Congratulations! You’ve booked your first adventure trip and now it’s time to conquer the “suggested packing list.” Don’t worry when you start reading through it and see things like conversion pants, capilene and hiking-specific socks. If these things don’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry because they’re foreign to many of our guests. But, before you make a trip to the store to get outfitted here are some helpful hints.
Check your closet!
You may be surprised to discover that you already own something that will work for your trip. Start by looking at your gym clothes because you probably already have running shorts and t-shirts and tank tops that can be used as moisture-wicking base layers. Just make sure they’re made of materials that are quick to dry. If you’re planning on being especially active or getting wet, cotton won’t cut it.
If you do need to invest in some basic pieces you can purchase them at major retailers including Target, Eddie Bauer and REI. I always look for the clearance racks, while colors change on a yearly basis; basic styles and cuts are usually the same. There are also outlets like Steep and Cheap or Backcountry. In some cases you might have a second hand sporting goods store nearby and often times they have a clothing section in addition to used gear.
It’s also a good idea to keep all of those items you don’t wear often together in your closet. You can store them in your backpack or a container so when it’s time to pack again you’re not searching through all of your drawers to find everything.
Invest in Essentials
If you do have to make a trip to the local sporting goods shop, three key things to invest in are conversion pants, hiking shoes and a rain jacket. Each of these items will serve you well for future trips. Trust me, if you buy right, you’ll definitely be getting your money’s worth.
1. Conversion Pants
The best part about these bottoms is that they can be worn year round. Also, because they’re incredibly versatile, they’ll save you money and packing space! Layer them with a light long john or leggings for cool mornings, and as the day heats up, zip off the legs and voila – you have a pair of capris and/or shorts. They’re not too hard to find for $60 or less at most sporting goods stores or online, and they come in both men’s and women’s styles. Some brands also have buttons and loops inside the legs, so you don’t even have to unzip. You can just roll your pants up and you’re ready to go!
2. Hiking Shoes or Trail Runners
Thanks to game-changing advances in footwear technology, the days of stiff, all leather hiking boots are over. Unless you’re doing some very extreme hiking on insane terrain, you’ll be fine wearing hiking shoes or tennis shoes designed for trails. Another nice thing about the latest footwear is that most shoes have little or no break- in time so you don’t have to worry (as much) about blisters. My favorite shoes come are Oboz – a great line of moderately-priced ($100 – $200) hiking shoes designed and developed here in Montana.
3. Rain Jacket
You may be asking yourself, “Do I really need one?” The answer is yes! Precipitation is an unavoidable fact of life. Everyone needs a rain jacket at least a few times a year. Plus they are a great top layer because not only do they keep you dry, but they can also block the wind and keep you warm. Although a rain jacket can set you back $200 or more, it’s not hard at all to find a stylish, waterproof or water-resistant coat that is $60-$100. Some even fold up into their pockets so they save you precious packing space!