Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I bought a lot of Patagonia underwear, which I found ridiculously expensive at the time. After being in the underwear for these four months, I have to say that I don't regret paying the extra money at all. It is light, resists odors, and stays dry. It has met or exceeded expectations. That said, my REI gear has held up equally as well, and I probably could have gone with some lesser known brand. I think that brand-name items just take some of the research time out of the equation, which helped with my short deployment notice. For the most part, everything that I brought with me has performed well. My $16 Walmart wranglers were my best buy. I beat the crap out of them.

The one disappointment in my gear bag was the Smartwool socks and glove liners that I bought. They say that they resist odors, but they smell awful when wet. The issue-gear socks that are Wigwam-branded, pure wool performed much better even though they were much bulkier. From my past experience with Wigwam, I think I'll stick to buying them after the Smartwools wear out. Oh, I'm also very happy with the Wigwam sock liners that I bought as well as my very excellent Montrail GoreTex boots that only cost me $86.

In terms of hats, my $10 watch cap from an army surplus store was very good. Well, it was good until the wind picked up. I had to break down and buy an Outdoor Research windstopper hat. It looks silly and makes me feel like I'm putting a shower cap on every time it goes over my head. However, it holds up exceptionally well in strong winds. The combination of watch cap for inside or combined with big red and the OR cap for windy days without big red covered pretty much every situation.

Finally, the standout value was my North Face Apex jacket. Yes, four or five people here had the exact same jacket, but it is great. I got last year's model on closeout for $65, and I've been wearing it a LOT. It is a very versatile jacket that keeps out very stiff winds.