Monthly Archives: January 2012

Gearing Up

I’ve been reading through our guide’s recommended gear list, listening to suggestions from friends, reading books, and reflecting on my own experiences with what I like to bring hiking.  This massive amount of information gets even more confusing when you realize that the highly-competitive outdoor products industry comes out with newer and better products at a pace that rivals the consumer electronics market.  And then I’m expected to literally weigh the choices to stay within the porter load limit and my own desire to be light and fast.

Most people just go to a store to outfit for a trip like this, and then are lead around by a salesperson picking up a host of items and equipment with the end user having no idea as to its intended function, how to use it, and wind up spending twice as much as they should.  But I’m not most people, and if you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I’m a gear nut (or nerd) who loves to research and pre-think my choices to get the best personal match-up of equipment at the lowest possible price.  And with 8 months before our departure, I have the luxury of time.

If you’re like me, and you like learning what works and why, or how to make the best choices for yourself, then with enough comments from you below, I’ll be glad to write everything I’ve learned.  However, what I’ve discovered is most people are more like my wife, and just want to jump to the bottom-line conclusions.  I’ll share these as I come to these conclusions and start to buy gear.

This week Patagonia has its base layers (when I was growing up these were called Long Johns or thermal underwear) on sale for 50% off through January 9, 2011.  So Angela and I purchased another 8 items on top of what we already own based on the suggestion of a friend of mine, Keith.  When he climbed Kilimanjaro several years ago, one of the simple things he enjoyed was having a fresh base layer top to put on every day.  He explained they don’t weigh very much, and pack up really small.  We purchased a mixture of weights and fabrics to match our days on the mountain, going with capilene 1 for the first and last days, a hooded merino 3 for Jeff and merino 4 for Angela for summit day and a mix of capilene 2 and merino 3 for all the other days.  My personal experience with the capilene (a polyester blend) is it’s slightly more comfortable and wicks slightly better than the merino wool.  The merino wool is more comfortable in cooler temperatures and does not retain the same odorific smells that accumulate and persist in the polyester fabrics.

One of the things I love about Texas winters are the occasional 70 degree days.  Yesterday’s weather made for a great trail run at one of my favorite spots – Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano.   The dirt paths wind up and down hills and are heavily wooded.  Getting the new gear early means I’ll be able to keep running outside when the weather finally decides to get cold here.  Getting what we needed on sale, and being able to use it to help prepare for Kilimanjaro is one of the big benefits of taking the time to prepare early.

Jeff “The Gear Nerd”

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