tramping clothes: the wet set

First Rule of Wet Weather Gear: You will get wet. You choose the mechanism: rain, sweat, or a mixture of the two.

Second Rule of Wet Weather Gear: Inexpensive, light weight, breathable. Pick two.

For what it’s worth here’s my wet set list . . .

a decent raincoat—won’t necessarily keep you dry but will keep the rain off, mostly, and wind out, well that’s important. Mine has lots of pockets for maps, GPS, compact camera, etc

pair of old bicycle shorts—tight around the legs, keep warm even when wet, and stop any, err, chafing of the groin area

Gore-tex style overtrousers—not so much to keep you dry but to stop the wind on high passes, or out on the tops; or when it’s raining; to avoid the sandflies in that lower area of the body; but mainly to keep the mud out

long gaiters—mud protectors and stopping getting my delicate legs cut up by the dreaded Aciphylla colensoi or stinging nettle, etc

one very expensive pair of specialised tramping socks—to stop even the thought of blisters

boots—I’ve tried everything from John Bull, remember those heavy clunkers; laced up gumboots, NZFS issue, we thought we were tough in these but they don’t do much for your feet; Meindl Island Pro, hugely expensive and worth every dollar if you do a lot of walking, a rigid sole and upper, pure walking class; and, now that I can no longer afford the Meindls, I’ve taken to Stoney Creek Greywacke, a wide fitting NZ designed boot which have a more flexible sole that is handy in negotiating tree roots and mossy boulders and are somewhat lighter. There’s been other boots tried but you really need to look after those feet on a long trip.

long-sleeve 200 weight merino top—keeps you warm once you get wet

a Polartec vest for when it’s going to be cold—one that you can zip right down when you warm up, but zip up again once you stop

a woollen skullcap—for those without much, any, hair. It’s kinda handy when it’s raining, or frosty, or would just like to look stylish in the hills

a decent heavy duty beanie—for when it gets really cold, that keeps your scone nice and toasty, like when you stop and it’s blowing

pair of thermolite gloves—in case you get into an exposure risk situation

So that’s the wet stuff I wear pretty much every day. I assume it’s wet which means when you pull your warm, dry wool top off on a frosty morning you are often putting a cold, wet top on, and cold damp socks, they haven’t fully dried hanging above the firebox.

Don’t worry, you’ll soon warm up.

Wool? Not polypropylene?

Yeah, choose the wool, it doesn’t smell so much after a day or two. Remember Peter Blake put Icebreaker on the map when he gave it a glowing review having worn his top for 43 days continuously on one ocean voyage.

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