During the month of June, my husband Sean and I will be packing our truck and heading to Montana to run in the Glacier National Park Half Marathon by Vacation Races. We are taking a little more than 2-weeks to complete the adventure, and we've been preparing for the 13.1-mile run across the mountain landscape (overlooking the lakes) by hiking the tallest peaks in Southern California (Mt. Baldy and Mt. Whitney), and hill sprinting our local trail (Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook).
On the way to Glacier, we'll be stopping to explore Zion, Bryce, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons National Parks, while crossing 5 states on along the way!
For an adventure such as this, I need to plan in advance what I'll be packing, for both functional apparel, and necessary gear. Temperatures swing within and between these national monuments, and the key to packing for an adventure such as this is layering. I want each item I bring to be versatile enough that I won’t feel awkward and unprepared when suddenly its freezing and I really, really wish I had brought something else!
Of course, I never pack as lightly as I could, and I often don’t wear everything I bring— I have been known to wear the same outfit for entire weekend trips, no matter what I’ve packed— but the aim for this two week adventure is to wear everything at least twice (and if need be, everything at once!).
I start the packing process by first choosing my accessories and functional pieces, because otherwise I’m likely to forget them. Setting these aside at the beginning also guarantees that I will pair them with every outfit I decide to bring. Also, I recommend packing essential personal gear first— pack what's needed in order to sleep well in the wild, and what's needed for that midnight walk to the campsite restroom.
Altogether, I need to consider how to:
pack our duffels
pack our gear
pack day bags + food
pack the truck, i.e.: bikes / cooler / camp gear, food, + shower, tech gear, etc.
Hat: Abby Paffrath; Buff: Buff Wear; Underwear: MeUndies; Bikini: Rip Curl; Boots: The North Face; Sunglasses: Maui Jim; Sweater: Smartwool; Gloves: The North Face; Socks: Smartwool; Tank top: Spiritual Gangster; Pants: Prana.
What to Wear
The key to packing for this trip is layering, and so I will need to choose items that feel good whether they are the only thing I'm wearing, or one of several pieces of clothing. Bulky sleeves or heavy knits aren't going to work for this trip; I need to layer multiple long sleeves over multiple tanks, and be able to wear several pairs of pants at once without feeling, or looking, like a stuffed potato.
The Basic Essentials
There's no need to pack in excess here: bottom layers like a few pairs of hiking socks, a single bikini bathing suit (for outdoors showers, kayaking, and natural hot springs), a sports bra, and super comfortable underwear, like MeUndies, are essential. When on the road, there is plenty of opportunity to hand wash these items as needed, so I won't need to stuff my duffel with 2-weeks worth of underwear. I will be sure to use an all-natural, safe laundry soap to lessen my impact on the wild environment.
Smartwool socks come in various thickness and patterns, but they are great for keeping your feet warm and dry on the trail. I have varied my inventory of Smartwool socks to meet different needs: some are thicker for colder temperatures and nighttime comfort, others are thinner for long day hikes and tighter boots.
Beanie: Arc'teryx; Vest: The North Face; Base Layer: Lululemon; Base Layer: Sweaty Betty; Socks: Farm to Feet; Running Tights: Nike Women.
The Base Layers
Base layers can be anything that fits snug to the body, providing a layer of warmth underneath the outer layer of pants or sweater. Since I won't necessarily be in freezing temperatures, I should be fine with a pair of running tights and an athletic tank top with a built-in sports bra as my base layers. Other tanks, t-shirts, or long sleeves, as well as heavier pants, can be layered over these light-weight items without creating bulk or discomfort.
I find that running apparel make for excellent layers. It is typically sweat-and smell-resistant, dries easily, and takes up very little room in a day pack. They also tend to lie flat and smooth on top of each other while being worn, so bends in the body (like arm pits and around the elbows) don't get twisted and scrunched up between layers.
I love my base layer by Sweaty Betty! Its cute, vibrant pattern keeps me from feeling stuck in dull neutrals, plus, it is really warm! I wear it as a base while snowboarding in the winter months, but it makes for a warm outer layer as the sun fades over camp during the summer months.
Sweatshirt: Columbia; Gloves: The North Face; Beanie: Banana Republic; Thermal: Columbia; Tank top: TeeSpring; Sweat Pants: REI.
I cannot fathom another night of camping without my REI Teton Fleece Sweat Pants. They are durable, comfortable, attractive, and come with zippered pockets and a drawstring waist. I made sure to get a pair for myself, and a pair for my husband Sean, as they come Tall S-M-L-XL in both Women's and Men's sizes. They have been the best purchase I've made to date (aside from a headlamp!) for camping!
One way I show my love and support for our National Parks is by speaking out against the political climate that seeks to destroy them. This tank top by Teespring is just one way I express my stance against our current President, who is actively pursuing legislation to minimize our National Parks and preserved lands, despite protests by local First Nations, environmentalists, and of course, climate scientists and forest rangers! I saw this tank and just had to get it! I love wearing it in public and having complete strangers high-5 me for what's written on front, and since its in every language, its bringing laughs from people of all backgrounds!
Nighttime at the campground usually means chilly temperatures, and this is when puffy vests and jackets are best! My puffy vest by The North Face is perfect as the sun is just setting, warming my core while my arms are free to set up camp, make dinner, and build the fire. When temperatures are lowest, however, I bust out my puffy down jacket by Columbia, which I usually layer with a hooded sweatshirt to keep my neck warmest, and the mosquitos off. With this combination, I'm super snug around the campfire, whether I'm enjoying a beer or some hot chocolate, I'm basking in comfort and able to be at my best.
Shoes: La Sportiva; Long Sleeve: ? Tags were removed long ago!; Sunglasses: Maui Jim; Buff: Buff Wear; T-Shirt: Vacation Races; Tank top: Lorna Jane; Capris: Athleta.
For Trail Running
I only recently upgraded my running shoes to La Sportiva's Bushido Trail Runners and I am astounded by the difference its made on the trail! They fit my feet extremely well, remaining comfortable in the toe box as I speed downhill, and provide both spring and grip while I take to rocks and other terrain. In these shoes I am more confident than ever on trails that I have been running for years, and I have even noticed an improvement in my pace!
Since we are waking up before dawn to meet at the Starting Line, I might be layering over my typical running clothes with longer running pants, and most likely a second long sleeve that I can wrap around my hips if I get too warm.
The last time I ran a half-marathon with Vacation Races it was at the Grand Canyon, where I woke on the morning of the race to fresh snow!
Read about my Grand Canyon Half-Marathon race here.
Halter Top: Net Fashion; Beanie: Burton; Cashmere Sweater: Charter Club; Bikini: Rip Curl; Underwear: MeUndies; Pants: Velvet by Graham & Spencer.
For the Drive
Two weeks on the road means lots of time spent in the car. For the longest drives, I prefer the lightest layers, like these pajama pants by the Culver City brand Velvet, by Graham & Spencer. These pants have a wide elastic waist, deep pockets, and are loose enough to allow me to sit in any position comfortably. They are as cooling to the body as shorts or a skirt, while providing modesty suitable for any setting.
Visor: Adidas; Bikini: Rip Curl; Underwear: MeUndies; Flip Flops: CVS Pharmacy; T-Shirt: Active Basic; Long Sleeve: Lululemon; Cut off Shorts: Hollister.
A Jaunt Through Town
Lastly, I pack for the days spent in town, when we're meeting with friends to collect beer and bbq, to explore museums and visit monuments. This of course can be any combination of clothes, but comfort and simplicity are my mantra, so I go for a pair of cut-off shorts, a well-loved t-shirt, and a cool long sleeve, like this special edition Lululemon hooded long sleeve from their Santa Monica flagship store! This outfit brings the beach with me wherever I go, and with two weeks of desert and mountains, that may be exactly what I need!
A Final Note
You might be able to tell-- the clothing I feature in this post are well-worn. That is because I have owned these clothes for a while now (some items for several years), and I am not currently getting paid to promote brands off-the-rack. I was not given any clothing featured here for free. I am not currently using Affiliate Links, so I am not getting paid at all for promoting these items. I am offering this post as an honest and well-meaning guide to pack for a 2-week road trip across America's great Western states! Although at some point I do intend to employ these marketing strategies to my website, for now, this is the real deal. Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope to meet you out on the road!
Coming soon! My Gear Guide for a 2-Week Road Trip Through the Wild West!