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FishEyeGuy

Synthetic Clothing?

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FishEyeGuy

What synthetic clothing do you use when you hike?  Shirts, pants, socks, ect?  What material is it made from and where do you get it?  How many (if any) extra sets do you take on extended hikes?  Where do you find your synthetic hiking apparel?  Is synthetic necessary in your opinion?  I sweat a lot, so I thought about getting some synthetic hiking clothes to help with that.

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slosteppin

When I hike all my clothes are synthetic except my socks (wool) and my bandanna (cotton). Most of my hiking clothes are from REI, LL Bean and Cabelas. With both Bean and Cabelas I read the descriptions carefully. Many of their so-called hiking pants are 100% cotton. When the weather is warm or hot I do think synthetics are mostly necessary. The exception would be my marino wool tee shirts.When I get sweaty the synthetics dry much quicker than cotton. Sweaty wet cotton can be very cold when the temperature drops from 65 to 40 and it takes forever to dry. My nylon hiking pants (from REI) would be dry in a half hour. I seldom take more than one complete change of clothes. 

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toejam

After initially buying into the "cotton kills" fear-mongering I got from beginner backpacking books, I'm not really a fan of synthetics. Especially synthetic shirts, which can be clammy and smell really bad. But I'm in California where it doesn't rain often. My shirts are usually cotton or wool (merino t-shirts rock).

The "cotton kills" scenario is about getting soaked and having the temperature drop when you are wearing jeans, denim jacket and a flannel shirt. My normal mountain dress on good trails is running shorts and a light long-sleeve cotton shirt (Wrangler from WalMart $14). This shirt dries a fast as a bandana. Running shorts are popular, but I never see anybody wearing a shirt like mine. If it rains I'll put on a rain jacket and wool base layer if necessary. I wear Prana Zion pants from a local backpacking store when I need long pants in the mountains. These pants breathe and aren't clammy, unlike several synthetic pants I've had.

Synthetic shirts were what everybody else seemed to be wearing on my recent trip. I didn't understand the people climbing to a high pass in the sun on a warm day with dark-colored long-sleeve synthetics. That had to be really uncomfortable, and those shirts were going to be rank the next day.

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slosteppin

Most of us learn to dress for the area where we hike. Humidity is a big factor, as is insect population. I've hiked a little in CA, CO and AZ but most of my hiking is in northern Michigan. There is a huge difference. There is also a big difference in clothing made with synthetics - they are not all the same. Most hiking specific clothes are made of some form of nylon. All synthetics can smell bad after a few days of hiking, same as cotton. Polyester is much worse than any others - one day is more than enough. 

I think the climate, except for temperature difference, of KY is similar to MI. For plain comfort in a wide range of temperatures my choice shirt is my long sleeve Icebreaker marino wool. OTOH, I can buy 3 nylon shirts for the price of one good marino wool shirt. 

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Karo

In my case it's 50/50 - some clothes are synthetic some wool. Same as slosteppin I use Icebreaker Merino long sleeve most of the year except really hot summer days. My hot summer socks are synthetic but another pair for the rest of the time is merino. I also have a great synthetic t-shirt from TNF - I have never seen anything drying so quickly. 

But if I had to choose I would take merino wool over synthetic any time. 

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PaulMags

I actually prefer a cotton-poly blend button down shirt for hiking in three season conditions over "real" hiking shirts.  They happen to be Wrangler ones as well.

Breathes well, thin so they dry quickly and I can button it up and down for easy ventilation.

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Aaron

I hike and backpack using mostly synthetic clothing except for my socks (merino wool) and my insulation (down). As an example @FishEyeGuy on a colder and wetter recent trip my synthetic clothing entailed some lightweight Patagonia Capilene bottoms that were used mostly for sleeping, but on the trail I wore my go-to TrailGroove shirt :) :

...combined with an REI zip tech shirt when needed, and the Prana Zion convertible pants. The setup worked well. Also in the rotation is a windproof fleece beanie - this is the same basic setup that I normally take but the fabric weights and the colors may vary a bit from summer to winter.

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jensaito

Synthetics tend to be very quick-drying and quite durable. I wear synthetic pants and shirts, but wool socks and wool or nylon-spandex mesh undies.

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mapleleaf

Majority of my hiking clothes are merino as it dries super quickly and is very flexible/comfortable. Cotton can get very cold and heavy when wet as it doesn't wick moisture or dry well. Beyond that I do wear synthetics often, they just aren't my primary base layers.

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