So I'm going on my 1st trip as an adult in mid-May of 2012. As I have been reading around on this site, I discovered I have nothing that I will probably need for that time of year clothing-wise.
What I am wondering is what do I need to go buy for that time of year? Is there a site somewhere that lists type of clothes to buy? For example, should I bring heavy coveralls and coat, thick gloves? What kind of rain gear should I get? Stuff like that. Any info you guys and gals have would be awesome!!!!!!
-Get a good first layer to wear, something along the lines of Patagonia Capilene (there's other stuff, that's just one brand...something that wicks, that is not cotton.)I like long-sleeves, so if wearing a rainjacket over it it'll wick the sweat away from your arms and it doesn't feel wet & clammy.
-Get some quick-drying pants, like nylon zip-off pants (the zip-off featuure is not critical). Or if you think it'll be cold, get some wool pants.
-Get decent raingear, don't skimp too much on that. both jacket and pants. Something Gore-Tex, or Marmot Precip, etc is good.(If budget is an issue, Cabelas nylon raingear is great for the price.)
-A layer of fleece.
- 2-3 pairs of nice wool socks - Teko, Smartwool, Thorlo, certain Wigwams, etc. Well worth the $12-18 per pair.
- Footwear - that's a whole topic of its own, as far as boots or Chotas or wading boots, etc.
All good advice. The bottom line is LAYERS. I've taught many groups of Boy Scouts and others how to layer the appropriate clothing to stay warm and dry in varying weather conditions. Most of the time, the following layers work best:
1. Short-sleeved wicking t-shirt 2. Long-sleeved wicking t-shirt or longjohn top 3. "Warmth" layer (i.e. Fleece or wool jacket) 4. Rain gear
Rain gear, jacket AND pants, is always the outermost layer.
In cooler temps, and I would consider May in the "cooler temps" timeframe, one could substitute the short-sleeved shirt for another long-sleeve.
And don't forget the longjohn bottoms! Perfect to wear as a base layer for your nylon zip-off pants.
Then, if it gets warmer, colder, drier or more rainy, this system will offer you the flexibility you need with your clothes.
"Keep close to Nature's heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." ~ John Muir
How long will you be in the wilderness? Most of us recognize the lakes are too cold to bath and so is the rain so we tend to wear the same thing for a few days. It is always a good idea to have a set of back up dry in case you dump or otherwise get wet. Covering your head and having ear cover for windy days is important and I think everyone here would say good socks are critical. I like gloves for around camp and have paddling gloves that keep my hands mostly dry and reasonably warm, aging can affect circulation and my hands get cold and then crack in the wet in just a day or so. I will close with something warm to sleep in and if you use your long johns it is easy to slip into some pants and top to go out at night or start the morning. Most important is to look forward to having a really great time.
There just isn't a smarter group of outdoors people anywhere!
I concur with all the previous stated brilliance- layer, layer layer! My version is- Silk first, Capilene next, fleece (a thin or thick layer based on temps) then Northface's Apex- then finally Gortex outerwear. I am absolutely invincible with this combo!
DO NOT wear cotton of any sort, buy the very best rain gear you can afford (top and bottom). Wear a fleece or wool cap.
Be prepared for warm weather- the past 2 years we have done an ice out trip in mid- May and wore t-shirts most of the days there.
quote ryebread26: "thanks for all the info already! what about boots what would you recommend? ...... is there any paddling gloves anyone could recommend, and rain gear?"
For boots, Chota Quetico Trekkers are nice and very popular. I have Cabela's Backcountry Waders, but it looks like they're discontinued. However, I saw these at the store and would buy them if I needed a new pair now (or even if I didn't need them yet but had the money right now, ..which i don't). They look good and the sole isn't too stiff: Cabelas Gold Medal Wading boots
For raingear, I have LL Bean Stowaway GoreTex raingear, both the jacket and pants. So far, I like it.
quote ryebread26: "thanks for all the info already! what about boots what would you recommend?
We will be in from May 21-26
is there any paddling gloves anyone could recommend, and rain gear?" I like to wear rubber knee boots with wool socks in May because of water temp and I usually do wet foot landings. I also take a spare pair of shoes to wear around camp.
+3 on the wool stocking hat.
I use a lot of wool at this time of year wool long johns and a spare set for sleeping or in case I dump the canoe. I take wool pants and a pair of zip offs and wear the one needed based on weather. Get some good rain gear both top and bottoms.
weather at that time of year can be low 20's with snow to 80's and sun.
I concur with the layers. At that time of year, you just can't tell what the weather is going to be.
This last May, on my first trip of the year, the days were warm, and the nights were down in the 20's. It was easy to stay comfy by adding and subtracting.
Wool socks......Several pair. I can't trip without them Long underwear....I've got some Swedish made Merino Wool that cost me a small fortune....but they are terrific, and my partners can still stand my smell after several days.
Boots and/or shoes are another matter. In the spring and fall, when the water and the weather can be cold, it is more important for me to keep my feet dryer then I would in summer. You might want to consider some farmer's mucker's if your style of gettin in and out of the canoe is wet!
quote ryebread26: "I was looking at these Cabela's muck boots. does anyone use them? they look like they would be not that great for portaging, any ideas?" Cabela's 800-Gram Dura-Trax™ Boot – Mossy Oak Break-Up® Infinity™
Not sure if you do second hand but I have had great luck at finding adult zip off pants at thrift stores like Goodwill. I just cruise through the racks and look for that zipper at the knees. $6 and under for REI and other brands. Harder to find women's sizes but I have 2 pairs of men's that fit me well.
I ditto on the rubber boots and knee high wool socks. I like a dry foot when I can manage it. Mid summer I switch to Keens and wool crew socks. Crocs in camp and trail runners for hiking.
I always bring a stocking hat unless it is mid summer as it is the easiest way to stay warm at night when I sleep. I don't generally bring heavy coats just rain gear large enough to fit multiple layers of long johns and fleece. Much lighter and takes up less space in the packs.
quote ryebread26: "quote ryebread26: "I was looking at these Cabela's muck boots. does anyone use them? they look like they would be not that great for portaging, any ideas?" Cabela's 800-Gram Dura-Trax™ Boot – Mossy Oak Break-Up® Infinity™"
They look pretty decent; whether they have the support for portaging, who knows. But if you get them, I would try them out - go for a local hike. If it seems there's not enough support, invest in a good (not dr scholl's from the drugstore) pair of insoles. RoadRunner Sports.com has a lot of good ones to choose from. Replace what's in there with the new ones and it could make a world of difference.
Campmor has some decent zipoff nylon pants pretty cheap. They dry very quickly. I'd also recommend a pair where you put on your own belt, rather than a built-in belt. That way you can hang stuff on your belt if you want to - multitool, knife, whatever.
Muck Edgewater boots work well for me in all seasons. They have a foot box similar to a HD hiker and are fine on the portage. Just my preference in keeping my feet dry and muck free. I also bring light weight, ankle high hiking boots for around the camp and area hiking.
For cool wet weather, I use Glacier neoprene gloves. The only thing I've found that keeps my hands warm in cold, wet conditions.
ps: Can you tell I hate being cold and wet? :-)
"I rather paddle in ignorant bliss than be arrogantly informed." ~ Kenneth Martenson
Another vote for Muck boots here. They are completely waterproof and quite light. Unless of course you go over the top! Get the taller ones. I haven't seen anyone mention down jackets! THEY MAKE SOME REDICULOUSLY LIGHT JACKETS THESE DAYS TOO. Crap I am not going to retype that. Accidentally hit the caps button. Light is right!
without the bad times: the good times wouldn't seem so good
There are a lot of good suggestions here. Also, being your first trip as an adult I assume that you might not have a lot of money to blow on a new outfit. That's not a problem. Kohls, Walmart, Target, etc. have cheaper fleece and poly items than the expensive name brands (Under Armour, North Face) to purchase for layering. Good footwear is a must so look at investing more in this. Finally, I really agree with the knit cap - even in August I bring it as the nights can get chilly.
"You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack." - Alan Garner, The Hangover.
quote luft: "Not sure if you do second hand but I have had great luck at finding adult zip off pants at thrift stores like Goodwill. I just cruise through the racks and look for that zipper at the knees. $6 and under for REI and other brands. Harder to find women's sizes but I have 2 pairs of men's that fit me well."
I've found thrift stores to be one of the best sources for tech clothing. I thrift store in our area (operated by an organization that works with developmentally disabled adults) gets REI seconds and returns. I've been able to pick up those zip pants for me and three of my boys, all at $1 each. It's also a great place to find other wicking fabric underlayers, and you wouldn't believe how much fleece they have. The real steals are when I find the wool shirts. I'm still on the hunt for a wool sweater.
The local thrift store has also been a good source for other items. I got my tackle bag there (actually a bike handlebar bag), a day pack, some miscellaneous gear pouches, and a pair of Keen sandals (for $5!).
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
For gloves, I carry a light fleece set for cool mornings/evenings around camp. They compress smaller than a bandana and I can keep them in my rear pocket.
For paddling, I like simple half-finger leather work gloves. I pick them up at Menards for around $6 a pair and use them until they fall apart. To make them water proof, I slather them in mink oil. Once I do that, the only way they get wet is if I dip my hand in the lake and the water comes in over the cuff. The really are like a second skin, if the gloves fit snugly (the way I like them). Wearing them, I can hold a hot stainless mug with my whole hand and still appreciate the warmth. They are also great for keeping the backs of my hands free from bug dope and mosquito bites (though they love my knuckles). If you wear them in sunny weather, you might consider your pale hands a drawback if you like an even tan.
For cold weather camping in general (and let's face it, you could have some really cold days in May), I like Wool half-finger/mitten combos, the kind where the mittle folds back to reveal your fingers when you need them.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
I wear Quetico Trekkers and the now discontinued cold water liner." Beemer, I take it you mean the Chota Brookies? I use those too when it's colder..a cheaper "almost-substitute" might be a pair of SealSkinz (a sort of waterproof sock) over the wool socks, between the sock and boot.
Definitely agree with the no cotton sentiments. The synthetics dry so much faster, but make sure to get wool socks. I know it's best to get the best rain gear you can afford, but with everything you're going to by buying, I'd recommend Frog Toggs pants and jacket. They are cheap, light and durable, even though they feel like they were made from recycled paper! Crocs (the fake ones from Meijer or wherever) as camp shoes (make sure you put your wet shoes and socks out to dry, it took me a couple of trips' worth of blisters for it to dawn on me that I couldn't wear my wet stuff all night at camp!). Thick wool socks at camp, thin ones during the day. Fleece doesn't have to be expensive to work well. Don't overpack -- you can get by with much less than you think, as long as you have stuff you can layer, because that time of year it's tough to know what kind of weather you may get. Have a great time!
Lots of good info already posted. They have covered the critical clothing points well.
I would simply add that May water temps are very dangerous. Just in case you have not tripped in May before, the water temp can make you hypothermic in only minutes. You likely would not make it 100 yards to shore from a swamped canoe. It is a serious life threatening danger.
Along with good clothing you need to take along conservative judgment. Don't risk high wind or waves on big water. Travel early and late in the day when wind is low. Stay close to shore in case you accidentally dump (that's why thy call it "accident") Keep a close eye on weather - it changes fast and can catch you unprepared.
Be sure you have several (not one or two) absolutely guaranteed to work fire starting kits. Lighters, matches, tinder, etc are life and death issues in May. Specially if you get wet and its cold. Pack them in separate packs, all water proofed (zip locks inside zip locks) and tell all the members of the party where they are.
Have a wonderful trip. You have a lifetime of future enjoyment ahead.
Old Hoosier, your reply is a TEN. The water is way too cold not to respect it. Life jacket on and a ditch kit. Include one of those cheap space blankets. They fold up to about the size of a 4x4 pad, weigh nothing and work in a emergency.
Plan on reading. These guys and gals really know the tricks. PS: Use that search box up top you will be amazed how much info comes up.
Best advice in this thread. We did two trips in the mid may time frame. One year got down in the 30's at night. The outfitter had given us 35 degree bags. I did not have a cap and the next morning I had a headache like I never had in my life. The cold air moved through that tent all night.
I agree with prior posts. . .no cotton. . .I take under armor or Rocky base layers as a primary layer. . .I also take synthetic long sleeve paddling tops made by NRS. They dry quickly, breath, keep your warm and are very light. Then fleece. Bottom layer I bring NRS paddling pants that velcro tight at the waist and ankles. Socks are waterproof socks or neoprene socks. Either NRS boundary boots or SARS type boots.
I pack with the idea that if it rains or I tip over. . .what clothing would I want. . .then I pack.
As to temps. . .spend the money on lightweight sleeping bag. . .we go 15 or 20 degree bags now for May or September trips. We have also moved to hammocks.
quote ryebread26: "I was looking at these Cabela's muck boots. does anyone use them? they look like they would be not that great for portaging, any ideas?"
I use [these boots] which are similar to the Cabela Mucks, but they have laces, to give you ankle support. I wouldn't use a non-laced boot in any sort of situation where I was hiking and carrying gear. You can also get them with Thinsulate and GoreTex linings. I love them for BWCA, they're great for portaging - plenty of ankle stablity, sole is sturdy enough to handle all but the sharpest rocky portage trails, and they keep your feet from getting wet when you are getting in and out of the canoe.
Nothing more damaging to my morale than having cold wet feet all day.
I would buy a wool blend for long underwear if you can tolerate it. Also, a down or fleece vest canprovide the right amount of extra help to keep warm. Finally I bring a pair of light weight mittens (fleece mittens covered by a water resistant shell ) for when my hands get cold from lots of rain.
The amount of satisfaction you get from life depends largely on your own ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness. People who wait around for life to supply their satisfaction usually find boredom instead.
Lots of great advice in this thread. You also want to have a ditch bag for yourself in case you dump in the water. What I do is take a very small drybag and cram a set of poly long underwear top and bottoms as well as thin wool socks and a light fleece cap.
I stuff the bag up under the bow cap of my canoe just in case. This Sept. it turned out I needed to wear all this extra stuff at night when the temps got down in the low-mid twenties. It's a good backup plan for May as well.