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Worn Wear: WTA Staff's Favorite Gear With a Story

Posted by Washington Trails Association at Jun 16, 2021 11:24 AM |
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All of our gear has a story to tell. It comes along with us on all of our adventures, big or small, and accumulates layers of sweat, dirt and memories over the years.

All of our outdoor gear has a story to tell. It comes along with us on all of our adventures, big or small, and accumulates layers of sweat, dirt and memories over the years. Whether it's a pocket knife passed down through generations or a hat that's made it on all our trail races, it's hard to imagine hitting the trail without it.

Here are some our staffers favorite pieces of gear, that have been with us through the good and the bad on trail.

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Not only is it useful, but it looks great hangin' on a wall! Photo by Charlie Wakenshaw.

"This hat has been on many trips with me over the years. My dad took me on my first outdoor trips. We went hiking along the Mountain Loop, canoeing on the peninsula and camping in the North Cascades. He has the same hat and always wears it on an adventure. As soon as I was old enough, I got one just like it. I love thinking about all the sun, sweat and river water that's soaked into this hat." —Charlie Wakenshaw, communications and trails specialist

Hand-me-down Pocket Knives

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Knives serve a multitude of purposes on trail and can last for generations. Photo by Jessi Loerch.

"My grandfather always had a small knife in his pocket. They were always kept sharp and ready to use for a million small tasks. My father had a similar habit. His knives tended to be a little more elaborate, and I have many memories of him pulling a Leatherman out to sharpen a marshmallow stick, open a can or fix something. Both my father and grandfather loved being outdoors, a fondness I have definitely inherited. One of their knives come with me on all of my trips. The knives are tiny and perfect for a day trip or backpacking. And I love that each time I use of the knives, I think of someone I love." —Jessi Loerch, Washington Trails editor

Trail Running Hat

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Trail hats are even better with flowers! Photo courtesy Taylor O'Leary. 

"Hats are my favorite piece of gear. Whether it's protecting my face from the sun or keeping the rain out of my eyes, you'll always see me on trail sporting a hat! My favorite hat has taken me from neighborhood runs to long miles in the mountains and holds fond, sweaty memories of all the trail races I've run. And the best part, it's covered in balsamroot flowers, which always brighten my day!" —Taylor O'Leary, senior grants coordinator

Extra Cushion

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The Thinlight pad is a great extra cushion for a frameless backpack. Photo by Joey Smith.

"My Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of gear. It serves so many purposes in my pack — folded up and strapped to by frameless backpack as extra cushioning, an easy-access sit pad to pull out at viewpoints and lunch stops, extra warmth and protection for my inflatable sleeping pad in camp. I found this pad on the ground while hiking the Wonderland Trail on my birthday — it was a little banged up with a puncture hole here and there and a bit of dirt — but it felt so serendipitous!" —Rachel Wendling, communications coordinator

Zip-off Pants

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Allie (middle) rocking her mom's zip-off pants during a BCRT. Photo by Barbara Budd.

"These zip off pants were my mom's in the 90s when she was my girl scout leader. She left them at my house after one of her visits a few years ago since she doesn't do as much all-weather hiking near her home in NY. I remember teasing her about the cut (imagine the "mom jeans" of outdoor pants) but then I was trying to cut pack weight for my first WTA BCRT and I had to acknowledge that shorts + pants all-in-one was mighty convenient ... They were so comfortable and versatile on that trip, I've never looked back!" —Allie Tripp, strategic initiatives manager

Mosquito Repellant

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The “top” of Cathedral Peak in the Pasayten (the same trip that had the persistent mosquitos). Photo by Grady Olson. 

“My Patagonia Houdini windbreaker is my essential piece of gear that goes with me on nearly every single adventure in the front and backcountry. It became a favorite piece of gear when I wore it for 5 days straight in the Pasayten as the hordes of mosquitos decided I would be a great breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a great protection piece, from protecting from gusty winds, from aforementioned mosquitos, from road rash when crashing my bike and everything else in between. While some of these adventures have caused some holes and tears in the jacket, it’s nothing a little Tenacious Tape can’t fix!” —Grady Olson, donor services manager

Worn-in Wool Shirt

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Paper thin fabric makes for extra comfy hiking clothes. Photo by Erika Haugen-Goodman.

"This threadbare wool shirt used to be my dad’s, and when I snagged it from him, it was already paper thin, full of holes and on the way to the trash. I’ve put a few more holes in it, and stitched them up as well. Because it is so thin and threadbare, it is the exact right weight to hike in. My dad was the one who got me out on trails in the first place, so it’s kind of great to have something of his with me when I play outdoors." —Loren Drummond, digital content manager

Volunteer Swag

"My Thermarest sitpad is my very favorite piece of gear. It's lightweight and packs nicely into a day bag or backpack, and keeps my butt surprisingly warm and comfy. It's perfect for snack time at the summit or lunch on a work party. I got one as a piece of swag for volunteering years ago and with the exception of a few months where I lost it and had to wait for a replacement, have never not had it with me. The best part is you can also DIY one of these with an old full-length sleeping pad or even a yoga mat — basically get your butt some insulation from the ground and you'll be much comfier." —Anna Roth, hiking content manager

Do you have a favorite piece of gear? One that's been with you for many of your outdoor adventures? Let us know in the comments!


Posted by:

LizzyRN on Jun 16, 2021 04:38 PM

Quantum Guru on Worn Wear: WTA Staff's Favorite Gear With a Story

About ten years ago I attended one of Whittaker Mountaineering's Rainier Festivals at Ashford, WA. Many famous mountaineers were present, and Dave Hahn was handing out, as a promo, complimentary two-pair packages of a new label, PowerSox. I snagged my freebie and was initially dubious, but they turned out to be the best hiking socks I've ever had. I'm still wearing them, all these years later. It was a superior product but, sadly, a marketing failure. By the time I realized I should seek additional pairs they no longer were available. A few years later the brand resurfaced as a sub-line of Goldtoe, often marketed at malls, but they don't seem to be the same item.

Posted by:

Quantum Guru on Jun 18, 2021 06:54 PM