Random rants


I have given up bringing along shirts made with modern fabrics. I say phooey to their much-touted wicking ability. They just don’t work for me. In my experience, they feel much hotter (or ‘clammier’) then plain old woven cotton shirts.

Since we normally travel in the tropics, (or at least during the hot summer months) I feel the need to obsess about this.

I was recently asked about knit vs. woven, specifically Capilene t-shirts.

Capilene is Patagonia’s trade name for a polyester knit with a wicking finish on it. Capilene is, in my experience, not noticeably cooler than plain ‘ol cheap cotton. The Patagonia Capilene is great in the winter months, but then we don’t backpack in the winter months. (At least those of us with a lick of common sense don’t)

Knits tend to ‘cling’ to the body making it harder for me to keep cool in hot climes, that is my main objection to knits. Of course, t-shirts are made with a knit. In hot climates, loose-fitting t-shirts are fine.

This revelation may elicit a big “Well, duh, you moron”.

Furthermore, cheap T-shirts are definitely the way to go. I still prefer to bring along cheap, cotton, woven shirts. Knits on me are just not flattering, but yeah, I always bring along some ‘disposable’ t-shirts.

When cotton is saturated with sweat, it can chafe.

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Can I be frank for a minute? Chafing cotton underwear is a big pain. Without divulging too much information, let me give this advice:
Guys, carry along some talcum powder when you are in the tropics.
(Don’t ask me how I learned this)

What about wicking underwear then?

I do own several pair of pricey Patagonia Capilene briefs, ones with the much touted wicking ability.

I hauled along my Capilene designer undies on a trip one summer. Let me just say these undies wick in theory, but not enough in practice to make them more valuable than generic cotton briefs at a fraction of the price.

One of the pitfalls of traveling on the backpacker circuit is the value of our stuff.

Our stuff, especially our clothing, has a habit of disappearing. One loses a sock or a t-shirt here and there in hostel laundries and guesthouses along the way.

Sometimes it is left in the dorm; sometimes a local rips it off. Or it gets thrashed in the laundry, while scrambling over boulders or just gets worn out. I am of the opinion that one shouldn’t take along clothing that you cannot bear to lose. Especially shirts that often cost well over $50 each.

The fancy-shmancy synthetic shirts and clothing from Ex Officio, The North Face and Patagonia fall into this category.

They are embarrassingly expensive, they don’t seem to work any better than cheap cotton, and money saved is money that I can use to stay out on the road for a few more days.

Whoever the fit model was for the men’s Patagonia Capilene briefs has unusually small testicles.