Archive for the Apparel Category

Patagonia R1 Hoody

Posted in Apparel with tags , , , , on October 15, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria


You know what they say about Colorado. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes.” If you’re climbing in the mountains, you also know that the blue sky can change to snow in less than half that time. Hopefully you’ve come prepared with clothing that will stand up to the test and keep you comfortable at the same time.

I depend on the Patagonia R1 Hoody. Most people believe that it hit the market in just the last few years. Not exactly; it was first released more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, aside from the elite alpinists, it wasn’t popular with the outdoor mainstream. I guess back then, ‘extreme’ wasn’t really all the rage. This time around, the R1 is more than just a cult favorite; it’s become the standard in any adventure junkie’s closet.

The R1 Hoody is the Swiss Army Knife of fleece base layers. Created in the spirit of Patagonia’s philosophy, the minimalist design includes a myriad of useful and well constructed features. Beginning at the top; the balaclava style hood fits easily under a helmet, even doubled with a lightweight beanie. Next, the ¾ length zipper is offset, making it comfortable to wear in cold conditions. No freezing metal on your skin. Finally, the external chest pocket is great for an energy snack, while the thumb loops keep your skin protected from the elements. Overall, the R1 Hoody is another well designed piece of clothing from Patagonia.

The R1 shines in the mountains when it comes to performance. Like any alpinist, I’ve mastered my own layering technique. For example, on most days I can wear the R1 directly against my skin, with the waffle-style structure of the fleece keeping me warm and dry. During colder and windier situations, I usually add a light base layer underneath. After some experimentation, I’ve decided that capilene works better than wool. The arrangement isn’t bulky and won’t soak up sweat when I have to pick up the pace. As I come to belays or stop for a snack, I can conserve heat by zipping up the fleece or putting on the hood. Overall, temperature control and layering are strong suits of the R1.

There is no doubt that the R1 Hoody is very durable. With nothing more than a run on the hem, I’ve worn this fleece non-stop for three years. In addition to many climbing routes, I also have many days logged from trekking, biking, and lounging around the campfire. When it comes to laundry day, the R1 goes in with everything else. In the midst of countless adventures, it’s been washed in the sink or thrown in the machine at the Laundromat. Whether it’s drying on a line in the sun or spinning on high in the Speed Queen, the R1 Hoody stands up to the test of unlimited washing.

Journeys in the alpine world require clothes that are functional, easy to wear, and long lasting. Thank goodness for second chances. Without them, we probably wouldn’t have the The R1 Hoody.

R1 Hoody Specs:

Price: $135

Weight: 10.9 oz

Material: 6.5 oz Polartec® fleece (60% recycled polyester), Capilene 4 stretch panels (under arms, cuffs, hem)


Balaclava-style hood, offset zipper, external chest pocket, thumb-loops

Sizes/Colors: XS-XL, Black and Red

Pros: Host of useful features. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program. Doubles as a ninja costume at Halloween.

Con: Never goes on sale



8550 White Fir Street

P.O. Box 32050

Reno, NV 89523-2050


Writing & Photography By:

Leslie Kehmeier


Smartsocks! Smartunderwear! Smartwool!

Posted in Apparel with tags , , , on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

Here at There & Back we’re assuming that you’ve heard of Smartwool; one of the renowned companies pioneering the use of the New Zealand grown, merino wool. In 1995 Smartwool started with Smart-socks and since then have branched out to shirts, sweaters, hats, leggings and more. These items can be purchased in nearly every outdoor retailer in Colorado. In fact, if you’re in an outfitter store and they don’t carry Smartwool products, turn and run away screaming! To find out more about how Smartwool achieves their outstanding quality visit and click the “Why Smartwool” tab and get an education on wool fibers.

Smartwool Socks


Men’s Microweight Boxer Brief–



100% Merino Wool

Elastic Waistband

Wool underwear? Sounds itchy.

I know what you’re thinking, that wool underwear is going to be scratchy and uncomfortable. Well, you are so wrong I don’t even know where to start… I guess I’ll start here. It’s not itchy at all; in fact these jewels nearly disappear while wearing them. The 100% Merino Wool is so soft it doesn’t even feel like wool. They’re extremely thin yet keep you warm and cheerful at the same time. Again, these are machine washable and dryable. One note is the sizing is a bit weird. My waist is a size 34 and I’m comfortable in a size small for the boxer briefs. I do like tighter fitting baselayers, so they don’t move as much. But the medium, and large sizes seem really big. So, my suggestion is grab a few sizes and try them out before purchasing. Speaking of purchasing, I know you’re looking at that price and wondering why you would pay $40.00 for underwear. Honestly, if you “hike” Mount Evans once a year, I wouldn’t tell you to dish out on a pair of underwear you’ll wear only briefly. But if you’re going on a multi-day hike or week excursion buy a few pairs. They dry super fast in the sun, pack down small, and don’t cinch to your thighs when lifting your leg.  Overall, Smartwool’s Boxer Briefs are a great investment for people who spend weekend after weekend in the outdoors.


PhD Ski Light –

Light Cushion, Over-the-Calf



67% Merino Wool

32% Nylon

1% Elastic

Technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

Starting with how this sock is constructed. Smartwool uses their patented, “4 Degree Fit System” giving the sock a tighter fit for all day use. Four reinforced zones located on the ankle, arch, upper and lower instep keep the sock from moving and give better support. Also built with WOW Technology for better durability on the bottom, and Mesh MVT Zones on the top to improve ventilation.

Not technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

First off, this sock can be put in the washer and dryer which is a nice feature for wool items. Smartwool also boasts about odor control saying, “no moisture build up, no bacteria growth, no odor” which is true with ALL their products, not just their socks. But to be realistic, wearing a pair of socks on a 12-hour hiking trip in August produces a funk no matter what. However, a quick wash of these babies and the smell is gone. Furthermore, all of these socks fit to your foot and stay that way all day, no matter the activity. They’re extremely comfortable and truly provide support as indicated.

All that said and done, does this stuff really work?

I have 8 pairs of Smartwool socks, uses ranging from cycling, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. In my opinion, when it comes to socks, Smartwool is king. They have done their homework and when they say they’ve reinforced certain areas and vented others, they did it based on research and experience, not happenstance. I’m a big winter cyclist and have found that when the temperature drops to the single digits, wearing the PhD Ski Light with the Hiking Crew (also featured) keeps my feet warm and happy. I believe that a great piece of outdoor equipment is created with certain activities in mind, but can be useful in other situations and still operate to your benefit. These socks do that. For example, the reinforced shin attribute in the PhD Ski Light is made to ward against abrasion and shock. However, when winter-cycling it also gives a bit more wind resistance. Which is a great added benefit.


Hiking Medium Crew–

Medium Cushion, Crew



70% Merino Wool

29% Nylon

1% Elastic

So what makes this sock so great?

It is an all around a great sock. This three-season, all-purpose piece of equipment is a must have for light hiking, or everyday cold weather use. When compared to the PhD sock this hiking crew may seem average, since it doesn’t have the gizmos of its more intelligent sibling. But there’s no need for such technical attributes here. This sock is made for rugged use, while keeping your foot dry and comfy.

What’s in it for me?

This is one of my favorite pair of socks. Great for snowshoeing, a snowy day hike, or walking from your car to work when the temperature drops. I try to only wear this sock when I go hiking, so it isn’t worn out when I really need it. But I somehow convince myself to wear it whenever the cold weather rolls in, even if I’m only walking around town.