Gear that Works!

After 5,000 miles of getting meteorologically pounded during my outdoor travels, I’ve used and abused lots of equipment. Some gear seems to fall apart as soon as it leaves the store, and some of it performs great through all manner of abuse.

Gear that Works! focuses on gear that stands the test of time. This is a no-holds-barred look at what really works for Jess and I based on our personal experiences in the field. I hope ya’ll enjoy the reviews, and feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

The first review puts the spotlight on Pacific Outdoor Equipment’s line of WXtex dry sacks. We've abused ours and haven’t managed to tear one up yet!

WXtex Dry Sacks, from Pacific Outdoor Equipment

We used several WXtex dry sacks from Pacific Outdoor Equipment during our 2,150-mile paddle down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. Our gear stayed bone-dry for 73 days despite thunderstorms, temperature extremes, UV exposure, and rough handling. Purge valves allowed us to pack our sleeping bags and other compressible gear, roll down the top, and then squeeze out the air to make for a smaller load.
Our 15-liter bags were used as bailout bags. Wallets and other valuables were carried in these, the idea being that if everything else was lost or stolen we could at least make it home. We were easy to spot with our Hot Orange "pocketbooks", but I couldn't be happier with their performance.
These dry bags are still being used, and no leaks have developed despite the rigors they’ve been through. Because of their continued high performance, Pacific Outdoor Equipment's WXtex dry sacks are great examples of Gear That Works! 

Marmot DriClime Windshirt

I purchased my DriClime shirt in Manchester Center, Vermont, during my southbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Prior to this, I was using a 100-weight fleece shirt that just wasn't cutting it - not warm enough for my only insulation, but too hot to hike in. 3,000 miles of backpacking and paddling later, My Marmot DriClime Windshirt remains the single most-used piece of gear I own.

I'd heard about this jacket for years but never understood why people raved about them so much. It's just a windbreaker, right?


The DriClime Windshirt has attained it's cult status among outdoor folks for good reason - It works great over a wide temperature range, dries quickly, and can be used under an array of conditions. It's a simple garment with few bells and whistles, and that's a good thing.

Layering is this piece is all about. Depending on the weather, this can be used as a next to skin layer, mid-layer, or outer shell. This versatility allows you to use one piece of clothing for many situations, and allows me to leave an extra shirt at home to save weight.

The range of temperatures this garment can be used for is incredible. I'm comfortable hiking in it over a synthetic t-shirt down into the upper 30's, and when worn with gloves, hat, and a thermal long sleeve underneath, it easily goes well below freezing while hiking. As the weather warms up, I open up the zipper to cool off. My DriClime is always at the top of my pack and is the first layer I put on when getting chilly.

The nylon shell is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) from the factory. I often use the windshirt in drizzle and light rains rather than break out a rainjacket, but it should't be considered a rain shell by any stretch of the imagination. Once it gets wet, it dries out in a flash. The jacket is lined with Marmot's proprietary polyester lining that does a great job of wicking moisture off your skin.

The outer layer is quite breathable but effectively blocks the wind. The mesh armpits allow you to let off some steam without being too breezy.

I'm 6'2" and wear a size large. Sleeve length is long enough, but I wish it was about an inch longer in the torso. The thin nylon shell isn't the most durable material, so I'd think twice before scrambling through a briar patch. Having said that, I don't baby my gear, and my DriClime is still going strong after many miles of abuse.

Bottom Line
The Marmot DriClime shirt is a great layering piece. It has just the right combination of features to do what it's supposed to do without being cumbersome. Bottom line, I love mine, and highly recommend their DriClime line for anybody that likes to play outside.