For many, many years I have been driven to find the best gear. Regardless of cost or origin I simply want the best. Why? The reasons have varied over time but the desire, necessity, obsession or whatever you want to call it has always been there. The resulting benefit of having the very best gear is that it gives me an edge. I can go farther for longer with a higher degree of safety and confidence.
The unintended consequence is that I end up with a lot of gear. Too much in fact so I have worked hard recently to pare down. I want a tight, consistent system of clothing and equipment that allows me to do all the things I like to do but doesn’t require three days of packing and a U-Haul truck to get it all there. This effort has resulted in what I like to call “The Rack of Greatness” or just “The Rack”.
Whether it is sledding with the kids, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, mountaineering, backpacking, fastpacking, etc, etc, anywhere in any conditions what I wear comes off of this rack and I think it is the absolute very best I can get my hands on from the commercial retail market. It has taken a while but I think I finally have it dialed in just right.
Here is the clothing and boot part of my best go to gear. The Rack as of 2/13/16
Clothing/boots go on the rack and hard goods/equipment go in the big Pelican truck boxes. This is all I need to do all of the things I like to do out there. It is easy to manage and ready to go anytime. STRAC!
1) Hardcore Outdoor baseball cap – blaze orange, olive, green, tan, camouflage
2) Boonie hat – white, grey, tan, olive green, black
3) Goose down beanie from Blackrock Gear – black
4) Everest Sherpa Designs earflap hat
5) Outdoor Research Windstopper balaclava – black
or Under Armour Infrared balaclava (lighter and the face cover pulls down easily under chin) – grey
*consider the new Arcteryx or Buff models
6) Sitka Gear Shooters gloves – brown
*considering switching to Mechanix brand version
7) Hanz liner Nomex gloves – tan, olive green, black
8) Arcteryx Alpha SV mittens with fleece and Hestra down liners – black
9) Eddie Bauer First Ascent Guide Lite Gloves – black/tan
10) Danner Flashpoint OTC Merino wool socks
11) Smartwool Light Walking crew Merino wool socks
12) Lowa Ranger GTX boots for light to medium duty and general purpose
13) Hanwag Mountain Light boots for medium to heavy duty or general purpose and wet weather conditions
14) Lowa Silberhorn GTX boots for alpine conditions
*Not officially on the list but on the rack because I like them for playing in the snow are the Sorel Conquest boots. They are rated to -40 and great for snow mobiling, snow shoeing, ice fishing, stand sitting, etc in severe cold.
Also, not on the list or pictured is another great boot from Lowa – the Creek II lace up winter boots. They are my parking lot to lodge, knocking around town snow boot but they are much more capable than that. Wish they came in a laceless pull on version though.
FIRST LAYER – BASE/WICKING (RED TAGs)
15) Under Armour 9 inch Boxer Briefs – black
16) Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Boot Length long underwear – black
17) Under Armour LS crew neck T – white, Marine green, Army brown, black
18) Patagonia All Weather mesh back zip T-neck – grey, black
19) Patagonia Capilene 3 midweight LS crew shirt – grey, black
SECOND LAYER – MIDDLE/INSULATION (YELLOW TAGS)
20) Arborwear Ascender pants – charcoal, olive green, tan with suspenders
21) Sitka Gear 90% pants – camouflage
22) Arcteryx Gamma SK pants – black
23) Bates Uniform Rappel belt – olive green, black
24) Sitka Gear Traverse T half zip pullover – grey, camouflage (also an expedition weight base)
or REI Active Stretch half zip pullover (expedition weight base) – olive, black
*this item is no longer made by REI but it is an excellent example of a base/insulation hybrid that works when a base is not enough and an insulation piece is too much. I am still looking for a replacement
25) Patagonia Nano Air jacket and vest, Fullrange – grey
26) Patagonia Das Parka jacket with hood, Primaloft – black
27) Sitka Gear Kelvin Down Hoody jacket, premium goose down – grey
28) Sitka Gear Kelvin over pants, Primaloft – grey
THIRD LAYER – OUTTER/PROTECTIVE SHELL (GREEN TAGs)
29) Sitka Gear Dewpoint jacket and pant set, Gore Tex – grey
30) Arcteryx Beta AR jacket, Gore Tex – orange
31) Arcteryx Gamma MX softshell jacket – red
32) Arcteryx Alpha LEAF bibs, Gore Tex – (MN70p-X 2013 model) – black, crocodile
33) Sitka Gear Stormfront jacket (2012 model), Gore Tex – camouflage
34) Kuiu Chugach NX Rain jacket and pant set, Torey Dermazax – major brown
35) Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters, Gore Tex – black, tan
That is the current list. I am always looking for the latest, greatest but proven pieces so keep an eye on this because it may change. Additions, deletions, and or replacements will be made as I see fit.
COMMENT RESPONSE – My readers are pretty sharp. You are correct, there are two different size Pelican boxes on either side of the rack. The left one is a #1620 which is smaller and what I use to ship (Southwest Airlines) my pack in for air trekking trips. The ones on the right are of course the larger #1660 which is what I use for truck boxes.
Also, yes, the Lowa Ranger and Hanwag Mountain light boots have some overlap in terms of capability and appropriate use but the truth is I love them both so much that I can’t choose one over the other.
The same could be said about the Kuiu Chugach NX Rain and the Sitka Gear Dewpoint jacket/pant sets. The Kuiu pants have some stretch to them so they are good for big stepping/climbing, I like the Major Brown color, the fabric is a touch quieter, and I like the separate stand up collar however the XXL is cut too trim through the waist and torso for anything but light middle layer insulation. Both breathe equally well well, are exceptionally water/windproof, and reasonably durable for as light as they are (and they are very light).