Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Making like a sheep

Whilst I was out for a quick three miler this morning, I got to thinking about Laura’s recent post about good and bad gear purchases. During my ponderings, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be turning into a sheep, not just because I follow anyone (with a map), but my favourite items of clothing are mainly made of  merino.

I love my Smartwool Microweight crew. During last winter, it was my favourite base layer and I often layered it with my short and long sleeved bamboo tops. I like layering thin layers as I can make finer adjustments to my temperature and don’t feel bulked out. The Smartwool is a useful lightweight item to throw in my daysack if I want to carry a warm layer that takes up no space and doesn’t add much noticeable weight and it was really handy on our family camp this year when it turned chilly at night. The first year that didn’t find me huddled with my fleece blanky of an evening!

I’m also chuffed to bits with my merino socks from Foothill. They are an exceptionally high percentage merino and cheap to boot, only £7 a pair, including p&p which I thought fantastic. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get for that price, but they are brilliant socks. They keep the temperature of my feet just right, I've never had sweaty or cold feet whilst wearing them. They are incredibly comfortable, and I’ve not had to use any zinc oxide tape on my heels since I bought them. They are brilliant.

I’ve knitted myself two pairs of merino wool flip-flap gloves.

PIC_0003This is the grey pair. I need to learn how to darn so that I can mend the thumb which has stuck to the Velcro of my Montane jacket a few two many times. I’ve also knitted a multi-coloured pair. They are excellent at their job, they keep my Reynaud's ridden hands cosy, but I can ventilate or liberate my fingers for fiddly jobs. Like eating. I can happily wear them in rain, even when it’s cold. They keep my hands warm despite being wet, although I do wring them out occasionally  because the dripping can irritate after a while.

Now I have a new item to add to the woolly list. Pants. Pant of the underwear variety as opposed to trouser pants.

I’ve been looking for comfy underwear for a while and did receive a recommendation for X-Bionic underwear. I’ve looked at these before and been intrigued, but couldn’t decide. After the recommendation, I looked again, but came to the conclusion that I really do prefer a natural product, so continued my search. Now, I’m the proud owner of two pairs of Icebreaker hotpants.  I’ve trialled them and I love them! They are incredibly comfy, they don’t migrate to far flung places that are impossible to reach when wearing a back pack, my main pant issue, (TMI?). They keep me warm and cool at all the right times and are easy to care for, just throw them in the washing machine, detergent but no softener and Bob’s your uncle. Fabulous!

So, as I was saying. Just call me Shaun.



Laura said...

Hi Louise - The socks look interesting... which ones are they? I need extra toe protection even in my new boots!

Louise said...

Hi Laura
It was Explorer and Highlander socks that I ordered and they have been incredible. I haven't needed zinc tape on my heels in my Brashers, even on the lump on my achilles, which is prone to inflammation. My Merrell Ventillator shoes are a neat fit, so when I walk any distance my toes can feel sore, but I haven't noticed it since wearing these socks.
I wasn't sure what the catch would be, they are so cheap and free postage too, but they wear fantastically, they wash well, I just haven't found a problem with them yet.

Anonymous said...

So glad to have found another woman interested in lighter weight backpacking. Great article. I've been thinking along v similar lines and it's great to find someone asking the same questions!

Louise said...

Funny thing, different people seem to be motivated by very different ideas with lighter weight backpacking and some are quite obsessive!

Love my bits of Montane, my merino layers, my Marmot scree pants and my Black Diamond poles, but I'm quite traditional with my leather Hillmaster Brasher boots and my Karrimor Wildcat rucksack, which don't quite fit the same light weight criteria!

I suppose for me it's a cross between comfort (love my boots), practical (merino, love, love, love!) and just plain lazy, I don't want to be lugging the kitchen sink everywhere.

I am considering a new pack, but I've got to justify the cost and I get on with the Karrimor fine just now.

Gear gets everyone talking like nothing else!

Maz said...

I love merino. Sure, it has its faults - when it gets wet it really does not dry as quickly as a synthetic base layer - but it breathes great, keeps me warm when its wet, feels good against the skin and has a multitude of layering possibilities beyond the simple base layer. Add to that the well proven olfactory properties and it's a very good piece of kit. I used two Smartwool tops as part of a layering system, as well as refuge wear, on the Tour du Mont Blanc this year and they were great. Still yet to find some boxers to do a good job though so I did in fact go for the X Bionic Trekking Pant Short. They're en route but anything is better than my fraying old HH Lifa...

Louise said...

Hi Maz, nice to hear from you. I love, love, love my merino, despite it's faults. I think it's transformed my walking into a much more comfortable experience, (until the next morning sometimes, but the merino's not at fault for that!) I'd be lost without it now. Just popped over to your blog, what a fabulous looking trip! I need to dedicate some time to read through properly, but the photographs are amazing.