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Gear for the Great Outdoors

Our very own FITNESS staffer went into the wild, onto the ice, and out of her comfort zone on an amazing Alaskan adventure vacation. Here are her tried-and-tested picks for must-have gear if you're braving the elements in the great outdoors.

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Arc'Teryx Griffon Jacket
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The Boots

LOWA Renegade GTX Mid LS, $200, lowaboots.com

Rachel says: I walked through enough mud and ice to know that these Gortex-and-leather day hikers can stand up to the most inclement conditions and gnarliest roots.

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The Jacket

Arc'teryx Griffon Jacket, $299, arcteryx.com

Rachel says: From warm days to frozen nights, this lightweight, water-resistant, and breathable soft shell was the only jacket I needed. Lined with fleece and made with plenty of stretch -- no wonder I never took it off!

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The Hat

OR W's Flora Beanie, $19, outdoorresearch.com

Rachel says: Besides keeping ears toasty, this stretchy fleece beanie fits perfectly under an ice-climbing, white-water-rafting, or bike helmet.

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The Perfect Base Layer

Ibex Woolies Crew, $65, ibex.com

Rachel says: This thin, cozy base layer looks nice enough for town and is durable enough for the mountains. Bonus: Wool doesn't hold odors like synthetics do, so no one knew I didn't wash it for a week (until now).

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The Suitcase

DaKine Split Convertible, $190, dakine.com

Rachel says: When my bag jumped over the airline's weight limit, I took apart this two-in-one luggage and checked each piece separately. Even better, my work clothes didn't have to mingle with my grimy gear.

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The Harness

Arc'teryx R-280 Harness, $135

Rachel says: Even my guides were jealous of this female-specific climbing harness. The better fit meant that the cushioned straps around my thighs and hips didn't cut off circulation and prevented chaffing. Bonus: when nature calls, the back straps unbuckle for easy access.

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The Gloves

DaKine Girls' Ventilator Glove, $35

Rachel says: I never placed much importance on cycling gloves until three miles into my ride when the handlebars began to rub my palms raw. Turns out the padding not only helps protect hands from the bike's vibrations and keeps them cool with a mesh lining, but also prevents a slew of blisters from getting any worse.

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The Long Underwear

SmartWool NTS Lightweight Bottoms, $75

Rachel says: Two important things I learned in Alaska: 1) Run around a tree to avoid a moose attack, 2) Wear base layers. I wore these ultra-thin wool leggings under jeans and climbing pants without adding extra bulk. If I got too hot, they rolled up small enough to throw in a daypack or purse.

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The Pants

Moving Comfort Endeavor Pant, $86

Rachel says: These weather-resistant and flattering soft shell pants feel like stretchy pajamas. So I wore them everywhere. Zip pockets keep money and ChapStick secure, and zip bottoms make them easy to slip on over boots.

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The Sneakers

Merrell Waterpro Maipo, $90

Rachel says: I wore these incredibly versatile, comfy shoes kayaking, biking, and hiking. The mesh uppers drained my water-filled shoes when I accidentally stepped in a river. The grip on the soles let me successfully navigate wet rocks. And after a muddy, exhausting day, a little bit of soap and warm water got them clean.

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The Socks

Teko Merino Ski Medium, $19.95

Rachel says: I never hit the slopes in Alaska, but I dressed like a downhill skier when it got cold enough. Wool socks were my friends and these certified organic wool pair had the durability to be worn over and over again. Plus, the light cushioning in the shin kept the front of my legs doubly warm in a biting wind.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2009.

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FITNESS Magazine, March 2009
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