The rack of greatness.
I am continually looking for great gear, testing that gear to determine if it is indeed great, then sharing my recommendations with you. This rolling rack holds my favorite outdoor clothing for the things I like to do and it represents what I think to be the very best the market has to offer. With the exception of two items, I have every piece of soft goods I want right here to pick and choose each time I do a particular activity. What I wear for hiking, hunting, backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and ATVing comes from this rack. As of today, this is my go to gear.
Base layer, pants, and boots.
I will spare you the picture of me in skivvies but this is the foundation of my clothing system from fall through spring.
Hardcore Outdoor blaze orange cap
Smartwool NTS Micro 150 Crew long sleeve shirt
Under Armour 6 Inch Boxer Briefs
Danner Flashpoint Over The Calf socks
Hanwag Mountain Light GTX boots
ArborWear Ascender pants (FKA the Stretch Tech pants)
Yates Instructor Rappel belt
Add a midloft, lightweight zip T-neck pullover.
This is my secret weapon. It adds warmth, cuts the wind, and even sheds light precipitation when I am working hard and the thin wool base layer top is not enough to keep me from getting too cold. It is the plus in my three plus layer system. This particular one is the REI Active Stretch Half Zip Pullover. I have one each in black, sage green, and red depending on the activity but REI does not make this model any longer so I have to find a replacement. Sitka Gear makes an excellent one called the Traverse Zip T that comes in Optifade camo or Ash.
This is the piece I am putting on and taking off most often. It gives me tremendous flexibility and helps the other pieces perform better. It is the force multiplier in my system.
Add a set of pull on waterproof breathable shell pants.
It is funny how you come full circle on some things. I used this set of Gore-Tex over pants for half a dozen years while on the Team and they served me very, very well. I have tried to find an all purpose pant that will do everything from provide excellent flexibility and maximum durability to protection from heavy rain slash wet snow but I have not found them yet.
These pull on shell pants are over sized, have BDU style side cargo pockets, under pants pocket access, knee height legs zips, belt loops, velcro cuff adjustments, suspender loops, elastic waist adjustment cords, and are made of what I would describe as a 500 denier Cordura material with a Gore-Tex Defense laminate. They are tough as hell, incredibly effective and the perfect shell mate to the very capable Arborwear Ascender Pants.
This particular pair is made by Adventure Tech (now part of Propper) and are identical to the military issue ECWCS Gen II and III Trousers made by Propper International except they are black instead of MARPAT camouflage. This is one of the two items in my system that requires attention. I need to replace them with a currently produced version that is equally as good but until then these work just fine.
Synthetic insulation jacket and Nomex glove liners.
I have tested a bunch of these “liner” jackets over the years. One of my favorites was the Moonstone Cirrus which had pit zips, a feature I really liked. Moonstone went out of business so I switched to the Marmot TR6 which was longer but it also had pit zips then they stopped making it. Sitka gear makes a nice camo one with Primaloft called the Kelvin Lite. Brooks Range makes the Cirro that is also insulated with Primaloft but the Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket pictured here works best for me because it has about 20% more Primaloft Sport stuffed into it which makes a considerable difference in the field.
Also in the picture you will note that I am wearing the worlds greatest glove liners from Hanz. The fact that these are Nomex is merely interesting at his point point since I am not flying anymore but it does help when I am handling the Jetboil Sol Ti or Nalgene bottles full of hot water.
A puffy alternative for colder temps.
My rule for choosing a goose down versus synthetic insulation layer is simple. If I am sure that I can keep it dry (from perspiration, rain, or snow) then I choose down because it is lighter, conforms to my body better, and ounce for ounce it is the best insulator. If I am not confident I can keep it dry then I will go with the synthetic stuff.
This is the Flight Series Jacket from Western Mountaineering. You would be hard pressed to find a higher grade of goose down in a lighter package. It is a beautiful piece of gear but it is the second item I am looking to replace because WM doesn’t offer an insulated detachable hood to go with it. I think the Front Point Jacket from Feathered Friends is the only thing out there that will meet my criteria.
A state of the art shell layer jacket and top notch gloves top it all off.
And the piece de resistance, the Arcteryx Theta AR Jacket in the two tone Oregano color. An awesome jacket in a very cool color that works anywhere doing anything. It is a little loud for snooping and pooping up close and it really should have double front zippers but other than that, it is the best shell I have ever used.
Sizing. Most people buy their shells too small so make sure your various insulation layers can fit under the shell without compressing the dead air space and killing the thermal efficiency.
The gloves are the Arcteryx Vertical SV. High tech anatomical design, Gore-Tex laminate, and fleece liner.
Warm, short, and very tactile.
That is it. That is my system and it is flexible enough to take me from the hunting grounds to the ski slopes. Add an Outdoor Research Wind Warrior Hat and a set of Crocodile HD Gaiters to it and you are good to go from 75 degrees down to near zero. Big wind, heavy rain, deep snow? No problem.
Check out this Youtube video for more detail on the components of my multipurpose outdoor clothing system.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
We can be educated and persuaded but not bought, bullied or bs’d.
Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can’t or won’t turn back.