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What We're Wearing: Expedition Detroit's Top Outdoor Gear Picks for June 2024

Introducing Expedition Detroit's new #WhatWereWearing series on our favorite outdoor gear for each month! From sport-specific to everyday fits, this series will cover the actual clothing, gadgets, equipment, and other gear that you'll see us wearing in the field.

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"If I wear it, then I own it."

For the life of me I can’t remember who said this quote. Might have been as happenstance as eavesdropping on a conversation during a typical corporate networking session. But it left an immediate imprint on me, and far beyond just elementary (yet sound) fiscal advice.

The anonymous speaker was referring to a simple investment tip regarding both their personal spending habits and stock holdings. To put it simply, if that person wore a certain clothing brand or drove a certain car, and those companies were publicly traded on stock exchanges, then that person doubled-down on their commitment to these brands by purchasing their stock. Conversely, if they weren't willing to investment in the company, then they also restrained from purchasing the goods.

In other words, you're either all-in or passing. No half-assing a purchase; you're full-assing an investment or holding for a better opportunity down the road.

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For us at Expedition Detroit, we've adopted this concept to align the entirety of our operations with trusted partners. We publicize outdoor events that we actually run, bike, or swim in. We produce content for missions and businesses that we stand behind.

And, of course, we showcase the gear that outfits us for every facet of our operations. From guided hikes to trail races, backcountry ski lines to thru-paddles, if we promote a certain piece of clothing or equipment on our platform, then you'll see it in the field.

Now let's get into our top gear picks for June 2024!

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HEADSPACE: Everything from the Neck Up

Don't panic - you do NOT have to look like this 2000s ad of a "Hiking Family" every time you step into the woods. This photo was simply too funny not to include in this article. Enjoy.

But there is one area that this hilarious photo actually got right: wide-brimmed hats for high-exposure days. For us at Expedition Detroit, June in Detroit's outdoors means open trails, clear waterways, and lots of sun. Beaming, unforgiving sunlight, especially targeted towards your neck and cranium.

Here are our gear tips for minimizing your odds of starting your summer with a sunburn.

STARTING FROM THE TOP: Expedition Detroit's On Brand Bucket Hat

"Oh yeah brimmed hats, let's go!" A passerby yelled those words to my hiking buddies a few weeks ago while we were in the last miles of a multi-day trek in Kings Canyon National Park. We had spent the last four days in the backcountry, camping at just over 10,000 feet of elevation, with clear skies and hardly any coverage from the sun. Everyone in our crew had smartly packed a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection, except for one poor, sunburnt soul.

I'll give you one guess who that person was. Here's a hint: they're typing this article.

Friends, family, fellow outdoor enthusiasts - please learn from my experience and grab yourself a wide-brimmed hat for your summer adventures! Our "On Brand Bucket Hat" is designed to protect your forehead, ears, and even neck from the sun's punishing rays while paddling on the lake or hiking through an exposed wildflower field.

Shades: Ombraz Sunglasses

No one really knows what the future face of the outdoor industry will look like, but we bet that it will be wearing a pair of Ombraz sunglasses. Ombraz is taking over the recreational world with their stylish, functional, break-resistant, and armless shades products. Each pair features a V2 Japanese nylon cord made from recycled fishing nets, world-class polyamide optic lenses coated for scratch and smudge resistance, and "indestructible, aerospace-grade, TR-90 nylon frames."

Better yet, the company is carbon-neutral, planting 20 mangrove trees for every pair of Ombraz sold through Eden Reforestation Projects. It's always cool to play a part in saving our world's natural ecosystem - it's even cooler when you look cool doing it.

Protect Ya Neck: Buff CoolNet UV+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Neckwear

Remember that sad story from earlier about yours truly not having a wide-brimmed hat? Well, there was one saving factor to what otherwise would've been a tragedy - I packed in a Buff CoolNet UV+ neckwear, i.e. a "Buff." And boy, did I get my money's worth: that thing functioned as a neck protectant, sweat band, face guard, eye mask - basically anything to keep my skin protected and sanity in check.

Now that the Detroit region has fully-entered "bug season" (more on that later), we recommend grabbing a Buff with Insect Shield® features. These Buffs not only protect your from the sun, but also repel mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers, midges, and ticks to help you avoid insect-borne diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya, dengue and West Nile viruses.

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CORE STRENGTH: Base Layers to Puffy Jackets

When it comes to backpacking or any form of camping, the name of the game when it comes to packing clothing is layers. While that concept is especially important for winter camping expeditions, the fluctuating temperatures of a Detroit summer can also mean wearing two or more layers even during our warmest and longest days.

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Base Layer: Expedition Detroit Essential Gym Shirt

Base layers are arguably the most important layers for any backcountry experience. Why? Because they are essential for wicking moisture away from your skin, which if performed sub-optimally will leave you with brutal rashes, constant shivers, and ungodly odors.

Fortunately for us at Expedition Detroit, our "Essential Gym Shirt" functions as our go-to base layer for warm weather recreation. I'm not just saying that because it's one of our best-selling store items. We field-test the **** out of the shirt on a week-long backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail a few weeks ago - where temperatures reached as high as triple digits and as low as just above freezing. For several days this shirt never left my torso, and I did not experience any discomfort despite the oscillating climate.

Core Layer: Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Vest

As one gets older, it's natural to accept vs. fight certain core aspects of your personality. For me, I've accepted that I'm a "vest guy." Vests may not be for everyone, but I've found that their combination of maintaining core temperature, increasing versatility, layering capacity, and - dare I say - style makes a vest a key component of my backcountry layering system.

And for this vest guy, Patagonia's "Nano Puff Insulated Vest" is my go-to all-weather staple.

The specs alone should paint the picture regarding why this is our favorite vest on the outdoor market. It's filled with 60g of PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco, which is made 100% from post-consumer recycled content and constitutes an immensely thermally-efficient synthetic insulation. The vest is also windproof, water-resistant, and abrasion resistant. Oh, and it weighs next to nothing - making it the perfect layering add-on for even the most rugged backcountry adventures.

Outer Layer: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

If it ain't broke, then don't fix it - and when it comes to outer layers, Patagonia delivers again for Team Expedition Detroit with its iconic "Nano Puff Jacket" for our recommended June outer layer.

Perfect for the cooler evenings by the campfire, this best-selling jacket is designed to trap body heat, block wind, and allow you to move freely—and all from primarily recycled materials. On the technical side, the jacket's PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation is also water-repellent and retains 98% of its insulating ability even when wet. Versions of the Nano Puff Jacket are available for both men and women.

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DOWN UNDER: Optimizing Below the Belt Performance

Now that we've caught your attention...let's talk about optimizing your pants, shorts, and socks game for backcountry performance.

Seriously though - selecting the right pair of trekking pants, athletic shorts, or performance can 100% make or break your experience on a multi-day backpacking trip, half marathon in through rugged conditions, or even yard work through overgrown brush. The Expedition Detroit team has experienced the highs and lows of that spectrum - including enough poison ivy rashes to last a lifetime.

As legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks may or may not have actually said, "The legs feed the wolf, gentlemen." Make sure you stay figuratively (or perhaps literally) fed by taking care of your legs with these top gear picks.

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Trekking Pants: Kuhl Renegade Recon Pants

"Hey man - those are some Kuhl pants you're wearing!"

One of my buddies who shall not be named absolutely loves this joke, mostly because not only am I wearing a pair of Kuhl Renegade Recon Pants - but he's also sporting a pair. In fact, as I look around the campfire ring, we're all wearing a pair.

I'm a big proponent of these pants for several reasons. With regard to backcountry functionality, they are breathable, have a UPF rating of 50+, are extremely durable, and water-resistant. From a style perspective, the pants' sleek design means I've worn my "charcoal grey" pair to work meetings, social gatherings - even a date night. The point stands these are the best multifunctional trekking pant that the crew and I have ever worn.

And yes, ladies - Kuhl does offer great trekking/lifestyle pants for women as well!

All-Sport Shorts: Expedition Detroit's Athletic Shorts

In my slightly-biased opinion, these are the best athletic shorts that I've ever owned. Fortunately I've heard the same comment from multiple purchaser's of our "Athletic Shorts," including out best-seller "Expedition Green," our women's shorts, and our new "On-Trail" shorts designed for muddier runs. The light and breathable Expedition Green shorts are my personal staple trail runs, extreme warm-weather hikes, and even aquatic activities due to their quick-dry qualities. We've also heard that they're ideal for yoga and other indoor activities.

So regardless of whether you see us on the trail or treadmill, you better believe that we'll be sporting our on-brand athletic shorts. We invite you to do the same!

Socks: Darn Tough Light Micro Crew Cushion Socks

Ladies and gentlemen, this is it: the best socks to be found in the backcountry. Dare we even say the perfect wilderness socks. No, that;s way too bold - but regardless, these socks are the real deal.

The redesigned men's and women's Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew socks feature increased breathability with mesh panels, smooth ribbing, uppers that stay put and extended cushioning over the Achilles tendons. The socks' merino wool wicks away moisture and breathes to regulate temperature for outstanding comfort in a variety of conditions. As an extra bonus, the colors on these socks are always pretty sweet. Let's just say we own more pairs than we'd like to admit...and we're planning on purchasing more.

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X-FACTORS: Gadgets and Gear for In-Season Adventures

Each installment of our #WhatWereWearing series will also hone in on special pieces of gear that are optimized especially for recreating during the current month. While June truly means open season for virtually all warm-weather recreational pursuits, we're inaugurating this new series with our two most reliable items that have accompanied us on nearly every rugged adventure in Detroit's outdoors.

Footwear: Hoka Speedgoat 5 Trail Running Shoes

There are three annual occurrences that remind me that warm weather is just around the corner for Detroit's outdoors. The first is the bullfrogs that erupt in chorus throughout our regional marshlands. The second is the buds that start to emerge alongside our trails.

The third is purchasing a new pair of Hoka Speedgoats for the upcoming trail running season.

This is my fourth pair of Hoka Speedgoat trail running shoes - and third in a row with the Speedgoat 5s - and I can proudly say that I'm hooked. And I'm far from alone - you'll see just as many trail runners as thru-hikers along North America's longest trails rocking these shoes. Marketed as a"workhorse designed for technical trails," the Speedgoat 5 has become a staple backcountry shoe thanks to its minimal weight, increased traction, and verifiable durability. The Speedgoat 5s are available for both men and women.

Wristwear: Garmin Instinct® 2X Solar

"You need a Garmin."

"Hey man, when are you going to get a Garmin?"

"[Omitted brand] is good, but man...get a Garmin."

If I would've earned a nickel for every time I heard some iteration of those statements over the past few years, let's just say Expedition Detroit's income stream would've been lightyears ahead. Despite my past allegiance to another brand of wearable fitness tech, the market data surrounding me seemed to overwhelmingly point towards Garmin as the gold standard in outdoor fitness tech. From cycling to skiing to backpacking - and especially its watches - I knew the day was rapidly approaching that I would finally jump on the G Train.

And thank God that I did. Other than far more accurate workout tracking and reliability, my Garmin Instinct® 2X Solar watch has been a game changer for my personal fitness. The watch's expansive solar charging lens keeps its larger battery going longer— powering advanced training features, a built-in flashlight, multi-band GNSS, and 24/7 health and wellness monitoring sensors. The watch also sends "Smart Notifications" and other indicators expected for a functional "lifestyle smart watch."

Don't ignore the call - treat yourself to a new Garmin this summer.

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BONUS: Backwoods Pest Control

ICYMI, bug season is officially back in Southeast Michigan. While there's no official calendar date to mark this least desired of seasons, I knew that it had arrived when I increased my running pace by nearly two minutes in order to outpace the horde of flies and mosquitos that were hot on my tail. Ticks have also become an increasing concern for anyone spending lots of time in our region's backwoods, such as DNR rangers, hunters, landscapers, and anyone looking for employment with Expedition Detroit.

Our point here is that backcountry pest control items should represent a staple in your summer 2024 gear list, both for your health and comfort. Here are top picks for accomplishing that goal.

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Clothing Treatment: Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray

Every now and then we find ourselves blessed by the recreational gods when a new piece of equipment or product revolutionizes the outdoor experience. For me personally, Sawyer's Permethrin Pump Spray was one such product. This safe and relatively cheap product pays dividends when you consider the peace of mind associated with trekking into thick brush knowing that your clothes are your best protection from tick-borne and other insect-transmitted diseases.

We at Expedition Detroit spray permethrin on all of our backpacking gear. From our boots to tent and packs to pants, we use permethrin to ensure that our first layer of protection is the gear that we already rely on.

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Topical Repellant: Ben's Adventure Formula - 6 fl. oz. Eco-Spray

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. With Ben's Adventure Formula Eco-Spray, ditch those pesky bugs with this sweat-resistant insect repellent that is safe to use on gear and clothing. Its 20% Picaridin insect repellent provides 12 hours of protection from ticks and mosquitoes. Plus, the spray's scent-free formula won't leave you smelling like bug spray.


If you're looking to upgrade your summer 2024 outdoor gear, don't miss REI's "4th of July Sale" going on NOW! REI Co-op members can save up to 40% on specialty clearance items. This is one of REI's biggest sales of the year - be sure to cash in on some deals before the fireworks kick off!

This article contains sponsored links that Expedition Detroit earns small commissions from. However, each item mentioned in this article is fully-endorsed and worn in the field by members of our team. You are more than welcome to verify by booking a guided trip and seeing for yourself.

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Jun 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This is so helpful as I prepare for some summer outings! Thank you!

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