Outdoor Clothing Hack 101
This is an interesting (…somewhat embarrassing) story that we finally came to the conclusion that it is worth sharing to all the outdoor enthusiasts out there. Everyone who’s shopped at Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) or REI knows that shocking feeling when you flip over the price tag on that sweet Black Diamond sweater, or those bad ass Patagonia hiking pants. Some of us double take, some search for the accessory that MUST come with it for that price, but all of us eventually come to terms with the fact that the good stuff will cost you when it comes to outdoor clothing. Now this isn’t a lecture about doing your diligent research on your gear and clothing and how it can save you money, or increase your safety or comfort….that’s just not how we roll! This is just an insightful story that might intrigue some of you thrifty shoppers out there.
Mel and Jon’s shopping adventure to MEC for hiking pants…
One word of caution we do have to lay out, is that this tip will only be suitable for those people out there of a certain shape or size. Not that we’re trying to be judgemental or anything…. but you’ll figure it out.
Melissa had been endlessly searching for about a year for a pair of hiking pants that actually fit her waist line (she’s pretty slim:P) without paying an astronomical price. We had browsed through the racks of all your mainstream outdoor gear shops, regular sporting good stores, anywhere and everywhere, however nothing was small enough. So time to face the facts, swallow her pride and take a gander over to the boys department of MEC. She tried on a few and found a couple pairs actually!!! To her surprise the hiking pants she ended up buying weren’t even the largest size in the boys section. Further to this, after wearing them once she figured out she needed an even smaller pair, now she wasn’t even close to the biggest boys’ clothing size!
So yes have a good laugh at the beautiful photo, but lets be honest, if we didn’t tell you they were kids pants, would you really be able to tell the difference???
While waiting outside the change room like guys everywhere simply LOVE doing, I held up the pair of pants that Melissa had deemed “too big” for her. ‘Why, these don’t look far off…’ I thought. Like a puppy who just saw a squirrel, off I went to search the racks of the boys department. We all know where this one is going, so lets just say by the end of the day both Melissa and I walked out of MEC with a pair of new children’s hiking pants!!😀
After you’re done laughing at us, check out these numbers. Comparable pants in the men’s and women’s departments range from $80-150 and we snagged these for a whopping $33!!! Obviously this “hack” is only suitable for those of us who are on the slender or smaller sizing scales but if you call into this category, or are even remotely close, mind not be a bad idea to check out the kids’ section, no one will know! (Unless you’re like us who blog about it:P)
So that is our hack on how to save money on outdoor clothing, now what is yours?
Have you ever found an unique way of finding a deal or getting a better price on top quality outdoor clothing?
– Mel and Jon
Looking back on our first Multi-day stage race in Madagascar
“Africa”…”Madagascar, Africa”….”RUNNING through Madagascar, Africa”…it just kept getting better and better the more we kept on reading about Racing The Planet Roving Race 2015. We never really thought of Madagascar as a “real” place till this race (Madagascar was always just a Disney cartoon movie). But once we found out Racing The Planet’s Roving Race for the upcoming year was to take place on the island of Madagascar, we were hitting the “Register” button almost without hesitation.
Describing a 7 day, 250 km stage race is not easy. The amount you see, the number of people you meet, the different race inputs you experience goes on and on but the highlights are easy to note. Getting to the start line of this race was not easy. In the 35C heat of the day, 20 or so vans were loaded up with anxious runners and headed down the meandering “roads” (don’t know if these paths actually could count as roads) to an army base just outside Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
On August 31, 2014, we toed the start line with about 250 other competitors along with a local Malagasy running group who was to join us for the first 10km (lucky ducks!). Each and every runner was geared up with a pack containing their grub, clothes, and required gear for the entire 7 days. Water and a communal tents were they only thing you got a helping hand with from the race….otherwise, you are on your own. Standing on the start line, we knew the clean faces and fresh smelling clothes were soon to disappear. A little Eye of the Tiger played to get us pumped and we were off!
The first few days took us along the coastlines and through deep sandy tracks. The temperatures averaged in the high 30’s each day and with limited shade or tree cover along most of the course, your only saving graces were the many river crossings we trekked through. More often than not though you weren’t really enjoying the “cool off”, rather your brain was busy contemplating what kind of parasite you picked up in the still murky water you were trudging through. But hearing the locals from nearby villages singing and cheering us along the way would often distract the pessimistic part of the mind that searches for reasons
to quit. There was even an entire village cheering, chanting, and dancing for us at the finish line of one stage. These people stayed out there for 7+ hours cheering runners in by sharing their culture and energy. The next few days took us away from the coastline and sent us inland to see red tsingy, deep crevassed canyons, and endless rice paddies. Although the scenery was absolutely breath taking (which is quite the pun for someone already breathing heavy during a race….but you get my point); the people are what made this race.
Our fellow competitors were a collection of unsung heroes. The true idols that should be on the front of those magazine covers at the grocery store check out instead of a Nicki Minaj. Some of these athletes had gone through some difficult life events, completed some of the toughest races, and came from a huge variety of different backgrounds. And still, they had the biggest grins on their faces and always willing to lend a hand….or in our case, an emergency gel.
The volunteers and workers were an ant army; always hard at work, always doing something, and never complaining. When they weren’t busy at their volunteer role, they were putting their cheer skills to work at the finish line…every runner that came in had a genuine, enthusiastic welcome…even those coming in late at night.
And then there were the locals. “Malak malak!”, “Ambato sara vasza!!”…two of the phrases that popped up everyday along our trek thru Madagascar’s backcountry. There were times you weren’t quite sure if you were running through someone’s backyard or house; regardless they were always calm natured and would throw out a greeting or at least a wave. Children would run out from the huts and hop onto the fences screaming “Salam Vasza!!!”…”Hello White Person!!!”. The Malagasy embraced us. Every single competitor; regardless of gender, age, or the colour of their skin…they were truly non-judgemental.
This race as a whole is one we would strongly recommend, and plan to compete in another in the future (of course being a roving race it will be in a new location!). On the organization end, it was pretty much flawless: checkpoints were always where they were supposed to be, stalked with water and a med doc, tents were always already setup before you hit the end line of that day, and the hot water for food never ran dry. Like every race, you yourself go through big ups and downs. Running 250 km over 7 days with everything on your back can start deteriorating yourself mentally and physically, but the scenery, fellow competitors and Malagasy locals make it all so worth the journey! 🙂
And be sure to check out our Race Resume to see what other races we’ve tackled!