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Gear we took to New Zealand, part 3 — Clothing

I always carry to much clothes and the trip to New Zealand was no different. After sending home at least some of the stuff we took with us (right before the second hike), this is with what I ended up with.

I will divide this up into two sections: first the clothes I've usually worn during the day while hiking, and second all clothes and rain gear I carried on my back:

Clothes and other stuff worn (when hiking)

  • Merino Smartwool long sleeve shirt
    I love everything merino. I wore this shirt for 3-4 days in a row, without it (or me) starting to stink badly. When it rained, I wore a T-Shirt — less fabric to get wet :) When it was to warm I just rolled up my sleeves and had a T-Shirt. 239g
  • Vaude Zip-Off Pants
    Heavy, dorky and incredibly convenient. I only had this and another pair of zip-off pants for the whole trip of two months. While they are no pants to go to the opera with, they served their purpose very well: fast drying, comfortable and nice pockets. 426g
  • Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer
    Well, gotta have some underwear. There are people 'going commando' while hiking, but this is not for me, and I like the comfort of a light merino-boxer. 52g
  • Smartwool Phd UL Mini Hiking Socks
    Just a small pair of merino hiking socks (see additional clothing for more background). 42g
  • Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
    Since I have a history of bruised ankles and popped knee caps, I always carry trekking poles and I can't stress how much I like having them. They offer stability (especially when crossing rivers), a nice speed bump and you always have two adjustable poles with you, very handy for stripping a clothes line or sun shade (with your rain jacket/poncho) and poking dead animals on the trail :). I since then have bought a lighter pair of poles, because these are quite heavy with 514g the pair.
  • A Hat
    I bought a basic cotton/synthetic brimmed hat when we arrived in New Zealand, wore it almost every day until I lost it on our last trip. Nice to have against rain and as sun protection, better than just a buff on the head. 100g
  • Pocket knife — Spyderco Delica 4
    My folding knife, always in a pocket of my pants, mostly for cutting kindling, salami and opening food packages. Also nice: opening beer and just having a sharp knife in a hostel where everything else (and sometimes really everything else) is dull. I could have managed with the small Swiss Army knife from the first-aid kit, but well — I like this knife. 65g
  • Burt's Bees lip balm
    My lips get dry when I am outdoors, so I carry some lip balm, and the fresh peppermint of the Burt's Bees classic lip balm is lovely. 10g
  • Firestarter Kit
    A totally unused paranoia item, some storm matches and a tampon, those are exquisite waterproof-packaged firestarters, just so you know. All wrapped up in a small plastic bag. 8g
  • A large cotton bandana
    For wiping off sweat, blowing my nose, cleaning my glasses and whatnot. A real multi-use item, and I always carried one in the pockets of my pants (or tied it to the backpack). 30g
  • And finally: the hiking boots, Mammut Mercury GTX Men
    While I really like those boots compared to my sturdy mountain boots from HanWag, they still are quite heavy with 1026g for the pair. They are very comfortable and have a nice grip on almost any surface, but there is one major flaw with these: they don't dry fast. GoreTex is fine, if it doesn't get completely wet, but I got those boots completely wet. And after not having dried very well (it took almost two full days) they started smelling really bad. I had to buy some anti-smell-spray from a local store, and it worked and is OK for now, but in the long run, I think I will switch to some non-waterproof, lighter hiking-shoes. But to be fair, other than that they performed well. I had only two blisters in two months and no problems with my ankles or anything.

Which results in a total weight worn on my body, including boots: 2512g

Additional Clothing

  • Montane Slipstream GL Smock wind shirt
    I really look stupid in this Pertex Quantum GL thing, like a nerd put in an oversize black condom, but hey — it works very well. I often hiked in just a long sleeve merino shirt, and on top of mountains, during short breaks or near the sea when the winds were strong, this just added enough warmth to stay very comfortable. But sometime in the future I think I will get a jacket with a full length zipper (and no pockets), to save some weight and for better ventilation. Nonetheless, I highly recommend a wind shirt. 92g
  • Patagonia R1 Hoodie Fleece Pullover
    This was one of my favorite pieces of clothing on the whole journey. A fleece is by default not as warm as a down-jacket, which I didn't take, but this pullover is insanely comfortable, fits me perfectly and doubled as a very nice pillow at night. Hood, thumb-loops and a small chest-pocket make this thing just perfect. 392g
  • Alpine Direct Zip-Off pants
    Just another pair of dorky-looking Zip-Off pants, making a total of two pants and a pair of shorts. 400g
  • Super Natural long sleeve shirt
    I took this thin half-merino, half-polyester long sleeve shirt mainly for strolling around in town, since this particular one does not look as much outdoorsy as the others. Nice to have a fresh spare one, every time a hike ended. 192g
  • Icebreaker long sleeve shirt
    Yeah, that was totally one long sleeve shirt too much, with the additional button-down shirt I carried I could have left this at home. 234g
  • Icebreaker Shirt
    An actual button-down shirt, 100% merino. Wore it in town or when on the road. Liked it. 283g
  • Icebreaker 200 Weight T-Shirt, 195g and 2x Super Natural T-Shirt, 150g each
    Well, T-Shirts. Three was a nice number to carry, I always had a fresh spare one to change into when arriving in town and doing laundry. But I think I could have managed with one less.
  • 2x Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers, 52g each and Underarmor synthetic boxers, 63g
    So with the one on my body I carried a total of 4 boxer briefs, one of which was synthetic and doubled as swim shorts. As with the four T-Shirts, I could have managed with one less, but than would have meant doing laundry more often, so it was nice having a fresh spare.
  • 2x Falke TK1 thick Socks, 111g each and Smartwool Phd Light Socks, 50g
    Ah, socks. I started out with two thin synthetic liner socks, which I wore under the thick Falke-socks for hiking (and the light socks as casual socks for town). This was a trusted system with which I never had any issues or blisters. But: the smell. It was quite hot on some days and two pairs of socks in my boots (and one of them synthetic) was just too much, and after everything got really soaked on a rainy day, the smell was bad. As in I wanna burn my shoes bad. So I switched to a tiny lightweight pair of merino running/hiking socks, anticipating blisters and sore feet (less cushioning) — but it was the best decision I could have made. No more ferret-poop-smell, no blisters, pure bliss. I am gonna go one-thin-pair-of-socks for all future hikes :)
  • Merino wool Buff, 48g and synthetic Buff, 36g
    Hat, scarf, face mask, wind-barrier — I really dig buffs and carried two, one synthetic and one merino. I used the merino quite often as a warm hat during cold nights and the synthetic one as a scarf, more for sun-protection for my neck than against cold. Very versatile pieces of cloth, never without one.
  • Montane Prism Mittens
    Mittens in the summer in New Zealand? Yeah, I only used them about three times — once, when my hands got really cold from rain and wind, just to warm them up. And two days more: against sandflies. 51g
  • Sea to Summit Nano mosquito headnet
    When the sandflies got really bad, this saved my sanity. Used it maybe three or for times, other than that, it doubled as a stuff sack for dirty clothing. Well worth the weight with just 18g
  • Xero Shoes sandals
    Those lightweight, barefoot-style shoes were on my feet almost every time we where not hiking. I love going barefoot and those self-made sandals are insanely comfortable and stylish. 210g

Except for the fleece and the shoes everything else fit inside a 8L Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Dry stuffsack (23g). I could have put them in the 30L Snozzle bag, but packing all clothes out and in again when pumping up the sleeping mat would have sucked, so I stuffed it into an extra dry bag.

Rain Gear

I carried only one piece of rain gear: The Packa, 20d SilNylon poncho, pack cover, jacket, clocking in at 248g. The Packa is a hybrid backpack rain cover / rain jacket. Think poncho with a zipper and a bulge on the back where your backpack fits under. It is made of 20d non-breathable SilNylon, and for what it does it's very light.

Thing is: it has it's flaws. When it rained I always got wet somehow, either from the non-waterproof zippers or from my own sweat, since this thing doesn't breathe at all. It vents very well, but when the rain comes from the sides (or even from below, which we experienced on an exposed mountain ridge during a rainstorm, fuck yeah — that was awesome. No really, sometimes mother nature just has to make a statement...), you get wet through the pit zips and the non-waterproof front zipper. But the major flaw in my opinion is: when it rains the whole day and you want to have a longer break and there is no shelter: either you get soaked or your backpack does, if you want to take your pack off.

That said, I still prefer the Packa or a normal poncho (which my wife carried) over a waterproof-breathable jacket in strong winds and warm weather, because it dries out very fast and is eventually and a nice multi-use piece of gear. (If anyone knows of a waterproof-breathable jacket that really breaths well and prevents me from getting soaked after a whole day of rain, please give me a hint).

So I ended up carrying a total weight of 3161g (including the stuffsack) just in additional clothes, rain gear and some sandals. Waaay more than I would carry on a usual hike, but for two months I think that's OK.