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#169145 - 09/08/12 11:14 PM Pack Recommendation for Beginner
asarkar Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/08/12
Posts: 10
Prelude:
I am an avid photographer and love doing easy day hikes (<5 mi round trip). I've never considered speciality hiking gear and so far the blue Jeans with sneakers have served reasonably well. However, I am soon embarking on a NW trip with several day hikes in mind and realized that my luck with being unprepared might just run out anytime. Hence the following question.

Question:
Please recommend a backpack suitable for day hikes. It'd be nice, but not necessary, if the pack could also suffice for a weekend overnight trip, which is the longest trip I might indulge in foreseeable future. Upon some research, I found the following few packs seemingly suitable to my need.

GoLite Jam 35L
Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight Backpack 2012
Osprey Talon 22
Osprey Hornet 24
Black Diamond Magnum Pack
Black Diamond Blaze Pack

Thanks in advance.

--
Abhijit

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#169146 - 09/09/12 05:50 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1343
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Also take a look at the Osprey Kestrel 38 - the suspension is a bit beefier than the other two Osprey packs you mention, and the extra capacity would let you stretch it for an overnighter pretty easily. (If 38 liters is still too large, they also make a Kestrel 28.)

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#169147 - 09/09/12 07:34 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
In my opinion, if your overnight trips will be infrequent, it's not worth it to buy more expensive gear. This means your pack for the overnight trips will probably need to be around 50-60 liters. You may carry more weight than others, but since it's just one day, you won't be loaded down with a lot of food.

My son does just fine with a schoolbag for day hikes. I see all kinds of little bags on the trail and most are more expensive than they need to be. Last weekend I saw a guy with an old pack with a beautifully finished wooden frame. That was the classiest one I've seen. In my opinion, spending a lot of money to save a pound or two on a day pack isn't worth it.

I find suspension isn't so important for dayhikes as the pack is light and I never notice the pack. What may be more important is how it holds your photography gear.

Hiking in jeans and sneakers is fine if you can keep dry. For cheap pants, I prefer cargo pants from WalMart for about $14 as they have more pockets. They are cotton, but my fallback position is to wear my rainpants. If jeans are more comfortable, just carry a pair of synthetic pants in your pack for wet days.

Keep in mind Glenn and I are on opposite sides of the gear thing. Glenn seems to enjoy getting a lot of new gear. I've become almost evangelically opposed to this approach. I prefer to use my gear to extinction. If I have time to drive to REI to look at new gear, I have time to get one more trip out of the old gear I have.

I've also become more minimalist as I get more experience. It's just walking and sleeping on the ground for a night.


Edited by Gershon (09/09/12 07:35 AM)
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#169149 - 09/09/12 11:14 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Gershon]
asarkar Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/08/12
Posts: 10
Thank you. I've a speciality pack for photography gear (with compartments & extra padding) and not planning to use the day pack for same purpose. Most likely, my wife will carry the day pack.
It sounds like, from your suggestion, that I should either go for a school bag or a 50L pack. I wasn't sure if carrying a scantily loaded big pack was worthwhile and was concentrating on small packs like the ones in OP (<25L). But I might be missing something because until yesterday, I had no idea about hiking gear and I can't say in one day I've gained a lot of knowledge.

P.S: I am not getting email notifications of replies posted. What do I need to do to get those?

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#169150 - 09/09/12 12:23 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
If I had to have just one pack, it would have to serve all purposes. A partially full pack for day hiking is no big deal.

Or you could buy two packs. Either way is good.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#169155 - 09/09/12 03:17 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Gershon]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1343
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Gershon and I are on the opposite sides of the new-gear thing by preference, not for any objective differences. For me, trying out a variety of different stuff has almost become a sub-hobby; I'm luck that my stage in life (no kids, mortgages, or vices other than gear) allows me to indulge this. I've also been lucky in that my "rejects" end up on the trail anyhow, in someone else's pack.

However, there's nothing wrong with his approach - it was my approach, too, back when the kids were at home (with college tuition staring at us), and home was still mostly owned by the bank. It worked, and worked well.

My advice was given under the assumption that the decision to buy a new pack had already been made, and you were just narrowing the list. If you already have a pack in the 40 - 50 liter range, try a couple of trips with it, and make sure you enjoy the overnight part before you invest in a lot of gear.

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#169157 - 09/09/12 04:45 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
asarkar Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/08/12
Posts: 10
Is a 35L (approx 2200 ci) overkill for 4-6 mi day hikes?

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#169158 - 09/09/12 06:30 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you go on very long dayhikes (sunrise to sunset, 10+ miles) you want to pack enough to carry you over an extra day just in case.

You will want to ALWAYS have the 10 essentials in some form. (If you don't know what those are, cruise to the main page, backpacking.net, and check the links in the left column.)

My overnight (1-4 nights) pack is a 40 liter, however, my gear list has evolved and has less bulk/weight than most. My day pack is a 35L when I am out with a bunch of newbies for a dayhike or have special circumstances (fishing gear, dicey weather forecast, special occasion requiring a birthday cake or some other extra). My usual dayhike pack for up to 8 miles (which I can hike in half a day or less) is about 500 cu. in. and always has the 10 essentials, my food and water for the hike, a windshirt at minimum, a fleece or down jacket maximum, and my point and shoot camera.

I would say everything depends on what (or who) you take on day hikes. If you have kids, you may want a bigger pack, and 35L would be plenty.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169160 - 09/09/12 07:03 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
So far, we haven't discussed any of the features and benefits of daypack design.

Let's use this one for an example.

First thing I'd look for is two outside pockets that will each hold a water bottle. Most of us just buy Arrowhead water or some other brand and use those bottles. They are lightweight and come free with water.

Then there is the compartment for lunch and snacks along the trail. This is normally towards the back of the pack. I'd also put my water filter in this compartment.

There is the small zippered pocket on the top which is a good place to put your wallet, car keys and minor first aid kit.

The outside pocket is a good place for a field guide, journal, or whatever else you might want quick access to. I'd suggest keeping these in Ziploc bags.

Finally, there is what I call the big bag section where I put my extra clothes, stove and fuel.

Saying what size will work is difficult as it may be dependent on how big you are and what specific clothes you bring.

My suggestion is to get all your gear together and go to REI if you have one in your area. I'd stay away from the box stores.

If you have to order by mail, REI has a very liberal lifetime return policy. If you become a lifetime member for $20, you will get emails on sales, a 15% dividend on many of your purchases and you don't have to keep receipts.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#169162 - 09/09/12 08:37 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
asarkar,

35 litre is a nice size. I carried a 40litre on a thru-hike of the AT, but like Lori, my gear has evolved.

My regular day pack is probably about 10 or 12 litres, but it's jammed (I also carry enough to stay out if something goes wrong)

I've told the story here before, but early in my last thru-hike, a southbound hiker went by me and asked how far I was going. When I said Katadin, he looked at my pack and said, "but that is a day pack." Actually, it was partly in German, so the quote is not direct, but it was pretty funny.

best,jcp

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#169165 - 09/09/12 09:03 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I always get a hydration bladder pocket in my packs, all of them - I never use water bottles. I've had them leak, break, and generally I won't drink enough water if I don't have a bite valve in front of me all the time.

I put everything in the pack itself and never in side mesh pockets where they can be ripped out of the pack by a bush or fall out when I drop the pack. (But I am not always on a nice brush-free trail.)

I never put anything in a front pocket for the same reason.

Everything depends on where and when you go.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169167 - 09/09/12 10:01 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
If you have the bookbag you took to school with you, you're set to start. If you don't, buying a Jansport bookbag from Target will get you started for $10-$15. Still follow the recommendation to bring your ten essentials + any gear you'd put in the pack to the store to ensure it'll fit.

After you've bummed around with that for a while, then think about what more you'd like (a hip belt, a hydration bladder pocket, specific photography gear padding, etc).

Gear is supposed to solve problems that you have. If you have no problem, you don't need a new widget to fix the problem.

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#169170 - 09/10/12 07:15 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Steadman]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1343
Loc: Southwest Ohio
"Gear is supposed to solve problems that you have. If you have no problem, you don't need a new widget to fix the problem."

That belongs in the "Most profound advice I've ever gotten" thread! It is, hands down, the most succinct explanation of gear selection I've ever run across. Well done!

So, how do I justify my gear-junkie approach? Well, I spend a lot of time looking for problems! smile

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#169178 - 09/10/12 11:15 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Glenn Roberts]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts

So, how do I justify my gear-junkie approach? Well, I spend a lot of time looking for problems! smile


I seem to have a knack for finding problems. To stay on topic, I'm looking at the 28L Habanero pack from Granite Gear for my dayhiking needs. As well as the Osprey Strato 24L. They are both in 100-115.00 range, but I'll get a lot of use and many years of service out of it.
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#169181 - 09/10/12 12:39 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
verber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I would second people's recommendation that one of the best things you can do is gather up all the things you what to carry and bring it to a store with a good selection of daypacks. Find a pack that the gear fits perfectly into (not to big, not to small) and feels comfortable to the person who will be carrying it.

That said, to give you a starting point, if you wife is only carrying things she needs, 20L should be a good size. If you are carrying "just" camera gear and she is carrying everything else, 30L might be a better size. Any pack that would be large enough for an overnight (unless you are committed to going ultralight) would be overkill for your dayhikes. FInd something that is right for the immediate problem and revisit if/when you decide to give backpacking a try.

I would note that The Murmur and the Jam are fairly minimalist. Some people love this sort of design. When backpacking this would be my preference, but for day hikes I typically like a few additional features... the Talon is more my speed.

I have written up some others thinks to consider on my recommended daypacks page.


Edited by verber (09/10/12 12:40 PM)

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#169204 - 09/10/12 07:38 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: verber]
asarkar Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/08/12
Posts: 10
I read your page about recommended daypacks. You mentioned about SLR lenses so it seems you share a similar interest. What's your thought about Black Diamond packs? Some people seem to love 'em but you didn't mention in your reply or in your page.
The closest REI is 3 hr drive away from me. There's a Dick's Sporting Goods but they may not have the packs I wanna try in stock. I need to buy to try hence the long comparison.

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#169205 - 09/10/12 07:38 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
asarkar Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/08/12
Posts: 10
I always thought a bag that could pack both hiking gear and photo gear did not exist. I have been using a Think Tank Airport Antidote v2.0 for lugging photo gear for more than 2 years now. The pack is not very comfortable on uneven trails but it's built like a tank and gives me a good night's sleep while carrying $$ worth of photo gear. It's also the approved size for carry-on luggage.

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#169253 - 09/11/12 11:27 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: asarkar]
verber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I don't feel strongly for or against black diamond daypacks. My experience is that most daypacks are "ok". The carry stuff, they have various features. Most are too heavy. Every now and again someone makes a daypack that stands out... and then they discontinue that really great pack and replace it with something that isn't as good frown

As to a pack that works for hiking and photo work... well it sort of depends. If you are going for maximum protection of camera gear then there are some Lowe Pro bags which might work depending on how many bodies / lens / etc you carry.

Normal daypacks work for me because of two things. First, I tend to think of my camera and lens as tools. I purchased them to use so while I am careful, I don't baby them. If I damage something - has happened... but not while it's in the bag) I will repair or replace it. Second, I tend not to carry a huge area of lens... max 5, only one lens longer than 90mm. I typically have the camera out all the time hanging from a harness or a pouch attached to my shoulder strap with whatever lens I am using at the time (tends to be a 17-35/2.8 or a wide or normal prime). The bottom section of my daypack would have a Domke F-5xb bag which I insert sideways (e.g. the top of the camera bag faces the opening in my pack holding several lens that I might put out for something special. If I have additional lens they will be in Domke wraps in the top section of my daypack. I will typically have a long lens in one of the side water bottle pockets in a padded container... for smaller lens this tends to be a padded / insulated holster designed to hold a water bottle. It is insulated with foam to keep water cool... which provide a good bit of protection. I have the long lens outside so I can get to it quickly for when I could across wildlife that is likely not going to stick around for long.

This summer I switched to using only u4/3. With the Olympus OM-D the image quality is "good enough" for my need when outdoors and is way lighter and more compact than a full size DSLR. A OM-D with the 35mm equiv of a 17-35/2.8 attached, 45/2.8 macro, 20/1.7, 90-400/4-5.6 fit (slightly cramped) into my Domke F5-xb that I installed a couple extra divided.

--Mark

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#169317 - 09/12/12 03:50 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: verber]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
One thing I would do for your camera gear if you don't buy a specialty pack is go to a Target, Wal-Mart or Dick's and buy a blue foam sleeping pad and a can of neoprene or wesuit cement. These pads have been around for years and are often the first pad anyone buys. Should be around $10 at the most. They are dense closed cell foam about a half inch think and baby blue (usually). The cement (also called Barge cement which is a brand name), works well on it. A dive shop or place like Home Depot should have it since it can be used on foam insulation.

Use the foam to make dividers or lightweight padded cases for lenses or camera bodies. I've made an insulated case for a thermos bottle and a few other things with it.

On another note from your original post-leave the jeans at home. Once they get wet they are worse than useless and I mean that-heavy and with no insulation at all. Wet jeans can lead to hypothermia which can kill you. Not trying to be dramatic, but those are the facts. If you can't afford fancy hiking pants, don't worry, get a pair of cheap wool pants and wear those. Army surplus stores have them, so does Goodwill and stores like them. Forget anything made of cotton in cold weather unless you are in sub zero weather (I will skip why cotton works in really cold weather for the moment) and I mean anything including underwear. Get anything synthetic. Doesn't have to be fancy. Target and other discount stores carry a lot of synthetic stuff. Dick's should have some cheap snowboard pants and those will work too. Sierra Trading Post is a good place online to buy stuff at heavily discounted prices. I've bought a couple of things from them and they have great customer service if you have to return something.

I have some Patagonia Capilene base layer pieces. The prices are outrageous, but I have two pieces, a top and bottom I bought 25 years ago and they are still fine after quite a bit of wear. They have sales once in a while. Beware of fakes on eBay; there are a lot of TNF (North Face) counterfeit goods on the net, especially on eBay. I've even seen manufacturer's notices for fake climbing gear (Petzl).


Edited by TomD (09/14/12 02:03 AM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#169353 - 09/12/12 11:02 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: TomD]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd like to reinforce the warning about cotton jeans. My then teenage daughter (who insisted on being fashionable to the point that I gave in) wore jeans on her second backpacking trip. On the trail in, we missed the rain, but the waist-high brush and grass along the trail was soggy and quickly soaked us from the waist down. The air temperature was about 60*F, with a bit of a breeze. I noticed that she was unusually quiet, but it wasn't until the first rest stop that I realized she was shivering and becoming somewhat incoherent. I set some kind of speed record getting the tent up, stripping off her soggy jeans, bundling her into two sleeping bags (hers and mine), heating hot water bottles and brewing many cups of hot cocoa. She was already hypothermic enough that she couldn't have helped herself!

Needless to say, the next trip she wore a pair of Air Force surplus tropical weight polyester and wool pants, and never again insisted in being fashionable on the trail!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#169370 - 09/13/12 10:33 AM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I'm going to disagree with the "cotton kills" theory. Not to suggest people discard synthetics and go back to cotton, but to illustrate a concept I'll call "Living within the limitations of your gear."

I grew up with cotton and didn't use synthetics until the middle of the season last year. One of the things I emphasized with my son was staying dry. At the time, it was one of the most important paradigms for being in the wilderness. We planned our mileage early in the day before the rain which is quite predictable in Colorado. If it looked like an unexpected storm was coming, we made camp early and sat in the tent. We usually don't have all day storms here.

The military had cotton fatigues until sometime in the 80's. We learned to deal with them just fine, so it is possible.

The second concept is "Recognizing a problem before it becomes a problem." The problem OM described wasn't just cotton. It was combining cotton with a soggy trail. It's pretty impossible to tell a teenager not to get wet. But a simple solution would have been to wear rainpants and go a little slower if needed so the jeans didn't get wet from the inside.

Cotton has advantages on the hot end if it's lightweight. It is much cooler than synthetics and it doesn't smell as bad. In colder weather, I'll wear the jeans. I gave up the car last October to May and road hiked almost everyday regardless of the weather. Jeans are warmer in cold weather and a lot tougher than flimsy synthetic pants. You just have to recognize the limitation and put on rainpants if they are going to get wet.

I'm going back to cotton. Light cargo pants and a cotton shirt with a pocket for my camera. I seriously doubt I'll have any problems. There are a couple fallback positions. If my pants get wet, I can just wear my rainpants. If my shirt gets wet, I can take it off. It won't make much difference in warmth if I put my fleece and other layers on over my skin. Worst case, I can set up the tent and get in the sleeping bag.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#169376 - 09/13/12 01:34 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
We were issued cotton and cotton blend shirts and pants for SAR. We are trying hard to convince the dept to change to synthetics - cotton is sweaty, stinky and uncomfortable for hiking.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169377 - 09/13/12 04:43 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Why not have a choice?

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#169380 - 09/13/12 05:11 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
It's a uniform. The sheriff's dept makes Those decisions. Arguing with a paramilitary organization is like teaching pigs to sing...

Cotton is inappropriate for backpacking. Our shirts stay soaked for hours and hours, and Most hypothermia cases happen in summer because people think it won't happen above freezing. And yet it does... Being wet accelerates it, and cotton stays wet.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169385 - 09/13/12 08:55 PM Re: Pack Recommendation for Beginner [Re: lori]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
Sheriff's department also has to consider fire as a risk.

As an volunteer EMT in a fire department I NEVER wore synthetics (pants, socks, shirt, t-shirt). 50% poly/cotton is ok (I've worn it with no bunker gear in a firefighting trainer) for heat, but not for direct flame (I really screwed up a shirt burning off irish pennants one day).

The reason for the ban on UnderArmor and like undergarmets in Iraq/Afghanistan (that may or may not still be in affect) is the damage that melting poly clothing does in wounds. It is the same reason that nylon boots aren't allowed aboard Navy ships. While some of these service rules are honored in the breach, they were written in people's blood as early as the STARK incident and the Falklands conflict.

Lori, in your case I recommend approaching the department from a situational perspective - "SAR Volunteer uniforms should be poly (or wool) and if an alternative uniform is approved it should be purchased by the member in a style designed by and approved by the department". You may be able to get around the bureaucracy if you sell them on low cost to the department and departmental control while acknowldging their concerns legitimate safety concerns in other areas.

To help the OP (for whom the above considerations are probably irrelevant) Sears/JC Penny will have pants on sale soon. Last season microfiber or wool pants can go for about $10 a pair if you can find a pair that fits well. I wear the same pair of pants hiking as I do with a sport coat, which amuses me to no end.


Edited by Steadman (09/13/12 09:01 PM)

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