts and a fleece. Normally, have a cotton sweat short in my pack with my waterproofs.
I’m a bit of an old traditionalist myself Mike - and I’ve learned not to treat a village-to-village walk through Spain’s modern infrastructure as a wilderness expedition

here it comes ...

wait for it ...

BUT

even I concede that fabric technology has come on a long way since my regular outfit of Ron Hills, a smelly-helly and holy (i.e. with holes) Karrimor fleece first saw the light of day.

I gave up cotton long ago and although I often succumb to ‘leading edge’ brands, I find the mountain warehouse (think REI over the pond) knock-offs are more than sufficient.
 

malingerer

samarkand
Year of past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
So complicated. I wear inexpensive tee shirts and a fleece. Normally, have a cotton sweat short in my pack with my waterproofs.
Don't understand complication :) I use practically the same system :) I was 65 in 2003 when I first got involved and am ex forces, as well as mountain rescue. I have a lung condition on top of all my other impediments and know the value of good gear. I stay away from cotton. now 83 in July and haven't found much reason for changing my approach. I do change brands however and keep an eye on the forum for threads like this. I wish you well and buen camino,

Samarkand.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I suspect that the issue of "complication" comes partly from the fact that it is difficult to extract the guiding principles from your specific brand name recommendations. To understand better, we would have to search each of those specific brands/models and figure out what features they have and how they can be mixed and matched, or how other items could be substituted.

I see no base layer bottom, or references to hat, gloves, buff, etc., which can be important in enhancing what minimalistic other layers you might choose.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I suspect that the issue of "complication" comes partly from the fact that it is difficult to extract the guiding principles from your specific brand name recommendations. To understand better, we would have to search each of those specific brands/models and figure out what features they have and how they can be mixed and matched, or how other items could be substituted.

I see no base layer bottom, or references to hat, gloves, buff, etc., which can be important in enhancing what minimalistic other layers you might choose.
Full kit is over at my blog. I thought it best not to link a bunch of items so that the post wasnt deemed commercial. I got into headaches once for too many links to on a kit post with amazon, decathlo, and rei, etc.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Don't understand complication :) I use practically the same system :) I was 65 in 2003 when I first got involved and am ex forces, as well as mountain rescue. I have a lung condition on top of all my other impediments and know the value of good gear. I stay away from cotton. now 83 in July and haven't found much reason for changing my approach. I do change brands however and keep an eye on the forum for threads like this. I wish you well and buen camino,

Samarkand.

Thanks so much. Hope this helps a bit on brands, as I've definitely been keeping the delivery driver busy this past year.

For those who may not have fallen in love with Merino wool yet, the advantages are considerable:
  • Retains warmth even when wet from rain / perspiration / etc.
  • Naturally odor resistant; huge blessing especially in mixed company :)
  • Easy to wash; dries quickly
  • Natural fabric; no plastics in production or micro-plastics put off when laundering
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Full kit is over at my blog. I thought it best not to link a bunch of items so that the post wasnt deemed commercial.
I understand, and you were prudent. I was just thinking that the list of products without discussion of the layering concept mentioned in the title became, well, just a list of branded products! :)
 
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Barbara

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Wear clothes. Ones that breathe and dry quickly. It's Spain, not the Antarctic or the Gobi desert. If you are cold buy some more to put on top. If you are hot take some off.
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago.
2020 May or end of September - NO!
2021 ?
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell. Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.
Enjoy the California Mission Trail. I live at the southern end of it and have walked parts of it up from San Diego - not the whole way in one go. Lots of pavement and busy streets and next month could be quite warm.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell. Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.
I appreciate the time that you spent doing this research for yourself. The was checking the prices of everything you have suggested and taking one from columns A-E cost more than all my gear that I spent on my first Camino. I have walked 5 Caminos and about 5,000K and still have most of the gear that I used on my first one. Still use the same backpack that cost me about $85 at REI. I have no idea what a similar pack to that one may be now. Altus rain poncho that is now about $35. I have new trail runners now that cost me 120. I buy closeout quick dry shirts for about 25 each. Have been wearing the same two for the last 3 casinos. On my second set of two quick dry shorts about 35 for the set. 3 pairs of socks that I bought new that were about 35. Last camino bought 2 pair of mid weight REI socks $40. Down Hoodie REI $80. One midlevel base long sleeve REI quick dry wicker, $40. At a garage sale I got a pullover quick dry long sleeve and quick dry long johns from Under Armour that were both new, still with the tags on them for $12. Hopefully for my next camino starting in Seville I only bought new trail runners that I referenced above for $100. They are Brooks Cascadias and are last years, model. Have always worn the Cascadias and they are great. This is not a criticism but an alternative for people who are on much tighter budgets. If you start early and go to all the closeout stuff from lots of good manufacturers you can do great. Oh yea, when I did my winter Camino I traded my a great sleeping bag that is way to heavy and big for the camino for a sleeping bag that was really small and was rated to 40 Farinheit. I was never cold. Some nights I slept in my base layer. I forgot I also bought a sleep sack on my first camino. It was about $50 on sale and I still use it.
With a little work you can still find lots of bargains online for a camino. You may not look like a fashion plate but it is the Camino after all. I also think if you aren't suffering a struggling at least a little you ain't a pilgrim. Compared to what our forefather pilgrims went through we have a stroll in the park :)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
No offense taken, @lt56ny.

My goal is to walk with two shirts and two layering pieces for all three-season weather. Lightweight gear is more expensive; no way around that if it's your aim. Sales, clearance, closeouts, and used gear are worth finding.

My last pack weight for the Camino was 8#. With these changes on the same pack, I've dropped 2#. (Of course, I gained the Covid 19 pounds, so there's that! :D)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
No offense taken, @lt56ny.

My goal is to walk with two shirts and two layering pieces for all three-season weather. Lightweight gear is more expensive; no way around that if it's your aim. Sales, clearance, closeouts, and used gear are worth finding.

My last pack weight for the Camino was 8#. With these changes on the same pack, I've dropped 2#. (Of course, I gained the Covid 19 pounds, so there's that! :D)
With food and water I am at about 8.5 but I attribute some of that to the fact that I walk later in the year. If Spain opens and I can do the Via De La Plata I will not get to Santiago until about December 10. If it is still closed I will be looking at a mid February 2022 start. I am still thinking about my gear and I think I may take less then I have planned. When are you walking? I think 8.5 is definitely not a problem but less is a whole lot more when you have a 1,000K in front of you.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
With food and water I am at about 8.5 but I attribute some of that to the fact that I walk later in the year. If Spain opens and I can do the Via De La Plata I will not get to Santiago until about December 10. If it is still closed I will be looking at a mid February 2022 start. I am still thinking about my gear and I think I may take less then I have planned. When are you walking? I think 8.5 is definitely not a problem but less is a whole lot more when you have a 1,000K in front of you.
I'll be walking the California Missions Trail in April 2021 and then - with a little luck - walking in the UK in the late summer: Way of St. Cuthbert, Pilgrims Way from London to Canterbury, and then beginning the Via Francigena from Canterbury into Europe towards Rome. In 2022, I'd like to walk a Camino loop from Santiago/Muxia/Finisterre/Santiago Holy Door and if possible walk in the Holy Land - perhaps Jordan to Jerusalem or the shorter Jesus Trail. It would be a dream to arrive in Jerusalem, Santiago and Rome all in the same year. I still would like to walk the Shikiko Temples in 2023 and back to the Camino Frances in 2023. Buen Camino!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Enjoy the California Mission Trail. I live at the southern end of it and have walked parts of it up from San Diego - not the whole way in one go. Lots of pavement and busy streets and next month could be quite warm.

I'll be coming through your beautiful city in just weeks to begin at Mission San Diego de Ayala. Fr. Raymond has been so kind as to offer a blessing for my journey; thank you for your well wishes as well.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Discussing outdoor clothing with my brother, I once remarked that "polyester is the walker's friend." He thought about it for a moment and replied "he's probably the only friend it's got."

Before merino was being spun into lightweight layering options, maybe. But man, polyester picks up stink quickly, and once it grabs it, never lets go.

Maybe that’s why the Persil detergent that is so overpowering is so ubiquitous in the preloaded machines on the way, but that stuff burns my nostrils and my skin. I have to use UN scented things myself (and use soap nuts/ soap berries because they are frangrance free and extremely light to carry).

But I fear that if I were to wear polyester base layers I’d quickly find myself unbearable after about 5 days in a row of 1 or 2 shirts in rotation on 25-30k days in those stinking hot temperatures....
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
But man, polyester picks up stink quickly, and once it grabs it, never lets go.
I certainly agree with the first half of your sentence, and I'm pretty certain no one would stand next to me in a bus queue after a day's walk, but I find that washing my polyester garments (underwear, polyester/cotton shirt) in travel laundry soap followed by a good blast of the hottest water the shower can provide usually renders them acceptable. And, when I get the opportunity, a proper wash in a machine restores them to pristine condition.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I certainly agree with the first half of your sentence, and I'm pretty certain no one would stand next to me in a bus queue after a day's walk, but I find that washing my polyester garments (underwear, polyester/cotton shirt) in travel laundry soap followed by a good blast of the hottest water the shower can provide usually renders them acceptable. And, when I get the opportunity, a proper wash in a machine restores them to pristine condition.

Yeah. Nope. Not for me. I don’t know... maybe it’s the “female olfactory sensitivity thing” (apparent evolutionary bonus for females to have far more sensitive olfactory sense), but all that supposedly “pristine condition” stuff people are wearing stinks like a bad second-hand shop to me.
 
Last edited:
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stinmd

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
So complicated. I wear inexpensive tee shirts and a fleece. Normally, have a cotton sweat short in my pack with my waterproofs.
Well said! Just keep it simple.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances: 2016, Del Norte: (2018), Finisterre: (2018), Olvidado (to Bonar): (2019): Bonar on 2020
Before merino was being spun into lightweight layering options, maybe. But man, polyester picks up stink quickly, and once it grabs it, never lets go.

Maybe that’s why the Persil detergent that is so overpowering is so ubiquitous in the preloaded machines on the way, but that stuff burns my nostrils and my skin. I have to use UN scented things myself (and use soap nuts/ soap berries because they are frangrance free and extremely light to carry).

But I fear that if I were to wear polyester base layers I’d quickly find myself unbearable after about 5 days in a row of 1 or 2 shirts in rotation on 25-30k days in those stinking hot temperatures....
I have been amazed, but Oxyclean Odor Blasters has alleviated that problem for me. I won't buy polyester again, but until it shreds off my body, this works for me.
 

PatCambridge

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

A good layering system consists of base layers for moisture management and moving sweat away from your body, mid-layers for insulation and retaining the warmth, and outer layers to protect you from wind and rain. While it may seem counter-intuitive, wearing/carrying several high-performing layers can keep you more comfortable outdoors than a basic shirt+jacket system.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


With a goal to get my kit down to two shirts and two mid-layers, here is the most flexible system for my routes on the Camino, California Missions Trail, Florida Trail, and Appalachian Trail.

MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

This means I'm packing just two shirts and two layers.

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell.

Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid-layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.


Edited for clarity as suggested below.
Thanks very much for the information. This is very helpful.
It's certainly an expensive option but I expect the quality is also top notch.

I have always found wool to be quite itchy on my skin, but admittedly I haven't had any wool products for decades, and I expect they weren't merino wool.
So I think I'll order one of the merino t shirts and give it a try, as my first step.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks very much for the information. This is very helpful.
It's certainly an expensive option but I expect the quality is also top notch.

I have always found wool to be quite itchy on my skin, but admittedly I haven't had any wool products for decades, and I expect they weren't merino wool.
So I think I'll order one of the merino t shirts and give it a try, as my first step.

Honestly, @PatCambridge, I wasn't a "wool guy" at first because I thought of wool as the itchy sweater I had to wear throughout the church service growing up. Fast forward a few more decades and the 150wt merino is - to me - much more comfortable on the skin than the "dri-fit" polyester, better for the economy, and a NIGHT & DAY contrast in terms of odor. I've tried a bunch. The Woolly brand has a little more natural scent when you open the package; Woolx is just amazingly good; same for Smartwool but an even greater price premium. You can find all on their websites, Amazon, etc.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Thanks very much for the information. This is very helpful.
It's certainly an expensive option but I expect the quality is also top notch.

I have always found wool to be quite itchy on my skin, but admittedly I haven't had any wool products for decades, and I expect they weren't merino wool.
So I think I'll order one of the merino t shirts and give it a try, as my first step.
Merino is a long fibre and that is why it is not itchy. Shetland wool is thick but short, and the fibres stick out all the way along every woven strand. Merino is far more similar to the old, good quality cashmere that was not fluffy but rather a tight, long-haired strand woven into sturdy and soft threads.

I think you will be amazed by the zero itch. My entire family even wears merino underwear because it is soft, cool when you want it to be, warm when you need it to be, and stink-free. I crack jokes that with woollen bras and bloomers I feel like Laura-freaking-Ingalls on the prairie, but really: I would never go back to the synthetics...

Cheers.
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
To Ivar and all the peregrinos.Whising you Happy Easter and hoping we can all do the Camino soon.

Caminante no hay camino se hace camino al andar. Antonio MACHADO
 

Mycroft

Active Member
I'll be walking the California Missions Trail in April 2021 and then - with a little luck - walking in the UK in the late summer: Way of St. Cuthbert, Pilgrims Way from London to Canterbury, and then beginning the Via Francigena from Canterbury into Europe towards Rome. In 2022, I'd like to walk a Camino loop from Santiago/Muxia/Finisterre/Santiago Holy Door and if possible walk in the Holy Land - perhaps Jordan to Jerusalem or the shorter Jesus Trail. It would be a dream to arrive in Jerusalem, Santiago and Rome all in the same year. I still would like to walk the Shikiko Temples in 2023 and back to the Camino Frances in 2023. Buen Camino!
Same here, SacredSteps. You've started me dreaming again!
 

PatCambridge

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Honestly, @PatCambridge, I wasn't a "wool guy" at first because I thought of wool as the itchy sweater I had to wear throughout the church service growing up. Fast forward a few more decades and the 150wt merino is - to me - much more comfortable on the skin than the "dri-fit" polyester, better for the economy, and a NIGHT & DAY contrast in terms of odor. I've tried a bunch. The Woolly brand has a little more natural scent when you open the package; Woolx is just amazingly good; same for Smartwool but an even greater price premium. You can find all on their websites, Amazon, etc.
thanks so much for all the info.
 
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2021 Camino Guides
Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.

Grammy Kin

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013); Finisterre (2013); Portugues (2015); King Ludwig’s Way (2016); Via Podiensis (2018)
As someone who is particularly sensitive to cold, a couple of years ago I spent a lot of money on merino base layers because of so many rave reviews. Sorry folks. They do a great job wicking - they wick the heat right away from my body, and I’m left shivering. Also, they are slightly rough on the skin, not at all as smooth as poly, and in dry winter weather can give me an itch storm. I still wear them, as I like their look, and add lots of things over top, but please know they’re not the answer for everyone. For me a blend with a little cotton is not a bad thing.
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

A good layering system consists of base layers for moisture management and moving sweat away from your body, mid-layers for insulation and retaining the warmth, and outer layers to protect you from wind and rain. While it may seem counter-intuitive, wearing/carrying several high-performing layers can keep you more comfortable outdoors than a basic shirt+jacket system.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


With a goal to get my kit down to two shirts and two mid-layers, here is the most flexible system for my routes on the Camino, California Missions Trail, Florida Trail, and Appalachian Trail.

MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

This means I'm packing just two shirts and two layers.

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell.

Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid-layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.


Edited for clarity as suggested below.


I'll suggest trying a thin lambswool sweater instead of the 170 merino baselayer. Everything else looks good.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
A few years ago Aldi had some cardigans in cashmere and silk. Being Aldi they were cheap, and I bought two. They were (are) absolutely gorgeous to wear, light but soft, fabulous in any kind of weather. Sadly I took one on camino and the straps from my pack destroyed it. So some attention to hardiness is necessary.
 
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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
I ... wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

I have devised a mix 'n match approach.

I usually walk warm, and warm-up quite quickly.

For me, polypropolene (and other technical fabrics) are a no-no. They work very well at retaining heat and for me this means I am perspiring very heavily. And getting thoroughly wet through, even with only one layer.

Which leaves merino tops.

I carry three tops (two short-sleeve and one long) with a long coat that is impervious to rain and wind.

My usual start is one short sleeved merino top.

If it is especially cold and likely to stay that way I will start with the long sleeved top.

Normally I will continue for several hours, only changing when I stop for some other reason. In other words my starting decision is quite important.

When I stop, if it is cold and I am likely to stop for a while, I will put the long sleeve over the top. And usually remove it before re-starting.

Because the long coat does not breathe, I will usually only have a short sleeve top on. To keep the arms from being in a sauna I will often push the sleeves up.

I also pack a tent. When using that I will wear as many tops as are needed, with the long coat as an extra layer over the sleeping bag (again, if needed).

The one part of me that suffers most from the cold, especially on cold mornings, is my hands. Here I wear waterproof dexshell gloves. These can be easily taken off when walking and stuff in a packing cell strung across my front and anchored to the shoulder straps.

@SacredSteps, you have mentioned several brands which are not available in just about all the places I get to.

Here is my three and a half seasons list

Merino - short sleeve - 150 gsm - 130 g as worn
Merino - short sleeve - 150 gsm - 130 g as worn
Merino - long sleeve - 150 gsm - 170 g as worn
Altus - knee length with hood - 300 g as worn
Dexshell - gloves - ??? g as worn

As I wear the kilt when walking I also wear long (ski) hose over pressure hose (for incipient varicose veins). With the various layers of the kilt (which has built in air-conditioning!) I am usually as snug as a bug in a rug when underway in just about all but the most extreme weather.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)

PS: I also wish to walk the California Mission Trail - looking like 2023 at the earliest for me. Love to read of your adventures, whether as an occasional blog or as a complete trip report.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have devised a mix 'n match approach.

I usually walk warm, and warm-up quite quickly.

For me, polypropolene (and other technical fabrics) are a no-no. They work very well at retaining heat and for me this means I am perspiring very heavily. And getting thoroughly wet through, even with only one layer.

Which leaves merino tops.

I carry three tops (two short-sleeve and one long) with a long coat that is impervious to rain and wind.

My usual start is one short sleeved merino top.

If it is especially cold and likely to stay that way I will start with the long sleeved top.

Normally I will continue for several hours, only changing when I stop for some other reason. In other words my starting decision is quite important.

When I stop, if it is cold and I am likely to stop for a while, I will put the long sleeve over the top. And usually remove it before re-starting.

Because the long coat does not breathe, I will usually only have a short sleeve top on. To keep the arms from being in a sauna I will often push the sleeves up.

I also pack a tent. When using that I will wear as many tops as are needed, with the long coat as an extra layer over the sleeping bag (again, if needed).

The one part of me that suffers most from the cold, especially on cold mornings, is my hands. Here I wear waterproof dexshell gloves. These can be easily taken off when walking and stuff in a packing cell strung across my front and anchored to the shoulder straps.

@SacredSteps, you have mentioned several brands which are not available in just about all the places I get to.

Here is my three and a half seasons list

Merino - short sleeve - 150 gsm - 130 g as worn
Merino - short sleeve - 150 gsm - 130 g as worn
Merino - long sleeve - 150 gsm - 170 g as worn
Altus - knee length with hood - 300 g as worn
Dexshell - gloves - ??? g as worn

As I wear the kilt when walking I also wear long (ski) hose over pressure hose (for incipient varicose veins). With the various layers of the kilt (which has built in air-conditioning!) I am usually as snug as a bug in a rug when underway in just about all but the most extreme weather.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)

PS: I also wish to walk the California Mission Trail - looking like 2023 at the earliest for me. Love to read of your adventures, whether as an occasional blog or as a complete trip report.
You lost me at kilt, @AlwynWellington. 😂

I'm walking the California Mission Trail right now. We talked about it on the podcast so catch those episodes on YouTube here (https://bit.ly/YOUTUBE-SacredSteps) and my Facebook (www.facebook.com/Sacredstepsbook). I'll be sharing a lot more detail on the blog once I get back home so that will be a good resource as well. It is a beautiful, American walk - unlike the Camino - but the missions and the parishes supporting them are just wonderful to the pilgrims. There's a good Facebook group (California Mission Walkers) to join for support and information. I'm only able to complete three missions this trip, so perhaps we'll be walking together in California someday soon.

Also, guidebook author Sandy Brown is walking California now to produce a new guidebook that should be out in 2022. Look for that one soon!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I went on a hike yesterday, and since it was a Wednesday the trail wasn't too busy. I saw three men on the trail - two were wearing kilts. 😊
I don't think kilts are usually layered with much of anything over them...or under them.😅
 

Walkerooni

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPdP to Santiago (June-ish 2018)
For probably 6 months on the Camino, shorts and t-shirts work fine. Rather than layers, I take a pair of arm warmers. Short-sleeved tech shirt plus arm warmers, which typically come off after walking 15-20 minutes in the morning. Can put on or take off without breaking stride. I was shocked at the number of people who commented on them, and did not seem to know what they were.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
For probably 6 months on the Camino, shorts and t-shirts work fine. Rather than layers, I take a pair of arm warmers. Short-sleeved tech shirt plus arm warmers, which typically come off after walking 15-20 minutes in the morning. Can put on or take off without breaking stride. I was shocked at the number of people who commented on them, and did not seem to know what they were.
Wonderful suggestion! I have used the Outdoor Research Sleeves for sun protection (very thin, breathable, UPF50) but I hadn't considered using a warmer sleeve until you mentioned it. Makes great sense!
 

filly

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
As US makes are not so easily accessible in the UK, can I mention two other merino manufacturers, namely Icebreaker (New Zealand designed but made in China) and Devold (Norwegian). I use these in cooler climes. For summer, I gravitate to the Spanish make, Grifone, made in the Pyrenees - man-made fibres.
 

Undermanager

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Madrid (x2)
VDLP
Salvador
Primitivo
Finisterra / Muxia
Lana
The clothes list for the last few May / September Caminos list was:

Lightweight trail shoes with PF insoles
Very light flip-flops for the evening
3 pairs socks
3 pairs undies
2 pairs lightweight long trousers that zip off to shorts
1 lightweight long sleeved cycle vest
1 lightweight short sleeved cycle vest
2 pullover lightweight microfleeces
1 hooded down puffer jacket for the evenings, weighs nothing and packs down to less, but is super warm!
RAB rain jacket.
Lightweight hat with rim to keep the sun off

A daily regime of washing stuff out at the end of a day has to be done where possible. The only slightly more expensive things are the down jacket and RAB coat. Everything else is cheap and cheerful, happily discarded and easily replaced and not bothered if I forget to pick it up or lose it. Cheap replaceable layers, thin and lightweight so washes and dries quickly is the way to keep warm in all weathers. I'll probably take sealskinz socks next time, if there is a next time!
 

Undermanager

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Madrid (x2)
VDLP
Salvador
Primitivo
Finisterra / Muxia
Lana
One change I might well make next time is to wear sandals rather than trail shoes, or perhaps take them instead of the flip-flops. I've been wearing them for a while on walks out in the UK and they are super comfy all day long, never get blisters, feet are cool etc. Must be worth an experiment, to see if they can be used for weeks on end on a camino?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
One change I might well make next time is to wear sandals rather than trail shoes, or perhaps take them instead of the flip-flops. I've been wearing them for a while on walks out in the UK and they are super comfy all day long, never get blisters, feet are cool etc. Must be worth an experiment, to see if they can be used for weeks on end on a camino?
Don't forget to try them out in rain and mud...both with and without socks.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
One change I might well make next time is to wear sandals rather than trail shoes, or perhaps take them instead of the flip-flops. I've been wearing them for a while on walks out in the UK and they are super comfy all day long, never get blisters, feet are cool etc. Must be worth an experiment, to see if they can be used for weeks on end on a camino?
Don't forget to try them out in rain and mud...both with and without socks.
After using trail runners for my first two Caminos I switched to sandals for the last few. I have now walked the Norte, the Salvador, the Frances from SJPDP to León, and the Portuguese Camino from Porto exclusively in sandals. I wear them with socks while I'm on the Camino - I have waterproof socks for particularly soggy days. They are great in the rain and mud, especially since they are quick and easy to wash and dry.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
I went on a hike yesterday, and since it was a Wednesday the trail wasn't too busy. I saw three men on the trail - two were wearing kilts. 😊

There is an old saying: "A man in a kilt is a man and a half" Not sure what the other half is. :rolleyes:
 

pricehedgehog

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo
I know layering comes up *a lot* but with advances in textiles and new products coming to market every year, I've spent more time than I would care to admit re-working my layers for both pilgrimage and my non-supported walks on the Appalachian and Florida Trails. I'm headed to the California Missions Trail next month and wanted to share an OVERSIMPLIFIED VERSION of my three-season layers.

A good layering system consists of base layers for moisture management and moving sweat away from your body, mid-layers for insulation and retaining the warmth, and outer layers to protect you from wind and rain. While it may seem counter-intuitive, wearing/carrying several high-performing layers can keep you more comfortable outdoors than a basic shirt+jacket system.

BASE LAYER
150wt Merino Wool Short Sleeve (Woolly), or
150wt Merino Wool polo (Woolx, Smartwool, Minus33, Woolly)

MID LAYER
170wt Merino Long Sleeve 1/2 zip (REI, Smartwool, etc), or
Lightweight Grid Fleece (Patagonia R1, Arcteryx Delta, etc), or
35+cfm Wind Layer (Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell, Patagonia Airshed)
*The Kor Preshell and Airshed both have DWR treatments, so they resist some light rain

RAIN/WIND *might be an addition to or replace a midlayer
Montbell Peak Dry, or
Montbell Versalite (with pit zips), or
Outdoor Research Helium HD (with pit zips)
*While the Peak Dry does not have mechanical venting, it is BY FAR the most breathable at 80Kcfm

OUTER/THERMAL
North Face Thermoball Vest, or
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


With a goal to get my kit down to two shirts and two mid-layers, here is the most flexible system for my routes on the Camino, California Missions Trail, Florida Trail, and Appalachian Trail.

MOST FLEXIBLE COMBINATION
Woolx Short Sleeve Polo,
Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece,
Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell

This means I'm packing just two shirts and two layers.

I've found the 150wt merino with the Kor Preshell keeps me warm/cool/dry from approximately 10-22C/50-72F without having to stop to remove layers. The Preshell does well in most light rain; however the Peak Dry is the ultimate "walk all day in the rain without getting wet" piece. It's pricey but exceptionally good. If it's colder, I'll add the Arcteryx Delta Zip Grid Fleece over the merino / under the Preshell.

Using this system, I've gotten down to just two shirts, and the two mid-layers for most walks. I've put some pictures on my blog and some links to different options, but I hope this short overview helps you.


Edited for clarity as suggested below.
I use the same type of layering system and have done for over 20 years now and would agree in principal with the items you are using although its all personal choice.

But I need to admit my mate thinks I am a 100% gear snob...know why ? Which I reject by-the-way, I just love buying gear and only buying it once (apart from the necessary upgrades and the unnecessary upgrades :) . So I do alot of research and have alot of experience in what I know will or won't work.

So a couple of pointers given people's earlier comments on gear, cost and budgets!

1) In summer months I have moved on from Merino as I find it itches more than say Capeline tees by Patagonia or Arcteryx Cormac Comp Tees and doesn't dry fast enough when doing high output activities or carrying a pack.) They also now have much better odour control and UPF 50+ rating is the norm.

2) I also rate Inov8 Racewear for their over-trousers which are extremely lightweight...especially on through hikes.

3) I never buy black clothing ever esp soft-shell or hard shells...always go for colours and the brighter the better for mountains! They reflect the heat and stops you over heating as well as looking fine!

4) Remember.... buying gear is a very personal choice. If you want to buy Peter Storm or whatever budget brands you like... by all means get on with it....but if you want my view...seek proper advice from experienced people and get help in choosing serious gear.... so it lasts, doesn't fail and you buy the item only once.

5) I don't judge people on their gear....especially over the perceived RRP price. As it happens I don't rate Karrimor stuff now (did in the 70's) and don't like Osprey rucksacks now (did in 2009) but I'm not going to criticise your gear.
However, over the years I have notice other people just can't hold back from making a comment over gear, whether its Arcteryx, Mountain Hardwear, OR, Patagonia etc etc....

6) I think its ok to enjoy buying gear and it doesn't mean you're a mug....I have done many treks, mountaineering, hikes and camps and I know what its like when gear fails or just isn't good enough .....so I'm prepared to take my time, do the research and then buy at the price point I am comfortable with.

7) I accept that high quality gear comes at a high price unless you are very stealth like and patient to wait for it to go on sale....

8) Accept Lightweight, high quality gear will cost even more.....for example the price of a lighter backpack....Just take a look at a Dyneema backpack versus an Osprey in price ...about 3 or 4X the price and probably 1/3 of the weight....saving about 1KG....everyday for a trek over 3 weeks....

Hope this helps :)
 

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