Snap-Ts: Aren’t you warmer just looking at them?

After she’d slipped heading uphill for maybe the fifth time Betty stopped and laughed.

“This climb is taking it out of me,” she smiled.

Actually, it was the leaves on the trail that were zapping Betty’s zoom. Cover 10 yards, slip on the slippery sea of fall leaves coating the trail in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness.

“How long have you had those boots?” I asked. Betty leaned against a tree for balance and displayed the sole of her two-year-old boot. Not slick, but slick enough.

“Betty,” I said, “you need new boots.”

And this is just the time to get them.

Every year around this time, I take inventory of my gear. Boots, like Betty’s, that have gone slick. A daypack worn by use. A tent no longer as sheltering as it once was. I make a list and, as I have for a really long time now send it to Santa.

Face it, all gear eventually runs out. Sure, for years, your tent has been your home away from home, broken door zipper/busted screen door and all. Aren’t you tired of waking at two in the morning with something crawling across your face or buzzing in your ear? Wouldn’t a new pair of wool socks — socks without a window for your big toe — change your attitude about a long day on the trail, especially in the coming cold of winter? And face it, even when a piece of long-used gear continues to hold its own, don’t you sometimes lust after the newest, high-tech version?

Sure you do.

Over the next three or four weeks, we’re going to focus on areas where you might be in need of a gear upgrade or replacement, and what some of your alternatives might be. Today, a quick tease.


No one likes to be deterred by the cold. Nor does anyone want to head out looking like Randy from “Christmas Story” (oh, the horror should you fall in the woods with no one around to right you). Kuhl’s Spyfire vest and jacket featuring ultra-light down provide the warmth of a classic puffy down jacket with sleek, streamlined efficiency. And pockets! A pair of zippered chest pockets, a pair of zippered hand pockets and an inside mesh pocket. Your phone, your wallet, your Skittles — all now close at hand. Learn more here.


Chaco’s Barbary Boot: Wooly warm on the inside.

Recently, we dispelled the notion that November is not the time to be in a tent. We also believe December, January and February are pretty good for camping, too — provided you keep warm. And as we all know, one of the first things to freeze up when the mercury dips is our feet. That’s why we recommend replacing those drafty camp sneakers with a foot fireplace — the Chaco Women’s Barbary boot. Wool and fleece lining (with a wool fold-down ankle collar) innards and a waterproof leather shell combine to mean you aren’t quite as impatient for the campfire to kick in as you used to be. Learn more here.


The Dagger Stratos

A common scenario: The gang wants to go kayaking, so you rent a boat and — hey! this is fun. On impulse, you buy a beginner boat that looks like it will work and doesn’t cost much. And while it does work, you very quickly discover that it’s not all the boat you need: you’re ready to move up, but to what? Welcome to our Paddle Pro: six quick and easy questions about the type of paddling you do — and would like to do — helps you narrow down the options. Then, make an appointment to come in and discuss those options deemed best for you with one of our paddling professionals. Wish you’d done that in the first place, no? (FYI, our recommended boats: the Dagger Stratos and Hurricane Sojurn.)


You get into camp, set up, throw on the beloved threadbare fleece you’ve been sporting since the time when you sported mutton chops and wore bellbottoms. So what if it’s lost its thermal retention capabilities — it looks so cool and groovy! Imagine a world where you can still look boss and stay warm! It’s a world you can live in with Patagonia’s Snap-T Fleece Pullovers, which come in an array of far-out colors and patterns. Like, learn more here, man.