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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To buy or not to buy...

So...  What do you need to buy to walk 60 miles?

I can only tell you what I did, and what I wished I had done differently.  There is no one who could tell you EXACTLY what you should have.  I guess if you read enough experiences from enough different people you may come up with the best idea yet...

Let me start with shoes and socks.  The 3 Day coaches recommend that you have 2 pairs of shoes, and that you have 2 pairs of moisture wicking socks for each of the 3 days you are walking.  Good advice.  What I had were 1 pair of decent running shoes, and 1 pair of old running shoes that I brought just in case it rained and I prayed I wouldn't have to use them.  These were a pair I'd had for too long, and they were not comfortable enough to use for 20 miles.  I also brought 3 pairs of socks for each of the 3 days; after my tentmate told me she brought multiple pairs to change throughout the day I figured an extra pair wouldn't hurt.   Here's what I wished I had done:  I wish I'd had 2 pairs of shoes that are equally comfortable but that are NOT the exact same kind.  I think I may have gotten less blisters if I could have switched shoes for day 2, so that the shoes weren't rubbing in the exact same way in the exact same spot for the entire 60 miles. This is definately what I will try this time around!   This year I will also look into better insoles for those 2 pairs as well.  As for socks, I think if we had extremely warm weather I may have opted to bring even more socks, and changed them more often.  This year having 2 changes throughout the day was perfectly fine for me.  I changed them at lunch and later in the afternoon after having to re-glide my feet and put new skin on my blisters.  I guess I will have to see what the weather will be at the time of my walk to make that decision.

My favorite/most comfortable outfit

Next we will move on to clothes for the walk.  This one was tricky for me, since weather at the beginning of October in the DC area can vary greatly and is difficult to predict, so we had trouble shopping for our walking clothes.  To start with I bought a running skirt (which became my absolute favorite), and 2 pairs of moisture wicking capri pants.  I also bought 2 moisture wicking short sleeve shirts.  After walking my first 3 day this is my recommendation: buy shirts that are made of the silky material, because the dry wicking cotton one I wore on day 2 chaffed something awful under my armpit on one side, and one of my teammates had the same problem with hers.  The other 2 days I had the moisture wicking kind that were silky, and didn't have that problem.  Our team had t-shirts made as well, and so I had another moisture wicking short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve cotton t-shirt to wear over top on the chilly fall mornings.  I liked the idea of a long sleeve team t-shirt, and wore it for a few hours in the mornings on day 1 and 2.  To me it was better than a sweatshirt since I would have to wear it around my waist after taking it off, and with a hippack on a sweatshirt felt a little too bulky. The downside was that even though I only wore it for a few hours before getting sweaty, the shirt got sweaty anyway from wearing it around my waist and under my hippack.  Next time I will buy a new long sleeve shirt for each morning.  I believe I will also buy leg warmers for 2011, those mornings were really cold but later in the day it was warm enough for shorts.  Besides a fun pair of pink polka dotted ones would be cute!

The hippack vs. the backpack.  This is something each person definately has to try out for themselves.  To start out we all had backpacks, which was OK for carrying lots of things we thought we needed.  But as we increased the miles we were walking we didn't like how sore it made our shoulders and how sweaty our backs were getting.  So I read the message boards on the 3 day site and found a lot of people recommended the hippack that you could find in Walmart.  I figured at least this one is cheap ($10!) so if I didn't want to use it I wouldn't feel bad, other ones were going for up to $40!  I bought this one, and loved it.  It was light, padded and comfortable, and came with 2 large water bottles.  My teammates borrowed mine to try out and liked it too, so we all got the same kind.  On the 3 Day event it turned out many other people liked them too, because we saw lots of people with the Walmart hippack.  I will definately use the same one next time, it was perfect!

We had a lot of ideas as to what to sleep on at night in the tents, from those egg crate blue things that older people put on their mattresses, to mats you can buy in outdoor stores, to air mattresses.  In the end, we opted for the air mattress, because we believed we would need as comfortable a bed as possible, so we could get some serious sleep at night.  I bought a twin mattress at Walmart which was only about $13, and they also had battery powered pumps available for about $15.  I was as comfortable as I could be with the air mattress, and 2 twin mattresses fit fine in the tent.  I will be bringing my air mattress again next year.  We also used sleeping bags, though that caused problems when it came to actually packing them.  I will be debating on whether to bring warm blankets, bring the old sleeping bag again, or purchase a compact sleeping bag from one of the outdoor outfitters.  So sorry, have no definite opinion when it comes to what to use to keep warm...

trying to find YOUR tent can be difficult...

Misc. stuff: - Loved new skin for blisters, since it never moved around and created more blisters - I believe a form of Body Glide to be a necessity, for those who don't know what it is, it's a kind of lubricant that you put on your feet to keep friction down to a minimum, and it comes in a "stick" like a deodorant - Trial sized toiletries, much easier to deal with when packing is such a challenge - A flashlight that you can use "hands free" (ex: attach to a had, wear around your neck, etc.) for when you are using a port o pot in the dark - And finally some sort of light or glow in the dark thingy that you can put on your tent when decorating, so that you can find it in the sea of tents at night when you had to get up to go to the bathroom!

I guess it boils down to taking everyone's advice, combining it, and trying out what you like ahead of time.  That way you can see what will best work for you!

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