All Fall 2012 including reviewed pieces on sale now (up to 60% off) at Patagonia.com
Blaze orange and loving it. While this jacket is specifically made for ice climbers, I have found it to be a fantastic jacket to layer underneath as needed for dropping temperatures and at the same time a great shell in virtually every season.
What I love about this piece:
The hybrid soft shell material and Patagonia H2No® Performance 3-layer nylon ripstop fabric with a waterproof, breathable barrier, bright color, lightweight, and range of use and range of temperatures. The soft-shell areas are made of highly breathable, wind resistant Polartec® Power Shield® keeping you cool at all times.
The hood itself is large enough to slide over a ski helmet as needed and the draw cords are well done. the best thing about the hood is your vision is not impacted in the slightest. It moves with your moves…a rare but stellar attribute in a hood. A great pick up for year round utility.
What to wear under this shell? Fear not Patagonia has an impressive lineup of Merino Wool to keep you regulated no matter your activity.
Here is my go to baselayer on a cold day: Patagonia Merino 3 Midweight Zip-Neck Shirt – Wool…great for any multi sport activity of just under a sweater at the office.
Patagonia Merino 2 Lightweight Crew Shirt – Wool…another excellent base layer that is great to wear alone next to your skin. Patagonia Merino 1 SW Crew – Long-Sleeve – a wonderful lightweight merino shirt that welcomes any training session.
While Patagonia has become a leading outdoor brand they have also become a leader in world wide conservation efforts. The companies commitment to sustainability is not only window dressing but common practice for employees and devout followers of the brand. This is demonstrated by the Uncommon Threads Initiative partnership with eBay to make buying their brand more sustainable. Have you taken the pledge yet?
I was provided this innovative hydration pack, Rig 500 Ballastic, from the folks at GeigerRig. I was excited to review as I had traditionally used CamelBack hydration bladders for everything from hiking, skiing, biking, golf (bladder stashed in bag) and hitting the beach with the family.
This is a feature rich pack that changes my thoughts on hydration bladders I had used prior to GeigerRig. This pack is loaded with cool features including a dry stash pocket for your iPod and other pockets with just enough room for an extra set of keys, wallet, snacks for the kids and parent(s). One tip that I recommend is filling just past a 1/4 full with water and put in the freezer the night before your activity to have cold water on the go for many hours. I have filled half way to provide even longer duration on the hottest of days. It’s become the go to for any family activity in which we need water.
Here is what seperates these guys from the crowd (please see videos highlighted below for full feature explanations):
1) Pressurized bladder- no more sucking, after a few pumps it can be sprayed into your mouth, your dogs mouth or even to clean the grime off your legs after a muddy hike or bike.
2) Filtration System– you can easily remove the regular tube and use the filtration tube for times you know you will need more water and have the luxury to dip into any water source without the hassle of using tablets, boiling, etc to purify the water. I do think that the pressured spray isn’t as strong but who cares when you are filtering primarily to drink.
3) Cleaning– if you have used bladders in the past you know that taste you can get after a few uses and it’s frustrating to not be able to clean the bladder better after every use. These bladders come with a plastic slider on one end allowing you to reach and a revers bladder for a quick cleaning or for a better clean the bladder is durable enough for the dishwasher.
While I have highlighted benefits in the warmer weather the GeigerRig’s also have insulated tubes which allow you to retrofit for Winter activities.
Never suck again and get yourself set up for the ultimate in hydration technology.
Spenco sent me a few pairs of insoles to try out as a way to reduce knee pain. Specifically I was sent the Polysorb Total Support, FLOW Warm, and FLOW Cool, which I have tried with several pairs of footwear and in a multitude of environments.
I have used the Polysorb Total Support in my ski boots to provide further stability of my feet. Honestly, I found it easier to drive ski tip pressure with my big toe on the outside ski- allowing deeper early turn initiation. I swap these right into any of my hiking boots. These insoles have bestowed an extended life with some of my older boots, while providing a lively bounce in all footwear. I also used the Polysorb Total Support in my Sorel’s which didn’t get enough time on my feet during our lackluster Winter. They really have become an everyday insole in my Blundstones- they were tested over a few weeks in different conditions, and I’m happy to report they have greatly reduced my chronic knee pain (which is a story for another day!)
I was a little skeptical of the FLOW Warm and FLOW Cool insoles… but have become a believer after using them in my winter boot Chaco Credence Wool Nurl boot (which, btw, you can almost steal from Zappos right now.) The FLOW Cool have been coming into play lately with the spring weather, and are better suited for running or cycling shoes. While I flip-flopped this winter between the FLOW Warm and Polysorb Total Support, the FLOWs are thinner and meant more for running shoes in cooler temps. I currently use and won’t go without the Polysorb Total Support in my everyday Blundstone boots.
Takeaway: using insoles other then the stock insoles provided with your footwear will provide longer life of your boot or shoe, while alleviating pains that you have just lived with. A simple switch of insoles can help!
Polarmax products are all 100% made in the USA and utilize superior green initiatives with packaging. I had the opportunity over the last month to put multiple Polarmax products through their paces. Being a strong proponent of all things merino wool this was a true test as I didn’t use any of the Polarmax merino base layers straying from my comfort zone.
Guest Editor- Matt LeDoux
Helly Hansen is thought to be one of the best brands for outdoor gear. This jacket had a lot to live up to with such a heritage.
A little background: my first ski jacket was a Helly Hansen. My dad bought my brother and I matching ones for Christmas long ago. It was a shell, a new concept back in the 80’s. It was fluorescent colored, water resistant and did it’s job well. I skied many years with it, from powder days in Austria to icy, finger numbing days in the northeast. Another reason I was eager to see how this jacket would stack up.
The Zeta 2L HT CIS (Component Insulation System) has many pros and a few cons.
-Welcoming pockets. The Pockets are lined with a soft felt-like material, it’s a little detail but it’s nice when you need a quick hand warm up.
-the hood doesn’t detach. I don’t always want the hood, it’d be nice to have the option.
-missing an inside pocket. Lots of outside pocket options, but no inside pockets. I like putting my wallet, iphone or camera there when skiing.
I was more than happy to put the Helly Hansen Verglas 3L through it’s paces. This waterproof (Helly Tech®O2 fabric) hardshell is more on the slim/athletic fit side. I wear a size Large jacket but found the slim fit to be fairly limiting for layering purposes. I was surprised, as a majority of hardshell jackets I have worn in the last couple of years have been on the roomier side, which I find to be more accommodating for freedom of movement. Luckily I have a twin brother, Jamie, and he was eager to try it and give it a go and it was a perfect match. While I could have made it work, I prefer to have a slim fitting mid layer as opposed to my outer layer.
The Verglas 3L is a feature-rich ski shell that provided protection on some of the nastiest days on the hill this Winter. The helmet-ready hood rocked and was easily cinched down over the helmet. A unique feature that I didn’t understand at first was the placement of rubberized material across the shoulders. I then saw Jamie put the ski’s over his shoulder and noted that material provided a non slip spot for his ski’s as he carried them. I would imagine this material would also be great for holding backpack straps from sliding around as well.
The sleeves are articulated in such a way that when reaching they don’t slide up too far, thus exposing the wrists to the elements. The waterproof zippers also keep the elements at bay and are easy to manipulate. The detachable powder skirt is a welcome feature on the deeper days. The shell also includes some nicely placed pit zips for those days you are earning your turns.
As for the cool feature factor, the well-ventilated laser cut holes provided raves on the wicked cold rides up the lift. These holes provided warmth and breathability while the jacket was fully zipped over the mouth to the nose. Many thanks to Helly Hansen for providing us this great mountain classic for review!
Okay so next Winter can’t come fast enough as I had the opportunity to test a pair of 2012 Black Diamond Amps a few weeks ago in Utah. Okay..selfishly, my season is now over so maybe I anticipate next Winter more then most. For the record these aren’t the ski’s I crashed on! There was about 8-10″ of fresh powder on top of the worst Utah conditions in years so the new snow was welcome and great for testing purposes in the variable conditions. They also make a Women’s specific version…the Element.
The Amp’s have surprisingly soft rocker tips and lots of camber measuring 115mm underfoot and 142 in the shovel. These things sliced unbelievably through the crud and surfed like nothing I have ever rode through the powder. The most amazing thing I found was the turn initiation in the powder was effortless and to top it off they made snappy turns on the hard pack. We have less powder days then we would like in New England so to find a ski with this kind of versatility is a dream come true.
Black Diamond has been manufacturing ski’s for a while but they are really making huge steps forward to challenge all the big players in the ski industry with a much more diverse lineup coming for 2011/2012. I have always loved powder boards while out West but haven’t been able to explain to my business manager (wife Leigh) the need for multiple pairs of ski’s to add to my East Coast quiver. I may need another day to ride these on the true hardpack of the North East but I do believe this could be the ONE ski quiver go to for a more aggressive New England skier.
I must also admit that I didn’t ride these in a telemark set up but with an Alpine Touring binding with an amazing AT boot by Garmont called the Dellerium. However, I look forward to the day I can try these these ski’s set up for telemark.
If you are in the market for a jack of all trades ski you might want to wait to demo a pair of Amps prior to pulling the trigger.
I am thankful to write this review as my memory of my remaining time in Utah is lacking at best.