I am still working on getting all of my gear…most of it I have ordered online.
I did make a trip to a very small outfitter in Springfield. I was able to try on shoes, and it really opened my eyes about athletic shoes. I tried on SO many shoes, and was getting really discouraged because they were all too narrow and were squeezing my toes. The lady helping me finally brought out some Merrell Verterra Sports. I ended up getting a pair that was a size 8! (In regular shoes, I wear a 6.5.) They are very comfortable and roomy in the toe-box.
I didn’t even ask her about different colors, though I think there are others. I was just so happy about finding a pair that fit after trying on so many that I didn’t care what color they were.
There was a Bass Pro Shop just down the road, so I decided to stop there, too. I found a pair of Red Head Trail Runners (Mt. Whitney- Size 8.5) that were comfortable and roomy. I think this is Bass Pro Shop’s store brand (not sure) but they were on sale for $50, and I bought them thinking I could just wear them for home use if they don’t turn out to be good for hiking.
When I walk, I have been going to the end of our dirt road and back. That’s about 9.5 miles round trip with a lot of hills. I don’t do it every day. We’ve had either lots of rain or 100 degree heat indices, so I haven’t been regular, lately. I know, I know. I’ll be walking in worse conditions on the Appalachian Trail. I HAVE walked once in the rain. I just haven’t been psyched up for ‘real life’ hiking yet…haven’t even been out with my backpack yet. When I get all of my gear, I’ll load ‘er up and take ‘er out, come what may in the weather department.
I did try out the Red Head shoes, and I had ‘hot spots’ (pre-blisters) when I got back. I was wearing my Darn Tough socks, and I want to try a nylon sock to see if that makes a difference. Haven’t tried the Merrells yet, but those are the ones I have high hopes for.
I have ordered and returned two sleeping bags. It is recommended that you get a three season bag that is warm to 20 degrees. The first one I ordered was a Kelty Cosmic 20. What they sent was not the bag I ordered. It was a different color, and I think it was the man’s bag. When I contacted the place to return it, the guy did not have a favorable review of Kelty, and said they only make their bags with zippers on the right side (I need left, since I am right handed).
The other bag I ordered to try was the North Face Tephora. It seemed like a nice bag, but it was over 3 pounds. It was huge! I can’t imagine getting it small enough, even with a compression bag. I think it’s just too heavy, anyway, so I returned it.
Down sleeping bags are recommended because they are light. Most of the really, REALLY light ones are $400-$500. I don’t want to spend that much. I’m considering getting a backpacking quilt. I think it might be a better solution for me. You use a sleeping pad to lay on for protection from the cold ground underneath. I’ve never used a mummy bag before. I think a mummy bag would be too clausterphobic-feeling for me. I’m a side or stomach sleeper, and Bud will tell you that I like to spread out when I sleep. When we have to stay in a hotel with a King Size bed, I love to spread out as if I’m making a snow angel for the joy of all of that room, and I also yodel waaayyy over to Bud, teasing him about the distance between us.
I was talking to Bud about the sleeping bags, and he reminded me that I like to sleep pretty cold. I also remembered our adventure in this house before we got our wood stove and propane heater. We had some pretty darn cold temps, and I did just fine. We’ll see. I have found a backpacking quilt for $250, and I might order one.
I’ve decided to keep the two-person Big Agnes Copper Spur. It’s a little more space for one person, room for Bud, too, in case he wants to go out with me sometime, and it’s not that much more weight than the one-person tent. I really like it. I chose the Copper Spur for many reasons. 1) It’s very light. 2) The entry is on the side, rather than the end. 3)It has a bathtub floor. 4) It’s very easy to set up.
I’m now doubting my backpack choice. I don’t think it fits the way it’s supposed to. When the hip belt is secure, the shoulder straps don’t rest on my shoulders. They just sort of hang there, suspended above my shoulders. We are thinking about going to a R.E.I. in Kansas City. It’s about 4 hours away. If I find something else I like, I can just return my backpack there, instead of having to mail it in. I can also have them help me adjust it so that it fits like it’s supposed to. I really don’t have a clue, since I have not been backpacking before.
I have my camp stove (MRS Pocket Rocket) and I have ordered my cookware (Evernew Titanium ECA 418). It supposedly has a non-stick coating on it. I also got a really cool titanium shovel called ‘The Deuce of Spades’ for digging cat holes. It’s very light.
The clothes…bleh. I’m dreading that part. I’ve gotten a rain jacket and rain pants (which I am doubting myself on) and I also got a down jacket on sale. That’s about it…except for sports bras and sports undies…and a pair of quick drying shorts…and a hiking skirt that I’m not sure I feel comfortable with. It’s really the winter stuff, and base layers I’m confused about. I tried on some stuff at Bass Pro Shop and it was horrible. HORRIBLE, I tell ya. I hate shopping for clothes, period.
I feel good about most of the purchases I have made so far because I have been able to find most of it on sale-some of it at a very deep discount. I have been very happy about that.