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How to Layer Clothes for Hiking

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When you're hiking, you want to layer so you can shed layers, or add them, as you need to. You don't want to be stuck with one heavy layer that's too warm as you're going uphill.

You want to have a synthetic, moisture wicking base-layer. I have one from Costco that does the job, but I'm looking at getting something like this REI Co-op shirt when it's time for a new one. In the summer I'm usually fine in a loose synthetic running tank top I have.

My next layer is a fleece mid-layer. I use my Patagonia Better Sweater, but there are lots of different types of fleece options out there. I looked at a few brands, Columbia, Arc'teryx, and The North Face, but Patagonia fit me best.

If it's cold enough, I'll even have another insulating layer. For now I've been using The North Face Summit Series jacket. I have a version that's about four years old but here's the current The North Face Summit L3 Down Jacket. I'd really like to get The North Face ThermoBall Insulated Full-Zip Jacket.

And on the outside, I have my water-resistant hard shell. This is usually my Arc'teryx Beta Lt. Hybrid Rain Jacket. It's a pretty great jacket and I love it for backpacking and hiking. And it's on sale as of this post being published! I really wanted my jacket to be made of Gore-Tex® and I loved that this had a detached collar so I could have the collar up but not the hood on, when I needed it. And you want to make sure you size this so you can fit your other layers under it.

For my other "layers" I have my wool running socks. I actually don't think I've ever used them for running, but I use them for every hike I go on. While my favorite running socks are the Balega Hidden Comfort ones, they're too short for me for hiking as mud and rocks will get in them. So my wool Smartwool and Feetures socks work better because they're higher.

My next sock purchase will be these Darn Tough socks. A friend of mine raves about the brand and because I'd like a higher pair of wool socks, I'm planning on getting these next so I can try them out and see if they're worth the hype.

You also want wool or synthetic underwear, and not cotton.

As you can tell, all of my technical layers are upperbody. I have some wool thermal pants I wear under a pair of running pants on cold days, but I do need a pair of water-resistant or waterproof hiking pants for winter and rainy hikes. When it's warm enough, I'm usually just in running pants or capris.

And remember to size your layers so you can fit other things under them if you need to.

Do you have any layering suggestions?

REI Dividend and Coupon

You have no idea how long I've been waiting for the REI Dividend to come out with the coupon. Seriously. Since November. I had a coupon and didn't buy what I wanted then and have regretted it since. But today I an ordering my new Lowa Renegade hiking boots! If only the coupon was 20% off the whole order and not just one item. There are a few other things I'm dying to get, but won't for right now.

I do love my Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack, and once on a winter hike wanted a slightly larger one. (I had a lot of extra clothes with me.) I could use the other coupon that's for sale items only on the Osprey Sirrus 36 Pack or the Osprey Sirrus 50 Pack, but as I don't NEED a larger one, I probably won't get it now. If I was consistently wanting a larger one, I'd do it, but the 24 is a great size for what I usually do.

The other items I'm debating between, that I would totally buy one of now if I had just one more coupon, are the REI Co-op Traverse Power Lock Cork Women's Trekking Poles and the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles. I want to try them in person because based off of the information online, I'm leaning towards the Black Diamond ones. They are supposed to have an optimal grip position. The REI Co-op ones though are supposed to be ergonomic. So once I go to REI to check them both out in person, I'll have a pair picked out.

Sadly nothing on my wish list right now is on sale at REI, but my amazing Arc'teryx  Beta Lt Hybrid jacket is. So if you want a great rain jacket, you could use your coupon there! The only thing I don't love about it is the pocket placement. They're placed great if I have a hiking pack on. Not great if I'm wearing it to run errands.

What are you going to get with your REI coupon?

Should You Buy A Buff?

Northwest Pearls: Mima Falls Now, you may be asking like I did the first time, "What is a Buff?"

Well, it's a neck-wrap, and a balaclava, and a headband, sweatband, pony-tail holder, and more.

My favorite thing it does, and why I bought it, is for the neckband/scarf. You can see me wearing it above on our hike to Mima Falls. I had used a scarf for snowshoeing and got frustrated at the ends constantly flapping around. I needed something to keep my neck warm but not annoy me.

A friend of mine had bought a Buff for snowshoeing, mostly because he couldn't find the other two or three he already owned. I greatly envied it so before my next hike, I researched them.

I'd decided I wanted a wool one because I anticipate using it mostly when it's cold. I've never wanted something like this in warmer weather, even though people do use them in all weather. The company makes an Original BuffHigh UV Protection BuffUV Insect Shield Buff, Wool BuffPolar Reversible Buff, and a Windproof Buff.

I love my wool one; I don't think it's itchy and neither do any of the reviews I read. I'd debated getting the Polar Reversible Buff, but decided that I didn't need that level of warmth. And I debated getting the Original Buff too, but wanted a little bit more warmth than that. It was a great purchase, and I'd recommend getting one. If I get another I might try the Original Buff.

So the answer to "Should you get a Buff?" If you're wanting something to keep your neck warm, or do so many other things, it's "yes."

Outdoor Splurges that Have Been Worth It

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls
Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

There have been a few things I've bought that have completely been worth the money. I value quality over quantity, but even so I've balked at spending the money on some of these items. Some took me years to finally buy because I wasn't sure I should spend the money. However, these items have been totally worth it. Funny enough, the stuff that I rarely regret buying is usually my outdoor gear. Of course it needs to stand up better than my everyday or work clothes, so there is that. My favorite splurges are my:

Next on my list of things to invest in are a good pair of hiking boots, hiking pants, and trekking poles. And maybe a pair of Darn Tough socks. I've already got the boots picked out, I'm just waiting for a coupon.

What's been worth the investment for you?

REI Seattle

Northwest Pearls: REI Seattle The other day I went to Seattle's flagship REI to look at their fleece's. I've been needing a fleece for a while, but haven't been able to pick one. I looked at Colombia, The North Face, Arc'teryx, and Patagonia. I wanted an Arc'teryx one, but the price was a little more than I wanted to pay.

However, I found this cute Patagonia Better Sweater. It fits me better than any of the other fleece's I tried on in the other brands, which is why I ended up picking it.

And while I was walking through the store, I saw the swimsuits and couldn't resist trying on this swimsuit top with this bottom. It was an impulse buy, but I'm excited to wear them when I go on vacation in a couple of weeks!

You could spend all day in REI looking at the cool outdoor gear, trying on clothing, or planning for your next trip. Their Seattle location is huge!

Have you been there? What have you thought?

Northwest Pearls: REI Seattle