In The Desert - In Wool
As a scuba diver, journalist, and photographer, my work often takes me to off-the-beaten path places. Recently, one such place was Jordan. There to cover the scuba diving scene, something of a novelty in a country with only 27 km of coastline, I managed to cover a large portion of the country, and it’s dive sites, in a fairly brief amount of time.
Jordan may be almost entirely landlocked (until the mid-1980s, it was actually entirely landlocked, but was granted a small strip of coast on the Gulf of Aqaba by Saudi Arabia), but it still boasts more than 20 dive sites, including coral reefs, sand slopes with turtles, and wreck, the majority of these purpose-sunk. The wrecks include an anti-aircraft tank and a C-130 Hercules. We spent a good few days on dive boats, covering the majority of Jordanian waters, all the way up to the very top of the Gulf of Aqaba. After more than a dozen dives, we headed inland, to experience everyday life of Jordanians in Aqaba, the culture of small, rural towns, as well as the famous site of Petra and a treck in Wadi Rum desert.
That kind of travelling takes its toll on your gear, so over time, I’ve found a few choice pieces of equipment and clothing that I stick to. From my camera bag, to my trusty travel pants and the dive mask I’ll never part with, I’m loyal to what consistently works for me. But this time, I had brought something new with me: a couple of LOOW T-shirts. I’ve been a merino fan since the late 90s when it first made a splash on the outdoor scene, but I’ve mostly stuck to socks.
The clothing items have been great, but too often, they look a little too much like sportswear. Which is fine for sports, but a brightly colored T-shirt, adorned with logos is hardly the trick if you try to blend in at the local souk (market). What I loved about the LOOWs was how… normal they looked (for want of a better word). The fit was great, and the merino wool kept me cool in the desert, and warm in the chilly mornings of the mountains (we topped at nearly 40 degrees celcius, and bottomed out at 14 degrees).
They handled the rigors and the sweat like champs, and without the tell-tale odor of a well-used piece of clothing. And when they did get dirty, I just gave them a quick rinse in the hotel sink, and next morning, they were dry and clean, and ready for me.
Speaking of hotels, one of the really tricky things about a trip like this is the span of places you go. From dive boats and desert camps to 5-star hotels. And the fit and look of these T-shirts means they can work in all of these, without looking like you just got back from a hike when you enter the restaurant (even if you did).
Bottom line: I had quite a few T-shirts in my bag that ended up coming home still folded the same way as when I left. Next time, I’ll probably just bring the LOOWs.