Gear and more gear

When you think of walking, you don't really consider it to be "'gear heavy" exercise. I mean, you lace on a pair of sneakers and off you go. But when you're walking sixty miles, man, does gear ever become important.

Ultimately, the sneakers are still the most important thing you can invest in for the 3-Day. Last year, I burned through my first pair of sneakers in about 4 months and got a new pair about two months pre-event. Because those "new" sneakers were still in pretty decent shape following a winter of hibernation in my closet, I decided to forgo new sneakers at the beginning of training this year and see how long that pair would last. I ended up wearing them through the end of August, which was probably about two months too long. The difference when I got my new sneakers was amazing. Just for comparison, here's a picture of all of my 3-Day sneakers (all Asics, in case anyone was wondering), with the newest pair on the left and the oldest pair on the right:

If you could see the soles, you would be amazed at the effects of walking hundreds of miles on a pair of sneakers. And yes, I will be getting pink laces for my new sneakers as well. I just haven't gotten that far yet.

Besides sneakers, there is so much else to consider: socks, clothes, rain coats, socks, blister treatments, warm clothes, socks... it's really sort of amazing. Until last year, my greatest consideration when choosing my socks was the fun design on them. After testing out at least five different styles of athletic socks, I finally settled on these Coolmax No-Show Socks by New Balance. I now own so many pairs of these socks that it drives my husband Mike crazy. But hey, they keep my feet happy and blister free, which is all that matters.

Beyond your feet, there is so much to carry when you're walking for hours on end. When I walk, I usually bring moleskin and other assorted blister treatments, extra socks, sun block (CRITICAL!), bug spray (which I forgot the other day when I got a nasty spider bite on my ankle), lip balm, two water bottles for water and sports drink (I like the large Nalgenes and the new Camelback bottles), snacks, my phone, my MP3 player, bags to clean up after the dog, Purell... the list goes on and on. In order to carry all of that, I invested in a great lumbar pack by Mountainsmith. You may have noticed this in my training and event pictures - it is truly the Cadillac of fanny packs and I would be lost without it.

Finally, an important part of the 3-Day that is often forgot is the camping! Every night, after we finish walking, we crawl into small pink tents for the night. The 3-Day folks kindly provide all of the tents (which then get donated to the local Girl Scouts!), but we are responsible for everything else. For this year, I've invested in a head lamp and warm weather gear for sleeping, but the cost of a good sleeping bag that will keep warm on the chilly nights is just too steep for a once a year event. Last year, I borrowed a sleeping bag from my friend Katie, but as she has relocated to Washington DC for grad school, this year, I needed to find something different. Kelly and I attended a great gear clinic at REI this past Sunday (led by a girl I walked with for a bit on Day 3 last year!). There, I learned something awesome: REI rents sleeping bags and sleeping pads for cheap! So yesterday, I headed over to the closest REI store and put in my reservation. Now, I shall be warm and snuggly at night and well prepared for the day!

Now you know everything there is to know about all the gear you need to walk in the 3-Day. Don't you all feel prepared now??

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