What’s in My Pack? The Clothing Edition
0.8 oz* (each)
One of my trail luxuries is putting on “clean” undies at night. I do zipper bag laundry (rinse and scrub inside a zipper bag with just water) during one of my early breaks and hang them off my pack to dry. If it’s sunny they’ll be dry within an hour and I get to change into clean undies before bed. These undies are expensive but they’re comfy, quick-drying, and don’t give me wedgies. What more can you ask for out of a pair of undies?
Note: At the time I’m posting this the undies are on sale for $11 to $13, down from $22 on Patagonia’s site.
I started the CT wearing my Nike DriFit bra that I use for running. I quickly realized that this was overkill and I was smushing my poor boobs for no reason. This Patagonia bra is comfy and supportive without being overly tight. Like the matching undies, it’s quick-drying. The padded cups can be removed. I’d recommend this bra to anyone with small- to average-sized bewbs; larger-breasted folks may need more support. Also currently on sale at Patagonia, down from $45 to $22.
1 oz (per pair)
Injinjis are awesome/Injinjis suck. They’re awesome because I had little to no issues with blisters while wearing them on a 500-mile hike. They separate your toes for better balance and form, they’re nice and padded, and come in fun colors. They suck because they get holes fast. I’m willing to buy $12-a-pair socks every few hundred miles, though, if it means I don’t get blisters. I do the same thing with my socks as I do with my undies — washing them during the day (zipper bag laundry requires little water and keeps water sources clean for others), and putting on the “clean” pair at night. Not only is it a comfort to change into clean socks, but keeping your socks from getting crusty prevents blisters and reduces your chances of infections and foot fungus. I’ve resolved to carrying three pairs. I alternate between two pairs, then when one pair gets a blowout I’ll start wearing the unused pair and have a new pair sent to me. Perhaps several hundred miles in when my feet get calloused and tough, I’ll be able to switch to something more durable. I hear good things about Darn Tough. I also need to try Injinji’s trail-specific socks; I heard that they are tougher than the running socks.
Obligatory thru-hiker garb. They come only in outrageous patterns, and prevent debris from getting into your shoes. I wear them on day hikes too but I only ever see others wearing them on long trails.
I’ve been wearing minimalist footwear for about three years now. I wouldn’t recommend these shoes unless your feet are used to zero-drop shoes with little padding. I’ve found that shoes that make me feel like I’m walking on a cloud, like the pair of Altra Lone Peaks that I owned once, caused me to roll my ankles a lot. With the Pace Glove 3, the soles are thick enough to protect my feet from sharp rocks and thorns but thin enough that I still feel like my feet are gripping the trail and I can sort of feel the terrain that I’m walking on. I like minimalist shoes because they make me consider where I’m placing my feet when the trail is uneven and rocky rather than feeling like the shoes will protect me and rushing through uneven areas. I ordered three pairs in a half size up, and two pairs in a full size up. I always just ordered whatever color was cheapest at the time and was able to get them at about $50 to $70 per pair. I’ve broken them in, glued gaiter traps to the backs, and will have them shipped to me at around every 500-mile mark. I’m a little concerned with how much my feet will swell and grow, and hopefully the half size and whole size up that I have will work. I’ll post an update about it after my hike.
No Camp Shoes?
I decided to at least start this trail without camp shoes. In my experience, camp is for cooking and then promptly passing out in your tent. I couldn’t force myself to carry around 11 ounces of dead weight all day for something I’d only wear an hour a day and maybe in town. If I find that I’m missing them, I have my eye on a pair of Xero Shoes sandals. I may decide to add them right away or I may never miss them at all.
Merino wool is awesome! I can wear this shirt for at least four days without it getting funky. This top is super thin and quick-drying, and the henley is v stylish. If you’ve never worn merino, you might be worried that it’s itchy. Of all the Smartwool products that I’ve owned, none were itchy. (Icebreaker is a different story, which I’ll get into more in a sec.) The only downside to merino is that it’s ridiculously expensive so keep your eye out for sales. If you’re confused by the numbers on merino wool, basically the higher the number the warmer the fabric — 150 is super thin and makes a good base layer. I’m not sure if I should just leave this at home since I’ll mostly be wearing my long sleeve in the desert. However, this is my base layer and the desert shirt doesn’t do much for insulation.
This shirt is originally $170 but I got it on sale in my size and preferred color for 35 bucks on Amazon. Of the two Icebreaker items I own, both are noticeably itchy, unlike my Smartwool items. I got this long-sleeve button-up for the desert — it’s UPF 50, a merino blend, goes from soaked to dry within minutes, and is light-colored. I’m worried that it might be too warm. I’ve been wearing it on training hikes and I sweat more when wearing the Kala than I do when wearing my merino tee. The humid heat that I’m experiencing on my training hikes in South Texas is different than the dry heat that’ll be present in SoCal, though, so I hope that’ll mean more sweat evaporation from this tee. I’ll post a review later.
I bought these shorts because they have front and back pockets. It’s a merino blend so they’re not too warm. The only thing I’m concerned about is that they have a cotton waistband. It hasn’t been an issue before, but with all the sweating I’ll be doing in the desert I’m worried the waistband won’t dry out before bed. I may have to switch to running shorts.
I’m going to carry leggings even in the desert because one should never underestimate the unpredictability of desert weather and because I sleep cold. As discussed above, Smartwool is super comfy and stays smelling clean. However, these leggings have an awkward fit on me. They either look baggy in the butt when I wear them around my hips or give me camel-toe when I wear the elastic around my natural waist. I don’t mind wearing them until they give out because they were expensive and ain’t no one handing out best-dressed awards on the trail, but I’ll definitely shop around when it’s time to replace them.
I didn’t know Melanzana was a thing until the CT. One of the trail towns is Leadville, which is where the Melanzana factory and store are located. I sadly didn’t stop in Leadville but afterward was jealous of all the hikers in their comfy-cozy pullovers. I had to stop in Leadville before I drove home to get myself a Melly. It’s no wonder these hoodies are popular among thru-hikers — they’re perfect for chilly mornings, evenings in camp, and as an insulating layer. The balaclava-style hood cinches up to keep your face warm, and it has a roomy pocket in front. Once you know what one looks like you see them everywhere.
I got this puffy on sale for under $50! However, it’s only 650 fill power and it’s labeled “down” rather than “100% down” which means it only has to have up to 80 percent actual down; the rest can be feathers which do little to nothing in insulating. I did not know that when I purchased it. (Here’s an informative podcast on down: http://www.thefirst40miles.com/169-feathers-the-down-episode/) It did well in high-altitude areas in Colorado with temps in the 30s layered with other clothes but I’m a little nervous about how it will do in the Sierra and Washington. I’m gonna at least give it a chance before I drop $250-plus on a new down jacket.
A new piece of gear for me for this trail. Pretty bulky, but light, and for the price I can’t complain.
I’m pretty mad at myself for how much I spent on these pants when I could’ve bought Frog Toggs. However, they performed well and can double as a windbreaker. I may decide to leave these home for the desert section, though.
Dorky sun hat that’s nearly impossible to get blown off your head.
I bought a 12-pack of my signature white Wayfarer plastic shades on Amazon for $12. I’m always losing or breaking my sunglasses so I’ll be able to have a pair shipped to me whenever I need them.
Peep my LighterPack here and keep an eye out for the rest of my gear posts.
*All weight has been rounded to the nearest tenth of an ounce.
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