By nature I’m not a big spender, especially on clothes. I don’t enjoy shopping. I hold onto clothes as long as possible, like that t-shirt from preschool that was originally my dad’s, or the shirt from horse camp the summer I was eight. (To be fair, I only wore them to sleep… they’re super soft… and they’re now retired so they don’t disintegrate in the wash.)
But recently I’ve been spending tons of time outdoors (thanks, San Diego!) and my gear just hasn’t been cutting it. My feet hurt after hiking 12 miles in my six-year-old bargain store cross-trainers. I rotate my only two workout outfits every other Zumba class. Even though I love cycling, I left my WalMart bike in Cleveland (it really wasn’t worth moving).
Eventually I came to a breaking point. It’s time to invest in the active lifestyle I already have! Don’t I deserve to have functional gear that helps me get outside and move? So a few weeks ago, armed with some Christmas money I’d been hoarding, I made my first visit to REI to buy some real hiking shoes.
The store was overwhelming and inspiring all at once. Just the shoe section alone made my head spin with decisions. Fortunately I’d done some research beforehand, and the salespeople were helpful. There was even a fake stone slope where you can try out how the shoes feel during a climbing hike.
I ended up with these badass Keen Alamosa hiking shoes in the coolest color name ever: “Gargoyle/Allure.” The staff told me I didn’t need ankle-high boots unless I planned to carry a 25+ lb pack. Yeah… not anytime soon. After deliberating about breathability I opted for waterproof shoes so I can hike in any terrain and weather, not just the nearby deserts.
These socks came home with me too. Apparently you’re not supposed to hike in standard cotton socks because they retain moisture and cause blisters. Wool or a wool/synthetic blend is recommended because it wicks the moisture away and allows sweat to dry quickly. Like the inside says — feels good!
The shoes were an instant success on our hike to Cedar Creek Falls. My feet felt fully supported, protected, and comfortable. Oh and look — new clothes, too! I went shopping on my lunch break one day and bought my first workout clothes in a few years. Real athletic fabric is way more comfortable to sweat in than free t-shirts from college.
As if all this wasn’t enough, I was so pleased with the success of those shoes that I decided to replace my old cross-trainers entirely.
Have you ever heard of barefoot shoes? Apparently barefoot running is a thing right now, mainly because of how your running posture improves without the interference of shoes. Now companies are making shoes that approximate the benefits while not making you look/feel so weird. I wasn’t looking for this style but after trying on these Merrell Bare Access shoes I was totally sold because they were so lightweight and fit so well. Don’t get ahead of yourself though, I still won’t be running! They work great for dance exercise classes and vigorous walks by the bay.
I’ve already got my sights set on my next purchase: a hydration pack with extra room for a lunch and lots of sunscreen. We’ve got various backpacks around the house but nothing lightweight and functional for hiking and biking. Right now for our desert hikes we fill four random water bottles, nestle them in a lunchbox with an ice pack, and stuff all that into the bag I used to backpack Italy after college. No bueno.
How to choose??
Turns out I’ve acquired so much gear recently that nearly 600 words later, I haven’t even told you about the bike yet. So stay tuned for next time…