Monday, June 5, 2017

Packing For the Long Haul - Traveling With Barbour


I was asked a little while ago to share how I pack for a long journey - in this case a two week trip to Japan. I had in mind a similar type of post about the jacket I brought with me, but this actually fits right in with that idea, in a broader sense.

My entire packing philosophy, if there is such a silly sounding thing, centers around one basic idea: maximizing versatility - the point being to save space by being able to wear each article interchangeably in as many situations as possible. Most guys out there own a fair number of shirts and pants, but most wardrobes are least built up in the footwear or outerwear department and you can't bring more than a couple on a trip, so that's usually where I anchor my wardrobe and build around it.


 

Planning for Weather


Our two weeks were projected to range from mid 40-60's Fahrenheit, with the majority spent in the 50's. When traveling more than a couple days, however, you often lose the ability to predict if it will rain during your whole trip. So unless you're going somewhere with a steady dry season, I find outerwear and footwear choices are best served if they can handle some inclement weather without getting ruined or soaking through.

Planning for Use


Most times I'll know well in advance if we'll be doing a good deal of hiking, carrying a bag all day, or generally putting some hard miles on what I'm wearing, which was the case on this trip. In times like these it wouldn't make sense to bring a sport coat if I'm going to be dragging straps on my shoulders, or wearing white pants if I'm kicking around in the dirt.

So with those things in mind, here's my two week packing list (as best I can remember it):



Outerwear

  • Barbour x Deus Ex Machina waxed cotton jacket

Sweaters

  • Uniqlo gray lambswool cardigan
  • RL Southwest pattern cotton cardigan


Shirts



Pants

Footwear



Accessories




Outerwear

Every guy should own a jacket he can just throw on without ever having to worry about. For me, it's the Barbour x Deus Ex Machina collaboration jacket I bought a few years ago for around $250 USD. It fits me well, but it's also relaxed enough that I can layer a light to medium-weight sweater underneath it when temperatures drop into the 40's without feeling like I'm bursting out of the seams. By itself, the weight of the jacket is ideal for temperatures in the 50's. 


In terms of weatherproofing and toughness, waxed cotton is one of the oldest and most time-honored textiles around. There are several ways of waxing cotton that vary in terms of look and feel, but this is probably the most conspicuous in that the waxed effect is on full display and leaves a lighter color where it's creased or flexed, similar in appearance to the pull-up effect on oiled leather (think Horween Chromexcel). So straight out of the box the jacket has somewhat of a vintage feel, and the overall aesthetic of the jacket is such that it looks even better the more it's used and beat up - at least, I think so.

It's equally notable to point out the considerably-sized outer pockets which I use to carry my sunglasses, a pocket wifi (a must-have in Japan), and any other small elements I need on hand.


Footwear


Red Wing Beckman boots

  • One of two pairs I brought on my trip were my Red Wing Beckmans, a workwear staple featuring durable RW's own Featherstone leather and a mini lug rubber sole. I like leather soles as much as the next guy, but with any water on the ground they're downright horrible. As expected, we did get got caught in a few showers sightseeing, and the winding trail up to Jigokudani Monkey Park is downright muddy enough to warrant bringing all-terrain footwear. But after hiking and ATV-ing through the Smokies a few months earlier, I knew my Beckmans could take a beating and not blink an...eyelet? Ayyyyyyy!

Buttero Tanino Lows

  • I also brought a pair of sneakers for lighter days. Despite being somewhat lumped under the same genre of minimalist sneakers, unlike the immaculate virgin Common Project Achilles, the Tanino's off-white sole and rich shade of vachetta leather don't start to look ugly once they've picked up some signs of wear.


Pants and Shirts


Sorry I don't have much in the way of fit pics, but in the list above, pretty much everything can be swapped in and out interchangeably. The only weather-limited item on the list are the N&F jeans, which I've unfortunately been caught out in the rain with before. It was an indigo bloodbath.

I tend to lean towards a lot of neutral blues, browns, and grays, but part of the reason is because they pair so easily with each other. I'll be the first to admit it's not the most exciting thing in the world, but having a very specific shirt that works with a very specific outfit is not a good thing when you're budgeting space in a suitcase.

Layering

Cardigan layered

When temperatures fluctuate by more than a few degrees over the course of a day and I'm stuck outside, I like to wear a few layers I can peel off and put back on easily rather than carrying around separate clothes for a 40 degree day and a 65 degree day. For that reason, I often pack a light mid layer in the form of a cardigan, which requires less work to take on/off than a pullover. It was significantly colder up in the north around Nagano when we went to the Monkey Park, for instance, so I just threw on one of those cardigans and that adjusted the comfortable temperature down maybe 10 degrees or so. Aside from that, I could wear the same shirt and pants I was wearing on warmer days.

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I think it's worth mentioning, given how jacket-centric this post and pictures are, that there are a ton of good waxed jacket options out there. I love the belted International-style jackets Barbour makes, but you could just as easily have taken a Bedale, Ashby, or any number of things in Barbour's collection. For something a little more upscale, Private White V.C. makes a waxed Twin Track jacket that Ian Anderson seems to sleep in these daysBelstaff's prices on sale aren't bad either, though generally a little overpriced I think most days of the year. You can find Private White for a pretty decent price at this spring/summer's Mr. Porter sale currently, and for Barbour at a good price, End Clothing is the best place at the moment, especially since Sierra Trading Post ran a bit dry recently and cut back on their heavy discounting.

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Oh, one last thing: I did wear underwear. No, you can't see it. At least buy me dinner first.

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