Tag Archives: gear

Buying a coat

I’ve decided that this winter, I am definitely buying a new coat.  I’ve been putting this off because while some items that I might buy in the meantime are ones where I can get discount or off-brand stuff that I’d replace before the hike, a good coat is something that is going to last me long enough to be what I actually take on the trail.

There’s no point really in buying a cheap coat that will fall apart or not do what I want and just have to spend more in a few years on a nice coat.

So I’m trying to decide what I’m going to get.  I’ve had my eye on this LL Bean coat for a while:

Weather Challenger 3 in 1 Jacket from L.L. Bean

Weather Challenger 3 in 1 Jacket from L.L. Bean

I probably should have bought it last spring when I happened to be in the store the weak they were phasing to spring stuff, and it was half off.  But alas, I waffled too much and I might catch a sale or a coupon but unless I want to wait for spring again then I’ll have to pay the $189 price tag for it.

In the end, the thing I have to remember about coats is that I wear my coats out.  Right now I have a few jackets, one heavier coat that I wear most of the winter (which I don’t completely love, the cut is lovely and it looks wonderful but I’d rather have higher quality material) and then when I need serious layering I have this thicker purple coat that was a gift for a trip to London in 2004.  Almost ten years I’ve been wearing this same coat (though in the last five years it’s only been a few times a year I pull it out).  My black coat I’ve had five years.

So no matter how you slice it, I’ve managed to really get my money’s worth out of every coat I’ve owned and I doubt this would be very different.  Especially considering this would be an even higher quality coat designed for even more punishment.

For the trail, and life in general, I’m going to need something that is designed to layer, which is why this is the one I’m leaning towards.  It’s also waterproof, and thankfully is insulated with polyester instead of down (which I’m allergic to).  There’s also a hood, which I need, none of my coats have hoods so I either have to wear a hoodie underneath or a hat.

Overall, I’ve really liked this coat for a while so I think it’s what I’m going to go with unless I find some reviews that suggest something better.  But then the question becomes, blue, red, or black?

Edited to add: I also just found this jacket which is a bit cheaper and seems to also be quite nice.  It doesn’t

Storm Chaser 3-in-1 Jacket

Storm Chaser 3-in-1 Jacket

come in red, but the black/blue combo is particularly nice and would look professional as well as great on the trail.  I guess I’m just going to have to go to the store and try them all on and see what I think.  That’s the great thing about living where I do, I can go try them on and buy in store instead of having to order and hope.

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Stalled out again

Normally I loathe New Year’s Resolutions. Why should this one day be some sort of magic realization to change everything about your life?

But I think this year for me, it’s become something more. For one thing, the changes I want to make now aren’t really happening because the holidays are so stressful and full of stuff. But also because 2012 became such a difficult year on so many levels, and I just had such a hard time dealing with it that now it’s become this like magic moment where when 2013 hits maybe the luck and terribleness of this year will finally be over.

Right now, I’ve decided in general to stop punishing myself and being so hard on myself for not accomplishing big changes all at once. So the idea is more to do small things and get one thing tackled before trying to move on. Right now that goal is just to get into a habit of getting up at 8 a.m. every day, 10 a.m. on weekends. So far I’ve not really accomplished it very well, but it’s very slowly getting more and more reasonable. And that’s an accomplishment and something I think I should be proud of.

Hopefully after Christmas I can get a jacket that’s better for outdoor walks in bad weather, I have one picked out at L.L. Bean that I really want, but it’s over $100 so I can’t afford it right now. But I think it would be good for year round because it’s got a pull out lining, waterproofing, etc. I want to buy good quality stuff as I stock up for this hike, not cheap things that will wear out and have to be replaced with the good stuff later. The problem is money is still annoying overall.

Anyway, so now New Year’s is looking like “my time.” So I’ll try to get some walks in between now and then, but mostly I’ll focus on getting up on time every day at the moment.

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Camel packs?

I’m debating getting one of those day packs that has a water system built in. We were walking around the lake yesterday afternoon, and it was really hot. I hadn’t brought my backpack with me (even though I should) because I didn’t feel like packing things in it. I never bring a water bottle on my walks because I don’t want to carry it and bother with it.

If I had my pack with a water bottle in it, I’d have to stop and get it out to take a drink. Which means I just wouldn’t.

So I’m wondering if I would actually drink out of one of these packs. I don’t know if I’d go for it with an actual long term or overnight pack, but for a day pack it seems highly useful.

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Never mind the organic bug spray…

So last weekend I went back out into Prince William Forest Park for a shoot that I was working. Being out in the park was the reason I posted earlier about bug spray and wanting organic options if possible.

Two people on the crew found ticks on them after the first day (and one found more than one) so yeah, my commitment to not using DEET just went out the window. After doing a bit of research on ticks and how to check for them and remove them, the one thing I’m sure of is that I’d rather douse myself in bug spray than deal with Lyme disease.

I’ve been bitten by ticks before when I was a kid. I grew up near the A.T. after all. But when I was young I was also blissfully unaware of what could go wrong if you improperly remove a tick (leaving the head buried in you? UGH) and I was also able to just yell for my mom to take care of it.

Neither of these are options on the trail, and I’m also faced with the fact that if I’m traveling solo and find a tick on my back where I can’t reach (though how I’ll find it I don’t know) then I don’t know what I could do about it.

I guess this is the part where I’ll have to rely on reading accounts from more experienced hikers. But I do know that if Lyme disease stopped me from completing my thru-hike I would be so cranky…

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Bugs

I need bug spray.

Not actually in an immediate sense, I have two bottles of bug spray that I bought a while back.

The problem is that in general, I don’t like most bug sprays because they contain such harsh chemicals and I don’t like using harsh chemicals when I can help it. But especially because I don’t like putting anything like that on my face, my skin has enough problems.

But I also have spent a few days outside over the last week and the bugs have been a problem (especially gnats, I HATE gnats). I’d rather find an organic/natural bug repellent and I tried one last weekend that seemed okay but it was in a wax stick form and I’d prefer a spray because it’s so much faster to get full coverage and you can spray it on your clothes too.

I’m also pretty sure that on the trail, I’ll need something pretty heavy duty. Other than things flying in my face, there’s also the very real threat of deer ticks/Lyme disease and mosquitos/West Nile. Plus I keep hearing about the black flies in Maine if I hike Southbound.

So I’m wondering if I have to go with something with DEET in it, or if I can find something that is natural that will do the trick, and also a spray.

Things to research.

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Gotta Wear Shades

One of the random quirks about me is that I generally can’t survive outside without sunglasses. My eyes are extra sensitive light.

I’m also the kind of person who loses and breaks things frequently. So my standard for sunglasses is to buy many pairs of cheap glasses until they all break or dissapear and then I buy more.

I don’t think that will work for my hike. For one thing, I will likely need something that is close to my face to protect my eyes from dust and bugs as well as UV rays.

I also can’t afford the pack weight of carrying a bunch of extra pairs. So I may have to actually invest in something more sturdy. At least I will be wearing them every day, so there will be less chance of losing them.

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