March 27, 2019

Gear - Clothes

Clothes

I’ll take a single change of underwear and long-sleeve t-shirt - both Icebreaker merino wool. I’ll take a pair of Darn Tough socks for the warmer sections and a warmer pair of Smartwool socks for the cold sections. The boots I’ll be using aren’t particularly warm so I’ll need the extra insulation.

When it gets cold I’ll be slipping into my Patagonia Capilene Air thermal layer, which is incredibly light for the warmth it provides.

A single pair of hiking pants will have to do - I’ve gone for the lightweight Arcteryx Gamma LT. This will be far too cold in the cold bits, but when supplemented with thermals and a shell pants it should just be good enough. I’m not expecting to do much hiking in my down pants, but it’s an option if it’s too cold.

The Arcteryx Acto FL is a great all-round hardfleece jacket. The material is a thin fleecy material on the inside, with a smooth outer face giving just enough insulation and wind resistance. It makes a great outer layer for cool conditions and also a mid layer when it gets colder.

I’ll take the Arcteryx Cerium SV as a down jacket - should give enough warmth for the very coldest parts, and supplement my 20F (-7C) summer sleeping bag if I decide to take that.

I’ll use a pair of down pants, down slippers and waterproof over-boots from Goose Feet Gear - this is also mainly for use while camping rather than hiking. They’re still to arrive as I write this… I’m rather excited to finally receive them.

For a shell I’ll use the Arcteryx Beta LT jacket and the Alpha SL pants (or perhaps my Beta SL pants depending on how they fit over my down pants).

Accessories

Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap gloves are an excellent all-round fleece glove. They work perfectly on my phone and should be quick drying… I’ll take two pairs in case one gets wet. As a windproof layer over them I’ll use an old pair of Arcteryx Beta Shell gloves.

For when it gets really cold I have a pair of PHD Minimus Down Mitts and Extremities Tuff Bags Goretex shell mittens.

I’ll bring an excellent sun hat from ICOLOR, which has full 360 degree face and neck protection when needed. I used this one in Nepal last year and it was great.

I’ve had an Outdoor Designs “Windiush” Polartec Wind Pro hat for years but never found the perfect opportunity to use it - it should keep my head happy in the wildest of storms. Unfortunately not in production any more.

Footwear

Footwear was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, and compounded by the fact I have rather unusual shaped feet. Shoes are usually far too narrow for my feet at the front, causing all sorts of painful problems on long treks. Last year I used the Arcteryx Bora2 hiking boots. I love the removable inner - you can dry it out overnight when it gets damp. However they were never the most comfortable boots. All Arcteryx footwear I’ve tried over the years suffers from the same problem of a narrow fore-foot. Also for the hotter sections my feet were uncomfortably warm.

The trail will be incredibly varied - the lower sections will be hot, humid - almost rainforest conditions. The mountain passes will have snow, and some sections will require crampons. Getting one perfect pair of boots to do the whole range of conditions will be nearly impossible.

After trying on 8 different pairs of shoes / boots I’ve settled on the Salomon XA Alpine 2. They’re a lightweight trail running shoe (based on Salomon’s Sense platform) with a permanently attached gaiter. Not completely waterproof but the gaiter should discourage most of the water from getting in… and they should be relatively quick to dry. They have a reinforced section in the sole that improves their performance with crampons - but in my testing they were still rather flexible. They’re probably just good enough for the technical sections.

We’ll be fording several rivers, so I’ll take a pair of Skinners sock / shoe hybrids. These are the lightest shoe I could find that will just about give me protection from sharp objects while wading. I’ll probably use the footbeds from my hiking shoes inside them for extra protection.

I’ll also take a pair of Salomon Trail Gaiters, which should make hiking in deep snow easier, locking my shell pants down and preventing snow from getting inside.

Dave

Dave

Normally a software engineer, recently I've been spending a bit more time in nature.

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