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jeans vs ???

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:40 pm

I always wear Levis shrink-to-fit original cotton jeans when I backpack. They are tough as nails and very comfortable in a variety of conditions. Never had a pair split out on me.

All this "cotton kills" talk seems to me to be coming from people who should know better -- perhaps they are too susceptible to the marketing efforts of the companies that benefit from selling synthetics. Intelligent, reasonable users of jeans know their limitations and plan accordingly. Would you wear your synthetic pants in a driving rainstorm without a poncho and expect them not to get wet and your body not to get cold? Of course not. Like any garment, jeans have their downside. They are heavier than synthetics, but not that much heavier when you compare like to like -- i.e., a similarly robust pair of synthetic long pants vs. a pair of Levis. Most synthetic long pants I have shopped are not nearly as sturdy as Levis and none are as comfortable, in my opinion. Synthetics tend to melt when a spark comes in contact with them; Levis do not.

Does down kill?

I like the fit and feel of cotton. I hike in cotton t-shirts (carry two with me on every trip). The rest of my kit includes: two pairs of cotton undies; a third medium weight long sleeve "hickory" work shirt I use around camp and as a pillow case; a 1 lb. north face jacket; a wool scarf; a wool knit hat; a baseball cap; light-weight wool gloves (rarely used); two pairs of heavyweight, tight-knit 100% wool socks; two pairs of liner socks; one silicon impregnated poncho.

When hiking in a driving rain, I put my poncho on. If it's really coming down and I have to hike in the rain for a long distance, my boots will get wet, as will the bottom two feet of my pants. It's actually pretty comfy, if you don't mind squishy feet. Never had an issue with wet jeans.

Much of this is a matter of fashion. Newbies to the trail run off to REI and buy overpriced gear, either because they don't know what they're doing or because they want to look good on the trail, or both. Like fashionable skiers on downhill slopes at a ski resort, they have to dress just right. The "uniform" usually includes hiking shorts, hiking poles, a sun hat made of nylon fabric, and a stinky synthetic shirt.

Cotton doesn't kill; inexperience and bad judgement kills.

We old farts -- "Old Ranger" Mike is one of them -- remember the 70s and 80s when everybody wore jeans and carried external frame packs.

I remember fondly a two-week trip I did in the mid-80s, where I met up with my two brothers and a cousin half way through the trip. We all hiked in jeans. The day before our rendezvous in LeConte Canyon, the weather turned miserable. It rained and snowed every one of the next five days. We headed up to Dusy Basin, over Knapsack Pass, then out to South Lake via Thunderbolt Pass (in a snow storm).

Mike

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Last edited by Mike M. on Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby oldranger » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:05 pm

Well Mike

I respectfully disagree with much of what you posted except that 1. I love wool 2. it really is your intelligent response to nasty situations that is the key to survival 3. Synthetics do melt (but just like being mindful in the weather in cotton you can be mindful wearing synthetics around fire).

The good thing about being old is that you get to learn and try new things and maybe discover that there are better things than the old. Quick drying, light clothing is a huge advantage on long trips where weight of non consumables becomes important. In the late afternoon I can jump in the lake in my hiking shorts and long sleeve synthetic shirt and they will be dry in the am--no stink build up! Then don my synthetic long underwear, long synthetic pants, silk t-neck, wool sweater, and windbreaker if needed and I am good for the evening. When hiking in the rain I wear shorts--don't worry about getting my pants wet.

and the weight reduction is significant--about 1 1/2 lbs when comparing underwear, pants (the really big difference) and long sleeve shirts. That is the weight of my soon to be new pack raft!

And levis never fit me right. They had to be 2" too big in the waist in order to be big enough in the thighs.

Now the really good news about this discussion is that when I grabbed different garments to weigh them I found a well laundered $30 in the pocket of my synthetic shirt that I last wore in the Boundary Waters on a canoe trip last september! :D

So I owe you a beer if you ever drop over to the right side of the mountains!

Mike
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby rlown » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:16 pm

you wear what you are comfortable in. otherwise, what is the point? can always jump in the tent if it becomes intense. "cotton kills" is a stretch unless you're stupid and don't know the limits. I love cotton T's..sometimes i layer them with synth underneath, but that's skeeter season.

tourists don't die wearing less. idiots.

Still swear by my kelty tioga external frame pack. :)
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:41 pm

Mike,

There's some truth that I'm slow to try new things. But I've never found synthetic hiking pants that fit right and I'm not bothered by the approximately 10 oz difference in weight that my Levis burden me with when compared to synthetic. Over the last 15 years, I've: upgraded from my old MSR stove to an MSR Pocket Rocket and saved almost a pound in weight; upgraded from my old Gerry down coat to a North Face one and saved almost 10 oz in weight; upgraded from my huge and heavy Vasque hiking boots to a pair of Asolo TPS 520 boots, saving over 2 lbs in weight; gave up my beloved tube tent for an ultralight Easton tent, gaining 10 oz. in the process; upgraded my old poncho for a much lighter Integral Designs sil poncho; got a lightweight digital camera to replace a small but heavy rangefinder, then went to a slightly heavier DSLR. I've wisely refrained from adding a water purifier to my kit. Likewise, I've refrained from buying a Thermarest pad, which add weight to your sleep kit and are prone to failures (they're as finicky as Svea stoves!). I've had to bite the bullet and carry a bear canister (I own a Bearicade), which adds two pounds to my dead weight. I don't carry a hiking pole (or two). I don't hike with my cell phone or a GPS -- still use the old topos and much prefer the 15 minute series to the myopic 7.5.

I''m thinking of getting a Kindle Paperwhite, which would save me considerable weight in books, but I worry about the battery being able to last an entire two-week outing. (You know, too, I'd miss the smell of the ink and the feel of the paper . . . . )

You're right -- wool is the best and I swear by it. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to re-purpose an old pair of dress slacks for the trail? Would they fair well?

A cotton t-shirt drys quicker than you might think; ditto with Levis. But If I were to take a dip in the evening, I'd just leave my clothes off. About that beer . . . .

Mike M.
Last edited by Mike M. on Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:47 pm

Still swear by my kelty tioga external frame pack. :)

I second that. I upgraded from an old North Face external frame pack in the late 80s to a Kelty Super Tioga and it is the most comfortable pack I've ever owned -- and cavernous if you need to carry big loads. That was in the days when before Kelty went strap-happy and bloated their packs with 2 lbs of unnecessary thingies. Is thingie a word?

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:25 pm

Mike M. wrote:I always wear Levis shrink-to-fit original cotton jeans when I backpack. They are tough as nails and very comfortable in a variety of conditions. Never had a pair split out on me.

All this "cotton kills" talk seems to me to be coming from people who should know better -- perhaps they are too susceptible to the marketing efforts of the companies that benefit from selling synthetics.



FInd a search and rescue professional who recommends cotton.

I dare ya. Won't happen.

We get to pick up the pieces. Or, then there is the fun of listening to the whiner in the heavy wet jeans for miiiiilllllleeeesssss.

Have also had wet cotton blend and not had joy - synthetics and wool for me, good bye constant chilly feeling.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:04 pm

FInd a search and rescue professional who recommends cotton.

I dare ya. Won't happen.
Interesting you say that, AlmosTthere. Take a look at Bob Rockwell's Flickr photos and you'll notice lots of cotton t's (photos of him in the backcountry wearing cotton t's on climbs and hikes). He's a veteran S&R pro. So there are differing views, each with merit. Are you also this passionate about synthetic fill sleeping bags?

Cotton does not kill. Down does not kill. Stupid kills.

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:49 pm

Please, let's not add several posts to this otherwise decent thread just to prove
a point, each has made it, now let's move on. Thank you.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby dave54 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:34 pm

Yeah, the tired old 'cotton kills' hyperbole is not valid. Never was. Now just a trite buzzphrase.

I sometimes wear jeans during the summer if the weather forecast is favorable. Not if rain is in the forecast or plan on wet crossings. Crashing through brush and slash, scrambling over lava off-trail will destroy my synthetic pants. I also have not had any problems with chafing. They are a bit heavier and hotter. It is a trade off I make.

I also carry a back up pair of synthetics in my pack if needed. But I tend to carry enough gear even in my day pack for an emergency 48 hr bivy. I overkill.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby richlong8 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:23 am

on another thread richlong wrote

I have "blown out" more than one pair of nylon shorts and pants while hiking. I sometimes wonder if going back to jeans would be easier( definitely cheaper)!



In the old days (50s through 70s I wore jeans always a new pair washed several times. I blew out several pairs. Since then I have relied on synthetics and have not had that problem. Have had couple pairs resewn along seams when they seemed a little worn but the fabric seems much more resistant to wearing and tearing but maybe I'm just not as tough on my pants as I used to be now that I'm an old fart.


I haven't worn jeans for many years, but it was more of quip?! than a serious suggestion in my original post. But duct tape has come in handy when my pants or shorts have torn. I need to buy better quality lightweight pants. :nod:
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