Gear Review - Mammut Parinaco Jacket

I love jackets. I am a jacket connoiseur and whether it is a light wind shirt or a heavy duty down parka I love trying on jackets, feeling the fabrics fit and cut and seeing all the features. I really can't get enough of them and now that every outdoor company is throwing in outrageous colors it is even better!

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Gear Review - Black Diamond Mission 50 Backpack

This is the mother of all technical backpacks. I would describe this pack as comfortable, versatile and feature rich. Heavy loads are no problem, stripping weight is no problem, carrying a rope, ice tools, crampons and all the usual alpine/ice gear is no problem and even skis can be carried by the Black Diamond Mission 50.

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Tallahassee Rock Gym Expansion

Every climber has a similar story of their early days...driving home late after climbing with forearms burning thinking of the problem or route that shut you down go after go. I remember it like yesterday. Working at the Tallahassee Rock Gym was a privilege and climbing there was a blast.

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Gear Review - Outdoor Research Stormsensor Glove

Gloves. I don't think there is a more important piece of gear for winter activities than gloves. Your gloves need to be warm and dexterous but they also need to be comfortable and dry. The perfect glove, I have found, does not exist, but there are many good options for all around use and only a few suitable for specific activities like ice climbing or skiing.

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Longs Peak Cirque Ice Climbing - 11.5.12

Alpine climbing at its finest. High elevation, wind, little sun, cold temperatures, it all combines to make an epic day on the mountain. My first day out this season was up to the high alpine of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Longs Peak Cirque. We started at the Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot at 6:20 am and didn't return until about 4:30 that afternoon.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

OutDoor Tradeshow Trip Report

I know this is a little late, but I have a normal day job!  I try to get this stuff up right after shows, however I have to follow up on opportunities, orders and general communication with new vendors.  Tradeshow season is a very busy time and I am going to try and bring you trip reports for all my travels like I have in the past.  Right now I am doing this OutDoor Friedrichshafen report, but next week is Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City and then Surf Expo is in Orlando the first week of September.  Keep your eyes set on White-Knuckled for more trip reports and awesome gear reviews.


OutDoor Friedrichshafen is an amazing tradeshow.  It is the preeminent summer tradeshow in Europe.  It is Summer Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City Utah every summer, but multiplied by 10.  There are many of the American brands represent at the show, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Big Agnes, Kelty, etc., but the European brands take over a massive amount of the show, not to mention many of the brands you may have never heard of.  For example, Edelrid is not that well known in the USA, but they are a combination of Black Diamond, Sterling and Petzl over in Europe.  Their booth is huge and their product range is immense.  They innovate at the rate of a technology company and have been around for 150+ years.  There are countless brands like this including Norrona, Haglofs, Mammut, Millet, Salewa and many more.  The technical prowess of these European brands far outweighs that of the American market and that is why Sierra Trading Post attends OutDoor in Europe.  It allows us to bring a different flavor of product to our American customer base.


Some of the best product I saw had to be at Haglofs and Edelrid.  Haglofs has completely redesigned and re-colored their apparel.  You can see from the photo below that Europe definitely influenced the color shift in America that Marmot and Mountain Hardwear have embraced over the last couple years.  Haglofs, Norrona, Millet and others pioneered the color shift starting back in 2008 or so and it has really caught on in the last couple seasons. You will see these new colors for the apparel and gear starting this fall.  Edelrid also had some new product.  They have innovated on almost every piece of gear that a climber would take out climbing, from harnesses to ropes to belay devices.  You will see some crazy product in the next few months from Edelrid.  They have a new 6.9mm twin rope and a couple new belay devices.  The first is the Mega Jul, a belay device for larger ropes and the Micro Jul which is meant for smaller ropes down to a diameter of...6.9mm.  The really interesting and new thing about these devices is that they are normal tube style ATC belay devices, but they are auto locking?!?!?!  Yes, Edelrid has built a normal ATC style belay device that acts like a Petzl Grigri or a Trango Cinch.  They had a testing setup for the belay devices and they were dropping weights with the Jul's connected and they were auto locking the falls.  Crazy stuff!!!






This was a very long show and I was extremely busy, but below are a few videos that I took while walking around the show and one video from Black Diamond's Vimeo account page.  Some pretty cool stuff, so take a look.





 
Camalot X4 — coming Spring 2013 from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

The show was incredibly fun and very productive, but to go through everything would take forever.  These are some highlights and I hope you enjoy the content.  Look for my trip report on Summer Outdoor Retailer the second week of August.  Leave some comments and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gear Review - Mountain Hardwear Trinity Jacket

It has been a while since my last post.  I have been extremely busy with both my personal life and work.  I got married on the first of July, went to the Caribbean for my honeymoon and then straight to Germany for the OutDoor Tradeshow (trip report coming soon).  Now it is time to get back to work.  I have a lot of gear reviews planned and a few trip reports to post.  I even have some personal rambles that I may post (still debating whether or not to post because of backlash over some topics).


Over the last few years I have been a huge proponent of Haglofs.  Their quality is first class and the fit is perfect for me (athletic and slim fitting).  I have been hard pressed to find a softshell jacket as good as my Haglofs Savage softshell jacket.  With that being said I have always been on the lookout for my next softshell jacket, always assuming it would be another Haglofs jacket.  Well, back in late spring I got a new softshell jacket.  It wasn't a new Haglofs jacket, but it hasn't replaced my Savage either.  I have used it a good bit though and thought it would be time to review it on White-Knuckled.  The Mountain Hardwear Trinity softshell jacket is a great jacket with tons of features and a great overall fit.  Their new proprietary fabrics and quality construction now put Mountain Hardwear at the top of the technical outerwear list along with Mammut, Haglofs, Norrona, Patagonia and others.


The Mountain Hardwear Trinity softshell jacket has some fantastic features.  First of all Mountain Hardwear is now using its new proprietary fabrics called Dry Q.  They have a "Core" line, an "Elite" line and an "Active" line.  The Active line is really reserved for active outerwear like wind shirts and running apparel.  This fabric breathes the best while still offering protection from the elements.  The Core fabric, which the Trinity uses, is basically a step down from the Elite fabric.  They are both waterproof, windproof and breathe incredibly well, but the main difference is that Elite fabric has "instant on" technology.  Basically it starts working right when you put it on and does not require body heat to activate breathability like most other waterproof/windproof fabrics.  Mountain Hardwear has been able to change the breathability and protection features of their fabric because they have actually gone back to the manufacturing level of apparel.  They are engineering layer by layer new fabrics to compete with the likes of GoreTex, eVent and Polartec.  I must say that they have done a very good job.  My Trinity jacket is completely waterproof/windproof, but it breathes better than any GoreTex softshell I have used.  Overall this new Dry Q technology is moving Mountain Hardwear ahead of some of the competition.


Disclaimer on this next part.  I am a gear junkie.  This means that I rarely buy a product unless it is perfect.  This is why I generally have positive reviews for the products I test or own.  My basic thought process is that if something is missing or wrong, in a product, it is going to piss me off for as long as I own that product.  Plus, if one company doesn't do something right, say adjustable cuffs, I feel there has got to be a company out there that does!  I refuse to buy products that don't have full feature sets or skimp on things that I think absolutely must be there.  Soapbox speech done!  With that being said, the actual functional features of this jacket are good as well.  The jacket is very stretchy and moves with me while hiking and ice climbing.  It offers welded zippers everywhere which means that pockets and entry into the jacket are completely waterproof and windproof.  The hood adjusts in two ways so that it really cradles your dome and it can even accommodate a helmet.  The last feature that I think is important and Mountain Hardwear included is velcro adjustable cuffs.  It is just nice to have that adjustability instead of a gusseted cuff.  The fleece backing on the inside makes this jacket comfortable as well and adds a little bit of heat retention.

As with every piece of technical apparel there are some misses and the Trinity is not immune to that.  For everything Mountain Hardwear did correct, they really missed on a few aspects.  First is the lack of a two way zipper!  In this day in age unless a jacket is meant exclusively for rain I don't see why there is not a mandatory two way zip.  Especially when it comes to softshells as those are typically worn for more technical adventures where, oh I don't know, you might have a harness on.  To be able to zip the bottom button up while belaying or at an anchor station is huge.  The Trinity misses by a mile on this feature.  The next would have to be the lack of a Napoleon pocket.  This could be on the inside or the outside, but I think pretty much every technical outerwear piece should have one.  They are great for quick access to food, camera or gear without having to use the hand warmer pockets which are typically reserved for gloves or...warming your hands.  There is an interior baggy mesh pocket, like a ski skin pocket, but I don't like the lack of a zipper for security when you might take off your jacket or it gets flipped upside down.  The last miss is the terrible placement of the internal hood cinch pulls.  They are placed inside the jacket by the chin guard and just dangle around.  If the jacket is zipped open even a little bit the pulls flop around and look like walrus tusks.  Very bad miss on Mountain Hardwear's part.  Most companies are at least tacking those pulls down with guides or something.  So annoying and really bothersome.


Sorry for rambling on, but if you are spending $300+ on a softshell I think giving more information than less is a good thing.  Let me know what you think in comments and if you have this jacket tell me if you think my review is accurate.


Final Say:
The Trinity is a great overall jacket, but a few key misses could put it in second place to comparable softshells.  I highly recommend this jacket if you can deal with the short comings.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The American Alpine Club

So, first of all I want to say I have been away for too long.  I got married in July and went to a tradeshow in Germany (trip report coming soon), so I have been extremely busy.  I have many posts ready to go though, so look for posts to start publishing in the next few days.


Below is a very cool letter from the Executive Director of the American Alpine Club, Phil Powers.  It is neat to see what the AAC is doing in the USA to preserve classic climbing areas and secure new areas.  The AAC just purchased the Hueco Rock Ranch to make sure that it is around for seasons to come and is run more smoothly for climbers who visit Hueco Tanks.  The benefits of a membership are great as well.  They offer rescue coverage, free book rentals from the library in Golden, CO and many other benefits.


Read below and let me know what you think in the comments.  If you are a member or at least agree with the principles of the AAC go ahead and repost this on Facebook or email friends the quoted letter.

Dear Friends, 
I am, as you know, an active member of the American Alpine Club. 
The AAC has experienced tremendous change recently. The benefits of membership are much better than they were a year ago. We are implementing conservation programs relevant to climbers, we are enabling members to explore their dreams thanks to new grants, and we are keeping each other safe though rescue services.
Being involved with the AAC is fun. You get exceptional value for your dues and you are part of a tight tribe that does relevant work for our unique (and awesome) community. 
Now that the benefits of membership are better than ever, I am personally writing to suggest that you join.
Now is the time. Your dollars will make a difference--and return great benefits. Just this month the AAC purchased the Hueco Rock Ranch. This ensures our fellow climbers from all over the world will always have a comfortable and friendly place to stay while climbing at Hueco Tanks. 
In celebration of the Hueco purchase, everyone who joins on July 26 will receive a commemorative (and free) "IT LIVES," limited-edition AAC t-shirt. More importantly, together we can make July 26 the biggest membership drive in the Club's 110-year history.
If you or your friends (feel free to forward this!) need another reason to be part of America's climbing club, here are some of those benefit improvements I referenced earlier:
  • every member's rescue benefits doubled to $10,000, protecting us when we get hurt in the backcountry
  • climbers of every ability can now access seed money to pursue their dreams with the Live Your Dream Grants
  • members can now get affordable life and accident insurance without riders for adventure sports
  • there are over 100 AAC-only discounts on gear, lodging, and at climbing gyms
  • a new $25,000 grant keeps our climbing areas clean around the country
The Club has invested in staff to be relevant to the issues that face members:
  • five regional coordinators are stationed around the country to support our volunteers at the local level
  • a new Conservation and Advocacy Director delivers the public policy work that climbing needs
And,
  • the AAC has invested in properties that will open THIS YEAR as AAC campgrounds at the New River Gorge and Hueco Tanks. And the Gunks Campground we've been working on for so long is finally about to break ground.
None of these benefits, staff, or AAC campgrounds existed in 2010, and it has taken a lot of work to get here. We have built a whole new Club. Now it is time for every climber to join it, support it, and enjoy it. For a detailed look at what the AAC does, grab a beer or cup of joe and check out the "2012 Guidebook to Membership" online:http://www.americanalpineclub.org/p/guidebook-to-membership
To join RIGHT NOW, go here: http://americanalpineclub.org/p/hueco To get your free t-shirt you MUST join or renew today (7/26)—it's a one-day deal. When you sign up online, enter the appropriate promotion code for your t-shirt size: 
726XS — Extra-Small  
726S — Small
726M — Medium 
726L — Large 
726XL — Extra-Large 
726XXL — Extra Extra Large 
Do me a favor--take a look. Do yourself a favor--join us.
Thanks for reading.