Saturday, February 27, 2010


I’ve been told it takes time (and money) to build the proper trekking trousseau, so in preparation for my first outdoor climbing trip to Colorado’s Shelf Road in April I’m working on assembling my collection of clothing and gear. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Craig’s List,, and my favorite site, Campmor.

For my first round of purchases, I decided to buy things that would be worth the expenditure even if I didn’t enjoy climbing outdoors in the unpredictable early spring. I focused on base and under layers, like underwear and mid-layer fleeces mostly because Campmor was having an unbelievable sale.

When considering base and under layers, there are a few words that are important to keep in mind: “wicking,” “quick-drying,” “lightweight” and my personal favorite, “breathable.” It’s also important to choose materials that claim to be “odor-resistant” because you’re going to be wearing this stuff for days on end and you don’t want to become the human equivalent to aged cheese.

(PHOTO: Recipe Czar)

After all, it’s hard to pick up a hot outdoorsman if you smell like the sort of thing a French chef would serve to cleanse a diner’s palette after six courses.

EXOFFICIO’s product slogan, “17 Countries. 6 weeks. And one pair of underwear” seemed more like the tagline for a new horror flick than a sales point to me, the pasty urbanite. So I bought two pairs, one to wear while the other pair (newly washed) dries – still scary – but rather sensible for the packer/camper worried about gear weight.

I also ordered a set of Terramar “Body-Sensors” helix lightweight 1.0 base layers, a shirt and pants. Campor’s sale was deliciously good, and I spent less on these two specialty products than I would have on any of the lesser options available at discount stores like Target. The winter has been rather grueling here in Nebraska, so I could easily justify this purchase.

Campor’s micro-fleece mid layers, also on sale, completed my order. My total investment in warmth and “breathability” was less than $50, and I eagerly awaited my order’s arrival mostly because I’ve been freezing my ass off now that I’ve been walking everywhere. My car’s transmission is out of commission, and I’ve been walking like Jesus or relying on public transportation. It sucks to be without personal transportation, particularly when the temperatures are hovering in the lower 20s and upper teens, but I will survive.

I waited for my order the way I wait for most things delivered by post: eagerly. My postal carrier is a bald and buff sort of dude, and looks a bit like Mr. Clean. He rolls the sleeves of his uniform up so everyone can see the tribal tattoos on both of his biceps. I forgive him this cliché, of course, because he’s the only man I’ve ever seen who can make uniform pants live up to the USPS creed:

“… And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever [while looking damn fine in our pants]” (emphasis mine).

My rather pedestrian fantasy mailman (fitting, of course, because I am a devout pedestrian) aside, my daily thoughts often wandered to the status of my delivery. Then one fine day, I scaled the stairs to my apartment and knew my Campmor box had been delivered. I could smell Mr. Clean’s Axe cologne lingering in the hallway.

I tore into that Campmor box as if it were tiramisu from Vincenzo’s. I felt a little guilty, a little naughty, but that didn’t stop me. The EXOFFICIO slogan was printed right on the package. The Terramar base layers were unbelievably light, true to size, and they smelled of science. And math. Lots of math. Campmor’s fleece products were also true to their size charts. Everything fit, and I danced around the apartment wearing all of it at once because that’s just the kind of dork I am.

You see, six weeks ago, none of those purchases would have fit. I’m pleased to report that I have finally graduated to regular sizes – my days of shopping at “plus size” stores appear to be over. To celebrate, I decided it was time to put these new purchases to the test today.

A half-mile into my morning two-mile walk, my “breathable” underpants were wheezing like an asthmatic in a Cuban humidor. Last I checked there’s no such thing as the SINGULAIR vaginal inhaler, so I marched my huffin’ and puffin’ panties onward ignoring the rasp and gurgle as a Santa Ana sort of breeze wafted through my gorge.

I must admit, however, that the breathability was worth the cost of purchase. EXOFFICIO panties don’t chaff, are true to their size chart, and provide able legroom for strenuous exercise. The Terramar base layers were fantastic, far better than other silk-style base layers I’ve owned over the years. Not only did they fit perfectly under a pair of jeans, they didn’t bunch beneath my arms or around my legs even as I marched onward. The Campmore micro-fleece feels a bit like Velcro on the outside, but that’s a good thing. It connected to the lined jacket I wore, which helped me to forget just how many layers it takes to comfortably spend an hour walking on a cold morning.

Overall, I consider my first additions to my trousseau wonderful. Choosing my outer layers is proving more difficult, particularly because I’ve never ventured into the “great outdoors” – so I’m reading reviews and trying to take advantage of end-of-season bargains. Sometimes it’s difficult to find L or XL sizes during this time of year, but I’m hopeful.

But mostly, I’m just thankful. Not only am I alive and breathing, my underpants are breathing with me.

1 comment:

  1. It's starting... you're becoming a climbing gear whore. Congrats.

    Just to tempt you a little more...I'm sure you being the all knowing EFR already have perused the following sites but in case you haven't:



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