Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Gear: Clothes

There are a lot of cliches about clothes, but the truth is that there's a big difference between the right clothes for a mission, and the wrong clothes for a mission. Over the years, I've been pretty good at packing the right clothes for the various places I've gone, and I was particularly successful in planning and packing for the Middle East. Having grown up in conditions similar to those I'll experience in Aberdeen, and having previously spent five years on a college campus, I'm confident that I'll be able to choose the right clothes for this particular mission.

My dad turned me on to Carhartt, particularly Carhartt trousers, when I was in college. In the Middle East, I wore Carhartt's B151 Canvas Work Dungarees and B260 Canvas Utility Cargo Pants exclusively. I've also been wearing their B73 Double Front Logger Dungarees and B136 Double Front Duck Work Dungarees for years. The former are lightweight and good for looking somewhat presentable, while the latter are heavier and great for cold weather. I'll also take at least one pair of Desert Tiger Stripe trousers for hikes. Between various military style utility belts, and a couple of leather belts, I should be able to keep all of them from falling down.

When I left for the Middle East in late 2010, I also threw out my well worn Carhartt Jacket, which had served me well since 2002, so I'll be replacing it with a new J97 Blanket Lined Sandstone Detroit Jacket to supplement my TAD Gear Pathfinder Jacket.

Boots are another important piece of kit, and I'll be taking my Doc Martens. Despite being heavy, I've had great results from my Docs over the years. I'll probably also take one pair of desert combat boots. Other than a set of shower shoes, I'm not sure what other footwear I'll take.

That brings us to shirts. I have a pretty good T-shirt collection that I've snagged over the years, most of which are from Ranger Up, with a few more from David Malki(!)'s store at Topatoco. As comfortable as T-shirts are, my dress code has become a bit more professional as I've gotten older. I've had great results from 5.11's Professional Polos and Covert Casual Shirts, as well as L.L. Bean's Classic Rugby Shirt. My white dress shirts are classic and ubiquitous, and I have a few other dress shirts that I plan to take, but I could stand to hit the outlet mall up north and snag another couple before I go.

I imagine it will get fairly cold there from time to time, so I plan to take bona fide Navy watch cap and a couple of shemaghs. I know what you're thinking: "Tom, a shemagh? Aren't those just for the Middle East?" Nay, my friends. Shemaghs are great for protecting you from the sun and the sand, yes, but they're also great for retaining heat under cold conditions. If it's freezing cold outside and you've got a Carhartt jacket and jeans, wool socks, Docs, a watch cap, and a shemagh to wrap around your neck and face, you're going to be nice and warm while you're walking from your flat to class.

I don't yet have any indication of how much baggage all of this stuff is going to require, but I made it to the Middle East with about two bags full of gear, so I ought to be able to get away with three for Aberdeen once you figure in books and additional gear. Fortunately, some of this stuff will be considered field expendable (meaning it will be left in Aberdeen when I leave), and Gus will be helping me to mule it over. Great success!

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