May 25, 1997

Great Choices Available For Outfitting A Hike


Q. I’m planning to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1998 with this summer as a training period for me and my gear. From head to toe, tent to pack and everything in between, what gear would you recommend? Cost is not a major factor, so please suggest what you think is best. Many thanks!

Greg Wolcott

Gear Guy: Hmm. That’s kind of a tall order, but in brief here’s what I’d consider carrying:

Pack: Dana Designs Terraplane ($429). This venerable design is still perhaps the best big-capacity (6,000 cubic inches) pack. Second choice: Mountainsmith Revolution ($489) or Gregory Wind River ($295). Tent: Sierra Designs Orion CD ($239), Marmot Peapod ($339) or Walrus Starstreme ($250). Sleeping bag: Marmot Arroyo (down, $249), The North Face’s Cat’s Meow (synthetic, $179) or Moonstone Minima (synthetic, $169). Boots: Asolo Poseidon ($200), One Sport Moraine ($200) or Raichle Mountain Trail ($200). Stove/cookset: MSR Whisperlite ($49) or Peak 1 X-Pert ($60); Cascade Designs’ Evolution 2 cookset ($50). Rain gear: Mountain Hardwear Ethereal parka and pant (parka, $350; pant, $215), or Lowe Alpine MFs Tech Jacket/Pull-On Pant ($199/$110). Insulation: REI BiPolar Tech Jacket ($95); Patagonia El Capilene pants ($72).

There. Add some warm-weather shorts and shirts to the mix, some accessories such as light gloves and hats, and you’re all set. I get a cut of 10 percent of the total spent - paid by you! Hahahahahaha … .

Have a good trip!

Q. Hey Gear Guy, How’s it going? Do you know of any water-repellant/resistant fabrics that are rated very high on the breathability scale, but are still reasonably water resistant? The reason I ask is that I bike to work (Seattle) and a waterproof/ breathable fabric just doesn’t breathe enough. I need a good nylon shell (tight weave), that is light and breathes better. I cannot seem to find manufacturer specs on this info. Also, does spray-on water resistance reduce the breathability?

John Zimmer

Gear Guy: What you want, John, is a microfilament jacket. That would be a lot more breathable than something like Gore-Tex or a competing waterproof/breathable. One good choice is Pearl Izumi’s Zephrr Jacket ( $60), which is a wind-proof, water-resistant shell that’s extremely light and packable. A similar piece is Performance’s Silmond Jacket ($40), which is essentially made from the same fabric as the Pearl Izumi. Another really good buy is Nashbar’s Activent Cycling Jacket. At $80, it’s a bargain made from W.L. Gore’s highly breathable new fabric.

You can beef up the water repellency of any of these light jackets with a spray-on or wash-on treatment. There’s probably a slight penalty in breathability, but not so much that you would really notice it.


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