Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Alaskan Adventure Gear Review

OK, I can't resist one post about our Alaskan Adventure. Just like I did for our Cape Town trip, here's a run down of gear that worked well.

In no particular order...

Overall, my gear list served me well. I used almost everything on it, which to me is the mark of a good packing list.

Everything that I wrote about in my Cape Town recap still holds true: loved the netbook, loved the REI travel pants, the Canon T3i and Overdrive. I didn't use the clamp for my camera, instead, opting to use the table top tripod instead. Part of me thinks it might be time to take the clamp out of my standard photography kit. We'll see.

FroggToggs DriDucks Rain Pants - I'm pretty convinced that all rain pants are awful. From my experience, they're bulky, sweaty and costly. This time, though, I brought along a pair of DriDucks pants. After spending a wet and cold day in them in Juneau, I've got to say, I'm impressed. They're really compact, do appear to breathe and are dirt cheap. I found that they held up just fine for the stress I put them under. The only downside is that they were quite baggy which made them an absolute fashion disaster. Still, from a functional perspective, they worked well.

For my rain jacket, I used the REI Ultra Light Jacket, which worked well. After hours of rain, I felt like it was beginning to get waterlogged. Still, it worked well in nearly all conditions and packed up nice and small when I wanted to bring it along. We also got plenty of use out of a pocket umbrella I brought along. This was key for making a dry space to shoot photos from.

Salomon X Ultra Hiking Shoes - These are the fanciest footwear I've ever owned, and they are just awesome. The trail runner style of shoe means that I was able to wear them around the ship and while we were in town without looking like a lumberjack. Yet, the Gore-Tex material kept my feet dry even as we hiked through puddles and rain at Mendenahall Glacier. I usually hate hiking boots. These, work.

Helios Hat and Buff - instead of carrying a sun hat and knit hat, I've switched to this combination. The Helios did a great job in the sun and while hiking and paired perfectly with the Buff to provide warmth while we were doing glacier watching from the deck of the ship.

Flip & Tumble 24/7 bag - This bag did was put to work nearly every time we went ashore. I'd toss it in my day pack, and after stopping by a number of shops, I'd find it filled up with souvenirs and other goodies. The shoulder strap design worked great because I was already schlepping a backpack.

Long underwear - on a few of the days, I wore long underwear and it definitely helped make the whole adventure more comfortable. Shira has a fancy set of long underwear from REI, but my generic set worked just fine. I definitely wouldn't leave these at home.

The only two items I'd bring on the cruise next time, but didn't this time were: (a) a pedometer and (b) a travel coffee mug. Both of these are probably obvious, but what the heck, I'll explain the logic.

The pedometer: the ship is large and you do a lot of walking. Also, the buffet is always open, and you do a lot of eating. It would have been nice to have some simple metrics to know how much exercise we were doing on the boat, and perhaps set some goals before pigging out at the next meal. Shira has a pedometer which is both inexpensive and highly accurate.

The travel coffee mug: it sure would have been nice to have an easy way to fill up a big 'ol mug of tea and take it out on deck or around the ship.

Hope these tips help if you're heading up North. The advice I was given ahead of time really does apply: wear lots of layers and bring rain gear!

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