By ioMerino MicroAdventure Winner, Dahn Pratt
"We heard many howls, some of them whimpers of jackals, some of them cackling Hyenas, and definitely some wolves. Most nights on the 50 day, 2,000 km Peace Trail were spent sans-tent. Cowboying camping (sleeping under the stars), as it’s called, can seem daunting when every rock you overturn has a temperamental scorpion or the various hungry howls of nocturnal predators grow louder and more brave as the night progresses. In reality though, tents were simply of better use as pillows than a thin-sheet of proverbial protection. Besides, most nights we were simply too exhausted from the route-finding, compass reading, cliffing out, fighting back semi-feral territorial shepherding dogs, or the upwards of 70 kilometers we managed to squeeze into a day’s walk.
Looking over the edge of Table Top Mountain, Timna Park, Southern Israel
There was no rule book or even any precedent as we were the first ones to undertake this hike. The one constant on the trail was my gear, specifically my clothing.
Wearing Merino Wool long sleeves may seem counterintuitive in a desert setting. However having the natural moisture wicking properties, the anti-odor causing bacteria properties, and the physical barrier against harmful UV rays in the form of long sleeves made a good use case for ioMerino wool products.
During the length of both Jordan and Israel, the weather changed pretty dramatically. At the start of the hike we experienced temperatures below 0° C and towards the end of the long walk we experienced a heatwave in excess of 42° C. Having adaptable clothing for such major temperature swings necessitated clever solutions, especially when everything I would and could carry was in a 4 kg pack. For my adventure I took specific pieces of gear that filled multiple purposes and would help keep my base weight as low as possible.
Negev Desert, Southern Israel
Altitude Tights: These were my sleeping tights to keep my sleeping bag clean and increase the temperature range my sleep system could handle. Above that, my ioMerino Altitude Tights helped keep me warm on particularly cold mornings when the hike had to commence regardless of how much we wanted to stay snuggled in our sleeping bags.
Waking up to Wadi Mujib, Central Jordan
Gloves: Merino wool gloves were a revelation for me. Beforehand I had used cheap fleece or other synthetic gloves. Switching to my ioMerino Chaser Gloves allowed me to hike warm and comfortably. When using trekking poles, one can’t stuff their hands into a jacket pocket, and the necessity of looking at maps and smartphones for constant way-finding wasn’t burdensome with the touchscreen sensitive pads on the index and thumb.
Socks: Possibly the most important single (or double) piece of clothing one brings on a hike. Using Merino wool has become the gold-standard not only for my long walks but for everyday use. Choosing the ioMerino multi-sport socks allowed for great padding on the daily 12-16 hour walk-a-thons, while also providing all the aforementioned qualities of merino that make it a superior product in keeping feet happy.
Altitude Hooded Zip: The biggest challenge in choosing clothes for such a varied set of conditions and activities is having the necessary warmth when the weather turns foul. Torrential rain, freak hail and sand storms, icy river crossings, and desperately cold desert nights became the norm on the Peace Trail. Along with my Altitude Tights, the ioMerino Altitude Hooded Zip was my upper-body sleep layer, but it also functioned as my town clothes (to seem more normal and smell a bit better), as well as my only insulating layer. This was daunting, previously I had taken down jackets, wind shirts, and 100 wt fleece jackets (sometimes all three) to ensure warmth but I ditched all of those for one garment. To say the Altitude Hooded Zip out and over performed the rest would be an understatement. Not only did it provide the necessary warmth and comfort but it also kept me relatively clean and odor-less when having to re-enter civilisation for resupplying food, water, or escaping the elements.
Universal Long Sleeve: My “daily driver” the ioMerino Long Sleeve Universal was a dark horse for me. As a rule, I only hike in long sleeve shirts. Exposure to the sun for a dozen hours a day, all year long can be dangerous, in the long and short term. Minimising exposed skin is the name of the game when you live outside. At the same time, everyone thought I was crazy for wearing “winter wool” in the desert. My conundrum was how to stay warm when the bone-chilling cold hit us and alternatively keep cool when temperatures soared. The Universal Long Sleeve was my everyday hiking shirt that kept my excessive sweating to a minimum, neutralised body odor, and most importantly protected me from the harmful UV rays. An added bonus was the logo perfectly fit our hiking mantra “Explore All the Places”!
All of that being said, the most impressive and possibly the most disgusting fact about my whole hike is I never had access to a washing machine. My clothes went two months without laundering, besides the occasional swim in a river or spring. The fact that all my ioMerino gear held up without so much as a hole or loose stitch is a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of the company. This was a real world use case for ioMerino gear and to say it stepped up to the torturous challenge would be an understatement. Needless to say, I’m sold."
The finish line, Kibbutz Dan, North Israel
Dahn has been fulfilling a life-long dream of hiking 10,000 miles across national scenic trails. Dahn has now completed the 2,000 km Peace Trail hike. Follow Dahn on Instagram to see what he gets up to next!
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