Gearing Up for a 14er with Patagonia & The ’54

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Patagonia’s Zach Barker shares stories, support, and gear advice.

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If Zach Barker’s luscious beard wasn’t enough to keep him warm on a mountain top, his layers of professionally hand picked Patagonia gear would be sufficient. He’s of the adventuring type, the kind whose eyes light up at the description of a camp site, and who reflects on three showerless months in the wilderness, with a smile on his face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe expedition that altered everything

Several years ago, while completing the tail end of a three month outdoor course in South America, Zach’s group happened to wander onto the Conservacion Patagonica land. (You know, the absolutely epic land conservation project we all learned about in 180 Degrees South.) When they asked for permission to camp on the property, they were introduced to Patagonia legends Rick Ridgeway and Chris Malloy. The Patagonia crew showed Zach and his compatriots the utmost hospitality, showering and feeding them, and trading them labor for a place to stay. It was then that Zach decided he would someday work for Patagonia.

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In addition to the time spent in South America for his NOLS course, Zach also lived in Costa Rica and spent an extensive amount of time in Nicaragua. His experience with the Nicaraguan people, Zach said, is why he is supporting The Colorado 54.

“They are great people with an amazing culture,” Zach recalled. “But they are living at a substandard level, and something like clean sustainable water will make a world of difference.”

Every individual that participates in The Colorado 54 will help bring sustainable clean water to two Nicaraguan families. And if we summit every 14er? Permanent clean water solutions for more than 1,000 families. Interested in doing your part? Pick your peak and register today.

3 Ways to Gear up for a 14er like a mountain man

1. Pack the essentials:

On ascent day, Zach says it’s a thin line between packing light and having everything you need to be prepared. On his essential gear list, a rain shell, insulation layer, headlamp, snacks, and a first aid kit.

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2. Show your feet some support:

For footwear, hikers will want a sturdy pair of boots, ideally waterproof, with ankle support, and good tread. It’s a false assumption, Zach said, that lighter footwear is appropriate for climbing a 14er, so leave your Vibram Five Fingers behind for the day and lace up that leather. Also important, your socks! A midweight merino wool sock is perfect for keeping moisture off your feet while your sweat and scramble to the summit.

3. Layer like a professional

Darn a silk weight base layer, merino wool or another athletic fabric, and at all costs avoid cotton. Next, a light fleece layer will likely accompany you to the top. Along for the journey, a synthetic puffy coat and a rain shell to be used as necessary. Synthetic materials will actually keep you warmer in the rain than a down jacket, Zach explained, making them more advantageous for the adventure prone.