Clothing that We Can’t Do Without

Darren reviews some of the clothing items that we have chosen for our trip.

Clothing is a major component of our around-the-world journey. We need to have items that are lightweight and versatile, as well as sturdy, in order to last for the entire 14-month trip. Since we plan to bring only one rolling duffel bag and day pack apiece, every item must be multipurpose. Below are some of the items that we each settled upon. We are not receiving any compensation for endorsing the products below. All prices are street.

Salomon XA PRO 3D MID – $130 / Merrell Pandora Breeze – $110

For trekking shoes, Darren chose the Salomon XA PRO because he can wear them both around town and on the trail. Weighing in at under a pound, they are one of the lightest boots on the market. Darren really likes the lacing system. Sandy purchased the Merrell Pandora Breeze Mid. Both of us selected boots that featured mid tops, for greater ankle support, and waterproof GORE-TEX® liners. Besides boots, each of us purchased a pair of Teva Toachi 2 sandals. Sandy also bought a pair of Tom’s Black Stone-Washed Cord Women’s Classics.

REI Sahara Convertible Pants (Men’s) – $65 / ExOfficio Nomad Roll-up Pants (Women’s) – $60

We have been wearing convertible pants for more than ten years. They are lightweight, have lots of pockets and convert to shorts by simply zipping off or rolling up each pant leg. Darren purchased the REI Sahara. He had a tailor add a security zipper to one of the pockets for $5. Sandy purchased the very similar ExOfficio Nomad Roll-up. In addition to two pairs of these polyester pants each, Darren will add a pair of jeans and Sandy will bring jeans and a skirt.

REI Sahara Shirt (Women’s) – $50 / Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve Shirt (Men’s)- $50

When packing for this trip, we looked for versatile tops that can coordinate. Though we both love cotton, we normally stay away from it on long trips because it wrinkles, takes a long time to dry and the fibers trap odors. In the end, Sandy selected the REI Sahara Shirt. This shirt is made of micro-ripstop nylon that wicks moisture and dries incredibly fast. The collar and long-sleeves provide good sun protection and the arms roll up and can be secured. There is even a hidden pocket to stow a passport or cash. Darren selected the similarly-priced and featured Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve Shirt. This shirt is made from a blend of 70% polyester and 30% nylon. He selected it because of the tapered fit and the large number of colors from which to choose. Besides these performance tops, we are bringing no more than two or three additional synthetic (non-cotton) tops.

Smartwool NTS Lightweight Zip-T and Bottoms (Men’s) – $80 and $40

Since it will be cold in places like the Himalayas and the Tian-Shan Mountains, both of us will be bringing long underwear. Sandy will be using some silk underwear that she really likes from a previous trip. Darren favors wool and has selected the Smartwool NTS Lightweight Zip-T (also from a previous trip). You would think that anything with wool in it would be itchy. But these Smartwool long johns sport specially-treated Merino wool that is guaranteed not to itch. Smartwool is resistant to shrinking, has moisture-wicking ability, as well as odor-reducing and anti-microbial properties. They aren’t cheap. But, it’s no fun being cold and uncomfortable.

Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell Jacket – $119

To protect him from rain and wind, Darren was compelled to purchase a new jacket for this trip. His old one was worn and was in fact one of the bulkiest items in his bag. He replaced his old jacket with a Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell Jacket. It is waterproof and has a hood, zippered vents and packs in a small space. Sandy has a similar jacket made by North Face. Rather than buying one super-warm jacket, we tend to rely on a layered approach – long underwear, a performance shirt and a shell provide a lot of warmth. If it gets colder, we can add a down jacket to the mix. Our down jackets zip into their own pockets so are also compact.

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat – $35

For those warmer days, sun protection is important. As a result, we tend to favor convertible pants and shirts. Wearing these clothes also addresses another problem: bugs. We are going to be in malarial regions for at least two months of our trip. Beyond the prophylactics we are taking (Mefloquine), we find it is best to stay covered up. This strategy also reduces the amount of insect repellent needed. We have selected a hat that keeps us cool and covered: the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat. The neat thing about this hat is that the sun skirt is removable – just two snaps hold it in the front. This hat also works well in windy conditions.

While we couldn’t afford an entirely new wardrobe, we were able to replace a few of our older items in hopes of having ones that are going to last the full 14 months. Things are going to break or simply wear out. We will be bringing a sewing kit and, if all else fails, we will replace items en route or by shipping a replacement from home. We have also discussed purchasing low-cost items while on the road in an attempt to blend in a little with the local population. A locally-made jacket, hat or scarf can also lower your risk profile and make you feel more like a local.

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