It’s time to address my dorky hiking clothes! My manly pirate shirt and short-shorts combo is hard to resist. Throw in hiking poles and a big floppy hat and I’m a walking fashion disaster. But it’s all for good cause, I swear.
On a hiking trip like the CDT, I’ll never get to wear exactly what the conditions dictate. I can’t have one shirt that is great for a windy day at -2C in the mountains and also keep me cool when it’s 40C in the desert. Everything is going to be a compromise. Generally I prefer to be a bit cold than hot, since I can usually hike faster to warm up. One thing I hate is mosquitoes, so clothing that can’t be bit through is my ideal.
The shirt that worked for me on the PCT is made by RailRiders and is called an “EcoMesh” shirt. It doesn’t have any buttons or zippers, just a simple collar that closes with a bit of velcro. It is made of SPF 50 nylon and has mesh under the arms and down the sides. This shirt is really meant for hot weather. I found that it sucks heat from me a bit when it’s cold out, but it’s so good at warmer temps that this is a reasonable compromise. For the CDT, my current plan is to carry two shirts, the EcoMesh and a hooded merino wool pullover (for colder weather).
Similarly, for my legs I prefer shorts, but when it’s buggy, I go crazy if I’m not wearing pants. For the CDT I’ll carry some quick drying nylon shorts and pants. Nothing special here, but I’ll just note that I hate “convertible” pants (ones with zip off legs). Zippers inevitably fail, and I’d rather not have to deal with that.
For a hat, I like one that keeps the sun and rain off my face and neck, so that means one with a big floppy brim. Outdoor Research makes a crazy variety of these hats, I’ve settled on one that’s half way between a sun and rain hat (somewhat waterproof, but also breathes a bit). The other advantage of the big floppy hat is that when I wear a mosquito net, it keeps it out of my mouth. Very handy!
I’ll post next time on the rest of my daily clothes: socks, boxers, and hiking poles… there’s more interesting stuff to talk about there.