Hello. My name is Adventure Katherine, and today I am sharing with you my two cents on how to pack for Colorado in the summer if you are not an outdoor kind of girl.
The specificity of this post and the title makes me chuckle. I recognize the absurdness. And yet, if my experience as a clueless, indoor-loving, fair-skinned, first-time-adventure-seeker bound for Colorado in the summer helps even one person, then I consider this post a worthy use of time.
When I shared on social media that my family and I were headed to the mountains of Colorado on a very event-specific trip (hiking, rafting, zip-lining), I asked for input from you as to what to bring. So many of you showed up in my DMs with valuable advice. Not only did you offer pointers on what to wear, but also what to expect. My favorite pieces of advice included the warning to look out for the zip-line wedgie and under no circumstances and no matter what, DO NOT sit in the front of the raft. True and true.
Am I a fashion blogger? I am not. I am a real girl, with a real body, who values style (no need to look ugly while on vacation) and who has certain clothing preferences (I do not wear shorts, I have one hat I love, and I want to feel covered yet comfortable when outside).
Too specific? Maybe. But it’s how I roll. Here is what I packed for Colorado in the summer…
What I Packed:
New Balance walking shoes.
I wore these most days, and specifically these were the shoes I wore on multiple hikes and when we zip-lined. They are the shoes I work out in at home, and while not designed specifically for hiking by any stretch, they were perfectly fine for what we did.
This was my first time to wear Chaccos, and I purchased them specifically to wear on the rafting excursion. They were perfect. I cannot imagine wearing anything else for this activity. Walking to the raft in the river was trickier than I thought. The water is super cold, the current is strong, and the river bed is uneven and rocky. My feet felt secure, and once we were going in the raft, I never worried about my shoes. I know I will have other opportunities to wear these, and I consider the investment well worth it.
Freedom Moses Slides.
These were the unsung hero of my shoe packing. I wore them in the car while traveling. I wore them around the house. I wore them to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I wore them anytime I wasn’t participating in a nature activity. They were a last-minute impulse purchase, but I am so glad to have them! They are the perfect summertime hybrid of a house shoe mixed with a flip flop mixed with a sandal. They are cute, light weight, and super comfortable without being spongy. I highly recommend grabbing a pair, even if you aren’t going to Colorado.
I thought I would need these, but I didn’t wear them once. Lesson learned.
What I Packed:
Sleeveless Athletic Tops.
Lightweight Long-sleeved Athletic Shirts, ideally with built-in sun protection.
Rain Coat, Grocery Store Jacket, Lightweight Sweat Shirt, Warm Fleece, Thin Puffer Vest
Cotton Scarves (cute and functional!).
Jeans and T-Shirts.
My basic excursion uniform for each day included leggings, a sports bra, a sleeveless top, a long-sleeved top, usually a scarf around my neck, and the appropriate shoes. This combination provided all the options I could need in the context of a given day.
The leggings were an obvious choice because shorts are not something in my wardrobe, and I didn’t want to buy hiking pants. The sleeveless shirt over a sports bra was a great base for warmer days or locations. The long-sleeved shirt provided a layer of sun protection if we were in full sun and warmth if we were somewhere with cooler temperatures. When needed, I would take off the long-sleeved shirt and tie it around my waist. I was very pleased with my level of wardrobe flexibility without having to completely change clothes.
For zip-lining, leggings were a huge win. Every girl in our group who chose to wear shorts regretted it half-way through. It was warm, but I kept my long-sleeved shirt on the whole time for the sun-protection factor. As someone who burns very easily, it was a relief to only worry about keeping sunscreen on my face, neck, wrists, and ankles.
For rafting, I wore a swimsuit bikini bottom, a cropped-top-style sports bra, a striped Land’s End swim shirt, quick-dry joggers, chaccos, scarf around my neck, and a ball cap under my helmet. This combo provided a huge win in the sun protection category. This was the activity I was the most anxious about regarding the clothes, and in the end, I felt very good about all of my choices.
We got very wet on this ride, and the quick-dry joggers were amazing. I also secretly loved the cute factor of my striped sun shirt. The scarf protected the back of my neck from getting burned, and my Chaccos were perfect.
For the day we went to the top of Pike’s Peak (where the temperature was 40 degrees and super windy), I wore jeans, a short sleeved t-shirt, a thin fleece puffer vest, a lightweight sweat shirt, a scarf (which I ended up using to cover my hair which was going crazy in the wind), and my walking shoes. I was cold. I wish I had worn my heavier fleece sweat shirt, but all in all, I was fine.
Had I not also gotten horribly sick and had a panic attack due to lack of oxygen, being cold probably would not have bothered me. But in the moment, I felt really out of control and wanted to be warmer than I was. Once everything settled down and I felt better, the cold was less of an issue for me, but next time (yeah right) I will pack a thicker fleece for mountain top experiences.
For nighttime, we slept with the windows open, so pajamas, sweat shirt, and socks were the winning combo.
For hanging around the house at the end of the day, after our adventure, after a shower, but before bed, I wore jeans, a t-shirt, a fleece, and my Freedom Moses slides. Comfort was key, and cozy jeans with t-shirts and slide-on shoes were the perfect combo.
In the outerwear category, I brought a rain coat and my favorite “grocery store” jacket. I did not wear the rain coat, but only because the one day it rained we were already home. I am glad I packed it.
My “grocery store” jacket is what I call my light weight, longer-in-the-back, sun protective, white jacket. It’s a layer I can add over workout clothes when I need to run errands and don’t want to have my entire body on display, but it is light enough not to be hot.
I wore my lightweight sweat shirt (mostly around the house and while sleeping) and my fleece pullover (mostly when we hung out outside at night). The only time I wore my fleece vest was when we went up the mountain.
I brought a swim suit and a kimono wrap, simply because the house had a hot tub, but the adults never got in, so these items were not used.
In addition to my usual self-care supplies, I packed three items that really ended up being game-changers for me.
Bobbi Brown Extra Cream. I had a small sample size of this product that I packed on a whim. The combination of sun, wind, altitude, and dry air did a number on my skin each day. At the end of the day, after I washed my face and took a shower, I would slather this on my face, and it totally renewed and comforted all the dry places. It was like a mini-facial each night and helped boost my usual moisturizer while I slept.
Sun Bum sunscreen. One of you suggested this brand of sunscreen to me, and I bought it in all the sizes and variations. My favorite was the mineral face sunscreen SPF 30 and the mineral sunscreen SPF 40. It was waterproof, not gross or greasy, and I came home without a single sunburned spot on me. I also bought the spray bottle (not mineral) in SPF 50 which I sprayed on my feet on rafting day, and would use to make sure I covered all the odd places on the back of my arms and shoulders.
Weleda Skin Food. A friend gave me this bottle of moisturizer as a gift, and what the Bobbi Brown Extra Cream did for my face, this lotion did for my hands. I would slather it on at the end of the day, and my thirsty hands would drink it in and be soft again when I woke up. It has an oddly satisfying medicinal odor that smells like a combination of herbs and an antiseptic. I found it soothing.
I did not leave the house without a baggie of almonds and at least one snack bar (either Lara or RX). I also brought multiple Swell bottless full of ice water. The kind of activity we were engaging in required periodic refueling. And tons of water. All the water. Couldn’t drink enough water.
I bought a basic fanny pack from Target, and I loved having it. It held my phone, my tube of lip balm, my facial sunscreen, and a bag of almonds.
Throw Away Sunglasses with a strap
I was worried about losing my sunglasses in the river, so I bought a cheap pair along with one of those neck straps. I never came close to losing them, but no harm in being prepared, right?
Sun hat and baseball cap.
Honestly, I never pulled the trigger on wearing the huge sun hat, but I was glad I had it. I probably should have worn it hiking, but I went with a baseball cap instead and all was well. I think if our hike had been longer and less shady, I would have worn it.
I had a hunch these would come in handy, and I was proved correct. I used them to hold my hair, cover my neck, or just to look cute while wearing otherwise not-cute clothes. It’s the little things, you know?
First time user, life-time convert. How have I never owned or used packing cubes before? So efficient. So handy. So amazing. I bought them from The Container Store in several sizes, and when I say it has transformed my packing game, I am not kidding.
Every neck pillow experience in the past has left me longing for something different. I found this one on the same aisle as the packing cubes at The Container Store, and I decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be the Rolls Royce of neck pillows. So much support and cushion, and not once did my head jerk forward and startle me awake. Win!
Let’s Go bag.
My extra-large Lands End canvas bag tote goes with me everywhere any road trip. For this trip to Colorado, I would pack and unpack it every day with a different assortment of things that I needed. On zip-lining day, I packed my rafting clothes inside of it. On Pike’s Peak day, I packed it with my warmer layers. On all of the days I packed extra sun screen, all my water bottles, snacks, and my wallet. This is the bag that can do it all.
Swell bottles in a variety of sizes.
Everywhere we went I brought at least two 16 oz bottles filled with ice water. I hate drinking warm water that has been sitting in a hot car. Gross. Swell bottles keep ice water cold for hours without sweating. On our early hot air balloon morning (which did not happen due to high winds), I brought my hot coffee in one for the road. I cannot have enough of these bottles. I love them, and I use them for everything.
WHAT I WISHED I HAD PACKED
When we rafted, you could only bring water bottles on the raft that could be clipped into the raft. So I wish I had a nalgene or a hydro flask for that one event.
When we hiked, I wished I had one of those water backpack contraptions with the tube straw. Otherwise, I had to carry a ton of bottles to have enough water for the hike, and that is bulky.
HOSPITALITY IN ACTION
By anticipating my needs, according to what I need (not what other people like or need), and stepping into the comfort of my own space instead of what someone else thought I should do or would need, I was able to be fully present, fully available emotionally, grounded with ease instead of anxiety, and felt cared-for every step of the way.