Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Socks Shoes and other Views

Photo on top of Mt. Whitney. As you can see, lots of unique head wear. Statement, anybody?

Your mileage will vary.
I've tried tons of shoe, sock and sandal combinations, and have found my favorites.

The only way you can do this is get out there and try it.

Personally, I favor a brand name high top, with synthetic liner sock. In cold weather I'll do a warm layer as well.

Brand name because they last longer, have better tread patterns, and the flex is neither too stiff nor too soft.

I like a high top, but do not like wearing gaiters. You'll meet long distance hikers who swear by them. I trim back the shoe laces once they are tied. Seems they come untied more frequently if they are too long. Always heat seal the ends to prevent fraying.

The above photo shows my current favorite pair of hiking shoes, a Vasquez high top. During breaks or in camp, it makes a handy bottle holder.

I tried hiking in sandals on the first part of my Appalachian Trail thru hike, but tweaked my knees so bad had to take a week off to recuperate. But that's just me. I love the idea of sandals. Free air flow, no destructive moisture build up leading to soft feet and blisters.

Instead, I keep feet dry by letting them air at every opportunity. Sometimes that doesn't happen until the end of the day if I just hike straight through.

Three pairs of socks is enough for me to keep track of. One to wear hiking, one to wear to bed, one to wash and hang to dry from the pack. Keeping this rotation helps prevent nasty bacteria build up, and the sleeping bag clean.

A hat is always worn in the dessert. It shades the eyes, keeps sun off your scalp, and makes a statement. I'm not into baseball caps, so a sombrero type is my choice.

Lots of people have gravitated towards the camel back water carry system. I just use water bottles which are just recycled soda bottles. A whole study was done on durability, and they held up better than anything else. I love the fact they are free, can be swapped out, thrown away, or supplemented as needed as the terrain changes. For instance, on the AT, there is enough water you seldom need to carry more than a couple quarts into camp, and that during the summer in Pennsylvania, New York, and a few random shelters not built near a water source.

Then, you'll have desert conditions on the Pacific Crest Trail where you want 5-6 quarts. Once you hit the High Sierras, you can decrease that capacity, just disposing of the extra bottle or two at Kennedy Meadows.

Gloves, bandannas, and rain gear are all things hikes carry, depending on personal preferences. I like gloves over mittens because of dexterity. Mittens are warmer. If necessary, layer spare socks over mittens early morning for warmth, shed the mitten layer, and hike on.
I use my gloves as Pot holders.

I made my own silnylon rain gear, after testing on several lengths of various trails, knew I would never be a cold weather poncho person. I love the extra layer a jacket brings, using it for a vapor barrier on really cold nights. I'm always sure its dry before using it inside the sleeping bag.

This is the last Gear focused blog day.

Next we'll talk Partnerships.

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