Interchangeable lens sunglasses have been around for a long time. I’ve owned several pairs, but despite the advantage of having multiple lenses to choose from, I very rarely change them. All of the pairs I have owned are difficult to change, and the pressure required to remove and replace a lens often makes me nervous that I’ll break something. Luckily I live in California and play at high elevations so most of the time I put in the strongest glacier lens and never remove it. I’ve always considered interchangeable lenses to be more of a gimmick than a useful feature.
Lets talk about socks. As a kid, they’re a disappointing Christmas gift. As an adult, yay socks!
One complaint I’ve overheard in REI and outdoor stores is the expense of socks. Do you *really* need to spend $20 for a pair of socks when you can get what looks like the same thing at Walmart for $4? When those socks are Darn Tough, then my answer is a resounding YES. This post is an ode to my favorite sock manufacturer.
I’ve used pretty much every brand of sock on the market and I cannot recommend anything more than Darn Toughs. Not only do they perform magnificently in the field, their durability is so far beyond any other sock I’ve tried. Generations of other brands have passed through my sock drawer, yet I’m still holding on to the first pair of Darn Toughs I got nearly ten years ago. I wear them more frequently, too. Spend $20 on a pair of these and not only will you have much happier feet on the trail, they will outlive 50 pairs of the $4 socks.
I have a large collection of Darn Tough socks. Some were given to me at various Outdoor Retailer shows. Others have been graciously sent to me by Darn Tough. And yes, I’ve bought them for myself as well. One perk of going to the OR shows is a lot of free socks, so I don’t often have to spend money on them. But when I do, I go straight to Darn Tough. I don’t even look at other brands anymore. And as more of my sock collection gets replaced by Darn Tough, the less frequently I need to buy new socks!
Lets take a look at my lineup. These pictures speak for themselves when it comes to durability of these socks. In the photo above, can you tell which pair has 10 years and over a 1000 miles on them?
I always like to look back on my trips and learn from what worked and what didn’t work. With respect to gear, I have a few observations that I thought I’d share here.
With some scrambly peaks and cross-country hiking planned for this trip, I decided to go with an approach style shoe, which is a hybrid style with characteristics of both hiking and climbing footwear. My current approach shoes are the Patagonia Cragmaster, and I love these shoes for peakbagging. I’ve been using them since early spring and they are comfortable, durable, sticky, and the strong leather uppers protect my foot from the loose talus. Despite being super happy with these shoes, I had only worn them on dayhikes and I wasn’t sure how they’d feel with a heavy pack. Approach shoes don’t have the padding of a traditional hiker, so I was a little concerned about how they would feel with 40 lbs on my back. But I really wanted that sticky rubber for Tyndall!
As I topped out at Ten Lakes Pass this past weekend, I was sweating and cursing the hot sun and heat. The exposed landscape and high altitude meant the sun was super intense, and very little breeze was blowing to help cool off. Half of my group was ahead and half behind, so I decided to drop my pack, hydrate, and wait for the rest of the group to catch up.
Instead, I was attacked by a wild napping rock. (When NAPS ATTACK!)
After a brief snooze under the sun, I awoke and eyed a nearby snow patch. It’s been a dry year but there is still a bit of snow above 10k. I rolled a snowball and rubbed it on the back of my hot neck. Yep, that felt good. I was tempted to make a snow angel.
Instead, I rolled another snowball.
Then, I took my OmniFreeze Zero gaiter (don’t leave home without it!)…
…and stuck that sucker inside.
I put it back around my neck.
And for the next mile it gradually melted, dripping refreshing freezing cold water.
I intend to use this technique liberally throughout the summer. I always thought one advantage to hiking above 10k was access to snow for margaritas, but this is really what it’s good for!
One of the most important doctrines of ultralight backpacking is the principle of multi-use. If an item can be used for more than one purpose, it means carrying less single-use gear. Simple.
I want to talk about an item that I think best exemplifies this principle, the Hoo-Rag. Hoo-Rag sent me one of these to try out and it’s been a lot of fun finding unique and undocumented ways of using this simple yet versatile item.
The Hoo-Rag is a lightweight, seamless tube-style soft bandana. It comes in tons of different patterns and there are more ways to wear it than I can count. Hoo-Rag shows off their product primarily as wearable (and hop on over to their site to see the numerous ways you can wear it), but I want to focus on how this has become the ultimate multi-use item in my backpacking kit.
Triple Aught Design (TAD) is a brand I became acquainted with several years ago when my husband was teaching nights up in San Francisco. One of his favorite places to drop by when he had extra time was their Dogpatch store. He would bring home military-style gadget organizers – holsters for his knives, pouches to organize his fishing kit, and other items that he took special delight in collecting.
So, when I was contacted about checking out a new line of women’s clothing from Triple Aught Designs I initially didn’t even realize it was the same company. It was only after visiting their website that I realized it was the same San Francisco based equipment manufacturer. Biased by the military-style gear that my husband had brought home years ago, I was rather surprised to browse their site and see some beautiful, functional women’s apparel.
The folks at TAD were kind enough to send me an Artemis Hoodie, a 100% merino wool hooded zip-up top with thumb loops. From the moment I opened the package I was impressed with the feel of this piece. The thick, heavy merino wool top was soft to the touch and fit like a dream – form fitting but not tight (what I would call an ‘athletic fit’). The length is perfect, long enough to pull over the hips and not ride up when moving.
Over my many years of attending the Outdoor Retailer show I’ve managed to collect quite a pile of stickers. Many of them have made their way to my bear canisters, car windows, and random file cabinets. But I’ve decided I want to share some of this OR show swag with you guys! I have ten envelopes full of Calipidder.com and miscellaneous gear brand stickers to giveaway to my readers.
Use the app below to enter. US only, please – I’ll be sending these out in regular first class mail envelopes to the winners. (As long as you have a US mailing address you can enter). Entries are open for a week and you have multiple chances to enter, including answering a question, becoming a fan on Facebook, or tweeting a link to this post. I will notify the ten winners within 48 hours of the end of the contest.
Entries are open from now until 3/1/2013 at 12:00 am PST.