Rock and Snow Blog!

Welcome to the first Rock and Snow blog post. I know that hardware is the great salivator but I would like to hold that card for a bit and instead address the often confusing realm of clothing. This is a great time to talk about what you are wearing due to the current conditions at the cliffs and in the mountains that can vary from hot and calm at the bottom to cold and windy on top.

Are you wearing or carrying a cap that in the case of climbing fits comfortably under a helmet and covers most of your ears? It is not a bad idea to be carrying a pair of gloves as well. Even uninsulated belay gloves will help keep you warm as you belay and wait for other members of your party to join you when you are climbing or hiking. My Ibex Shak lite wool pullover worn over a wool or synthetic long sleeve or tee is a great start. Another alternative is to have on or with you a hooded wind shirt or a light insulated jacket. My RAB Xenon jacket is so light I barely feel it on me and am able to zip up and pull up my hood on the top of the ridge and womb out in total comfort. This piece can cause a lot of sweat if you are moving hard due to the Primaloft insulation and calendared outer fabric that has limited air permeability. It still tends to keep you warm when you are damp on the inside for the same reasons.

The RAB Generator Stretch jacket melds the warmth and wind protection of a Primaloft type jacket with the fit and air permeability of a stretch fleece. This is achieved by constructing the jacket with stretch fleece panels on the sides and under the arms while having synthetic shelled insulation on the front and back. Even the neck is carefully constructed to take advantage of both methods of construction.

Straight fleece doesn't stop wind and can be bulky if it isn't stretch. I also must add that I'm not a fan of wind stopping fleece which is again bulky, doesn't stretch, and can be sweaty. It also has its windproof layer on the inside which doesn't take advantage of the potential warmth of the fleece.

A long underwear top, a thin stretch fleece, and a windshirt tucked into your back pocket can be a great combo. The RAB VR Lite jacket is a beauty, can be worn over a tee shirt and still keeps the howling out and keeps you toasty inside, but you will still need some kind of hat. This is also a super hiking piece because it is the king of wicking bi-component jackets enabling you to feel super dry even when your sweating up a storm because the lining will pull moisture to its outside and the shell also has wicking properties to help keep the moisture moving and away from your body.

The RAB Zephyr jacket is an excellent middle of the road choice as a windshell. It is tougher than a thin windshell, stretchy with reenforced shoulders and arms and has a hood. It is not as windproof as a classic windshirt but this is sometimes desired because you tend to sweat less in it while still stopping a good bit of the heat robbing wind. The Ibex Breakaway hoody is pricy but garments made from Schoeller fabric always are. The price is offset by the durability of the fabric. This piece is thicker warmer and much tougher than the Zephyr. The fabric is stretch nylon on the outside with wool blended into the inside. Not all Schoeller fabric is built this way.

The RAB Cirrus windshirt is the way to go if lightness is your goal the feathery Pertex Quantum fabric is almost unnoticeable because it is so thin, but it is 100% windproof and if you put it on when you get to a ledge or take a break while hiking or are on the summit ridge it will hold your heat in and prevent the extreme cooling that occurs when a strong wind hits a sweaty shirt. The VR Lite jacket will be the piece that you wear for more hours in the day because it remains so comfortable when working hard. If there is potential for rain and you are close to your vehicle these pieces will, while not keeping you dry will at least keep you warm if you keep moving.

What is your best choice of jackets? I can't tell you that without having a lot of background into what you like to do most frequently and what your budget is. A cotton sweatshirt may be all you can afford and is a passable garment. So think before you leap into a purchase. A good looking piece may not be a good performing piece and vice versa.

If you are far from an escape and rain or snow is possible you should keep rainwear close at hand but this is another topic that I would like to cover in more depth at a later date. Keeping you happier and healthier has been our goal since 1970 and we don't take this responsibility lightly. Ask questions and we will do our utmost to answer them in an understandable relevent manner. Until next time, go outside, have adventures, and tread lightly.