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jeans vs ???

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:46 pm

Jeans, even when dry, are heavy. It would be the same concept as wearing heavy boots. Every time you move your legs you are weighted down. Once wet, jeans weigh a TON! I would never take an item backpacking if I had to also carry a "back up" for rain, and then be stuck with a wet dishrag to carry. On the other hand, I do take a very light (3 oz) cotton undershirt that actually dries quickly. I wash this shirt every day.

High quality climbing pants are really tough. I like Shoeller dry-skin. I now use ArcTerex climbing pants. They weigh about 12 oz (size small) - a bit pricy but really tough. Most climbing pants are heavier than light nylon hiking pants, but I have fallen into a stream and come out nearly dry and punctured them with branches and no permanent holes. Technical climbing pants are made to withstand a lot of abrasion.

And, fess up. If we gain in girth as we age, do we still try to squeeze into those nylon pants that fit a few years earlier? A fat butt puts a lot of stress on sewn seam.

If you care not about style you can sew a seat patch and knee patches on your nylon pants. I always wonder why manufacturers do not make the seat double to begin with.

Jeans may be OK for a short weekend trip with a good weather forecast, but I would not count on them for a week long trip, even in the Sierra. Now, desert hiking is another thing. Maybe OK there.

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby acorad » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:56 pm

I usually hike in running shorts. Very lightweight, dry quickly, loose fitting so no blow-outs, support net inside, etc.

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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby freestone » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:21 pm

The only time I don't wear jeans is when I backpack. No sense in wearing something thats going to remind me of work and everyday life. I must admit, I have entertained thoughts of wearing tailored lightweight wool dress slacks backpacking. They are lighter, repel dirt, and insulate better than jeans. Haven't done it yet, there are so many other better lightweight options now.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:52 pm

I've used Rail Rider pants on two major hikes now including major bush whacking and they have held up well. If I can wear them for 130 days in the Sierra and come back with only a couple holes near the ankle and a small cut or two where I sliced myself then they are good enough for me. Considering I wear and XL size and they still only weigh 10 ounces it's hard to beat.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Buford » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:52 pm

Others already covered most of the cotton issues, but another problem not mentioned with wet cotton is chafing.

People have worn cotton out doors for a long time, most have lived :) . But why not wear something lighter, quick drying, could be just as tough, won't chafe when wet, better in hot conditions, etc.

I have a cotton bandana, everything else is wool or synthetic.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby sparky » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:13 pm

I wear a pair of midweight wool pants hiking, have for about 5 or 6 years. They are not as thin as dress slacks. They work really well. They are actually a wool blend and they look like they were uniform pants of some sort, either riverside county sherriff or forest service as they are olive green. Anyway, they are extremely durable, warm when cool, cool when warm, and dry pretty darn fast. Best part is they were like 2$ at the thrift store, and found another pair of the exact same trousers at the thrift store last year. I am set for the next decade! The bushwacking can be brutal in my local mountains and these pants have really held up well.

Drying out clothing over a fire is a huge pain in the ass!!
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby vandman » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:39 am

I wear shorts, unless it's 32º or less. Then I pull on some nylon running tights. It's not pretty but very effective.
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jeans vs ???

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:46 am

longri wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:no one said you would die.

You've never heard "cotton kills"?

all the time. we continue to teach it to people who ask what to wear because it is easier than standing around explaining the physics of cotton and when it's appropriate. It's just easier to say to wear things that dry quickly and easily with body heat.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:40 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).



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Last edited by Mike M. on Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: jeans vs ???

Postby oldranger » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:05 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!


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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