Grace Needs Underwear

WOW. Gear gear gear. It’s a toughy. In my twenty years of existence, I’ve come to understand that purchasing outdoor gear is all about trade-offs. Everyone wants stuff that’s good quality, lightweight, and cheap. The reality is, in most situations, you can only have two of those things…and it probably won’t be cheap. Unless you impulse buy it at the mega winter sales that are happening at all the outdoors stores right now, which is what I’ve been doing! The tradeoff for this strategy is forethought, but I’m sure the happiness of nabbing a deal will sustain me in the face of potentially compromised satisfaction. It’s all good as long as, at the end of the day, my pack base weight is less than 15 lb, because there is no way in hell I’m not keeping up with Henley.

Backpack: Since I donated my old pack to the Quetzaltrekkers gear room when I left Guatemala, I’m in serious need of a new one…

ULA Catalyst (3 lb, $250) – MINE JUST CAME IN!!! Durable, able to carry 75 liter loads of up to 40 lbs, and lightweight, this pack is awesome, especially in the face of severe droughts in California where carrying extra water may become necessary. This is the kind of pack I could use for any imaginable backpacking trip; I’m a sucker for versatility. Also, it comes in sexy brown camo. Did I mention I’m a Nebraskan? Thanks so much ULA for the stellar service and the killer discount!

Contrail

Contrail

Tent: I’ll never love another tent as much as I loved QT’s trusty Kelty 2-person (it’s the only way to stay dry on our Tajamulco hike), so this will be a minor letdown, but nevertheless…

Tarptent Contrail (1 lb 8 oz, $209) – Kind of a tent, kind of a tarp (I’m not hardcore enough to go full tarp), this puppy weighs next to nothing and offers protection from rain, wind, and mosquitos. The setup requires a single hiking pole, which I’m not planning on taking, but sure I will be able to borrow from a friend.

Ultralite

Ultralite

Sleeping Bag: SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT GEAR DECISION. I love being cozy under the stars in sub-freezing temperatures so if I’m willing to shell out anything for the best, this is it…

Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 (1 lb 13 oz, $485) – Western mountaineering bags are the premier 900 fill-power goose-down bags of our time. They’re the kind of bags that last a lifetime. And the weight! They nearly pack to the size of a nalgene. I JUST ORDERED MINE! If it turns out to be too narrow for comfort, I’ll get the W.M. Alpinlite, which is the same bag in a wide version.

Sleeping Pad: I was going to go for the 14 oz. $45 thermarest zlite (you know, the classic accordion fold yellow foam) but then I saw this pad on mega mega sale…

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core (22 oz, $80) – It’s blue. When it’s blown up, it’s three inches thick. And most importantly, I got it for 80% off…far far cheaper than the zlite. Pros are the cost, pack size (very compact), and comfort. Cons are the increased weight, potential punctures, and blow-up time. But for that kind of money, I say “why not?”.

Shoes: The shoe decision was formerly mystifying but then I found a pair of Keen’s McKenzies for 80% off (are you noticing a trend?). This was also a “why not?” decision, but thinking about it, these shoes just might be perfect. I can’t tell if they’re technically a water shoe or technically a hiking shoe. They’ve got a strong sole and are fully enclosed but made of thin breathable mesh and very lightweight. I can wear them barefoot or with socks and they’ll still fit after my feet swell to crazy proportions in the desert. I should probably try them out before committing but this could be it, people.

ULA pack + orange Goodwill shorts + keens + B.A. pad = thumbs up

ULA pack + Goodwill shorts + keens + B.A. pad = thumbs up

More Goodwill shorts. Check out the Keens!

More Goodwill shorts. Check out the Keens!

Hiking Clothes: 

Top – Something non-cotton, something damn good looking. Perhaps something with a logo that says “Haters gonna hate, Potatoes gonna potate” or “Get at me, blackbear.” You know…

Bottom – Hiking shorts/pants/those zipoff thingies/whatever are a complete scam and I refuse to wear them. I hike exclusively in men’s ultimate frisbee shorts and that’s a fact. However, in a recent visit to Goodwill, I happened upon two very sexy pairs of shorts and made yet another gear impulse purchase. Yes, yes, Patagonia field shorts or Five Ultimate shorts are undoubtedly the best but you can’t beat the $4 total I paid for the secondhand gems. So we’ll see…

Socks – Smartwool, obviously. You can hike in those socks every day and they still won’t stink.

Other Clothes: Columbia leggings and light fleece; polyprope layer; Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Jacket (my most prized possession, can’t wait to take it on the PCT); hats and gloves; buff (“the original multi-functional headware”), Patagonia R1 Fleece Pants (my cozy evening-wear) and Torrentshell Rain Jacket, soft cotton t-shirt for sleeping and civilization. Do I bring my rain pants? Or perhaps a rain kilt?

Supplies: My trusty swiss army knife, mini bic lighters, bowl/spork, bandanas, Osprey 2-liter bladder, headlamp, waterproof stuffsac for sleeping bag, toothbrush/toothpaste, hairbrush (dread prevention), first aid supplies, duct tape, safety pins, soap?

Gear I’m Hoping to Share with the Homies: Hey, guys. Maybe some cooking supplies, water filters, maps, solar charger, shovel?

Electronics and Other Luxuries: The last thing I want is to be weighed down by technology – nature is holy and all – but there is nothing like jamming to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack while scaling mountains or curling up with The Lord of the Rings trilogy at the end of a day of hiking. This is why I’m definitely bringing my iPod/headphones and my kindle. And I’ll want something for contacting my family and blogging for you all, so a phone as well. How’s a little speaker for tunes round the campfire sound? And shouldn’t I get a camera? I’m going to have to limit myself on this one.

And now the ultimate question…

Grace needs underwear?” Seriously, do I need underwear? Or a bra, for that matter? My gut says no, my propriety *snort* says yes, people that care about hygiene say…yes? no? I don’t know. What do you guys think? I could always get these undies…

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.44.56 PM

If you made it to the end of this page, you’re my hero. All comments and suggestions are appreciated! Thank you. Grace out.

*silly photos taken by Abby Hack…thanks sis*

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