From February 8th to the 24th, I will be in Chilean Patagonia to photograph the 2013 Patagonian Expedition Race. This will be my second time photographing this crazy-ass race and I could not be more excited to do it. I’m going to post some blogs about my preparation and gear I’ll be using. In this, Part One, I’ll be covering the basics of my clothing and pack selections. Most of the clothing items you will see below are exactly what I wore a year ago. If they aren’t the actual pieces, they are simply newer versions of what I used. If you think this list of items is dumb, you could be right. However, they worked last time. If you have suggestions I’d love to hear about them.
To have a look at some of my images from the 2012 Patagonian Expedition Race, click the link.
A. Under Armour Heat Gear base layers: One set
B. Jockey Boxer Briefs: These things are synthetic mesh and they stay snug and protective for days at a time. I might pack two, but probably just one. For 10 days, I’ll wear one. Yep.
C. Swiftwick Pursuit Four x’s 2: I don’t think it’s possible for me to say enough great things about Swiftwick products and the company as a whole. You know how there’s that one piece of kit that you love so much you’d consider giving it all up if it stopped existing? For me, it’s like forgetting my Crazy Creek chair for shooting basketball. If I had to do the treks of PER without these socks… I… I… I don’t know what I’d do. I used one pair of Swiftwick Pursuit’s for 6 of the days I trekked/photographed the 2012 PER and I didn’t get a single blister until the last day- after I switched to another brand. I thought it was time after so many days. I was wrong.
D. Buffs: I’ll wear one around my neck and one on my head. If you aren’t familiar with Head Buffs you should check them out. They are useful for many things. Buffs aren’t sticky, but they would correlate to the usefulness of gaffer tape in that you just don’t want to walk out the door with it. Like a bandana, they can pre-filter sediment when you are treating water. Tie things to your pack. Serve as a splinting tie in some cases. They’ll hold wound dressings on. They’ll keep your hair back and your head/neck/face warm. Yada yada.
E . Standard Balaclava (synthetic): I received this as a Christmas gift. It’s a bit bulky, but it sure is a nice thing to have while sleeping or trekking when the temperature drops. Not pictured is a Marmot Beanie that I’m pretty sure in somewhere in my son’s room. Also, a must have.
F. Patagonia Vest (synthetic fill): I’ve had this guy for about 8 years or more. It’s a good thing to have around for keeping your core extra warm.
G. Columbia Titanium 1/4 Zip: This is a lightweight synthetic second layer (at least I use it as layer 2). Very comfortable and quick to dry. I’ll wear this under the Patagonia vest noted above.
H. Arc’teryx Trekking Pants: I’m not sure of the exact model (they are packed already). They fit close but have enough room to move comfortably with a base layer underneath. Fabric is tough and stretches for ease of movement while holding it’s fit well (it doesn’t get real loose after a couple days).
I. First Assent Gloves: They are also packed, so I’ll have to look up the material. The build is good and they are decently weatherproof for being soft shell… better than decent, really. The palms are completely covered with “logo’d” rubber grippies. My issue with these so far is that the grippies combined with a stiffer build keeps the material from bending easily with fine finger movements, leaving fabric sticking out from the fingertips making it different to grab zippers and close some clasps.
J. Black Diamond Soft Shell Gloves: I wore these last year and they were great. They offered quite a bit of dexterity and good protection and warmth. Drying time was fast too. I’ll start with the First Assent gloves, but I will not be surprised if I switch out for these.
K. Mountain Hardware Running Gaitors: I originially bought these for the 2010 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge to keep sand out while in the desert. At 2012 PER I borrowed a friends thicker high gaitors and they lasted about a day until I’d had enough of messing with them. I might try these this year. They are light and should keep out some debris. Honestly, I didn’t really miss having gaitors last year after I put them away, so I’m fine with not having them again.
L. Hi-Tec Mystic Mountain Shell/Checkpoint Tracker Branded: I was extremely happy with this jacket in last year’s PER. It’s a slight bit on the heavy side, but it’s so tough and well built that I didn’t care at all. For most of the trekking I wore this as my outer most layer with the Patagonia vest, a light fleece, the Columbia shirt, and the Under Armour base underneath. The jacket kept me reasonably dry all around. Also, very quick to dry. I got this free for photographing the 2011 Checkpoint Tracker Championship and It’s one of the best pieces of schwag I’ve ever been given.
M. Sherpa Lithang 3-Layer Shell/American Adventure Sports Branded: Bomb proof. This jacket does what it’s supposed to do. Keep water out… I just didn’t use it for that too much. Last year, I wore it more for trapping my body heat when I got cold than I did shelter from rain. I looked forward to throwing this on and heating up quickly.
N. Marmot Precip Pants: Very good rain pants here by Marmot. I like the full zips on both sides of the legs. Zips provide venting and a fast way to get them on or off. Last year I wore black Sherpa Pants (you’ll see in another clothing image) and at times they were a little too thick with the UA base layer I was wearing, so I ended up trekking for a couple days in my base layer and these Precip’s with the zippers open a bit on each side.
*I’ve been told there are a few items of clothing meeting me in Chile this week. These items will replace some of what you see above, but this is the clothing kit for now.
**See the shoe choice below
I love these socks so much I wanted to give them a stand-alone.
All the trekking clothing except the Hi-Tec jacket and one Buff (I’ll wear these to the airport) is in this Cordura stuff sack. I love that sack. I’ll likely cary this on the plane as I can’t do without this stuff if my luggage doesn’t arrive in time. It happens.
Brooks Cascadia 7: I wore these last year for the entire expedition (8 or so days). The only flaw, that is specific to me, is that the shoe upper doesn’t come back far enough (I don’t know technical terminology). I have to tie them looser toward the ankle so the tie does not sit tightly and uncomfortably across my foot. These shoes combined with my merino Swiftwick Pursuit’s kept my feet in excellent condition. The cruddier and wetter these shoes got, the better they performed. They were essentially brand new when I stepped on the course and as such they were a bit foreign feeling to my feet. About 2 hours into the first day of trekking the shoes had been soaking wet for about… 2 hours, and were wrapping my feet like they were made for them. They stayed wet and cruddy, sometimes frozen and always awesome. I pee’d on shoestrings one morning to get them untied… I pulled them off after a long day without untying them. These are seriously outstanding shoes. Carry-on, definitely.
These are the casual clothes I’ll be wearing. I should let you know I’ll be away about 18 days. When you think about the small number of items you see here you’re probably thinking, “gross.” I know, but I don’t want to take a bunch of clothing. For about 10 days of my trip I’ll be wear only the first set you read about, the trekking clothes. So, now it doesn’t seem so bad, right?! I’m bringing plenty of underwear, but I’ll be recycling most everything else. I’ll have one more outfit for traveling that you don’t see here. Those two Checkpoint Tracker shirts you see here are by Tasc Performance Apparel and they might be the two most comfortable shirts I have. They use bamboo fiber. Great quality. Very durable. Very attractive. I’m now thinking I will covert the black CPT Tasc shirt to a travel shirt. I want to wear it as long as I can.
The clothing from the previous photo is stuffed into this 13L dry bag from Sea To Summit. It will be in my checked bag.
The brand new AS-2 pack from Out There USA arrived the other day and I’ve spent some time checking it out and adjusting based on my body. I am VERY excited to have and be able to use this pack this year. It is MADE for this stuff. I have the MS-1, so I think I’m somewhat familiar with the Out There design philosophy, but this expedition series pack offered by the company has many more options, and new to this model, some more adjustability. I spoke with Mike Kloser (the man behind the company and world champion athlete) on the phone and he walked me through some of the features and updates. One aspect he discussed with me at some length was the adjustability of the shoulder straps and the best way to do it. He was right and upfront about the slight difficulty in making an adjustment. BUT, it is similar to other high end packs and it’s a one-time adjustment, so it’s an issue that will last about 10 minutes of your life. See below for my tips on adjusting. Also, I’ll be providing more images and insight about this pack after the expedition. I fully expect I will be pleased with it’s performance.
I already have big plans for this water resistant pocket, which is a new feature of the AS-2.
I expect this side access to the main compartment will be a big help in getting to stored camera gear. That’s been big frustration with most packs, camera or otherwise. If you need to store an extra lens, etc. in your pack you might have to put it in the top or bottom of a traditional backpacking pack if you want to get to it easily, or in a dedicated camera compartment of a photo specific hiking pack. It’s really not optimal in either case for ease of access or proper load placement. Heavier things go close to you in about the middle of the pack. Traditional packs might have bottom access, but that’s probably where your sleeping bag is or maybe nonessential clothing. That’s the place for puffy soft stuff. I don’t have and puffy soft lenses. Many photo packs don’t offer enough customization possibilities for my liking. Plus, they are heavy and have too much padding. I don’t want to put a lens high in my pack because I don’t want that heavy shifty weight to cause me any unnecessary instability… or crack me in the back of the head. Side note: I don’t really fall all the way down in everyday life. I fell right on my face probably 5 times during 2012 PER and I fell on many other parts of my body quite consistently. So, A lens closer to my center of gravity and surrounded by puffy soft things will help, I think. I’m really excited to use the AS-2.
Access to strap adjustment, as you might expect, is a horizontal velcro opening on the upper back facing portion of the pack. You can see it wide open in the photo above. When release a strap and pull it out to lengthen it you will likely find that the “sealing” piece of velcro and the velcro on the strap itself are a perfect match for each other, meaning that they’ll stick. I put a stop to that by pulling out the padding a bit and placing it between the two opposing pieces of velcro. This allowed me to move the strap more freely up and down the attachment section of velcro. Based on my height, Mike suggested I lengthen the straps about 2 inches. I pulled the strap out about that much while keeping the velcro separated. Then I placed the tip end of the strap down and pressed it down toward the back bit by bit.
When it came time to pace the next strap I alined the end of the second with the end of the first and checked that by lining up the stitching in the nylon fabric of the pack with a “landmark stitch” on each strap. See below. The stitches on the straps are hard to see in the photo, but were very evident to the eye.
Here you see the straps lengthened about 2 inches.