Today was a great day for shopping for a lot of minor yet very significant gear for the trek in Nepal. Of course I’m very fortunate that Richard already has pretty deep pile (literally) of hiking gear, so a lot of the major items are covered: trekking clothes, sleeping bags, day packs, bottles, tents, and so on. Pema was randomly reiterating all the time that I’ll definitely need some thermal underwear, and it sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. I imagine he literally froze his behind off at some point. Fortunately I have had the great experience in the past to gear up for US Army field exercises, and I grew to love some of the cold weather specialties they provided. The keyword for then and for today’s shopping spree was “polypro” or polypropylene. This amazing engineered material has found countless applications, from the Tic Tacs lids to polymer banknotes in Australia. Amazingly it is one of the most common components in cold weather and water wicking gear. Just about everything I bought today had a substantial content of this plastic material.
Since I already have the major components, such as the outer shell and the heavy gloves, I just needed to get a few of the “inner” layers, the ones closer to the skin. First was a thin fleece liner shirt. I got it fitting a little tight since it will probably go underneath most of the layers. That will be very warm and it will pull a lot of the moisture away. I got some polypro sock liners, which are like thin dress socks to go inside the thicker socks made of wool or other synthetics. The idea there is to pull the moisture away and to alleviate any spots that rub on the foot. I got a polypo sweatshirt and pants also. The one item I was really after, though, was the green polypro foam sleeping mat. Although it doesn’t deflate and pack up that well… wait a minute… “although”? It’s great that it doesn’t compact down for the convenience of packing. It’s purpose it to actually provide padding and insulation to the imminent hard, cold ground I’ll be sleeping on. That polypro pad has given me many great nights of sleep amongst the Louisiana poison ivy patches and Hawaiian centipede gulches, and the Thermarest pads have not been so comfy for me. So thank science for such a versatile and useful material. Oh, the only con for polypro is that it is flammable, so I’ll need to be a little more mindful when I’m playing with fire.