Thanksgiving packing failure

I just got back from a perfect Thanksgiving weekend in Tahoe with my family. The food was wonderful, the company was wonderful... and I packed so incorrectly.

My family vacations are always hiking and camping. We don't go out to restaurants. We don't go into town. We spend all day hiking (which I love) and all evening sitting in front of the fireplace with wine and conversation. My retired parents live in hiking pants and hiking shirts at home, and even more so on vacation. I know all this.

And yet... I was so excited for winter weather, but I packed for a winter version of my usual city life! I brought Doc Martens, but not my heavy hiking boots (we hiked each day, including one serious day-long hike). I did bring one outdoorsy Smartwool top, but I forgot my rain/wind parka. I brought light leather gloves, not at all suitable for winter outdoors. The docs were actually quite comfortable for hiking (and I got more than one comment from other hikers saying how cool it was to see someone hiking in docs) and I was warm enough, so I suppose it's not a true packing failure.

I did enjoy the cold. I got to wear my new heavy cardigan, and also an Angie pick sweater I bought last year but can only wear on trips away from SF because it's too warm for SF. My mother really liked the sweater.

My birthday gifts included two giftcards to REI, so I can stock up on serious hiking clothes. I used to do a lot of backpacking, but I've become so citified over the past few years. I was happy to be reminded how much I like hiking, but occasionally I wish I had a family that wanted to dress up for holidays!

I hope all your Thanksgiving celebrations were fabulous and your packing choices were better than mine. Do your clothing preferences line up with your families'?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Kristin SF replied 4 years ago

    I'm glad you had a nice vacation with your family. As you say, at least you were warm!

    I'm laughing a little at your excitement to wear the winter clothes that you did bring. I was in NY, weather was in the low 40s, and I remember thinking to myself: "Ahhh, so THIS is why the YLF gang is so focused on sweaters right now. Sweaters can be functional, not just worn for style!!" ;-)

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation, sounds like a great time. I'm normally too dressed up in the eyes of my family (it's mostly the skirts, I think). You made me remember that I should probably pack my trekking shoes when I'm going home for Christmas. So thanks for that!

  • Louise replied 4 years ago

    This sounds like an excuse to upgrade your hiking wear to stuff you love ;-) I've got a lovely hiking capsule which all goes (black, grey and shades of purple) I still recall standing in a well know British outdoors shop and the ex exasperatedly saying "but you can't choose based on colour!" I can and I did and now have a lovely burgundy puffer jacket which I love so much I sometimes sneak into my casual wear!! X

  • Elly replied 4 years ago

    This year I went too cold for the ride to and from and too warm for the holiday and the Friday birthday party I went to. In recent years our holidays have gotten more and more casual as the matriarch and patriarch have aged and more extended family does their own thing and I spend more of my time in the kitchen or washing dishes. I always try to bring my "combat boots" (literally, not a fashion pair) when I travel to visit family since they live in the mountains and you never know when you'll run into bad weather or someone who wants to go for a walk on the ranch. 
    I've never hiked in my docs, but I do wear them walking up and down our gravel road. 

    Sounds like it worked out. That said, I agree that good gear is worth its weight in gold! That was my very first capsule I built! I will retire some of the heavily used pieces soon and then do one-in, one-out. 

  • Diana replied 4 years ago

    My lesson this year: if one is driving to the mountains in a snowstorm that has already dumped 8 inches of snow and ice and that shows no signs of stopping, one should probably bring snow boots.

    As it was, I did ok in my (waterproofed and well tractioned) riding boots with smart wool socks, but the sorels would have been better!

    The rest of my wardrobe was ok. I've learned after many trips to my in laws' mountain cabin that I need to bring big sweaters, flannel shirts, and warm slippers.

    Also learned: it's no fun having no heat, power, or running water. Yep, we lost power right before we arrived (after baaaarely making it up the icy mountain in our car with no snow tires) and the house is entirely electrical, including the water pump. Thank goodness for wood burning stoves! You can use them to melt snow so you can flush the toilet! Lucky power came back on Thursday around noon so we were able to have thanksgiving after all.

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    I'm glad the Docs worked out for your hikes! It's so uncomfortable to try to hike in the wrong footwear. I don't like it when I have to settle for running shoes, even, because they just don't have the support and I end up banging my toes into rocks and things.
    It's so funny that even knowing what to expect from many years of experience, you mis-packed. I used to do the same thing, visiting Seattle from places like Texas and California. We'd go every year for the 4th of July, and I'd try to pack for the weather, but every few years, I'd end up freezing because I had failed to pack socks or a sweatshirt! 

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 4 years ago

    I've had the same urban (suburban really) to rural adjustment myself lots of times. My parents live in the country now, and while there's no hiking there's often chores around the property, yard work, runs to town in the old truck with the recycling, you name it. And I just don't have enough gear for it all, since I now live in a more densely populated area with less extreme weather. I often feel overdressed, especially when there are dressier events that I also need to pack for during the same trip.

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 4 years ago

    Lesson learned...we can't really change our family...Could you request one or more accompany you for one night out? If not perhaps just have this be your beloved hiking funny what we learn about ourselves from family visits...

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    Hehe. Brings back memories of when I was six. Have I mentioned? There's this park where rock climbers like to practice near my parents', and when I was six I'd be out there scrambling up the rock face, past the climbers, in my patent leather shoes and Christmas dress. I sort of remember this because of this look of irony one of them gave me once.

    But this is an interesting question to ponder: Do your clothing preferences line up with your families'?

    I'd say I am always functionally in line, but I have a dire case of hipster while they all have dire cases of preppy. I camp/hike; they ski.

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    Rachy, good question. My clothing preferences definitely don't line up, but that's just fine. We all get along so well. Every visit with them is like a trip to a rustic bed and breakfast. It's a nice break from my normal life.

    I do think they assume I'm less outdoorsy because I don't dress like I'm hiking every day. But that's fair - compared to my brother, whose career involves outdoor work (mountain meteorology research), I'm pretty sedentary. His wife is somewhere between the two of us. She's a huge outdoors person, but she also appreciates city things, and she and I both tend to dress up a little bit for holiday dinners.

    The funny thing is that my brother's Pendleton plaids and Carhartt pants, which he's been wearing un-ironically for years, are so trendy among the hipster guys here. Now that he lives in Oakland instead of backwoods New Hampshire, he's a little taken aback to realize he's got the bearded outdoorsman look everyone aspires to!

  • Aubergine replied 4 years ago

    That sounds like a great holiday trip -- even with the packing failure!

    My family's clothing choices aren't extremely far from mine (maybe because we'd all rather go to a good restaurant than hiking or camping), but they're generally a little more casual and also neater and crisper, which sometimes makes it hard to choose something for family events that doesn't make me feel slightly off. My in-laws are more casual too, but I almost think they just take it granted that I'll be dressier.

    Re: inappropriate hiking gear, I did end up doing a (pretty light) hike in a t-shirt dress and flimsy canvas slip-on sneakers when visiting friends a few years ago. I was fine, but kind of felt silly.

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    I would have to say no in general. My mother and sister are not very style conscious (my sister is my favorite dress up doll since she won't shop and I give her all her clothes). My grandmother was style conscious, not my style but she definitely had a look going. My MIL is actually a talented artist hobbyist and has a good eye for putting together clothes, but I am not into the wig, long skirt and covered elbow look for myself. My grown up nieces are the closet I have to fashion family friends. But we pretty much all go our own way.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    That is too funny, Greyscale. Has your brother become allergic to plaid yet? Lol.

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    Agree with Rachylou, that's too funny! :-D It's really fascinating the way our style can "change" when we change our environment. I would never call my style edgy or urban, but that's what it was called by other people in my backwaters.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Sounds like quite an adventure! I've packed that way sometimes -- often in a rush, and simply forgetting what will work in an environment. Glad your feet managed in those Docs! 

    My mother's the only person remotely interested in fashion in my family. Her style is very different from mine with some body type related similarities. For example, she doesn't do a lot of rounded front draping because like me, she is straight up and down there and looks better in angular drape or straight lines. 

  • abc replied 4 years ago

    I hate the feeling of not having the right clothing/gear for the situation.  Case in point, we went for a long bike ride this past Sunday.  I should have worn gloves but didn't have any but my dressy leather pair (only pair I have left after purging the gear).  Wore my fancy designer sunglasses in place of a more practical sporty pair (which I don't own).

    I loved your description of your family and how you really enjoy the downtime spent with them, which is, after all, the most important thing.  But I hear you on having the right clothes/gear for the situation.

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