Spring Break 2017, Oregon Style

Spring break is upon us and the blogging world is full of women patiently explaining their resort choices for 2017. It seems that everyone is preparing her wardrobe for a week’s trip to a trendy resort in Florida or a cruise through the Caribbean. Retailers are crowding their rain-drenched front windows with paper-thin maxi dresses and crisp white shorts.

Is a noisy beach party really the only option for spring break? As a native Oregonian, I don’t understand a crowded beach, and please don’t make me take a cruise. I don’t think I could stand being packed like a sardine into a tiny room on a ship full of strange people with absolutely no hiking for a week.

To each her own, I suppose.

My son, standing on my idea of a beach.

While my spring plans do include the beach and the mountains, I’m not looking at fashionable resort towns. * Over break I will be climbing and hiking in central Oregon, and there are weekend trips to the Oregon coast on the horizon.

For years I was bamboozled by the Boden catalog’s insistence that I needed sun dresses and espadrilles at this time of year, despite the fact that I had planned a camping trip that would include 30-degree nights, muddy mountain biking and possibly clam digging.

This is no place for strappy sandals.

Blessedly, I got older and smarter. My “resort” capsule can take me from the blustery Oregon Coast to a cool and cloudless day at Smith Rock.

Here’s what I’m packing:

Base layer

Full confession, I have a hard time with layering. That’s because layering is really hard. Pieces get all tangled up over one another and pants that might look fantastic with a certain sweatshirt don’t work at all with my tank. Blech! I finally have a system, but it’s not nearly as simple as “just layer!”

For my upcoming trips, I’ll keep it simple. The base layer consists of a tank with a built-in bra, and leggings. I can climb, run or hike in this outfit, and it’s not likely to get so hot I’ll wish the leggings away. The muscle tank will be a light cover up when needed.


You’ll notice a stack of t-shirts, two sweatshirts, and a mid-weight jacket. These are easy to pull on and off. They’ll take the brunt of the wear over the week, so I feel fine packing all three.

This Patagonia half-zip is incredible at keeping drizzle and wind at bay. It if weren’t so comfy I’d think it was made of steal.

This is pretty much what everyone looks like at the Oregon coast, all the time.


I’m bringing a pair of climbing pants, and one pair of stretchy jeans. I can climb in the jeans, and they’re great if I need to run into town for anything. The pants are from Title Nine (Thanks Julie!) They drape nicely but are still super tough.

Title Nine does a better job of photographing their pants than I do.

Campfire-cozy layer

The puffer vest and cable knit sweater won’t join me on a hike. They will remain back at the camp to snuggle up in as the evenings get cool.

If you can’t wear a fisherman knit sweater at the beach, where can you wear it?


I’m always going to want to go for a run, so sneakers will be involved in my packing. These trail running shoes are fantastic. Great for a run on or off trails, perfectly adequate for hiking, easy to slip off if I want to put on my climbing shoes. I love them.

These boots add a little more warmth in the evenings and early mornings.

A really good raincoat

My husband bought me this jacket when we were dating. It, and he, have been a great defense to whatever the world throws my way.

Way better than flowers and chocolate.

Color pallet

Having an outdoor-clothing color pallet has cut down on the amount of clothing I feel the need to pack, and the amount of time I spend packing. The concept is pretty simple: I buy neutral pants (grey, black, etc.) then keep everything else neutral or in the color pallet. A few years ago I went with purple, orange and olive. Right now I am enjoying navy, deep red and orange** as the primary colors. When making the purchase of something that will get stuffed into a bag and hauled through in the dirt of central Oregon, I just make sure it works with those colors.

Since my climbing bag is orange, everything else might as well be, too.

Make your own resort collection

Whatever your spring break plans, having go-to pieces that feel great and can hold up to the weather makes everything easier. It took me a while to get my spring break/weekend get-away look locked down, and a lot of trial and error, but I’m glad I have it.

Step 1 – Think about the following questions: What do you want to do? What do you have to do? What does the weather look like where you want to do it? Then plan the ideal wardrobe for your activities. Don’t hold back here. What would you really like to be wearing?

Step 2 – Search your closet: Find clothes you have, and honestly like, that will fit the bill for your upcoming adventures. Be wary of packing something you don’t really love just because it fits a need. If you don’t like your rain jacket at home, you’re not going to like it any more once you’ve drug it half way across the state and gotten caught in a rain storm.

Step 3 – Fill the holes: While Mud and Grace is a huge proponent of using what you have and buying 2nd hand whenever possible, outdoor gear isn’t something that can be easily fudged. Water resistance, sweat-wicking, quick drying; these technologies can make the difference between a miserable or fabulous experience. For your outdoor gear, buy what you need, and keep it forever. Think about keeping it to neutrals and three main color choices.

Step 4 – Get out there and have fun.

My daughter includes every possible color in her climbing pants. It keeps things simple.

We live in a country where a crazy beach or boat full of people in full-price name-brand clothing is sold as the norm for a spring get-away, but my guess is many of us opt for something different. Invest in the clothing you need for your idea of relaxation, whether you are snowshoeing in the backcountry, or curling up with a book at a cabin by the lake. There will be plenty of time for sundresses and espadrilles come summer.

My favorite part about camping is the sunrise coffee.

* Sorry, Yachats. I love you, but there are simply too many utilikilts per capita for you to be considered fashionable.

**Orange? That’s not a color you see a lot of on Mud and Grace. But somehow it just keeps showing up in my outdoor stuff, so I’m going to roll with it.