View Full Version : Recommendations for outdoors gear/clothing

December 16, 2001, 09:22 PM

I'm in the market for some good outdoors/camping/hiking/hunting gear/clothing that is also good for general use. In other words, I want good gear, but don't want it looking too militant (i.e. I'm not going to wear 8" army boots and a British commando sweater to church or work!). Since there's an abundance of outdoorspersons on these gun boards, thought y'all would be good ones to ask.

I live in Southern California. The coldest it really gets down here is about 40F, but I am a skinny little bastard and get cold if it's anything less than 60.

Stuff I am looking for recommendations for:
1. Turtleneck.
2. Boots. I'm looking at Danner hiking boots right now, but would like something I can also wear to work or a nice restaurant, but be able to hold up outdoors.
3. Pants. Nothing wrong with my pants (Dockers) except their politics (Strauss).
4. Cold cold weather field jacket. I have a military field jacket but it's too martial looking for me to wear everywhere. Waterproof would be great and I'd like to be able to take it if I go where there's white stuff (snow).
5. Backpack: more for school and general use but would like it to be strong enough to bring camping (backpacking trips will require more specialized gear). I like Jansport's stuff (served me well K-12), but I want to make sure they're not a gun-grabbing company like Taco Bell or Levi Strauss.
6. Gloves. My fingers get cold really easily. Ideally, I'd like enough dexterity to still be able to play banjo in cold weather (night time outdoor jams) so I'm looking at fingerless gloves.

Well, look forward to hearing your responses.

December 17, 2001, 01:18 PM
Until recently, I did a lot of week-long assaults into the backcountry. Here's what I use:

1. Eddie Bauer turtlenecks.

2. Danners here as well. I don't know what is acceptable under your dress code at work, but I cannot think of boots by any manufacturer which would be appropriate to wear at a "nice restaurant" and that provides a decent platform for hiking/backpacking. I would buy separate boots/shoes for going out -- if you must have Danners, I have two pair of their Edgewood GTX oxfords that work very well for everyday business-casual type wear.

3. I use Propper BDUs but these don't fit your bill. I would look at the Royal Robbins pants -- they seem to be less military-looking yet serviceable for outdoor use.

4. I always bring a Gore-Tex (or similar breathable/waterproof) shell jacket into the backcountry. Lightweight, waterproof and has tons of pockets for carrying maps, compasses, etc. I use The North Face's Mountain Guide jacket in storm grey, but you can find other good waterproof shells by Marmot, Helly Hansen, etc. If colder weather is anticipated, purchase a zip-in fleece jacket as well (e.g., TNF's Denali jacket, which is made from Polartec 300).

5. My week-long backpack is a Lowe Alpine Contour IV but that is a 6000 cu inch + pack and may be too big for your purposes. Check out LA's smaller packs to see if any of them fit your bill. My hiking buddy's pack is a TNF Renegade but again that's probably too big for your purposes.

My weekend pack is a Blackhawk Phoenix pack but that doesn't fit your requirement of being "non-militant".

6. I haven't found any good waterproof gloves that provide sufficient dexterity. The closest I have found is Cabela's Gore-Tex stretch gloves -- waterproof, stretch Lycra for good fit and leather gripping surfaces for increased traction. They are unlined so they are not the best for extreme cold weather.

A good supplier for all of the above is Campmor, in Paramus NJ (http://www.campmor.com). I've ordered from them many times and they have great customer service. I am not affiliated with Campmor, etc.


December 17, 2001, 09:16 PM
Okay, First rule in the outdoors "The colder it gets, the less people care about what you look like" It could be the ugliest, most outdated wool hunting jacket in the Tri-state area, if you're warm, you're stylen!

Second Rule in the outdoors "COTTON KILLS" , cotton is only beneficial in hot, humid climates or in casual dress. Cotton absorbs and retains your moisture and the outside moisture (see rain, snow....) next to your skin, which draws the heat from your body causing you to cool off too fast and letting on possible problems.

With those two in mind, start small and build your outdoor wardrobe/kit slowly. Start off with a pair of good fitting quality boots. If you're gonna spend good money, spend them on good boots and a good sleeping bag. Poorly fitting boots will ruin every trip, every time. Danner is a good start, also try out Lowa, LaSportiva, Montrail (volumous feet), Merrill, Raichle and Vasque. Don't get stuck on brands, like guns, they need to fit your feet!

Clothing wise, as stated above, stay away from cotton and start off slowly. Synthetic fleece to insulate whether its from Old Navy, Eddie Bauer or The North Face will all work. Wool is another alternative, I stay away from it though, because its heavy and doesn't compress well. For pants, again get rid of those jeans and BDU's. I wear shorts all the time unless its absolutely cold. Raining even, why wear more clothing thats going to get wet. Synthetic pants that even feel like cotton but, abraide better made from Royal Robbins, Columbia, The North Face, Ex Officio and others has really come on strong in the last 5 years. Turtle necks have, pardon me are out of vouge, the replacement are zip-T's. Made from either micro-fleece or other synthetics, they vent will when hot while providing the benefits of the 'ole turtle neck. A new material to take a look at is Malden Mills Powerdry. Several companies utilize it in their lines.

Shells either Gore-Tex or some other laminate or spray is good to have. Having pants also is a good idea. Starting off, you should pay no-more than $400 for a pant and jacket set up. LL Bean, EMS and REI all have in-expessive rain-gear, they're own brands and others. After a couple of uses, you'll begin to realize that you'd like to have a couple more pockets on the outside, a micro-fleece liner or vents would be nice. A better hood that actually stays on your head and material that can REALLY take a beating will be begin to appeal to you. After some use, you'll see the light of climbing gear crossing over into other outdoor activities. Hold on to that pay check cause you can pay upwards of $450+ for a kick-ass 3-ply Gore-Tex jacket from Arc'Teryx, Marmot, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear and others. Thats just for the jacket, wait until the pants. I can talk more about Gore-Tex and waterproof gear some other time. The key here is layering. Next to your skin should be a thin wicking layer, synthtic underwear. Next a thicker layer or a fleece layer, this can be that Powerdry stuff i was telling about or thermal fleece or windproof fleece. And lastly your outerlayer. It can be a waterproof shell or a windproof fleece. This method allows you to add garmets or take away garmets without exposing and releasing all your body's heat at once.

A good sleeping bag, which is packable, light in weight, and provides comfotable fit will cure all ills on a outdoor trip. Synthetic bags will provide warmth EVEN when wet! They are a bit heavier and a bit bulkier than down but, they are also much more affordable. Down, is the best insulator around. It compresses amazingly small, and regulates the body's heat. The downfall is it;s expensive and it is nearly ruined if it gets wet. Down bags need to be treated with TLC, no loaners. Take a look at Marmot, The North Face, Western Mountaineering, Sierra Designs, and REI. There are others out there compare and ask questions. A good sleeping bag will provide a good nights sleep after a terrible day in the bush.

Backpacks take the longest time to find, next to boots. Again get the one that fits. Don't get overwhelmed by all the features. If all you're doing is backpacking, and if you're just starting out, get an external frame. Jansport and Kelty make a wide range that you should find one that works. Internal frames although much more comfortable, present a whole series of issues from learning how to pack and compartmentizing your load, to adjusting load straps and fit adjustments. Get one that fits. You may get a used one, use it, abuse it, once you have an idea of how you pack your loads and what you'd really like. Than invest in the dream machine. Since I climb, I have internal frame Dana Designs Astralplane. Companies like Arc'Teryx, Osprey, Kelty, Mountainsmith and others are very reputable.

In your area, besides REI, A-16 and Sport Chalet also visit Nomad Ventures in Carlsbad. Outlets are another option. I work in the technical outdoor industry so, lots of years of experience in staying warm and living in-between trees and rocks. Hope this helps, stay warm!

December 17, 2001, 09:26 PM
Warning- I got the gear bug bad! This is what I currently use and I get cold below 60 as well:

1. Base Layer:
Half turtleneck. Nice light-weight layer. Wear any shirt over top. If I need another, heavier layer:
Really soft and warm! If I REALLY need another layer:
Excellent jacket! I wear it all of the time. It is cut slim as it is designed to fit under a shell.

2. Boots. I used to wear big clunky Cabelas hunting boots which are pretty comfortable but not so for long hiking days. I finally broke down and got these:
Zamberlan's are incredible! Heavy duty and comfortable! They are a bit stiff at first but once broken in they are unreal! I even used them hunting this year. I can't say enough about them.

3. I actually wear Old Navy cargo pants. $20! I have my 'clean pairs' and my 'play pairs.' When I need a layer underneath I use: http://www.marmot.com/products/base_layer/base_layer_prod_bottoms.html

4. Here on the east coast I need a few different jackets. I have the above Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Fleece which gets me through most days. If it is raining or nasty I have this:
For those REALLY cold days:
The down jacket is downright hot unless it is absolutely freezing outside.

5. My daypack is this:
Great weekend/travel pack. Fits all my gear plus I really wanted 2 water bottle pockets. It has a suspension, hip belt, chest belt, etc. It can hold some heavy gear really comfortably. It also has the biospan feature which really makes a felt difference in the way the pack carries. I can't say enough about it!

For weekends or backpacking I have this:
Arc'Teryx's website appears to be down right now but it is Arc'Teryx.com. It is by far the most comfortable pack I have ever put on. Pack's are subjective and user-specific, though. Make sure you try one under load and if you are looking for one for backpacking make sure it is fitted for you. Nothing worse than finding out the few hundred dollar pack you just bought doesn't fit your body right. Especially when you are miles back in the woods! These are what work for me.

6. I have two pairs of gloves. For non-rainy/snowy days with moderate temperatures:
just plain old fleece gloves but the Windstopper is a must!
For the nast/cold weather:
I just got these last year. They are sweet. I haven't used the liners by themselves yet but I am sure it would work. Basically the outer layer is Conduit nylon which is waterproof/breathable similar to Gore-Tex, then you have full Gore-tex liners which in reality give you two levels of protection. They are really nice.

It took me a few years to acquire all this but man, am I in heaven! :) I am an REI member and the yearly refunds can add up. I usually get close to $100 back every year and you get 10% off when you use it to purchase more gear. So I use that discount on big items like tents, sleeping bags, Gore-Tex shells, etc! I also scour the Internet and local stores for sales. For instance, ski shops in the spring when they close out the past years clothing and gear. Got my Marmot Alpinist parka for $200, retail is $469! I also keep tabs on rei-outlet.com. I have seen some great deals there. Hope this helps.

December 17, 2001, 09:35 PM
nashgill- You are a bonified gear hound. Alpinist parka for $200 MY GOD!!! brand new, that REI Outlet can be a god send. You got the set up right. What tent do you like using back East?

Also check out http://www.mountaingear.com and http://www.shorelinemtn.com both can give you more ideas and variety than the local stores.

December 17, 2001, 09:37 PM
Above comments are all good. Look at Patagonia fleece as well, very stylish and every bit as good as The North Face, which is a bit more functional in design.

Danner boots tend to be a bit narrow. To me, the most important issue with boot fit is the toebox volume, I need a large volume due to the shape of my feet. You are likely different. Don't hestitate to have the salesman help you try on every pair that you might even think about.

One more website, the Sierra Trading post. All closeout deals, some just short of incredible.


REI also has an outlet website


Good luck!

December 17, 2001, 09:49 PM
corsair replied while I was formulating my response. I just want to echo a few statements made:

start small and build your outdoor wardrobe/kit slowly

It took me 7 years to build up where I am now. I would buy/try until I found things that work. Good point here, although looking back if I would have bought from only two manufacturers I would be OK. Marmot and Mountain Hardwear make incredible stuff. Some of it will eat up paychecks, but I have never thrown anything away from these two manufacturers. Not trying to sound like a brand-name-aholic just that I have tried many other brands with some limited success but these two I have not had any problems with.

If you're gonna spend good money, spend them on good boots and a good sleeping bag.

I couldn't agree more. I look forward to sleeping in my down Marmot bag every single night. Sleeping bags are very important. I personally like down but I have an old synthetic bag that I use when I absolutely know I am going to get wet. Some bags have water resistant coatings now and some manufacturers make wateproof bivy's but I haven't tried them. Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends are some others I would look at in the down line. I wouldn't trade my down bag for anything!

I have literally tried on every single pair of boots in my local REI store. They hate me! I have the most sensitive and picky feet. Boots are the most important purchase you will make! I have found success with Lowa in the past and Zamberlan recently but like Corsair said They need to fit *YOUR* feet

Regarding Gore-Tex shells:
After a couple of uses, you'll begin to realize that you'd like to have a couple more pockets on the outside

Backpacks take the longest time to find, next to boots.
Surely got that right!

One more thing to add... I recently purchased this shirt:

It is one of the nicest fleece shirts I own. Insanely warm, lightweight, stretchy, incredible! I highly recommend.

December 17, 2001, 10:00 PM
I am certainly a gear hound. I am trying to slow that down and *save* money! :) Between guns and gear I am a mess!

I just got this tent last year:
SkyView 3. Perfect for my wife, 2 dogs, me, all of our gear... It is a seriously big 3 man tent. I love it but it is not a backpacking tent. wouldn't want to carry that one any distance! The ventilation is what sold me on it. Got a good deal with the REI refund and discount. Always seems to come around tax refund time! :)

I believe I have seen a mountaingear.com catalog, while visiting a friend. He gave me some really neat catalogs that I need to dig up and post here. They had some incredible prices. I will try to do that in the next few days.

I gotta quit buying this stuff! :)

December 17, 2001, 10:14 PM
One way I find good prices is by using a good search engine. Google searches on web page text, not key-words. Find the gear you want by scouring manufacturers web sites and gear forums and then search for them using www.google.com. You will usually find many retailers with which you can price-compare. I would also scour outdoor-related forums where there is dedicated gear forums. Find out what people like, don't like, and why. I can't tell you how nice it is to do all the research you can and know for sure that you will like your purchase. I made too many purchases of things that 'looked good' in the store but didn't work or weren't comfortable, etc. I would try to do as much research as you can ahead of time and to purchase once. I hate purchasing more than once! I don't mind spending money (obviously) if I know the gear is worth it. I look at it like this... The synthetic bag I spoke of earlier I have owned for 12 years. My tent should last me close to that, as well as my down bag. Divide the purchase over 12 years versus a not-so-good purchase over 1 year, which is usually when I get tired of bad equipment. Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, or other gear in mind, I am sure one of us can help.

December 17, 2001, 10:26 PM
Ahh, found the catalogs:
www.mgear.com (same as mountaingear.com)
I see both have already been mentioned. My friend also gave me a Jagged Edge Mountain Gear catalog and a copy of National Geographic Adventure magazine. I have never heard of jagged Edge Mountain Gear but it looks pretty good. Anyone have any experience with them? The Adventure magazine looks great. May have to try that one again.

Jody Hudson
December 17, 2001, 10:35 PM

I think I understand what you are aiming for; tough servicable, similar in usefulness to BDUs but wearable anywhere without looking like a combat soldier on duty... :)

Your list: My Solutions
1. Turtleneck. Winter Silks http://www.wintersilks.com

2. Boots. Rocksports http://shop.store.yahoo.com/shoedini/000364.html

3. Pants. Dickies http://www.dickies.com/web/ with long underwear if you need it.

Lots of great "travel gear" with lots of pockets and secret pockets, etc. Travelsmith. http://www.travelsmith.com and it's hard to beat Filson's wool slacks or anything else

4. Field jacket. Ask Wilma (use my name) if she can order you a leather one if you wish. And that with a wool sweater is very warm: Ted's Military Surplus:

5. Backpack. Eagle Creek http://www.eaglecreek.com/

6. Gloves. The very thin leather flight gloves are the best I've ever found. Again Ted's or http://www.uswings.com/gloves.html#Pilot

December 17, 2001, 11:59 PM
Those are nice tents. Right now Hardwear is doing VERY well in the tent market. The trends go that way. Used a monsterous Weather Station while on Denali, that was a little much, wish I had a TNF Expedition-25 on that trip. Mainly sleep under the stars while backpacking, although a SD Tiros or TNF Kestrel are favorites.

Gear, guns and gals.......love 'em all.

One other consideration, be familiar with materials manufacturers. Malden Mills produces 80% of the fleece that Patagonia, Marmot, The North Face, Sierra Designs, Arc Teryx and others use. Right now, only Schoeller is rivalling them in terms of quality of fleece produced. Actually, Schoeller basically created a new catagory in outerwear called "Soft Shells". If you're looking for the latest and greatest, or getting tired of that worn out, old thermal fleece, check those items out. Arc'Teryx's Gamma series, TNF's Free Climb jacket and Cloudveils line.

Jagged Edge is a small cottage outfit out of Steamboat I think, may be its Telludride. Anycase , they're a small Colorado company thats got some nice designs. Nothing too revolutionary just basic garmets, nice colors, cool little hits with the Chinese characters. Check the materials used and compare construction with others. If it works , than it may fit your needs.

December 18, 2001, 12:17 AM
Ohh, one other note. Many people tend to be loyal to a particular brand. Whether they had their God moving experience in their cloths or have some epic story. Just be sure why you are loyal. Most of the companies that have been listed all, use the same materials manufacturer. AND many use the same factories overseas. SO, the difference comes down to the design of features, and the suitability to your needs.

PS- my favorite items are TNF Free Climb jacket, Marmot's DriClimb Windshirt and Patagonia's Duck Pants.

December 18, 2001, 12:14 PM
Some excellent advice given above ....

One of the best bets for sprucing up your regular clothes is to use an underlayment of the lightweight caliplene/polypro tops & bottoms.

Makes a surprising difference in warmth & you get to still wear your everyday clothing, if those are cut large enough to allow the (then) extra thickness (which really isn't that much, but cam make a difference if your regular clothes are cut fairly tight). Perhaps $20 for each, top & bottom.

Another inexpensive bet is a lightweight polypropylene/capilene balaclava. 1/3 of your body heat goes out your head & (again) surprising what a difference this'll make. About $15-20

A great neck-sealer is a lightweight thermax/capilene/polypropylene "neck tube." Fits over your neck, can be pulled over lower head & does a great job of sealing in heat between upper clothes & head gear. ~$10-12

For late-night banjo playing, maybe a (sounds like a broken record ;) ) cap/polypro lightweight gloves & cut the fingers off. $5-8 Hardly any bulk &'ll help slick up that neck.

The above 5 items are my starting point for anything I do in the woods when expecting even coolish temps. All told, weighs just over a pound.

I second Sierra Trading - you'll be amazed at some of the savings.