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Last Minute Holiday Shopping

posted Dec 21, 2011, 6:15 PM by Robert Brese

Yes! It’s late in the Christmas shopping game, but if you are lost with what to buy your Northern Tier Venturer, here’s some last-minute gift ideas!

From the Northern Tier Participant Guide (attached) the following are listed … Note that at there is a coupon good for 30% off one REI-branded item thru 12/24. I’m a big fan of REI and belonging to the CO-OP. They’ve never failed me in quality or customer service. Discount stuff, if you know what you want can be found at Sierra Trading Post ( I’ve provided links to some examples of things that fit the ideas, but are certainly not the only products out there.


JUNGLE BOOTS – We’ll work this in the spring. All participants need jungle boots that will be wet most of the trip. If feet are still growing, this should wait until we start our training in Mar/Apr.

SLEEPING BAG - Small and lightweight, (good to a temperature of +35 F degrees). Sleeping bags should compact to no more than 10” x 18” (we recommend the purchase of a compressor stuff bag for your sleeping bag). A two-pound synthetic fill bag is usually sufficient. Protect it from moisture with a plastic bag in the pack. You may wish to pack your extra clothing in the same compressor bag as your sleeping bag to save space.

Bob’s Notes: Michael probably has a synthetic mummy bag, but if not, the REI brand names are a reasonable deal.

STUFF BAGS - Plan to bring all of your clothing and equipment in waterproof “ditty bags” of either plastic or cloth. Small dry bags or “zip lock” bags work well. Your sleeping bag and clothing will be safe in a heavy duty plastic bag. A few extra bags won’t take up much space (don’t forget cord or string closures or rubber bands if they are needed).

Bob’s Notes: Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks from REI are great for anything you might want to ensure stays dry, particularly if you want it available while paddling, i.e., camera. One small and/or one medium is more than sufficient.  Also, he’ll want to put any cloths into a compressible stuff sack. These will be put into the large gear packs which are lined with plastic and stuff sacks do not need to be waterproof. One 21 liter compression sack should be sufficient for all his clothes. If he doesn’t have a compression sack for his sleeping bag, he’ll need another one that fits his bag. An 11 liter should work for a typical synthetic mummy bag (you can look at the drawstring sack that comes with his bag for sizing.


Bob’s Notes: Critical item and we’ll probably be in long sleeves for sun and insect protection most of the time. A synthetic hiking shirt that has built in SPF is great. You may also find these at Dick’s.

LONG PANTS - One pair if you have a good pair of rain pants. Two if you do not. DO NOT USE BLUE JEANS! When wet, they take forever to dry and chafe and bind when you are seated in the canoe. The best pants for canoeing are loose-fitting, lightweight synthetic with zip off legs. Many inexpensive work pants work well, as do ripstop military fatigue pants.

 Bob’s Notes: A pair of synthetic (nylon) zip-offs are best. We’ll probably be in long pants most of the time for sun and insect protection. You can usually find these in stock at places like Dick’s Sporting Goods as well.

 JACKET or VEST - Lightweight synthetic, easy to dry.

Bob’s Notes: A soft shell works great, sheds water, blocks the wind and keeps you warm. However, as a minimum, a  medium weight fleece coupled with the rain jacket, can be sufficient.

RAIN JACKET and RAIN PANTS - Good quality. Your rain pants can serve as a second pair of long pants.

Bob’s Notes: No ponchos. You need a good quality jacket and pants. These will also be great for Philmont, backpacking and camping in general. REI, Marmot and Patagonia make good products here. and

SHORTS - One pair. These can be used as shorts or swim trunks (an athletic supporter or brief may be necessary when using as swim trunks). Important Note: Shorts or swim trunks are to be worn for all swimming and in the sauna at the end of the canoe trip.

Bob’s Notes: The zip-off pants serve as a second pair of shorts. But, bring a pair of swim trunks or a pair of water shorts with built-in underwear that can be used as a pair of shorts or swim trunks. Sometimes you can find these – seasonally – at Kohl’s or Dick’s.

TEE SHIRTS - No more than two - Can wash by hand on the trail. Poly-cotton or synthetic preferred

Bob’s Notes: Troop t-shirts that are wicking (non-cotton) work fine for this and you don’t need to buy something different.

UNDERWEAR - Two - Can wash by hand on the trail.

Bob’s Notes: Poly boxer style briefs work great and are easy to wash and dry.

SOCKS - Three pairs. Wool or wicking synthetic. One pair to get wet and two pairs to keep dry for wearing in camp. Lightweight neoprene socks work well for your wet socks.

Bob’s Notes: 3 pairs of wicking liners ( and 3 pairs of wool or wool/synthetic blend (like Smart Wool, Don’t bother with lightweight neoprene socks ( They are expensive and I don’t find them very comfortable, especially on portages.