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Ireland Field Camp - What Gear to Buy? Clueless Mom

5:48 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello,

(I posted this on the wrong forum at first, but I think this is the appropriate place. Thank you for your patience, I am actually clueless.)

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. Always an adventure...

She is petite and of average build. Will be climbing, hiking, and taking samples etc. in wet steep conditions. I have no idea what to look for or what to avoid, 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, recommendations or what to avoid, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you kind outdoor souls.

6:03 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I would head over to REI.com and look around their site; synthetic socks are good, and are the only ones I would recommend; she can double them up if it gets really cold. Ensure she gets a set of "Gaiters" which extend almost up to the knee. All leather boots or Goretex boots under the gaiters. She could probably get away with a pair of $45 Sierra Designs pants; nearly all other comparable choices are much more expensive. Alternatively, you can find stuff at REI, and then use Ebay to track it down for a cheaper price--but only if you know exactly what you want!

6:18 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you very much pillowthread. I'm on my way to REI, searching for synthetic socks, gaiters, and Sierra Designs pants.

6:29 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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See my reply in the "Backcountry" forum.

6:39 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi east stingray, and thank you. My reply is in Backcountry forum.

7:06 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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... and Sierra Designs pants.

Forget the Sierra Designs brand pants and do consider rain pants from Campmor. They are just as good if not better than the BIG name brand Sierra Designs. I know. I use the same. http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___75552

11:07 a.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Another reason to go with REI is that, if you pay the $20 or whatever it is to become a member, they have a "no questions asked" return policy, so any gear your daughter didn't end up using, or didn't work so effectively, could be taken back for a FULL REFUND.

Campmor is also a great choice though; I always look forward to seeing their "Super Special Deals."

11:15 a.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Another reason to go with REI is that, if you pay the $20 or whatever it is to become a member, they have a "no questions asked" return policy, so any gear your daughter didn't end up using, or didn't work so effectively, could be taken back for a FULL REFUND.

Campmor is also a great choice though; I always look forward to seeing their "Super Special Deals."

I do patronize both REI (and their outlet Site) and Campmor.

I'm really in favour of the Campmor brand line of hiking/outdoor clothes. I have had nothing but the best of experience with their brand of rainwear.

12:05 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you all once again. Thus far the precip pants/jackets seem to be recommended, but in reading the reviews it does seem that people comment that water soaks in during prolonged steady rains and that's what the weather is typically expected to be out on those rocky cliffs. She will be out there for 10-12 hours at a stretch, so it becomes very important that she stay dry. The camp makes no suggestions beyond the must have list, which includes rainpants & jackets, extra socks, waterproof boots etc. Checked with the Campmor live chat and they offered precip as their suggestion as well or Northface. I'm not a big fan of Northface prices for the products we've purchased from there in the past. Some people suggest LLBean boots and raingear, but I can't keep adding options, I have to narrow the choices and decide. Ahhh.

So the question I have foremost in mind now, is which jacket/pant will do the best job of keeping her dry? Precip, Isis Torrent, Columbia or Campmor look to be the choices?

12:17 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Joa--

My experience with the Precip jacket--which I've had for about five years now--is that it sometimes feels a bit as if water is making its way inside if it's worn with the outer surface directly against the skin, but that actual penetration isn't occurring even when this happens. When worn over a clothing such as a light fleece, I don't even think about it as an issue, and I've worn it in torrential downpours.

In the five years or so I've had the jacket, I've taken care not to rip it, etc., but it's also gone on many a trip and been used a lot. I have sprayed some durable water repellent (DWR) substance on it once or maybe twice in that time, to help it keep shedding water externally (DWR coatings tend to wear off over time on any bit of gear, esp. those that see lots of use and any abrasion). That's it.

My son has an REI rain jacket that seems equally satisfactory, from his reports. A friend recently purchased a (significantly more expensive) Mountain Hardware rain shell and loves it, but I'm quite happy with my Precip, esp. given the price.

Now, this all said, whichever bit of raingear you buy for your daughter, make sure she knows that you're buying it on someone else's recommendation; thus, if she doesn't like it, it's not your fault, you did the best you could, yadda, yadda, yadda. (You can blame me, even if you buy "anything but" the Precip, I don't mind.) And for what it's worth, no, I don't work for Marmot, nor have I ever, nor has any of my family, etc., etc.

1:03 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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2:53 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill just gave some sage advice over in my rain gear thread. To summarize: get Gore-tex or Pac-lite; it's worth the extra cost and weight.

3:01 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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If you can make it over to an actual REI store, they usually have a bin with clearance stuff in it; you might be able to find a nice employee over the phone who'll allow you to purchase it, and then ship it for you.

3:13 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Humm..i have a pack-lite jacket and it doesn't breathe at all. Absolute zero. At least it's waterproof.

12:15 a.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll chime in again, saying that for my dollar, I'm not convinced that GT (esp. the "basic" GT) is any better--and it's certainly heavier, less comfortable, etc., at least to me. I've got two (admittedly not the newest) GT jackets, and I still like the Precip at least as well, all things considered. My brother swears at, not by, his Paclite-fabric jacket, 'cause he bought it on the recommendation of a store sales rep who claimed it breathed "oh, just SO much better", and he still moans that he'd have been better off spending the extra $$ adopting a dog from the shelter--his second choice was a basic REI WP/B jacket much like the one my son has.

For the sort of trip I expect Joa's daughter to be on in Ireland, I doubt that real expedition-quality stuff is necessary. If that were the case, I'm sure the gear list suggestions and so forth she's working from would have been both more specific and more demanding.

8:28 a.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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If the weather is real real bad (freezing rain, melting snow, high wind) a couple of layers of fleece or even better, a primaloft jacket would be my best advice. I have a very simple jacket i bought at MEC for 65$ and it has kep me warm in all weather, always.

There's also a huge difference if you're going to come back to a heated tent or shelter where you can dry everything off. In that case don't forget the camp gear! (rubber boots/booties/good old cotton jogging pants and hoodie..)

1:16 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow! Thank you for all the responses to my plea (scream) for help!

As you might have guessed, I'm not an outdoorsy person - naturally my daughter is. Thus it came as no surprise when she decided that environmental geology is her thing. Right now she's probably hanging off a cliff somewhere, so I can't ask her preferences or opinions - just have to give it my best shot. So here goes - ordered the precip raingear at a great price. Also ordered two pairs of boots, Vasque GTX Breeze and Salomon Explorer GTX. Hopefully one of these will suffice. The good news is that a friend will be crossing paths with Daughter the first week of May and can make a boot drop and then carry back whatever doesn't work (please let one of them fit). A neighbor's daughter also has a pair of tall Neos overshoes(worn once!) that she will lend, I'm hoping these will fit over boots (?) for things like stream crossing where feet are actually immersed in the water. Daughter has a few Northface fleece tops and various types of workgloves and now I'm moving on to socks and something called a synthetic underlayer.

 

Back soon with more, thank you all again.

1:55 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Hey, if you found a deal on Pre-Cip, pass it along! What supplier did you go with?

11:11 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Sounds like you're well on your way to success, Joa! The Vasque boots are similar to a pair I'm wearing as I type this. Salomon's Explorer is a great boot, too, from what I hear. Just hope for a good fit!

The rest of your choices sound excellent, too. Don't do too much worrying about the specifics of the "synthetic underlayer"--aka long underwear. Primary things are NOT cotton and not COTTON. Also, keep in mind that wool can be itchy (though true merino wool is a real comfort to wear, though pricey), and polypropylene, while a good insulator, even when wet, smells like a wet dog that rolled around in a compost pile after being close to a sweaty person for a bit. (Myself, I'd not be bothered by my daughter smelling like that--might help keep some of the too-friendlies at bay!) Silk is nice--very nice--for lighter kit. It always seems to me that the choice comes to stinky poly versus expensive merino, at least for moderate-to-heavy-weight stuff. (I have run across some blends that try to meet in the middle, with varying success.) My usual practice is, if I'm really in backcountry, to tolerate the odor until I can wash 'em, or, if I'm able, to carry two each of tops and bottoms, usually slightly different weights, so I can wash one whilst wearing the other. As for brands, the "fashionable" one is, I guess, Under Armour, though I must confess to having an irrational bias against their stuff, and hence no experience with it. I like Patagonia's stuff, but it's expensive. My really heavy set is from LL Bean, and has done very well for me.

Well, 'nuff said for now. Wish your daughter all the best on the trip.

5:53 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Buying gear is a real challenge, so good on you for doing all this research. I don't know for certain what the weather in Ireland is like in summer, but I have a good idea from a website-somewhere between around the mid 30's to high 60's-low 70's F.

Don't buy stuff randomly. You want everything to work together in layers that can be put on and taken off as the weather changes. Outerwear needs to be big enough to fit over fleece jackets, for example. Raingear-same thing, big enough to fit over everything else. Think of your (or her) clothes as a system where all the parts have to fit together.

If she has time, I am sure there are stores in Dublin that carry local and European brands.Things like wool sweaters-heavy, but durable, should be readily available.

Something like this works great in that kind of weather, not sure what you can find like it here or in Ireland-

http://www.swanndri.co.nz/default.aspx?T=2&P=4

These are really made for guys, but you can't beat them for working or hiking in crappy weather. When I lived in NZ, several of my friends had them. Way pricey these days, unfortunately, but there might be something like them over there.

Based on that, here is what I recommend from skin out-

Base Layer:

synthetic underwear-cotton will get damp; take several pairs of panties which can be washed out easily;

long underwear - a base layer like Capilene, Smart Wool or similar base layer consisting of a top and bottom. I have Capilene-lasts a long time (mine is over 20 years old), washes easily and I even wear my top by itself under a fleece jacket. Mine is a turtleneck with a short zip-sold by Patagonia. Not cheap, but a top brand.

Socks - wool or synthetic. I have Smart Wool and Capilene socks. She can buy wool socks in Ireland if she needs extras.

Gloves - a synthetic lightweight glove like the OR PS150 or similar; REI sells similar gloves made by different companies;

Outer gloves - a waterproof outer glove like a lightweight ski glove; if she is doing field work, a pair of treated leather gloves from your local hardware store that will fit over the liner gloves.

Hat - a brimmed hat like a Tilley-they make a lot of different models;

a fleece beanie of some type; I have one made by Turtlefur.

Insulated layer-

A fleece or wool jacket-full zip, high collar with pockets; I have a Columbia that have used for years, not too expensive, mine is probably a 200 wt.

Insulated jacket-doesn't have to be Gore-tex, but something with a synthetic fill. Stay away from down-not cold enough for it REI will have several.

Pants-a pair of fleece pants would be nice. If you can find a pair with a full zip on the legs, even better-this way she can take them off without taking off her boots. These are mostly for sitting around at night if she is tent camping.

Wind pants-lightweight nylon works, like cheap running pants-these won't be waterproof.

Jeans- a pair to wear in town; stay away from wearing them in the field, lightweight wool or a synthetic would be better for that.

Shorts-not a bad idea, even in mild weather

T-shirts-if the weather is going to be mild, a T-shirt or two is fine.

Rain gear- I have Precip pants and an REI Elements jacket. Get a jacket with pit zips which helps in warm weather.

A word about Gore-tex and similar fabrics-

These fabrics only work under certain conditions, in particular, cold (but not super cold) weather. EVent breathes better than Gore-tex. In warm weather, there isn't enough of a temperature differential for these fabrics to breathe as advertised so you feel clammy anyway because you sweat in them and the moisture will not pass through the fabric. Anyone who tells you different doesn't understand how they work.

Boots-get something that fits. Gore-tex is fine if it's going to be wet, which is likely, but don't expect them to keep feet perfectly dry. Overboots like the Neos should be good for boggy ground. Never used them but they have a good reputation. They can be sized to fit over boots or trail runners. I recommend something with good ankle support if working on steeps; too easy to twist an ankle otherwise.

The usual other stuff-sunglasses, etc.

11:59 p.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you all once again. Here I am with the update on the 'assignment'! The Precip jacket & pants have arrived and they look like a near perfect proportional fit (exhales) Sorry I didn't post the source; Campmor $59.97 for the jacket, similar for the pant. To me if they fit and keep her dry - priceless.

The boots not here yet, hopefully tomorrow. As for the socks, purchased a few smartwool and a few Bridgedale (?) pairs as well. Total socks: 5 - not enough?

Also ordered a few of those moisture wicking long & short sleeve shirts (Northface) and now need to address the burning question Capilene 1, 2, or 3? 1 seems rather light and 2 seems ok, 3 however seems it could be worn alone or with the jacket...also considering pants, not jeans, not cotton, but, of course, we have to consider snagability when dealing with rocks and such. Ahhh....

If you are not exasperated with me yet, and you have any further advice, I remain most appreciative.

12:10 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Cap 3 is fairly warm. I don't know what kind of temperatures she's going to be seeing, but I'd want cap 2 if I was going to wear it in anything above "cold".

5 pairs of socks is probably plenty... I usually only take 2 pairs no matter how many days I'll be out. Wool doesn't pick up a stink as quick, so you can wear them more than one day.

I hike in some synthetic zip-off pants that I picked up at wal-mart 3 or 4 years ago for about $15. You'll see the same kind of pants on the "big name" gear sites for $50-200. I doubt they're much better than the wal-mart kind, so I'd check that out first. Mine have been through everything, dry very quickly, and for some reason are still not destroyed.

12:51 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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east,

I picked up a pair of of zip-off pants from WalMart or Target (forget which) that at first glance were looked to be equivalent to the REI ones. After getting them home and looking closely at the label, I found they were a blend with cotton. I have used them a lot in our dry season and they are ok. But the lesson learned is read the label carefully before you buy them! I have found some that are nylon, but none that appear to be the polyester that is used in the famous name brands that have worked much better for me (polyester wicks much better than nylon, though both dry pretty quickly).

2:08 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill:

That's twice in 15 minutes you've had me running to my "gear closet" to check something :D

My pants are "sports afield" brand and say they are 100% nylon and made in Sri Lanka.

5:30 p.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I think my stuff is Cap 2. My set is so old (mid 80's) that the new stuff doesn't look like it at all, but I'm pretty sure it is midweight. I can wear my top for a shirt and do quite often in cold weather. Capilene doesn't stink like polypro and feels better, too.

Meriino wool gets good reviews-never tried it.

7:26 p.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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... 100% nylon and made in Sri Lanka.

By Tamil Tigers?

10:46 p.m. on May 28, 2009 (EDT)
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First, let me thank you all for your kind assistance and helpful suggestions. Daughter is now in rainy, chilly western Ireland with the GIS cranked up and she is mapping and measuring structures to her hearts content. She tells me the landscape is unbelievable. The reports thus far are that the precip rain gear is working for about 6 hours in steady rain (the big drop kind). After about 10 hours out she did get somewhat wet. She ended up with a pair of boots called Oboz as the others didn't fit so well and the Oboz (not sure about spelling) are going strong, keeping her feet dry thus far. She tried the Neos overshoes (the tall trek ones, they are tan color) for a particularly wet condition but they didn't fare so well, the fabric ripped and is now held together with some kind of duct tape patch. She has enough socks (the smartwools were the right way to go) and shirts (which she finds all dry quickly) and she says those capeline underlayer items are really great, she can even sleep in them. East Stingray was right about capeline 2, the 3 would have been too warm. The Prana pants are quick drying and with the capeline underneath are doing a fine job of standing up in these conditions. Thanks to all of you and the info here on the trailspace forums, her bag made the weight limits and came in at 41 lbs. She'll need to shed about 7 or 8 lbs to make weight for the next part of the trip. Thankfully I am not in charge of that! I'm guessing some of the tools will be sent ahead. I'd post a pix here for you, but I can't figure that out. Suffice it to say, this 'indoor' mom really appreciated all help for my 'outdoorsy' girl. We just don't know where she gets it from...

1:00 a.m. on May 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Glad to hear that most of your purchases worked out! Keep us updated on your daughter's trip!

2:13 p.m. on May 29, 2009 (EDT)
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... Suffice it to say, this 'indoor' mom really appreciated all help for my 'outdoorsy' girl. We just don't know where she gets it from...

Must be adolescent rebellion ;) Be thankful, mum, the departure from the parents' ways could have been in an undesirable direction, instead of this direction that will serve her well for a lifetime. Good on her! And be proud!

April 17, 2014
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