"Am I going to be warm enough?" - Some quick tips for choosing your warm clothing for a hike.

Depending on when and where you hike, you may need a lot of worn insulation to keep you warm in camp.  Choosing which warm clothes and sleeping gear to bring can be difficult. Here are some things that might help you out. Start with the equipment you already own before you go out and buy more gear.

Consult the oracle! (Google it)

Looking up historical averages/temperatures for the area where you are going to hike can give you an idea of what to expect (when unsure pack more warm layers). If you are really worried about being too cold, keep the record lows in mind for the dates that you plan to be out or wait until you are closer to your trip start date to decide what equipment you will bring with you.

Is it cold where you live right now?

If so, sit outside in all the equipment you think you want to bring with you when the temperature is right. Sit in the shade during the day or sit out at night to see how comfortable you are after forty-five minutes to an hour. Try wearing all of your layers in your sleeping bag to see how that changes the temperature range that you are comfortable in. Don't move around. You should be warm enough in whatever you are wearing without having to move around to create body heat.

There are two main approaches to sleeping insulation. First, have a warm enough sleeping bag or quilt that you could sleep in it in just your underwear, socks, and a hat. Second, carry a sleeping bag or quilt that is warm enough at ten degrees Fahrenheit below the expected low temperature when you wear it with all your warm clothes. The second approach is usually better in warmer weather where you don't want to get stuck using a sleeping bag or quilt that is too hot, but still want to be able to handle unexpectedly cold nights.

"What am I forgetting?"

Many people stack up on torso insulation, but plan to bring very little for their legs. Having no hard rain pant shell, base-layer leggings, or warm pants to block cold and wet wind from robbing you of your precious body heat is a recipe for discomfort around camp in cold weather. If the weather is decent you may not need any leg insulation. I love my synthetic puffy pants in cold weather though, just sayin'.
Gloves and a warm hat go a long way to increase your comfort in cold weather. 
Spare socks kept bone dry to wear in camp are worth carrying in wintery/freezing conditions. You could take your socks off and dry your feet, going sock-less, but thick comfy socks for camp are really nice in freezing weather.

"What if I bring too much stuff?"

You will have a number of opportunities on hiking trails, especially starting out NOBO on the AT, to send gear home fairly soon after starting. If any warm clothing seems excessive you can send it home, but keep in mind that the weather can change again and don't send home all your warm clothing when the weather changes. Many have sent their warm weather gear home too early. There's a great gear shop right after blood mountain on the AT that you can send extra gear home from. The people that run the place are awesome. 

I hope that helps! Thanks for visiting the blog. Check out the topics tab in the sidebar if you want to dig around and find more stuff to read.