Ah, and now on to the clothing review!
My personal recommendation for clothing basics is to go straight to your cheapest second-hand store where you’ll find bunch of almost-new, non-cotton athletic wear that people with good intentions bought and then got rid of after using once. Get your everyday shirts, pants and shorts here. My shirts and shorts cost something like $2.75 total and held up like champs. Zero holes, people! Zero holes.
My clothing choices were a combination of stuff I already owned (the L.L. Bean rain jacket), second-hand clothing (shirts and shorts), and new stuff (the Uniqlo puffy). With the exception of my gaiters, I still wear everything on a regular basis. In fact, I’m wearing my puffy, Buff, and Darn Toughs as I type this.
(Not reviewed: long underwear pants and shirt, short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, running shorts with liner, and pants. They were all spectacular, although a button-up long sleeve would’ve been nice at times.)
- Uniqlo Down Jacket 8/10
- My Two Cents: Since this was super affordable, I never worried about busting it apart like I would have had I’d gotten a more expensive jacket. Props to Dustin for this find.
- Pros: Cheap, warm, doubles as a pillow when it’s in the stuff sack.
- Cons: Cheap zipper, not that warm in temperatures under 30-ish/if you aren’t moving. I usually hate hoods, but I’d probably get the hooded version if I got a do-over.
- L. Bean Rain Jacket 9/10
- My Two Cents: I rocked an L.L. Bean rain jacket and it was awesome.
- Pros: Super, SUPER sturdy, kept me dry. Dustin doubted the power of the L.L. Bean and turned a garden hose on me and the L.L. Bean for what seemed like an unnecessarily long time. Verdict: I stayed dry.
- Cons: Heavier than more trail-intended jackets.
- Coleman Rain Pants 8/10
- My Two Cents: There are two eras in my life: Before Rain Pants (BRP) and After Rain Pants (ARP). Guess which is the happier era?
- Pros: Kept me dry, fashionable, made a nice rustling noise when walking.
- Cons: Heavy, too big for me.
- Darn Tough Socks 10/10
- My Two Cents: Wear ‘em out, send ‘em back, get a new pair. Except they don’t wear out, like, ever. I carried two pairs at all times.
- Pros: Everything.
- Cons: As if. Don’t hate on the Darn Toughs.
- Ralph Lauren Fleece a.k.a. “Smurf Hug” 9/10
- My Two Cents: $12 at an Oregon Goodwill. Don’t ever hike without the fleece.
- Pros: Cheap, warm, perfect for chilly-but-not-too-chilly days.
- Cons: Sleeves were too short, but that’s a personal problem.
- Buff 7/10
- My Two Cents: I thought this was going to be a really stupid piece of gear, but it wasn’t.
- Pros: Supposedly had a bajillion different uses, but it mostly kept my hair out of my face and the smoke out of my nose.
- Cons: Save yourself $20 and make it out of an old t-shirt.
- Dirty Girl Gaiters 5/10
- My Two Cents: I’ll admit I didn’t try that hard to make these work. I didn’t quite see the point since my shoes were super mesh-y and, for me, it seemed that dirt and rocks got in mostly through the toe area, which the gaiters don’t cover.
- Pros: Supports small business, kept my feet a little cleaner and a lot more adorable thanks to the excellent pattern choices (I went with sharks), a lot of people liked them.
- Cons: I thought they were a tad expensive since I rarely used them, didn’t keep my feet that clean, the Velcro backing never stayed put on my shoe, so the backs of the gaiters just kind of chilled wherever they wanted to. (OK, this was sort of my fault since I wore them sporadically and I’d always forget to put Velcro on the backs of new shoes until they were dirty, which is what the instructions specifically say not to do.)
- Brooks Cascadia 10s 2/10
- My Two Cents: Comfortable for the first 100 miles. Then they fell apart. Everyone in the hiking sphere knows this now, though. Why am I even wasting this space?
- Pros: REI’s return policy. (Oh, and they were comfortable.)
- Cons: Everything else.
- Brooks Cascadia 9s 5/10 (DURABILITY), 8/10 (COMFORT)
- My Two Cents: Take them out of the box and promptly duct tape and shoe goo the seams like no one’s business. Eeked about 600 miles out of each pair, probably could’ve gotten a few more.
- Pros: Oh-so-comfortable, affordable since last year’s model, soles lasted forever.
- Cons: Cloth parts fell apart quickly, let in a lot of dirt, REI eventually ran out of them.
- La Sportiva Wildcats 3.0 (I think) 8/10 (DURABILITY), 7/10 (COMFORT)
- My Two Cents: Heavy-duty beasts in embarrassing pastel colors. Get them dirty quickly.
- Pros: Soles, fabric and mesh last forever.
- Cons: Not great for narrow ankles and caused my ankles to do some weird buckling thing. I fell down even more than usual wearing these. Dustin finally made me walk behind him so he didn’t have to watch me faceplant every four seconds and risk trekking pole impalement.
- Fox River Wool Glomits a.k.a. THE GLITTENS 10/10
- My Two Cents: When you read that someone named Anish uses cheap fleece gloves, ignore this because Anish sets records and you probably won’t and plus your little fingers get cold super easily and you will probably regret this choice when your fleece gloves get soaked trying to get to Sonora Pass and never quite dry out. Instead, buy some wool glittens and life will improve immensely.
- Pros: Warm, keep your hands dry, alternate between mittens and fingerless mittens.
- Cons: After the fleece situation, I can list absolutely nothing under cons.
- Slipover Sunglasses from the Walmart 10/10
- My Two Cents: Probably the only time I’ll ever see a bunch of 20-somethings rocking THE SAME SUNGLASSES I HAVE.
- Pros: Really kept the sun out of my eyes, durable, got my trail name thanks to them, I still use them. Constantly.
- Cons: Your boyfriend will think you look like a bug.
Hollywood Principle song courtesy of Dustin.