My usual hiking outfit is pretty simple: t-shirt (synthetic or merino), soccer shorts, boxer-briefs, merino socks. Sometimes a hat. That’s all. The idea is to have as little clothing as possible, because hiking in the Northeast inevitably results in lots and lots of sweat. I like to dry off quickly, therefore I wear less clothing. End of story.
The Southwest is going to be something else entirely.
This is what I’ll be wearing in the beginning of the Pacific Crest Trail. Very different from what I’m accustomed to in hot weather.
From top to bottom:
Hat: Filson Summer Packer Hat. I used to wear a Filson Tin Cloth Packer Hat, which was made of waxed canvas. I loved that hat, but let’s face it: not good for backpacking. In hot weather it turned my head into a steam bath. In cold weather it became rock solid and didn’t fit my head. The Summer Packer Hat is unwaxed canvas, lighter colored, and a lighter fabric. This should be good for sun protection, while not causing as much overheating.
Sunglasses: Polarized Aviators so I can look cool, and not go blind. I don’t wear sunglasses while hiking in the East because I generally don’t see the sun. Out west there’s no “green tunnel” so there’s going to be a lot of sun in my eyes. Especially in the high elevation snow fields, where the reflection can cause blindness over time. I like not being blind.
Beard: The longest I’ve gone without trimming or shaving my beard is 8 months (that was in 2007 on the Appalachian Trail). I’m trying for 12 months this year. I’m at 5 so far. Unfortunately nobody is offering to pay my rent for the year if I make it.
Shirt: Railriders Adventure Shirt. Railriders shirts tend to get rave reviews from desert hikers. They are made from a light nylon with mesh panels that run from the wrist to the armpit and down to the hips, making for some very nice ventilation. The idea is to keep the sun off the skin, but allow for lots of air movement to keep me nice and dry. Seems nice so far. I can’t tell if I’m going to wear a wicking shirt underneath. Maybe a nice merino T.
Pants: Backpackinglight Thorofare Pants. Like the Railrider Shirt, Backpackinglight’s Thorofare clothes are made from a light nylon. The Thorofare clothes, however, are insanely light. The pants weigh in at just under 4 oz for the pair. The material is so thin it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. This is good because I can’t stand hiking in pants. But in order to reduce sun and bug exposure, pants are supposedly necessary. With the fabric so thin, they ought to dry out quickly, cause little unnecessary perspiration, and feel pretty nice.
As with all of my plans for the PCT, this will undoubtedly change as I go on. At some point I’m sure I’ll get sick of wearing long pants and sleeves. Maybe a Yosemite Bear will tear my beard off to get at whatever scraps of food I’ve left in there for the next day. Quite likely I’ll break the sunglasses and the hat will blow away despite my improvised chin-strap. These things happen. Well, maybe not the bear part.