Saturday, January 15, 2011

Budget Tips for The Trail-Part 4

You may have enough clothing in your closet to avoid any purchases. The following can help you identify them.

I love silk, not everyone does.
I've used it on all my hikes, long and short, but others say it breaks down too fast. True. But, you can buy long sleeve button down shirts at thrift stores for a buck and throw them away when you are done with it.

I've used the silk long underwear that Sierra Trading Post sells for $15 bucks. I still have ultralight silk tops from them. Love them.

Everyone knows to stay away from 100% cotton. Cotton is heavy, holds water, but feels great. Unless you're hiking the desert, cotton should just be avoided.
A guy once posted he used his cotton tee shirt to get through the desert by stripping it off at water sources, soaking it, and staying cool while it dried.
Don't forget, drying cotton at the laundromat takes time and money. Time you'd probably rather spend at the buffet or on trail.

This may work, but high deserts can still get rain and snow. I used a polyester blend sleeveless shirt in the desert, soaking it at streams when possible. Feels great. The northern California portion of the Pacific Crest Trail is a good place to use this technique as well. Not recommended for any portion of the Appalachian Trail. Its just too humid, even when its hot to bother with cotton.
In my opinion, this goes for socks as well. Yet, I met a guy on the PCT who swore by his white cotton socks. Your mileage will vary.

Check the labels at thrift stores before you buy something. You can shorten sleeves and pant legs, but fabric content is forever.
Some good blends are composed of nylon, acrylic, spandex, Lycra, polyester, silk and wool. If you find a piece that is excellent, and has less than half cotton content, you might consider it. Price, length of trail to be used on, weight and color all come into play.

Of course, if you come across brand name fleece, get it unless its too small. Too big can be modified. Cut sleeves shorter, but remember longer sleeves keep hands warm. Heat seal edges of cut down nylons and fleece to prevent running or over stretching. Then, if you can sew, even hand sew, hem it .

I made a fleece headband just to use in the Whites and heat sealed the edges. Once those were done , I threw it away without any regrets or pack weight

My Criteria for long distance backpacking clothing

Good fabric composition-nylon, polyester, spandex,acrylic, Lycra,silk, wool, fleece, without holes or showing signs of wear in critical spots (knees, elbows, seat) Warm layers should be compact with tight weaves or composition.

Fits well- Don't even be enticed by something too small. You might loose weight, you might gain muscle. If it doesn't fit right, you can't hike or sleep comfortably. As an ultra lighter, I've made my own gear and found when the sleepwear didn't cover the small of my back adequately, that became a cold spot. If the sleeves are too short, those two grams in weight are meaningless when your wrists are cold.
If the item is too big, and you can't or won't sew, it will take up extra pack space. Thin layers like silk and ripstop aren't big issues. Fleece wear and wool are.
Good color in my opinion is something earthy, stealth or green. When you get to town, it will all get thrown in the same washing machine, so light colors usually end up looking pretty bad. Flying Kitty wore a bright patterned skirt his girlfriend made him. Hike Your Own Hike always holds true.
Other considerations include
Zippers: which can wear out, or become stuck. Avoid this problem by avoiding zippers, or using chap stick on the teeth or coil to keep them tracking smoothly. Don't let zippers lay in the dirt or sand.
I do not use zip off/ convertible pants. I tried them, but they were heavier than nylon shorts with pockets and long underwear combination, which is a much more versatile layering system.
Draw cords: be sure they are anchored at the half way point. You'll know by testing this. Gently pull on one end of cord. If the other end becomes very short, you know there is no mid point secure stitching. Using an over hand stitch, anchor the cord by sewing through it and the fabric. On trail, you could get in a hurry and pull that cord too far where one end gets lost in the casing. Not fun.
Snaps and Fasteners: Check to be sure they are solid, hold well, and are not rusting. Some things get abandoned or donated because the snaps on the pockets no longer hold.

Campmor, Sierra Trading Post and REI have good stuff, but if you need to buy a sleeping bag and are limited in cash, finding clothing at bargain prices will allow you to drop that serious cash on a quality sleeping bag. I've used shorts bought at Walmart, bandanna from the Dollar Store. But when it came to my sleeping bag, I willingly spent the $269, and that was in 2002. I still have it. More about bags and sleep systems next week.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm interestied in doing what I guess might be close to collage.

    I think I would be quite good at composition with cut out pieces of fabric. Sort of like painting or drawing with fabric shapes. I don't really know how to sew, and wouldn't even care if the stuff was sewn.

    Possibly could even sandwich a peice of glass over the image when it's done.

    Could anybody tell me if there is a product that would help me keep the pieces of fabric in place but would allow me to move them around (unlike typical glue?

    Any ideas on what would be good to mount the fabric on, or any easy frames ?

    Also at the end, when everything is in place is there anythign appropriate i could spray or iron to make it flat and somewhat glued?

    Also anyone know if this is a known technique already? I don't want to reinvent the wheel if i don't have to. Basically in my mind, it would be like painting with fabric. THANKS GUYS !
    Best Regards
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