More loosely gathered thoughts I want to share that arose during my recent travels. This time, on clothing. Many longtime readers may know I’m a big practitioner of traveling light. Years back, I even made a video of how I pack in a single backpack for short trips. Here’s some thoughts I had and short reviews of things I tried during my trip to Iceland:
- Iceland, being an island not far from the Arctic Circle, can be cool in the summer with unpredictable weather. This was especially true at the time we visited. The Icelanders we met said that the weather was even more cold, rainy, windy, and downright nasty than usual and stayed that way the whole time we were there, said it had been that way all summer, and blamed climate change. I mention it here because Iceland is the first place I’ve traveled where my general rule against packing things “just-in-case” failed me at many points during the trip. I should have packed my heavier rain jacket “just in case”. I should have packed an extra layer or two “just in case”. And, a pair of heavier waterproof hiking boots should have been packed “just in case”. I encountered daily use cases for them there and suffered slightly without them. And, in Iceland, things are expensive. Normally, if you failed to pack for an unforeseen need, many things can be purchased at your destination. In Iceland, if you think you’ll just make up for it by buying and extra layer or 3-in1 rain jacket there, be prepared to pay three to five times as much as you would have buying any such thing at home. A basic sweatshirt will set you back the equivalent of $60.00 USD and that 3-in-1 jacket will run you close to $200.00.
- This was the first trip in years that I brought different underwear than my go-to Ex-Officio Give-n-go boxer briefs. This time, I brought a few pairs of Uniqlo Airism Boxer Briefs. These things are fantastic. Amazingly light yet strong and sturdy. Good odor-fighting capabilities. They pack down to practically nothing. They wash up quickly and dry completely in a couple of hours. I have found my new favorite travel underwear for sure.
- Along with my (sadly, no longer made) Patagonia Nomad travel pants, I brought along a pair of Patagonia Causey Pike Pants. These are made for hiking and they are perfect for that. They are also great for travel even if just a tad bit on heavy side than what I normally prefer. Once again, these wash up easily in a sink at night and will be ready to wear the next day.
- Merino t-shirts are a must for travel. They are an investment for sure but one which will last for years and that you can wear for multiple days (or, for a week trip, bring two and swap them day-to-day) without washing. You can go a whole week with just the two t-shirts (pro-tip: pack one, wear the other on the plane). I brought two on this trip that I already owned but they are both over ten years old now and, I realized on this trip, showing signs of age. These new ones by Proof from Huckberry look fantastic and I’ll likely pick a couple of these up to replace the old ones I have (both from REI and models no longer made).
- The REI Flash 18 continues to be my favorite stuff-a-few-daily-items-and-still-have-some-room bag. It rolls up to about the size of a small water bottle for packing into your luggage to be used for daily carry at your destination. It’s not a true “stuffs in it’s own pocket” travel backpack but, if you have a small stuff sack to stash it in it might as well be. In Iceland, I had a couple of packable jackets, some pack towels for the daily visit to a hot spring, some water and snacks for all three of us in it and I could have stuffed a bit more in. It’s like a Tardis.
- The Merrell Trail Glove 4 continue to be my favorite shoes for traveling and light hiking. They were mostly great in Iceland but, as stated above, failed in the exceptional rainy, muddy, nasty conditions I often encountered on this trip. The shoes I should have brought are the Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX which I own and would have been much better for the conditions. I guess the lesson learned is to carefully think through such things and, against my nature, not be so concerned about packing light if the conditions dictate otherwise.