It was a typical day in Italy on one of my many “research” trips for my tour company Go Get Lost, attempting to do two or even three walks a day, in addition to inspecting a couple of hotels and maybe even having time to tour a vineyard and chat with the owners. When you’re working to set up a new itinerary, you need to work fast and cram in as much stuff as possible in the shortest time possible…after all, time is money. For every walk we take our clients on, we’ve walked ten others that didn’t make the grade…for every hotel or inn that we use, we’ve inspected a dozen others. For every bottle of wine we pass around at lunch, we’ve…er…TASTED a dozen others. It’s a lot of work, but it’s the work we enjoy, and excel at.
My accelerated schedule is probably why I rushed out of the hotel in the pre-dawn darkness and didn’t properly check my daypack. If I HAD, I would have realized I neglected to pack one of my favorite pieces of gear…the one piece of gear I constantly preach to my clients NOT to leave home without.
My first walk was supposed to be a scenic three-hour trail between two lovely Italian villages. My local source assured me that the path, which wound through rolling forest and neatly tended vineyards, was well marked and offered stunning views of walled towns and classic Tuscan countryside. By late morning I found myself hopelessly lost, trying to decipher a maze of trails in a deep forest, with nary a farmhouse in sight. Once again the directions given to me by my contact, my detailed trail map, and the actual paths confronting me…all seemed to be from three different realities.
Then it happened…the sunshine gave way to an ominously overcast sky, the temperature dropped, and within minutes a downpour ensued that would have worried Noah. No worries, or so I thought. After two minutes of frantic digging in my pack the realization dawned on me that I was without my trusty rain jacket. The irony…I’d faithfully packed that jacket over hundreds of miles of trails on five continents, and only rarely needed it!
So for the next two hours, in a never-ending cold rain, I used my compass to bushwhack across country in a straight line to the nearest road, and then back to the village where my car was parked. Shivering, miserable, and without a dry spot on my body, I relearned a lesson I thought I already knew…never, ever, leave on a hike without your rain jacket. Even if the forecast has no rain, even if you feel lucky…don’t do it! Granted, I didn’t MEAN to do it, but I was wet even so. (Nothing a plate of pasta and glass of vino couldn’t cure, though.)
So now we come to the part where I extol the virtues and performance of a particular piece of travel gear, and this is no exception. As an avid hiker living in Colorado, and trail guide on five continents for my travel company Go Get Lost…Worldwide Adventures, I’m often asked for my recommendations on travel clothing. Without a doubt I have my favorite pieces of gear and apparel…the items that go into my suitcase without a second of mental debate.
A Norwegian girl once told me, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”, which is probably a popular saying in Norway, which I’m pretty sure has lots of bad weather. And it’s also probably why the best foul weather gear in the world is made there. Originally started in 1877 by a Norwegian fisherman and his wife, Helly Hansen produces rain gear that has no equal. For over three decades their apparel has been keeping me warm and dry, often in some pretty remote and difficult places. My current personal favorite is their LOKE Rain Jacket, mainly because it is a lightweight shell, which allows me to layer the appropriate clothing underneath to match the temperature, and it packs into its own pocket, which makes it fit neatly into my pack. The LOKE comes in men’s and women’s models, and a variety of colors. The jacket can also act as an effective windbreaker. I always take it on our Mt. Etna hikes in Sicily, which rarely see rain, but are always windy. The multipurpose uses of any piece of travel gear always gets high marks from me! Helly Hansen also has many other models and styles of rain gear, and all are equally well-designed and durable.
Remember though, they only work if you have them with you.
For all your travel questions feel free to contact me at Jeff@GoGetLost.com