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Trip Too Bountiful

When O.C. travelers head for parts unknown, they're big on adventure--not on gear.


Dave Edington's idea of a good time: clinging to a steep mountainside wondering if he'll freeze to death or have the strength to make the 12-mile trek back down.

"It puts things into perspective. You have to live by your wits. The key is to get out of your comfort zone," says Edington, 41, a retired investment manager who lives in Laguna Beach. "There's always a moment when you tell yourself, 'I could have been on a beach in Hawaii.' Then you make your summit."

This summer many will seek adventure in far-off locales. More people are taking extreme vacations to exotic destinations such as Tibet, Kenya and India. Unfortunately, many novice thrill-seekers will head out for the hinterlands unprepared. As Edington or anyone who has pushed the envelope can attest, what travelers pack for an exotic destination isn't only a matter of style but also of survival.

"World travel gets bigger every day. A lot of baby boomers have expendable incomes, and they're traveling around the world. They're tired of sitting in front of a computer," says Troy Trimmer, outings instructor with Adventure 16 in Costa Mesa. "They're finding their identity more in what they do outside of work, and they like the idea of being a world traveler."

Improvements in gear and clothing have made remote areas more accessible to many, says Tom Marshall of Adventure 16 in Los Angeles.

"Clothing has changed a lot in the last 10 years," he says. "The fabrics you wear, even your socks, are different. Everything has some type of polypropylene that works like a good napkin sucking moisture off the surface of your skin for a cooling effect.

"It's opening places up to people like me who would have never done things like mountain climbing. You can have experiences that are life-altering."

Edington recently climbed to the top of El Pico de Orizaba near Mexico City and went fishing in Alaska; he plans to climb Mt. Rainier this month. To him, packing is a science.

"It's actually fun to figure out how to pack lightweight and bring what you need to survive. I've seen a guy bring a

big, heavy leather jacket [to France]. They weigh a lot, and it looked a little silly," he says.

"A successful packing job is if you just barely make it with one last clean T-shirt for the flight home."

Edington's first rule of packing: Carry essentials such as contact lenses, medicine kit with "killer over-the-counter pharmaceuticals" and other can't-live-without items with you when you fly.

"Just assume you'll lose your luggage," he says. "Then if you do, it's not a disaster."

He carefully considers every item that goes into his bag. His lean travel wardrobe usually includes:

* quick-drying shorts he can wear for everything--swimming, hiking, walking--in black to hide dirt;

* a black zip-up mock turtleneck made of lightweight, breathable material that he can wear hiking or out to dinner ("you can cram it into a coffee cup");

* lightweight loafers;

* a fleece sweater;

* a jacket that folds into its own pocket;

* and a climbing jacket.

He finds a lot of his travel wear at the North Face and Adventure 16 in Costa Mesa.

Packing wisely does not mean sacrificing style. Edington likes to bring a classic lightweight wool blazer wool from Ermenegildo Zegna that can be rolled up into a suit bag and emerge without a wrinkle.

John Peterman, owner of the J. Peterman catalog company and inspiration for the character (Elaine's boss) on the "Seinfeld" TV series, takes a derring-do, romantic approach to travel. A Lexington, Ky., resident, Peterman spends six months out of the year touring the world.

On a recent monthlong sojourn to Myanmar, Malaysia, India and Thailand, he packed his clothes in an old steamer trunk instead of the lightweight duffel he sometimes carries.

"It's a great way to travel because virtually everywhere you go you can get porters to carry your trunk, and it's easier to live out of a trunk than a suitcase," Peterman says.

He packs an elegant but functional wardrobe that includes shirts and jackets with big pockets, along with a journal.

"Most people miss the romance of travel, even if they're gone one or two months. Everything is hustle and bustle. I've talked to people who travel more than I who haven't seen a thing. They're in and out of places. They know the name of a hotel and two restaurants and that's it. They've never been out on a boat in the South China Sea or. . . climbed a mountain overlooking Hong Kong Bay."

Whenever possible, Peterman travels on overnight trains, riverboats, ferries and other slower-moving vessels, he says. He immerses himself in local culture by trying not to look like a tourist. That means carrying a very small camera and binoculars he can conceal in his pocket. He almost never wears jeans overseas--they identify him as an American.

"The less conspicuous you are, the easier it is to move through places," he says.

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