Car Camping in the Rain, a Retrospective

Over the last weekend of June, I went car camping in western Washington with a two other people and all of our kids. It was a great time, and the second year we did this. This year it rained for most of the trip, even though it was forecast to only have a ‘few’ showers.

I didn’t pack anything for real rain.

Let’s start with what I did pack, as I packed light:

My thinking was that I could use the Simple Windbreaker for the passing rain, as it repels that just fine, and my Rogue jacket whenever it got cool (it’s the perfect jacket for that type of weather). The reality was two and a half days of near constant rain during the day. I spent an entire afternoon on a boat, and part of that was in the rain in Puget Sound.

In other words: I was not prepared for this at all — truthfully only our kids were as we always overpack for them.

However, things were not nearly as bad as they seemed. I basically lived in one of the t-shirts, the Sequence, and the Simple Windbreaker during the day, with the Simple pants as well. My Salomons take quite a bit to soak through, and only did one time, drying fast. Because of the materials used in these clothing items I stayed warm and pretty dry. Even when the windbreaker soaked through, sitting by the fire dried it fast (be careful with synthetics and heat sources), and the merino layers did their work to keep me warm, and dried themselves fast.

One night I had to wear flip flops to deal with the boat, and my feet got a bit muddy. I rinsed them off with water, but not wanting to use a towel to dry them, I put on my merino socks and never once noticed that my feet were anything but comfortable. That was pretty amazing.

The entire trip was a testament to what we mean on Everyday Wear when we talk about “better clothing”. I was entirely unprepared for the weather, and it could have sucked. In my mind I knew that even if it got bad, these clothes should do their job and keep me less miserable, but theory is different than practice. And yet, in practice, I was far more comfortable that I ever thought I would be.

I was cold twice, which isn’t too bad, and even then only for 10 minutes or so until the fire warmed me up. A large part of this is having a good heat source and fast drying clothes. Even when it was raining on me, I could start drying my clothes just by sitting near the fire.

Looking back, I would have liked to have had a true rain jacket with me. That said, this trip gave me a new level of confidence in the clothing we are testing. It’s one thing to talk about how fast merino wool dries when you wash it, and quite another to experience it keeping you warm, comfortable, and drying fast when you are camping in the rain.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this during the trip. I never actually felt wet on my back or shoulders, but I knew I was wet. I just felt slightly cooler in those spots for a moment. I don’t recall my pants ever feeling wet, nor being wet when I went to bed. But I do know I sat in more than a few wet chairs.

This isn’t to say you should be foolish and camp without proper rain gear, that was stupid on my part. But should you be caught out in the rain walking home from work or to work, and you’re buying the type of clothing we talk about here, it’s going to make your life noticeably less bad. It will be the difference between a ruined event, and a minor footnote of the event.

That, in the end, is what we are talking about when we say “performance clothing”.

Car Camping in the Rain, a Retrospective

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston

Trip Details: A 3 day, 2 night trip to Boston for a wedding, which required extra shoes and a suit.

Packing List

Notes

I really wanted to pack this all in one bag, but I ran into serious problems doing this with needing an extra pair of shoes. My dress shoes were not comfortable enough for the activities we had planned, so I couldn’t wear only them. While I could get all of this to fit in my 34L GORUCK GR2, doing so meant that the bag could not fit at my feet. This meant that I would have to do the dreaded overhead space battle with my fellow travelers, and given that my wife was checking a bag already, I opted to do so as well.

However, this created a new problem, as you can see the roller bag was mostly empty. So I packed more than I knew I would need, simply to help fill out the bag more so gear didn’t constantly move around in it. It wasn’t too bad, but I need to think on how better to tackle this in the future. Flying with just a 10L Bullet is magic though, as it will fit on its edge under the seat in front of you, providing tons of legroom. It’s a fantastic travel bag.

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of June 2018

Trip Details: Three night, four day trip by air and car for business meetings.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

I packed the perfect amount of clothes for this trip. While I could have worn one Wool & Prince shirt the whole time, I wanted to have two to be able to alternate. I did notice a hole in the armpit of my UnderFit shirt (and I have only washed cold and hung to dry), so a bit disappointed at that. The Wool & Prince Blazer was folded and put in my backpack for travel and came out crease and wrinkle free.

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of June 2018

Ben’s Packing List: May Work Trip

Trip Details: A 3 day and 2 night business trip with normal office meetings.

Packing List

What I Wore

Notes

This was one of the lightest trips I’ve packed for. The travel razor was new, something I bought to try out on this trip as I was tired of my full size razor, and this new one is not good. I easily think I could have gotten by with one pair of pants, but I wasn’t confident the Slim Dungarees would work in the office, and I didn’t want to fly in the Bluffworks as they are a little large for me and cause my shirt to come untucked when sitting for long periods of time.

That said, I could have done it in just the Slim Dungarees as my concerns were unfounded.

Ben’s Packing List: May Work Trip

Ben’s Packing List — April Beach Weekend 2018

Trip Details: A quick weekend with the family on the Washington coast.

Clothing

Other Gear

  • Toiletries
  • Quick Kit (band aids and other odds and ends)
  • Beach Kit (lighter, knife, hand wipes, etc.)
  • Electronics Kit (chargers and such)
  • iPad Pro

I packed everything in my trusty GORUCK GR1 26L.

Notes

I packed too heavy for this trip, as I could have left behind my entire beach kit — I didn’t need it. Same with the electronics kit as I had chargers at the destination I used (I’m finding this more and more common, which is hard to deal with when you want to pack as light as possible, but charging is also crucial). Also the Rucking Tee is normally a workout shirt for me, but it was tremendous this weekend and has me looking to get something else from GORUCK in the PowerDry fabric they use from Polartec. It’s not very odor resistant, but it is very comfortable.

Ben’s Packing List — April Beach Weekend 2018

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of April 2018

Trip Details: Eight night trip by air; business meetings and vacation (both tent camping and city). Three nights business, two camping, and three city/outdoors non-camping vacation.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

Since I was tent camping, I checked a large duffle with my camping gear. I decided to throw my dress shoes in there to wear more comfortable shoes on the flight. I also packed my hiking boots, base layer, sunscreen, and hat in there. Other than that, the GR1 easily held the rest of what I needed. If this was a business-only trip (or non-tent camping vacation), I could have packed everything in my GR1 (and would have just worn my hiking boots).

Overall I packed almost the perfect amount of clothes. I didn’t end up needing the second pair of Futureworks. The only washing I did during the whole trip was my polo, a pair of socks, and my underwear. The polo and socks took a while to try, but the ExOfficio underwear dried overnight after rolling in a towel. The magic of merino allowed me to get plenty of wear out of both my undershirt and button-up.

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of April 2018

Ben’s Packing List: End of February 2018

Trip details: This was a two day, one night trip for business, with very little time for anything other than meetings and sleep.

Packing List

What I Wore

Notes and Considerations

I still feel I can slim down some of the gear I take, especially with toiletries. As for the clothing, it was a near perfect load out — had I not been meeting with the same person the day I landed and the next day I would have only packed one shirt. The GORUCK Simple Windbreaker made for a great travel layer when I got back and it was frigid and snowy. I’d prefer to have traveled with different pants, but I didn’t want to go to a business meeting in Khaki pants so my Slim Dungarees were the best option I had (according to my wife). Looks like another pair of pants are in my future.

Ben’s Packing List: End of February 2018

Steve’s Packing List: March 2018

Trip Details: Six night international business trip.

Packing List

Osprey Farpoint 40:

Standard Luggage Co. Daily Backpack (provided for review, look for review soon):

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

I overpacked somewhat for this trip as I realized that I would have late nights and might not feel like washing clothes when I got back to my hotel at night. I also didn’t need the UnderFit undershirt (the Icebreaker merino undershirt lasted the whole trip). I mainly rotated my two Wool & Prince shirts, but I was able to get two wears of my polo.

I’m still using a quart zipper bag for my toiletries because it just works (and makes it compliant when you have to separate liquids from your bag when you can’t use PreCheck).

I probably could have squeezed everything into my Osprey bag, however, then I might not have been able to fit it under the seat on my domestic flights. I also figured it would be nice to have a small bag to have at my seat with my entertainment and to use as a briefcase during my trip.

Just a few first impressions of the Standard Luggage Co. bag: 1) it’s very padded and structured so there is some wasted space, 2) the laptop slot is on the back panel as expected, but the main compartment zipper opens at the back panel, making access to its contents awkward, 3) the small front compartment has some nice organization, 4) the padded handles and above average shoulder strap make the bag pleasant to carry.

Steve’s Packing List: March 2018

Steve’s Packing List: February 2018

Trip Details: Overnight trip by car for a business meeting.

Packing List

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

While this might seem like a lot of clothes for an overnight trip, I could travel with this same list for a two or three night trip as well. At three or four nights, I’d probably throw in another pair of underwear, and at five or more, another pair of socks and another undershirt and button-down. This all packed well in my small Mystery Ranch Urban Assault pack, even with my large (size 13) gym shoes.

The only thing I’d change about this packing list would be a better bag for my toiletries.

Steve’s Packing List: February 2018

Ben’s Packing List: February 1st 2018

Trip Details: 3 days, 2 nights, traveling across the country for business. This trip required the packing of a suit and flights with a tight connection on each way of the trip.

Packing List

I tried to pack lighter than normal for this trip as I wanted to fit it all in a GR1, and it turns out packing a suit in a GR1 takes up most of the space in the GR1.

I wore:

Notes & Considerations

This loadout, while relatively few in items, took up the entire bag and then some. I wanted to travel with nothing larger because of how tight the connections were (and since one leg was a regional carrier, I knew space would be limited). Ultimately it worked, but I took too many extraneous things.

My normal toiletries kit is in a GR1 Field Pocket, so using the Echo reduced the size by about 50%. What’s interesting is that I still had things in the bag which I didn’t need. This clearly means I need to rethink my entire toiletries setup, and it’s likely I will use the Echo Field Pocket going forward.

I simply had way too many items in the Context Organizer and will have to completely re-think that kit. For the first time I was stopped by TSA for the brass flashlight I had — they simply wanted to see what it was and let me be on my way. Still, I might rethink that as it is heavy and if it will get me stopped, it’s not worth it. I should note that I’ve taken it on seven other trips without issue.

Lastly, packing a suit is a real pain. I used the Brooks Brothers method for folding it and used the large packing cube to better protect it. When I got there the jacket was nearly perfect and after a day of hanging had no issues. The pants needed some light touch up with an iron in the hotel, as they had some odd rumpled bits.

My final note, traveling with the Ascedant Hoodie was amazing. I knew I needed it for the colder weather I was headed to, and it performed well there. But I also wore it while in the plane and stayed incredibly comfortable while keeping the air blowing on me. I might consider bringing it on more trips — however it didn’t pack down very small when I wanted it in the bag. Perhaps a light weight, compressible down jacket is in order next.

Overall, I nailed the amount of clothes needed, but packed much too heavy on the electronics gear.

Ben’s Packing List: February 1st 2018