Summer backpacking season is coming to a close, but the dedicated adventurer need only make a few layering tweaks to extend their trekking comfort well into October. By loading your pack with high warmth-to-weight ratio gear, you only stand to carry a few pounds more than your summer load. To make this list, a product must be light and able to keep you comfortable in any of the sustained harsh weather you might encounter in early fall.
Men’s and Women’s Diode Hooded Jacket – You need more than a summer-weight down sweater for fall backpacking and the Diode provides. Its Pertex Endurance shell and down/synthetic blend is the perfect weight hedge against wet weather that threatens to reduce loft and drop your core temperature. Fall is not the time to cut corners with gear and anyone planning a multi-day fall trek needs to be prepared for the worst. *The Diode is new for Fall 2015 and the author has not tested it himself.*
Men’s Foray and Women’s Aspire Jackets - In summer your hard shell will spend a vast majority of its time in your pack which makes minimizing weight priority number one. Not so in fall! You’ll still want a light piece, but one that breathes better, vents better, and accommodates layers better. The Foray and Aspire jackets are designed for this exactly and come highly recommended.
Men’s and Women’s Deviator Hoody – Warmth and breathability are extra important in the fall when morning temperatures will likely hover at or below freezing. The Deviator combines a stretchy Polartec grid fleece back, hood and arms with a warm and hyper breathable puffy-grid on its chest. The extra wide comfort range makes this a piece you are unlikely to take off while hiking in weather sub-45 degree temperatures.
Men’s Sequence and Women’s Essence L/S Zip Top – A base-weight merino blend zip tee is exactly perfect by itself for crisp fall hikes, or underneath a rain shell if precipitation blows in. It’s just warm enough to earn its place over a UPF sun shirt but light enough that you won’t overheat when it’s nice out. The ¼ zip is a great feature that adds to the comfort range, whether you’re getting cold or hot.
Men’s and Women’s Ferrosi Pants – The usefulness of these pants knows no bounds. They’re stretchy, light, breathable, and still able to block wind and light rain. Wear them by themselves in nicer fall weather; pair them over tights in cooler conditions or under hard shells in the rain.
Neoplume Pants – Puffy pants are one of the most underutilized tools in a backpacker’s arsenal. You’re only as comfortable as your coldest body part and you won’t be able to enjoy the sunset from outside your tent if your legs are freezing. For all the reasons you might love your puffy jacket, you will also love puffy pants. These are just slightly heavier but significantly warmer than mid-weight fleece tights. Once you try them, you may never look back. We’re talking about alpine sweat pants here! Size up to accomdate the extra layers you'll be wearing under these.
Men’s Foray and Women’s Aspire Pants - When hiking through rainy or intermittently rainy weather, your hard shell pants are likely to be on for hours at a time and you’ll be glad to have something with vents and a bit of extra durability and layering space. These are still plenty light enough to justify even on trips planned in fairer weather. In fact, they’re great all year, but at their best in the shoulder season trips.