Field Camp Gear - No Clue

5:42 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I need some help with ordering items for daughter's 7 week camp on the west coast of Ireland this summer. The items needed are rain gear (pants, jacket etc.), boots (synthetic?), socks (thick thermal?). Daughter is away now and will be back for only a few days before she is off again, leaving me to do the ordering. I, of course, am clueless.

She is petite and of average build. Will be climbing, hiking, and taking samples etc. I have no idea what to look for or order and I'm now wallowing for hours on websites and in customer reviews.

What I know: must have rainpants/jacket weather is wet. Boots need to be waterproof and keep feet dry, but not stiff or heavy. Socks need to be able to dry within reasonable time as there is no laundry, only a sink. Bad boots=bad trip is what I'm guessing.

If anyone has any advice I would very much appreciate it. Thank you kind outdoor souls.

6:24 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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You didn't really say what price range you're looking at. Generally with outdoor equpment you get what you pay for (although even the really good stuff is almost always on sale somewhere).

I have some Coleman rain gear I got at Sam's club about 6 years ago for $30. It works great, but it's heavy. Cheaper rain gear usually doesn't breathe as well. I haven't used it personally, but Marmot Pre-cip shirt and pants are lightweight, and they get good reviews. If she is going to be wearing them a lot, it's worth it to spend more on rain gear and get quality stuff, not the plastic cheap stuff.

Boots: your daughter really needs to try these on. Even high quality boots are made differently. If she can't go shopping with you, buy multiple pairs from different makers and let her try them all on. Then return the ones she doesn't like. A place like REI or both have great return policies. I recommend Danner, Vasque, and Salomon, having used all of these. Salomons were my favorite, but they are also a bit more expensive. My Danners lasted the longest.

Socks: get merino wool. There are different weights (lightweight, midweight, heavyweight (expedition weight). They wick very well, dry fast, and wear well. There are multiple companies that make merino socks. I have some Smartwool socks, but there are other companies that make quality wool socks.

6:26 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I forgot to mention... if you have a job where you use a computer all day, has a weird policy where they run really good deals, but only on one thing at a time. You pretty much have to watch it all day to get what you want, but the deals are awesome.

6:38 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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east stingray - many thanks for taking the time to help me out. I think that the rain gear and boots are key items for her trip to be enjoyable. I'm confused on the socks, but I think I'll get wool and some synthetic. Probably can't have too many socks right? At this point I'm just needing to get the right stuff ordered so price may have to take a back seat, in light of the fact that I don't know what the right stuff actually is. Unfortunately, she is not able to do the ordering or shopping from her location, thus she'll have to live with whatever I select. No pressure.

Anyway, thank you very much.

7:45 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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My contribution:

Socks: Smartwool is a brand of outdoor socks that makes great socks for camping, hiking, etc. They come in various weights (light, mid, expedition are generally the available ones), are usually wool blends, and they wear well and are fairly easily cleaned. I'd recommend some mid-weight hiking socks [I like blue ;-)...], at least three pairs. One pair on, one as alternate in case the worn ones get wet, etc., and one drying from being washed last night. I like four.

Boots: No good substitute for trying 'em on, I'm afraid, both for size and fit. There are lots of good boots made of fairly light and breathable materials that are also Gore-Tex lined. Very, very serviceable boots can be had for about $130 and under--sometimes well under, on sale. Brands I'd suggest to consider include Merrell, Vasque, LaSportiva, Asolo, Lowa, Montrail, Nike. There are plenty others, too--these are just off the top of my head.

Raingear: I have and adore the Marmot Precip jacket and pants. The jacket can be obtained for $99 and the pants for $75 through right now. They and other retailers have other makers' similar outfits for similar prices available, too.

I'd also suggest at least considering a light- to mid-weight fleece jacket that can be worn separately or under the rain jacket, and perhaps a single set of lightweight thermal underwear. (Yes, I know it's summer, but it's Ireland--the temps will rarely get above 75 or so even then, and it's not unusual to be cool even in July.) I'd also suggest a hat or cap to help keep the rain off the face and a bit of warmth inside if need be.

Hope we've been helpful, and hope she has a wonderful trip.

8:48 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with wool socks, you can't go wrong, and good boots too (a bit too big is a smart move). Also for very wet weather, it's impossible to keep feet dry in hiking boots IMO. If she doesn't have to actually walk long distances (more than 10 miles), i would highly suggest a pair of rubber boots with Bama socks, they make a world of difference for little money, that's what we use for tree planting. An alternative would be Neos overshoes, again very effective specially with running shoes around camp or for hiking with a light pack, or plain old rubber overboots. You can spend 500$ on boots and still be miserable with cold feet if you're slushing in the rain all day. They also take a long time to dry, so i usually have 2 pairs when i'm working.

The Neos are the most versatile, comfortable and lightweight option.

But more than the gear it's knowing how to stay in control of your material in inclement weather. Top-notch gear is useless if you don't know how to use it. On the other hand, an experience packer can stay comfy with only gear from the thrift shop. So maybe a list of tips from this forum or others could be a toughtful get-away gift! ;)

9:23 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I'd like to take a moment to thank you all very much for replying - this is really a great help. I'm now back to the netherworld (aka REI website) where I've found the suggested raingear and that looks perfect. Now working on the boot selection. The thing is that they will be climbing around on some steep rocky cliffs apparently while carrying and setting up equipment (every mother's dream). Thus, the boots probably need to be flexible enough to move the foot around and not slippery on wet rocks. Of course, there will also be hiking and walking too, so I'm still checking reviews on boots. Thanks for the tips on the socks Smartwool it will be. As I find items, I'll come back and check here on those. Once again, many many thanks.



10:01 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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A couple questions -

You say your daughter (how old?) is going to a 7-week camp on the west coast of Ireland (stormy and wet in some seasons, as I recall). Are you sending her from the US, UK, from within Ireland, or where? Maybe better - where are you located? If you are in the US, getting gear from places like REI and EMS is reasonable, or in Canada, go to MEC. But if you are ordering from the UK or Ireland, the shipping and customs will add a bit to the cost. There are good shops in the UK (especially in Wales and Scotland). Years ago, I dealt with Blacks, but I don't know if they still exist. I should ask my neighbor (who is my electrical contractor on the house we are building), Mr. Tom O'Connor (his company trucks have vanity plates reading "CORK EIR" and "CO CORK", which probably means he came from the SE corner of the Green Isle, doncha think? He flies a big Eire flag and a big County Cork flag on his house, so he just might have some knowledge.

And then there is the obvious question - what information and recommendations did the camp provide?

2:02 a.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Glad to hear you're making progress on the "assignment"! Sounds like the boots might be best purchased when your daughter's home for a few days before departing again, unless of course she is able to get them wherever she is now. The sooner the better, though, so she has a chance to wear them and break them in before having to completely depend upon them over on the Emerald Isle. I agree with you--uncomfortable boots will make for an unhappy young woman. And we all hate to see that!

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