It’s been a while since I’ve visited the Hill brother’s YouTube Channel. Since then, they’ve started to add instruction videos. In their October newsletter, they described the rationale behind the Hill People Gear Longhouse Instructional Series:
We’ve just launched a new instructional video series on YouTube. The Longhouse Instructional Series goes hand in hand with the equipages section of our website with more hands on information including gear and techniques based on our time on the trail. There are folks who have more experience than us, and folks who have less. Whichever camp you’re in, we hope you find something of value in this video series. We’ve also organized our YouTube channel into playlists. In addition to the Longhouse playlist, there is also a product playlist and an in the field playlist.
I’ve just watched their video on Clothing Systems. It’s an absolute masters class on outdoor layering. It’s long but definitely worth the time investment.
To a large degree, it validated my layering system. For winter hiking, I’ve made the transition from a Patagonia Adze softshell jacket over a synthetic baselayer to a three layer system that includes:
- Outerlayer: Triple Aught Design Raptor – this is a shell made from Polartec Neoshell, which is both breathable and somewhat water-resistant as long as you maintain the DWR. I’ve written a two-part review on it. Part 1, Part 2.
For pants, I wear the LL Bean Knife’s Edge softshell pants. Read my First Look article here. I’ve worn them for a couple of years now. I’d put them up against anything from TAD or Arc’teryx at less than half the price.
- Midlayer: Patagonia Nano Air Hoody – in my system, this has taken the place of the TAD Equilibrium (EQ) jacket. The Nano Air’s FullRange synthetic insulation has a good warmth to weight ratio, it’s very breathable, and the jacket is extremely comfortable because it stretches as you move. The same could be said of the EQ and its Polartec Alpha insulation. The major difference between the two is that the Nano Air comes with a hood that fits perfectly inside the hood of the Raptor. I can wear it standalone or under the Raptor’s Hood to keep my head and the back of my neck warm. For me, the Nano Air also fits a little closer to the body without being restrictive so it’s a bit warmer.
Note: I know HPG discounted the notion of a midlayer, but in this area, the forest preserves are relatively flat so I don’t heat up as much. When I snowshoe, I forgo the midlayer and only wear a shell over a baselayer. The same when I camp since I’m hauling more gear and I save the midlayer for when I stop to make camp.
- Torso Baselayer: Synthetic (Generic) – like was mentioned in the video, this for me is a commodity item. I do vary the weight depending on the activity and weather, but I pretty much use whatever I have on hand.
- Bottom Baselayer: Cabelas E.C.W.C.S – I have these bottoms in all three weights (Polar, Mid, and Tech). They are made from Polartec Power Dry, which is a grid fleece. Very comfortable and warm depending on the weight. They also wick moisture and dry very quickly.
- Boots/Socks: LL Bean water-resistant boots with warm socks – usually a wool blend although recently I’ve experimented with socks made from Bison Down.
By understanding how layering works and the different options, you’ll definitely save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration upfront. Everyone is different so what works for me or even the Hill brothers might not work for your situation. So, be willing to endure a little trial-and-error in the field. Eventually you’ll settle upon a system that makes your outdoor activities much more comfortable, and in turn, enjoyable.