Outfitting a one-year trip to Japan

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 26-March 4, 1998
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Outfitting a one-year trip to Japan

Outfitting a one-year trip to Japan
Question: I am planning to work in Japan for one year. I am only going to take a 72-litre pack but I want to be prepared for any adventures that come my way in my spare time (e.g. trekking in Tibet, living on the beaches of Thailand). What specific clothing do you suggest for such a working, yet adventurous trip? Price is of course a factor, however, I do not want to sacrifice quality for a few dollars.

J. David
Vancouver, B.C.

Adventure Adviser: As you're planning to be gone for a year, I'd suggest investing in a few quality pieces of clothing that won't wear out and will manage to look pretty decent after a few dozen rounds of wear and tear.

In general, I'd say you need one pair of basic travel khakis, a pair of polypropylene long underwear, a good upper-body layering system that consists of a fleece jacket and an outer shell, a solid pair of hiking boots, and a few varieties of shirts — a crew-neck polypropylene long underwear shirt, a turtleneck, and a smart-looking button-down shirt that's comfortable and won't wrinkle.

Other items to bring: good sunglasses, a fleece vest, a good pair of gloves and a winter hat, a baseball hat, a pair of bullet-proof shorts, a few solid-colored T-shirts, and enough socks and underwear to keep you from having to do laundry every day.

The North Face's Travel Pant ($78) is a great basic. The pleated polyester pant has two hidden zippered pockets, a wicking finish, and mesh-lined pockets. Marmot makes an awesome Windstopper fleece jacket and accompanying Alpinist Lightweight shell that, when put together, will keep you cozy in virtually any weather condition.

The downside is these two items will cost upwards of $500. Ouch. But if you're an active guy, these two pieces of clothing will be your uniform for the next 10 years, plus. There are plenty of less expensive options, like Sierra Designs's Activent Jacket ($159), but you need to shop around and be aware of the pricey bells and whistles that you really don't need.

Hiking boots come in about 100 varieties these days, but are usually broken down into approach shoes, day hikers, and backpacking boots. You probably don't need the top-of-the-line ultra-stiff backpacking boot, but I would recommend a day hiker that'll keep your feet warm and is a pretty comfortable fit right off the bat.

I have a pair of L.L. Bean Cresta Hikers and love them. The leather, Gore-Tex lined boots are great for everything from après-ski to hiking 14,000-foot peaks. Plus they come in solid brown without any of the obnoxious colors that make your feet look like a neon sign blinking in the night.

To find all of this gear, I'd suggest you start at your nearest outdoor store like REI. Also, be sure to pick up Outside's brand-new 1998 Buyer's Guide that will be on your bookstore shelves by mid-March. The Buyer's Guide will give you the low-down on everything from the best binoculars to the best energy bars and everything in between. Until then, check out the 1997 Buyer's Guide for a few ideas.

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