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Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain gear part 2

Farley got to get out of her pen for the first time in 12 days!  We went for a nice little 3 mile handwalk in the sunshine....oops, I mean drizzle, since yes, it is still raining.  Poor girl is a bundle of energy and with 12 days of "tapering"  (back to my marathon days!) she's a 'raring to go!  If it continues to just drizzle, I *might* have an area suitable for lunging by tomorrow, so my plan is to ease her back to work with hand walks, jogs, light lunging, and some dressage work at walk/trot this week.  I've put off my long ride until the first week of February to give the trails a chance to dry so my 20 MT decision will be made after that.
As you can probably guess, the first thing I did after coming back from the diaster that was Wild West 2008, was go shopping.  Can you believe I did not own one piece of waterproof clothing?  Here are some of the items I have collected over the last 18 months.  Some have worked well....some have not.
Ariat thinsulate lined waterproof tall boots:  Hands down the BEST boot purchase I have ever made.  I got extrememly lucky and found these used at in my size.  I've used them 2 seasons and they have never failed me.  They are comfy, don't leak, and are extremely nice to ride in.  I even find myself using them in the summer time!  I've had problems with the durability of Ariats and I'm pleased to announce that I don't see why I shouldn't get another 2-3 seasons in them!  I even prefer them over my muckboots for most stable activities.
Thinsulate riding mittens:  Big thumbs (or should I say pinkies?) down.  I've never had the courage to ride in them, but after just wearing them around camp, it was a dissapointment.  Yep, the hand stays warm, but my poor pinkie turns into a chunk of ice.  There are better alternatives out there.
Polarfleece riding pants:  Polar fleece is a girls best friend.  Beware, they are not as stretchy as the regular tights, AND they make your thighs look a bit bigger, but hey - you will be warm! 
Silk underware:  The best $$ I've spent since the afore described ariats.  Tops AND bottoms are essential.  I substituted the silk bottoms under tights for my polarfleece tights and was very happy. 
Mr. Buddy portable heater:  Fabulous.  As long as I have sufficient ventilation (ie, I leave the door partway open) I'll even use it in my tent.  It heats up FAST.  I'm a wimp about matches and fire and love this thing.  I use it in the tent, at the ride meetings, at dinner, in the horse trailer......It will heat up the horse area (back) of your horse trailer before you can decide to wear your PJs on the 50 because it's just too cold to change (assuming of course you didn't sleep in your tights....)
Serius waterproof gloves:  Mixed bag.  They are sealed at the seams so if you decide to dunk your hand in the trough and sponge in the middle of winter, it's not going to save you from your stupidity.  They also aren't super warm.  I haven't used them for riding, but I'm pleased at the "feel" of the glove and use them around the barn for beet pulp soaking operations etc.  I'm planning on experiementing with silk glove liners to improve the warmth.  I don't see a problem riding with them becuase they aren't bulky at all.
Outback branded packable, full length duster:  Light and (supposidly) 100% waterproof.  This was a cheaper option than gortex so I initally bought this.....I *think* it's waterproof, but it's hard to say for sure.  When it gets wet it gets kind of clingy but so far I've stayed dry.  It's long on me (I'm short) and I have ridden in it, and it does fine, as it has all the necessary straps for your thighs etc.  Packs away very small.  I like my gortex jacket better (see below) but still keep this in the trailer if it's really blowing and I want to keep my whole body (including pants) dry.
Gortex jacket (Cabelas brand, the packable model):  Fantastic for layering, a hood that actually stays put in the wind, and absolutely waterproof and breathable.  Watch the sales like a hawk and pick yours up as soon as you can.  I can't say enough good things about this jacket. 
Down Vest (Cabelas brand):  Watch the sales my friends (I picked my up for $12) - this ranks up there with the boots and gortex jacket as my fav piece of clothing!  I cannot say enough good things about it.  It's warm, it's light, it's packable, it's great for layering, it feel luxerious.  I love the fact that it snaps instead of zips or velcros.  It has fabulous pockets.  Need I say more?
I've also thrown things into my ride bag like some of the hot hands (they are relatively expensive, so I don't use them all the time).  I already perfer wool socks so my feet are taken care of. 
At home I don't let rain stop me from riding as long as the footing is good and the wind isn't blowing much.  I've tested everything out on conditioning rides, but haven't (thank goodness!) encounted heavy rains at events.  This year is shaping up like a wet year though.....I got my first taste at Desert Gold 2009.  It alternated raining/sprinkling/misting/heavy fog.  I wasn't many of the items described above, however I did discover some things that are worth considering.
I shall call my Desert Gold 09 wardrobe, Exhibit B:  
  • Cotton/lycra blend tights
  • Full set of long silk underware, top and bottom
  • Wool socks (with trail running tennis shoes)
  • Long sleeve hiking shirt made of quick dry nylon (designed to go hiking in the summer time with the SPF rating and zip off sleeves)
  • SSG gloves, winter weight, but not waterproof
Can you believe I was not cold or wet the entire ride?  My silks kept me warm, and as soon as I would become damp, my clothes would instantly dry because there was no bulk.  Obviously this doesn't work in extremely cold or wet conditions, however, I'm rethinking my layer upon layer philosophy when the sky is just spitting.

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