July 19, 2009

Red Letter Daze: Expert Outdoor Gear Advice

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Gear is a big deal. Whether its borrowed, bargained or inherited, appropriate gear is an essential component of any outdoor adventure. This week, I caught up with a few wizards of the outdoor gear world and these folks shared some insight into the most reliable pieces they keep in their closet (or, um, the trunk of their Subarus).
Puffy: A down jacket is an all-time favorite in the outdoor world. My suggestion is the Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero down jacket SL (in Ski Patrol Red). Besides being water resistant and insanely warm, it has a spiffy water/beer bottle pocket and windproof hood.
This jacket saved my Christmas this year: 16 hours into a 24 hour Christmas Eve drive from Seattle to Bozeman (via Portland), the window of my friend’s Jeep froze down on top of the continental divide in -20 degree weather. Within minutes, everyone in the vehicle produced their own stuff sack, pulled out a big puffy, and the journey continued without a hitch.
Base-layer: Merino wool long underwear. Wool has a broader comfort range than synthetics, plus the ability to handle moisture overload and dissipate water over longer time so you don’t get the “flash chill” when you stop moving.
Pants: Broughton suggests the breathable, light colored Patagonia guide pant, great for summer and winter exploration.
Hiking Boot: Old trail-running shoes; they’re ultralight and free! Or, for more ankle support, try a Gore-Tex ® Scarpa boot.
Shelter: Henry Shires’ contrail TarpTent is an ultra-light tarp enclosed with bug netting. It works great with Komperdell carbon fiber trekking poles, as Cowan learned backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer.
Backpack: The Osprey Talon 44 is lightweight, but heavy on features. The most critical characteristic of any pack is that it fits and is properly adjusted.
Don’t leave home without: A water bottle, extra pair of dry socks, multi-use pocketknife, 5-weight fly rod and an extra woolley-bugger or two.

These are excerpts from an article in Red Letter Daze. Red Letter Daze is the weekend magazine supplement to The Sun.