Vast Distances, ‘Ends Of Earth’

Our “From The Field” column gives a quick look at gear in testing from the GearJunkie staff and readers around the world.


Have you ever done that thing where you’re in a hot tub that gets too hot, and so you scramble across the deck to jump into the much colder pool? But after the quick relief, you all of sudden crave the hot tub again?

Last month, I unintentionally repeated that experience, but on a much larger (read: global) scale.

I recently took a trip with Gear Junkie contributor and fellow adventure buddy Erik Cooper where we camped out in the blazing hot Empty Quarter of the U.A.E. (See Cooper’s report, “‘Empty Quarter’ Camp-Out”.)

Vast Alaska

Within a week of returning home from the largest stretch of unbroken sand desert in the world, I was somehow on a plane to another type of desert, the polar tundra of the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

Talk about switching gears, both mentally and literally. Initially, it was quite a pleasant 180-degree change from the heat.

See my transposed videos below, from the far distant destinations, driving in the U.A.E. and then Alaska.

The Gear: As one might imagine, I exchanged nearly 100% of my hot climate gear for cold climate products. Besides switching clothing items like my lightweight Original Buff for a warm Carhartt’s Neck Gaiter and Outdoor Research Wind Pro Hat, the most important switch, by far, was the footwear.

Buying durable footwear for the desert is unsurprisingly difficult. I needed shoes that looked good, weren’t sandals, could take a little beating from an unplanned adventure, but were also extremely lightweight and breathable.


I think I found the perfect pair in the Teva Wander Chukkas. They met all the previous criteria and are my new daily shoe, too.

Unfortunately, I gave them up pretty fast once I touched down in Fairbanks a few days later. I switched over to my trusty Ariat Terrain Hiking Boots, which were perfect for the chilly conditions at the Arctic Circle (and slushy conditions of Fairbanks).

They mold to my feet and keep them warm without ever feeling stuffy.

Teva Wander Chukkas

Feedback: There are many boots that suffice for exploring and walking through snow and ice, and I love my Ariat boots. But the real winners in my “around the world” test were the Tevas.

I’m a huge fan of multifunctional products that can handle a variety of scenarios when I travel. I have worn those Teva Wanders to a semi-formal dinner with slacks, around town in shorts, through the deep sand dunes of the Empty Quarter, and more. Unless I’m trekking through snow, they’re now my go-to shoes.

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