Monday, October 4, 2004

Gear Shopping!

OK, here's a quirky little fact about me:  I've got to have the right clothes for the job.

I so totally blame my parents for this.  (It's OK -- there's really very little I blame them for, I think they can take this one.)  When I was a kid, whenever we'd have some field trip where we'd go for a "hike" (which, for us, would've been, what? a quarter mile?) or some sleep-away camp weekend up in the mountains, all the other kids would get these nice shiny new hiking shoes or snow boots or whatever the appropriate footwear was.  And my mom would say, "I'm not going to spend $40 for some pair of boots you're only going to wear one day.  You can just wear your sneakers."

And I hated it.  I don't even know if I ended up with more blisters or soggier feet than the other kids, but I know that I certainly blamed each and every blister or seeping bit of wetness on the fact that I had the wrong damn footwear. 

As a grown-up, I've come to understand that there's a right tool for every job -- and, at least as it comes to clothing (especially for the "field trips" of adulthood -- vacations), I want to have the absolute right tools.

Which leads me to gear shopping for my next trip.

The cruise company (it's an adventure cruise, on the Columbia River -- hopefully it won't be cancelled due to volcanic eruption) -- ANYWAY, the cruise company sent me a "Gear List" for the trip.  To my (pleasant) surprise, I actually own a good deal of the stuff on the list.  (Which just goes to show, I guess, that you do get to use this stuff again.)  But there was quite a bit I didn't have, so I spent this weekend trying to acquire it.

I did a pretty good job.  I got New Synthetic Fiber Tank Tops (with built-in shelf bra!) that wick moisture away; a couple of synthetic fiber short sleeve shirts, a pair of sports shorts, some mid-weight fleece pants, a fleece jacket, a wool cap, a camera bag, some binoculars, and a new waterproof watch.  (About this time last year, I bought a waterproof Kids' Timex for $14.  Damn thing died the second time I got it wet.  This time, I traded up to a $30 Casio.  I'll keep you posted.)

I even bought... Lord help me... SIXTEEN DOLLAR UNDERWEAR.  Honest to God. 

These are some pretty impressive panties.  Hi-tech, microfiber, moisture-wicking drawers.  The salesperson at REI swore by them.  Because, really, what good is it to have nice hi-tech microfiber, moisture-wicking everything else, if you're sitting there in old-fashioned cotton drawers?  And the little guys are supposed to dry out really fast (like, in 4 hours), so you can just wash 'em out and wear 'em again.  Rotate between them and two pair can last an entire trip.

The little voice inside my head that belongs to my mother rebels against $32 for two pairs of underwear.  Seriously, d'you know how many pairs of panties you could get at Sears for $32?  Eight, at least.

And then ... and this is the one I need you guys' help on... there's the Rain Pants.

The Gear List says "Rain Pants," so, of course, I have to have them.

I didn't even know what rain pants are.  (I could guess.)  What rain pants are is a really nice piece of waterproof clothing that covers your lower half.  Like a rain jacket in handy pant form. 

There's another thing that rain pants are:  they're $100.

OK, sure.  I could buy the substantially cheaper rain pants that are, like, $35 -- although, besides not being nearly as spiffy as the $100 model, they didn't come in Petite sizes, which basically means that I'd be dragging a good six inches of rain pant on the ground wherever I went.  The $100 rain pants fit perfectly.

There's something else to be said for the $100 rain pants.  They're quality.  When I slipped them on over the (also not cheap) midweight fleece pants, I felt so warm and cozy and waterproof, I was all set to conquer Antarctica.

And then I thought, "But I'm not going to Antarctica."

And I thought, "Yes, these make me feel very warm and cozy and waterproof, but if I ever looked out my window and saw the sort of weather which would require this stuff, I'd stay the hell inside."  Seriously.  I'm all about the right clothes for the job, but it dawned on me that never once in my life did I think, "Wow, if only I had rain pants."  Not even when I was sliding down the side of that glacier.  So I'm wondering, if I didn't need that sort of gear when I was hiking on a rock made of ice, am I ever really going to find myself in a rain pant scenario?  More than that, am I ever going to find myself in a rain pant scenario when I'd have my rain pants handy?  A situation in which I'd say, "My, it looks awfully wet out there; I should slip on my rain pants."

So, to sum up:

In favor of $100 rain pants:  They're on the gear list.  They fit nice.  They're good quality.  They keep you dry.

Opposed:  Dude.  They're $100.

I passed on the rain pants.  I still ended up dumping some $300 at REI and I'm not done shopping yet -- I'll have to go back on Tuesday.  (For one thing, I ended up buying the wrong size of sixteen dollar underewear.)

And on the way out of REI, they handed me an advertisement for their sale, which starts tomorrow.

The rain pants drop to $70.

Help me.


olddog299 said...

You *really* know how to make an old gearhead hot, don't you?  I almost creamed my jeans when you started discussing the micro-fiber panties!  LOL

Correct me if I'm wrong.  We're talking down in the Columbia River Gorge, on an extended (multi-day) rafting or kayaking trip.  That's in the great Pacific Northwest where 144 inches of rain is a dry year?  Where the fog can be so thick, you can cut it with a machete, sprinkle on confectioner's sugar and serve it for dessert? Where unlucky trekkers may not see that golden orb we call a Sun for a week or more?  And you're balking at spending $100 for rain gear that will allow your warm water vapor to expire (pass through to the outside) while retaining warmth and preventing critical-mass accumulations of yeast and fungal supportive moisture from critical nether regions?  Have I summed it up correctly?

How much do you want to spend on Diflucan (150 mg $143.69/12; treatment for anal candiaesis is upwards of 12 tablets; vaginal candiaesis is a single 150 mg. tablet)?  HMO co-pay for trip to OB/GYN averages $35.  Relief from itching DOWN THERE = PRICELESS.

Don't be penny wise and pound foolish, dear woman.  Buy those Gore-Tex rain pants for the trip.  If they come back in great shape and you can see no further need for them, wunderbar - up they go on eBay and you can make some other female trekker VERY HAPPY while likely making a profit on the sale price for the pants.  And, dear heart, don't forget - they fit!

st0rmwhispers said...

ROFLMAO..I am your exact opposite....I don't think there is any situation where jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers are not the right gear.........I've never spent more than $200 in a shopping trip for clothes in my life...My lil sis says there is something very wrong with my X-chromosone........but I always have money for coffee...........