A few weeks ago, I wrote about three products that helped us out while backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail. This week, I’m back with some products that we loved using during a multi-day sea kayaking trip in Washington state. Like with backpacking, there’s not a lot of extra room for luxuries while kayaking, but a few key comfort items are a must in my book.
Outdoor Research Aspire Pant:
I sought out the waterproof Aspire pant from Outdoor Research specifically for our kayak trip, and they were definitely an asset on the chilly water. However, I’ve been surprised how great they are for general travel as well. The Aspire pack down very small, allowing me to stash them in day packs for a quick waterproof pant option to go with a packable jacket for just about any adventure. I’ve worn them on day hikes and weekend trips to the rainy Oregon coast in addition to the kayak trip. In winter they’re substantial enough to be worn as backcountry or telemark pants.
The Gore-Tex is breathable, and you get 3/4 length, double-separating side zippers for easy on and off on the trail or at camp to shed layers. The rear pocket is also a stuff sack, and there are strong cuff closures, which means less rain or snow gets in. Pick up a pair at Outdoor Research in XS to XL women’s for $175 (they come in black only), or look on Backcountry or on Amazon for a few bucks less.
Hanz waterproof gloves:
Where have these gloves been all my life? Hanz waterproof gloves are 100% waterproof. The MVT membrane allows sweat and heat to escape, but stops water from penetrating the inner layer. The inner palms has a textured, dotted pattern that helps grip paddles and do other jobs around a marine camp, and the gloves are seamless.
The gloves were a dream in the Puget Sound where the water is decidedly cold and the wind is usually present, protecting my hands from blisters while simultaneously keeping them warm. They come in seven men’s and women’s sizes, so you’ll want to try on a pair before ordering. The women’s medium I wore retail for just $34.95.
If you need a waterproof sock as well, Hanz makes one. They’re less breathable than I’d like, but I was definitely glad to have them during the days I spent paddling. I believe I’ll be breaking them out again during autumn sports season. I wouldn’t personally hike or run in them, but for any outdoor or travel activity that involves a lot of standing around or walking, pick up a pair on Amazon.
Ultra Fast-Dry Towel:
Made by Discovery Trekking Outfitters, the Ultra Fast-Dry Towel certainly isn’t the first lightweight, quick-dry towel we’d come across, but it did surprise me by being the biggest. Out of the box, I worried it would be too bulky or heavy, but in fact, the Ultra proved to be what I’d call ‘Goldilocks-sized’…it’s just right. It’s roughly half the bulk of a regular beach towel when folded up (in other words, much thinner), yet twice as large in length and width than my next-largest backpacking quick-dry towel.
The towel comes in over 12 colors and four sizes, from XS at 13″ x 10″ to large at 34″ x 58″. I tried the large, and it was big enough to wrap myself in, as opposed to the dissatisfying feeling of drying oneself off with a towel the size of a bandana. As noted, the Ultra is thin, and when held up, I could see through it slightly. I wasn’t bothered by this, as I know the light weight of the towel has to come from somewhere. It wasn’t as absorbent as my other quick-dry towels, but on the flip-side, it was bigger while weighing less.
Decide whether absorbency or size is more important to you, and go from there. The large Ultra towel is $34 on Discovery Trekking Outfitters, or about the same price on Amazon. They also make a backpacking towel option, should you want to save even more ounces.