Winter climbing midlayer suggestions

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 Sharp 08 Feb 2024

I have used an old style (mid 2000s) Rab vapour rise hooded smock on top of a brynje mesh t-shirt + hooded base and under a hardshell, sometimes with a thin nano-puff style gilet or jacket under the hardshell. Generally my mid layer goes on quite late so it's not something I'm concerned about being too warm for the walk in.

The vapour rise is about 400 grammes, bulky and pretty knackered and I'm looking for a (preferably lighter and smaller packing) replacement. I've looked at the ME kinesis and Rab VR summit and those tick a lot of boxes but they're both a bit baggy around the waist, quite bulky and they don't do a smock (although smocks seem to be out of fashion along with salopettes so I might have to compromise on the zip or get something and replace it with a shorter zip.

Does anyone have any recommendations to look at? I run cold and don't sweat much. It's rare my midlayer goes on before my harness or for walking in but its nice if it's not a sweat bomb in case I need to wear it for longer. I find the fleecy interior of the likes of the vapour rise and kinesis work well but it's also bulky to pack and heavy and I have thought about using a thicker base layer with a primaloft insulation layer instead but haven't come across anything. Interested in what other people use or find works well.

 Robbo1 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

Have you tried the Brynje arctic baselayers? They have the mesh plus a relatively thick merino layer on top. Not perfect for a long walk in, but great for short walk-ins or very cold days. Other option I like is the ME Eclipse Hooded Men's Zip T over Brynje mesh with a pertex windproof (I like the Cumulus one) to walk-in then take the windproof off and put the ME Switch Pro Hooded jacket plus waterproof on once the walk-in is done.

 olddirtydoggy 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

I use a hoodless trespass grid backed AT200 fleece. Simple chest pocket for my phone and I find it less clammy than some of the tight weave poly midlayers like the ME Eclipse.

Winter layering is a funny game and very personal. Often depends what you mix it with. I avoid hoods as the belay jacket goes on if the body starts dropping.

Post edited at 13:33
 James Harker 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

I have the kinesis and I personally think it's awesome. It is a bit waisty like you say, but it's so light it's not really noticable. I use it all the time. I read the Rab VR summit is also very good. 

 munro90 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

Got a Rab VR Summit. Does the job for me, don't find it baggy around the waist at all, keeps me just the right temperature. Would recommend.

In reply to Sharp:

How about separating insulation & shell of your VR midlayer into some flavour of fleece (Alpha, for instance: developed as a low bulk insulation layer for US Special Forces) and windshirt? A lot of versatility of layering options for the walk-in. Separate layers also allow selection to suit conditions & activity, appropriate care, and replacement when worn out.

Midlayers are intended to trap warm air, so some degree of bulk rather comes with the territory.

I was recently reminded of something I wrote 15 years ago (which has its origins in thoughts going back 25 years...)

Post edited at 19:27
 Pipecleaner 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

I've got a kinesis but it really doesn't work for me for me. Too cold if I stop briefly and not breathable enough if I'm working hard.  I almost always go for a 180g/m² merino crew neck long sleeve, either a Patagonia nano air hybrid hoodie or mammut eisfeld fleece (not the new model tho it's the fully synthetic one and a mountain equipment Squall hoodie. Warmer belay layer and weather dependant a hardshell seems to cover most bases for me.  

I run hot but get cold easy if I stop if that helps any.  

A lot of trial and error til I got the right mix.

Good luck.

 cacheson 08 Feb 2024
In reply to Sharp:

A second recommendation for Polartec Alpha which can ideally be combined with something windproof. Super breathable without the windproof layer, makes for excellent moisture management when walking in if weather is good. Very warm with a windproof layer on top. I use a macpac fleece, friends swear by the Jottnar fleece plus windproof jacket.

OP Sharp 09 Feb 2024
In reply to all:

Cheers for the comments everyone. I ended up going with a kenisis, which I found second hand for a decent price. I looked at a few more reviews and it probably looks like the closest replacement for what I use at the moment. I think I must have misread the weight as well, it's quite light and looks to pack down a lot smaller than my old VR. The Switch Pro and the VR summit look like they would have done the job as well.

I tend not to worry too much about the walk in clothing...I try to start the season unfit enough that I don't need any more than a base layer and if it's bad weather a pertex top, both of which can then be ditched in the bag and I'll keep all my climbing clothing dry. 

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