What to wear, what to wear..? Layering has arguably gotten more complicated in recent years, as the traditional layers that we all grew accustomed to have changed with technological advances. Not new on the market, but better than ever, are the latest generation of “hybrid” garments. This past Denali season, we outfitted numerous guides in the Piton Hybrid Hoody from Patagonia, and after a long season in the Alaska Range, the guides are all smiles!
We have long been fans of mid-weight layers with hoods. An integrated hood allows us to wear lighter weight hats, or even a baseball hat or visor, and still have the option of easily accessible warmth when the wind picks up. The addition of the hood gives you a broad range of temperature regulation at different activity levels allowing you to easily remain comfortable without having to stop and add or take away a layer.
A favorite system is to wear a lightweight Capilene or wool t-shirt base layer and the Piton Hybrid Hoody on top. You can drop the hood and zip it down for maximum ventilation and cooling, but quickly zip it up and flip up the hood giving you a reasonably warm system for high output activities in the cold. Add a featherweight Houdini wind jacket and you’ve got a super lightweight system that can keep you comfortable across a huge range of temperatures and activity levels with a minimum of messing around.
It’s important to have the gear to stay warm enough when climbing big cold mountains, but it’s easy to forget that it can get hot fast when you are working hard and the sun is baking at 20,000ft. Your clothing system needs to allow you to adjust quickly, without stopping excessively to change layers, so you can keep from getting cold, or from getting overheated. Your body simply does not work as efficiently when you are overheated, so simple ways to vent and cool off are as important as ways to keep warm when the weather changes.
The Piton Hybrid Hoody is constructed using panels of Polartec Windpro, which helps cut moderate breezes, letting you wear the hoody longer than you might a traditionsl light fleece. This piece does a great job in the mountains, but one of the most common guide comments was that it wasn’t too “techy” looking to wear around town after the climb!
Patagonia introduced the Piton Hybrid Hoody a year ago in both men’s and women’s styles. For fall of 2013, only the men’s version is available, and it looks like it will not continue to be in their line for Spring 2014, so if you are looking for a nice layer to compliment your kit, you might not want to wait!
We’ve distilled the recommendations of our guides and climbers from years of expeditions down to our “Ultimate Alaska Equipment List”. Click the link and check out all of our gear and clothing recommendations for a climb in Alaska, or anywhere in the big, cold mountains.