Ouachita Trail – Gear Review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider: Beside the fact that Kaila could fit into this pack, it was a good size for the distances we’ll be hiking. Kaila went for the Windrider instead of the Southwest because the ability to keep damp stuff in the pockets and have them dry out some during the course of the day seemed like a positive. After we got rained on, that’s where the tent lived so there wasn’t dirt and pollen all over her clothes and sleeping bag inside her pack. The one downside she experienced with this pack was the lack of pockets. There’s the main one and three exterior pockets. Internally it was a little tedious to organize and keep organized, however, this could be solved with stuff sacks (which we will be using next time).

Columbia Freezer III: There were a lot of reasons Kaila decided to go for a dress to hike in. Changing clothes/layering is easier, less clothing to carry, easier to go to the bathroom from multiple aspects. Trying to find a dress that was actually appropriate for hiking was difficult. It’s almost like most outdoor clothing companies are owned/founded by straight males. There were a lot of options with plunging necklines and built in “bras” or shapers. None of that seemed comfortable so finding this one was fantastic. Although she’s disappointed there aren’t any pockets; having minimal seams, no logos across the front, and a solid color were a good trade off. The skirt allows plenty of freedom of movement and the armholes didn’t dig into her skin anywhere.

KUHL Weekendr Tights: These were an unplanned purchase for Kaila. Kirk found them at REI on the clearance rack during one of our inevitable (monthly) visits. The fact that they were in Kaila’s theoretical size and not an offensive color was too good to pass up. She tried them on and since they fit and had pockets(!!!!) there was no question of not buying them. They turned out to be a great purchase as we ended up hiking through a lot of poison ivy areas. Although two of the days we were hiking were pretty warm they didn’t feel heavy or sticky. The one day that was cold they were warm enough as well. Also zippered front pockets that could hold more than a quarter! Kaila was able to keep snacks in her pockets and still zip them closed.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa: This pack has almost as many bells and whistles, but weighs much less than Kirk’s previous 5+ pound backpacking pack. Straps are plentiful and there is an abundance of storage: two hip pockets, three side pockets, a fine mesh back pouch, and one zippered pocket on the top. The shoulder and hip straps were comfy once Kirk figured out the right tension for each. He really enjoyed being able to easily access snacks during the day and quickly find cooking supplies without having to dig through his pack. One downside for this pack is that it’s not waterproof, so that’ll be something for us to keep in mind.

Exofficio Sun Hoodie: When Kirk found out that sun hoodies existed, he knew that would be something he was absolutely purchasing. It has sun protection and full skin coverage (UPF 50, hood and thumbholes), is fully synthetic (so it’s less stinky), and is infused with permethrin (goodbye bugs). It was surprisingly breathable and comfortable during the heat of the day. This is going to be Kirk’s go-to shirt for all his future hiking adventures.

Tarptent Saddle 2: This purchase during Black Friday last year saved us a ton off our base weight. It uses trekking poles to set up instead of traditional tent poles; this saves us weight from carrying at least 4 additional poles and includes less things to break or go missing (we’d definitely notice if our trekking poles went missing). We knew we needed to get a lighter tent and had seen a lot of positive reviews about tarptent in general. This tent met all our personal criteria: two doors, double-walled, long enough for Kirk to lay down. Practically, this tent worked great for us. Provided we set it up in the daylight. The first night, which you can read about here, it collapsed three times in the night due to rain and incorrect set up. We learned from that, and the second night the rainfly stayed up but the mesh interior had gotten dislodged from its buckle and fell down. Not that big of a deal, we were able to get it refastened in the morning once we could see both sides well. We’re looking forward to using this tent more!

Dirty Girl Gaiters: AMAZING. Gaiters are great and everyone who hikes should have them. They keep stuff from getting in your shoes and Dirty Girl has neat patterns.

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