Next on your list should be your shirt. By the way, all these suggestions are just one guy’s shot at what works for me. You’ll know from your training hikes what suits you. Comments appreciated to give others your opinion.
I’ve bottomed out on a full sleeve button front polypropylene hiking shirt. I like starting the Half Dome hike with every button fastened since it is pretty chilly early. I don’t wear a fleece jacket for the hour that it might be needed – once you head up the Mist Trail steps you will be sweating. (I’ll talk about a light jacket next blog.) So you’re stuck carrying it the rest of the day. As the day goes on, and it gets hot, I roll the sleeves up and open the front to cool off. Better shirts have cooling vents in the back and side. I like having a collar that I can put up to keep the sun off my neck. Personally I tend to keep the sleeves down all day for sun protection and find I don’t get hot. TShirts are binary – a Silicon Valley word for either ON or OFF. There’s not a whole lot you can do to cool, other than take it off, so don’t wear those.
Most of the major garment manufacturers sell a variety of these hiking shirts. Lately, they are rolling out “sun-proof” and insect repellent versions. They cost a bit more than the standard model. My first suggestion for your list is the Columbia “Airgill Lite.” Look closely at the photo. There are 3 slits on each side (they look like fish gills) plus a huge horizontal flap across the upper back. VERY cool looking and temperature-wise. When I met with Columbia at the summer Outdoor Retailer show, they told me the main target market for the shirt was fishermen, so you may not find it in outdoor stores.
It retails for about $70, but I have seen it for $49 at Backcounty.com
The shirt with a place of honor in my closet is the ExOfficio Air Strip long sleeve. I had one so long it turned from white to dingy brown. It got donated. My new one continues the “timeless” design. This shirt has been a mainstay for ExOfficio. It has vertical slit vents under the armpits and the large horizontal upper back flap. It retails for $85 but again Backcounty.com comes in cheap at $69. You can cruise other on-line sites for the best deal. Often “odd” colors are discounted.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” – John Muir
Half Dome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com