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September 07, 2009

Enjoying the Outdoors

Since I started geocaching years ago I've slowly been improving my collection of outdoor wear through experience and learning from the experts.

The first stop was a good pair of shoes, what a world of difference that can make when you're walking over varied terrain for several hours a day. I researched a good pair and found that 'trail' shoes were well suited to the terrain encountered while caching. I lucked into hitting a great pair on the first try and I've been buying roughly the same model since. The latest version even includes Gore-Tex, which doesn't make the shoes waterproof, but I can walk through wet grass and keep my feet dry. A good pair of winter boots was next on the list and currently up for replacement. Need something that is warm, that keeps you dry in even the deepest snow and slushy conditions, yet something that fits well so you can hike some distance or wear snowshoes. This spring I added a new pair of hiking boots, something that would work better than shoes in wetter or muddier conditions. It took until fall to get a good test for them, but what a success they were. We walked through swampy, boggy conditions, getting many a booter and my feet stayed pretty much dry.

The other thing that makes your feet happy is a good pair of socks. For years I had a favourite brand of socks that was just perfect all around. Just the right amount of cushion and breathability, wear and a durability. But I can't seem to find them anymore. So I've been trying various additions and have some useful additions now, especially for winter.

Still shopping for that perfect pair of pants. One that fits perfectly, has lots of pockets (always seem to be carrying lots of stuff while caching), one that drys quickly and resists burrs and is convertible to shorts. I have a few that do quite well so I haven't been looking too hard. I have been considering a pair of Gore-Tex pants for wet conditions.

Last fall I picked up a new rain jacket as mine was severely lacking. I snagged a nice one from Cabela's that included Gore-Tex. I'm very pleased with it, certainly keeps me drier and it does seem to be quite a bit more breathable than nylon shells I've had in the past. After a year of wear I've noticed the coating on the outer layer seems to have disappeared, meaning that when it gets really wet the fabric stays cold and wet. Although the Gore-Tex keeps the wetness from hitting my skin, it still feels wet and cold. I also got a fleece liner for the jacket and its made itself very useful for winter wear as well.

The other thing is several pairs of good winter mitts. I have a nice big warm pair of snowmobile mitts for the cold and wet days and a few pairs of soft gloves for warmer wear. I think I might need to get a new layering system with a soft inner and a nylon outer. Although I don't think anything will really solve the digging in ice issues we had this past winter.

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