clothing for camping and exploring // abbi's picks
Shoutout to Laurel for commenting on one of our other Advice for Adventurer's posts and requesting this topic! We love hearing y'all's feedback and topics you'd like to see covered! Feel free to comment or e-mail us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) if you ever have specific questions, we're always happy to help!
Much like sleep systems, the clothing you should pack for an adventure varies a lot depending on personal preference, desired activities, and weather. We have done quite a few cross-country road trips that included everything from car camping to rock climbing to 30-mile backpacking treks and they've varied greatly from 114-degree desert days to 20-degree frosty nights! I considered doing a few posts for different weather, but instead of telling you exactly what to pack, I've decided to give a list of my favorite clothing MVPs and explain why I love each one. The best way for any adventurer to find their ideal clothing is to just get out there and figure out what works best for you! I hope that by explaining why I pack what I pack, you'll have a head-start when preparing for your next big adventure.
We like to say we are adventurers first and photographers second, so function almost always takes priority over style, but luckily there are a lot of great options that fulfill both. The reality for us is we almost always have cameras in hand and that means a lot of photos of us out and about. We learned from our first big roadtrip how much of a bummer it is to have a awesome photos kind of ruined by horrible outfit choices and sleepy faces. While it may seem shallow to some, staying fresh-faced and dressed semi-well is important to us because you never know when your next favorite photo will happen! I also want to note that this list is based on car camping, assuming you have ample room, a good sized duffel, and weight is not an issue.
What I pack and Why:
Patagonia Nano Air Hoody: This jacket is amazing. It is very lightweight, has zipper pockets (essential when hiking in places where it would be horrible for my phone to slip out of my pocket), and it packs small. The nano air is built to be a warm insulator but also very breathable. I can wear this in 35 degree weather or when I get chilly on 65 degree evenings (I'm a total wimp about cold). It's also comfortable to sleep in on super cold nights. I never leave without this jacket!
Basic black leggings: Yeah, I'm that girl. I can't live without leggings. They are so comfortable and the right pair can be great in so many temperatures. I also prefer to rock climb with leggings instead of shorts because the harness fits over them comfortably and I don't have to worry about weird bunching or anything pinching my skin. They also match everything, so I don't have to put a lot of thought in to getting dressed in the morning. The pair I have is old and from goodwill, but these are a great option.
Closed-toed shoes: I have a great pair of trail running shoes from adidas Outdoor that are comfortable for long days, light and breathable, and most importantly, extremely grippy, so I can hike and scramble in them without worrying about slipping.
Flannel: I always bring a flannel! A good, comfortable flannel is essential. Like the nano air, it's great to throw on when I get chilly and it's comfortable to sleep in. I also like how flannels look tied around my waist, so it's a great option when we find an awesome spot for photos and I want to have a few different looks. I have a few favorites from various places, but I suggest going to your local thrift store and finding one that speaks to you :) You can also check out Fayettechill or Woolrich for great, durable options.
Comfortable shirts // Technical shirts: When it comes to personal style, I always lean towards loose, flowy shirts, so that's what I prefer to wear on the road. On our first big trip, I thought I needed to stock up on athletic cuts and technical fabrics, and while those where great for big hiking days, they didn't fit my personal style so I wasn't super comfortable in them on the street. Now, I've found a good balance of bringing 1-2 technical shirts (I love my Patagonia Cap 3 Half-Zip for layering on cold days, and my Fayettechill Lookout for high-activity days), and bringing 3-4 "normal" shirts that I wear frequently at home for the days that we're doing short hikes and mostly car excursions.
Comfortable shorts // Technical shorts: Similar to how I approach shirts, I like to have a few options for shorts on warm-weather treks. My favorite active shorts are my Fayettechill Sasha shorts and my adidas Outdoor woven shorts. These are both pretty straight-forward and you probably already have something similar. I also like to bring a pair of chinos or denim shorts for the same reason I bring comfortable tops - I want to feel and look like myself! I love the Pilcro Hyphen Chino shorts from Anthropologie.
Cold Temps (below 50, snow, chilly evenings):
Patagonia Reclaimed Wool Parka: My favorite piece of clothing ever ever EVER. I will wear this jacket when I'm 90 and then force my daughter or grand daughter to love it and it will remain a beloved jacket forever because it's THAT GOOD. This was my wedding gift from Callen (he's good) and have I mentioned I LOVE it? Unfortunatly for you, it was limited edition and it's gone. But that won't stop me from telling you how awesome it is. I truly hope you will one day find a jacket that you love this much. Also - it's made by Patagonia which means they will fix it if any issue ever occurs (which has yet to happen because it's just amazing) BUT that means I get to keep it forever. Last point - this is what I would save in the case of a fire (after grabbing my computer and hard drives of course). Find a parka you love. The end.
Patagonia Cap 4 Leggings: Sensing a trend here? I love Patagonia products. They are made SO well, with great intentions, and the company will repair anything with their name on it for free - no questions asked. I bought my Cap 4 leggings used a few years ago and backed by booty in to a cactus the first time I wore them. Not fun. They got a little hole in the seat and I was able to get them repaired by bringing them to the store (they will ship them off and then mail them back to your house). These leggings are super comfortable and very warm. I have worn them soooo many times and plan on wearing them for a lot of years to come.
Beanie: Having a good beanie is so important!! Mine is from Fayettechill, and I pretty much always wear it on our colder treks. It's also great for days 3-5 of not showering.
Boots: For some reason I can't find the exact boots I have (left photo below) online, but they're nothing super special. I got them from Journey's and I think they are Madden Girl brand. I pretty much wanted something warm, cute, and they needed to have tread on the bottom so I could do small hikes and scrambles with them. I love mine! They're very comfortable and have held up well. I also have a pair of Lowa hiking boots (right photo below) that I wear for big hikes/backpack/when I need waterproof boots.
I really hope this helps when you're planning your next adventure! My biggest advice is to think of what you normally wear. What you are comfortable in. Unless you're doing any major hiking or backpacking, you shouldn't need to buy much extra stuff. Just make sure you're prepared for different weather conditions, and make sure your shoes have good tread! And dudes, I haven't forgotten you. I'll see if I can talk Callen into doing a men's version of this post next week. As always, let me know if there is anything I might have missed or if you have any additional questions!
As I was going through photos to put in this post, I came across this one. Please note the socks.