Thursday, January 24, 2013

In celebration of Outdoor Retailer, the gear we wish they'd make again



I'm looking forward to drooling over all the new gear on show at the Outdoor Retailer this week. Featherweight ski boots?  Super-breathable yet waterproof shell material?  Yes, please!

However, as I see the new gear roll out, I am nostalgic for certain favorite pieces that are no longer made, and do not yet have a replacement.  Here is some of the gear we'd love to see again.

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Ryan wears his Ascensionist on the ascent and descent

Ascensionist Softshell by Patagonia

The Ascensionist gives burly protection from weather, keeps me dry from precipitation and sweat, is lightweight, is supple and moves with me, doesn't rip when I wear it climbing, has just a tad of insulation so it feels like I am wearing more than a wind shirt - but not too much.  And the kicker, it is versatile and performs well for many sports and conditions.  I have had a good and enduring relationship with my Ascensionist for about three years.  It has joined me on climbing trips, backcountry ski trips, in-bound ski trips, backpacking trips, on winter bike commutes and on the walk to the grocery store.  The only time I don't throw it on my body or in my pack is during the middle of a blazing hot summer.  If I wash it, it looks new except for one cuff.  I'm like Goldilocks: when I try on different softshells they are either too thick, too lined, too thin, too boxy, too tight....I like my softshell just right and I hope the day when it wears out is very, very far away.

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Ryan rocking the Pinks on Japanese Gardens at Index

Pink Anasazi climbing shoes by Five-ten

The Pinks are my second favorite climbing shoe of all time.  Stiff yet with a bit of sensitivity, they help me edge like no other...but also deliver performance on sloping foot placements.  The tension band across the heel pushes my toes forward, ensuring a precision fit in the toe box throughout the life of the shoe.  This feature even let me use Ryan's Pinks one day when I forgot to pack climbing shoes!  The synthetic uppers loosen up a bit but don't stretch.  The Stealth C4 rubber is super sticky, and durable enough.

Me showing off footwork in my Pinks


Five-Ten's replacements, the Anasazi Blancos and the Anasazi Verdes, split all of these features between two shoes but neither quite covers them all with the same excellence.  I have a reserve pair of Pinks for hard projects, keeping the edges in good shape.

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Thatchers drying in the sun during a trip through the Enchantments to climb Prusik Peak in Spring

Thatchers by Patagonia

The Thatchers pamper my feet.  They are a lightweight, minimalist shoe with a cork footbed and a shank in the sole.  No matter how many miles, or how heavy my pack, my feet never felt a fraction as beat up as they would in hiking boots or other approach shoes.  They scramble and climb almost as well as my Five-ten Guide Tennies, but are lighter and more compact for an easier carry on my climbing harness for those long and scrambly walk-offs. What I miss most is how my feet felt at the end of a very long day.

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When two Das Parkas are not enough...

Sherpa Raajen jacket, MEC Tango and other super puffy synthetic jackets

It seems that we have entered the age of multiple puffy layers instead of one very thick and warm jacket.  Multiple layers have their place, and I love my light Nano puff.  However, when it is cold, there is no substitute for a very warm layer you can throw on to get warm fast and as a backup to be safe in case of injury far from the trailhead. Two of the thickest Primaloft One jackets made, the Sherpa Raajen and the MEC Tango, were recently discontinued along with other super puffy jackets from many top brands.  Casualties of the new layering trend, and not replaced in other companies' lineups.

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Hope for the future

Every now and again great gear gets a second chance, and receives another production run.   Sometimes the original company grants the gear a second life, and sometimes another company picks it up.  Aliens are my favorite gear fairy tale at the moment, and now two companies, Totem and Fixe, are making runs with the Colorado Custom Hardware pattern for Alien cams climbing gear.  Yes!  We picked up an essential second green Alien cam when it came on the market and scratched it up last season.  Here's hoping that other worthy gear is made again.

2 comments:

Asifur Rahman said...

nice

Jane Smith said...

Once in a while there are some products that need to be continued for a long time. I've been camping for a long time and some of my favorite gears were either discontinued and replaced by newer products which I hate. I think that's product loyalty for you, right? Whatever the case may be, it's great to have the right gear at all times and to get only from the best brands. If you need to camp and looking for the best reviews of gears in town, hop on to this site. I love their posts! See for yourself: http://backpackingmastery.com/gear/diy-camping-gear.html