Trail Runners – Saloman X-Scream TR
I highly recommend a solid pair of TR/approach shoes over hiking boots for the average user. There is virtually no breaking-in time and the user’s overall comfort increases because of the shoe’s flexibility and lightness. Given they are TRs, there is a stiffer last to provide the feet better support than ordinary athletic shoes and better treads at the bottom for grip along the trail. The heel counter (back of the shoe cupping the heel) is keeps my foot solidly in the shoe and continues to endure with no signs of failing.
Con: Ankle support is much more limited in TRs and increases the likelihood of injury. The mesh keeps the shoes lightweight, but is an entry point for moisture.
Hiking Boots – Vasque Hiking Boot
I have wide feet and wear a 9W. Initially I had hot spots on both my pinky toes from over-tightening the laces. My perfect fit is leaving the toebox laces loose and only tightening the upper laces. I wear these if I expect any damp conditions along the trail.
Con: More costly than TRs.
Wool Leggings – Icebreaker, Oasys, Teal
Bought my first pair after on-sale as they were getting rid of seasonal colors. These wool leggings bring warmth and comfort under pants without the itch. When it’s really cold and I’m wearing non-insulated pants, I get chaffing irritation along the front of my thighs, leading to a thin and uncomfortable layer of scabs. These leggings prevent that from happening. Cherry on top? They are machine washable!
The Upper Half
Synthetic Thermal – Underarmour Heat Gear Long Sleeve, M
This is a thick, form-fitting, long sleeve I enjoy using every winter. I appreciate the sleeves are longer than average and if I want I can pull them past my wrist for added warmth to my hands. I have this as an alternative to wool because its affordability, meaning I don’t have to worry about babying it.
Con: Doesn’t perform well when I sweat profusely, the downside to not being wool.
Hard Shell – Patagonia Torrentshell, Coral, M
I purchased this jacket on sale from Backcountry.com. This jacket has been nothing, but have my back through some intense Boston weather. It has a good sized hood for my giant head and can be tightened with the elastic drawstrings around the neck to keep the hood around the nog when it’s gusty out. I’ve even gotten it around my XL bicycle helmet. DWR remained intact despite 2 winters and regular washing.
Con: Light color is more apt to showing stains and wear. I have bike oil stains as well as just general darkness around the cuffs. I like to call them “memories”.
Down Jacket – Mountain Hardwear, Ghost Whisperer, Purple, L
Purchased at the employee store. There is a lot this jacket is doing right: comes in a spectrum of colors, has a hood, light as a feather, and is 800 fill to maximize warmth. As down jackets go, it’s job is to keep heat in, therefore it requires the wearer to dissipate heat into the fathers to create a barrier against the cold. It’s the same as the adage that sleeping naked in a down sleeping big is better than wearing lots of clothes.
Con: The fit for shoulders is definitely on the smaller side, but more forgiving than the Patagonia’s down jackets.