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.


Clutch – Electric Worry

Posted in Music Videos with tags , , , , on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

If you like music, you’ll love these guys!

Westcomb iRebel Hoody

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

Westcomb Whaa?

If you haven’t heard of Westcomb you should be ashamed of yourself! Not only is this company based out of British Columbia, their products are made there too. Their goal is simple, create top of the line apparel that works great and looks even better. To learn more about Westcomb and to see the rest of their line, visit them on the web at,

iRebel Jacket

Men’s iRebel Hoody

Hiking Geeks get ready, for an iPod compatible jacket that actually works. But before we get to the technological-stupendousness lets talk about the jacket itself.

Equipped with Polartec Wind Pro, and winner of The Polartec Apex award for best use of Polartec fabrics. This über comfortable hoody is great for hanging around the house, walking downtown and of course hiking on the trail. The thumb loops on the sleeves add functionality and style to the hoody. The iRebel is cut superbly and can be worn by itself or underneath another jacket.

iPod Close Up

Now for the techno-side of this little piece of heaven. As shown in the photo, the iRebel has two pockets inside the left front of the hoody. One holds the Westcomb interface and the other your iPod. {This jacket was tested with a 3rd generation iPod Nano, and it worked great.}

True Control Panel

The left sleeve is outfitted with Westcomb’s True Control interface and works as it should. It takes some practice to get the pressure right on the buttons, but after you get it down it’s a piece of cake to use.

Westcomb Mojave Soft Shell Jacket

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

Westcomb Whaa?

If you haven’t heard of Westcomb you should be ashamed of yourself! Not only is this company based out of Vancouver British Columbia, their products are made there too. Their goal is simple, create top of the line apparel that works great and looks even better. To learn more about Westcomb and to see the rest of their line, visit them on the web at,

Westcomb Mojave Soft Shell Jacket

Men’s Soft Shell Mojave Jacket

The Mojave is a must have soft shell. Equipped with Polartec Power Shield, it’s resistant to water, wind and abrasion without losing warmth, comfort or fit. The quality YKK zippers and  well placed pockets make it easy to access your stuff. The clever forearm pocket where I put my lip balm, is used more than I’d like to admit. The Mojave keeps me as warm as The North Face Apex Bionic jacket. But the Mojave is much lighter, thinner, fits better with less bulk and does this without losing ANY breathability. The price of this jacket is not unreasonable  for an exceptional piece of equipment. Remember, you get what you pay for!

Key Points:

  1. Laminated Pockets
  2. Warmth Without Weight
  3. Wind, Water & Abrasion Resistant
  4. 4-Way Stretch
  5. Jacket & Hoody Versions available
  6. Comes in Men’s & Woman’s sizes
  7. Three colors:
  • Black (shown here)
  • Cloud (very light blue)
  • Eclipse (blue)

Loki LORE Light Soft Shell Jacket

Posted in Jackets on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

Loki LORE Light Soft Shell

Find it at:

Suggested Retail: $159.00

Loki is an outwear company conceived and developed out of Grand Junction Colorado. They have a simple goal of wanting to change outdoor gear altogether, and if anyone can it’s them. As the name suggests, this jacket is Loki’s light soft shell weighing 20oz and geared for fall and spring use. Their fabric is best described in their website stating, “Midgard Light Soft Shell fabric offers 4-way stretch for maximum comfort while in motion. A Durable Water Repellent Treatment (DWR) helps to improve water-proofness while allowing maximum breathability.” Besides their state of the art fabric, Loki adds some impressive and intuitive features to this incredible jacket. Loki allowed There & Back to demo this jacket specifically for a trip to Lost Lake, outside of Estes Park, and the only disappointment came from giving it back. It blocked the wind and snow like they weren’t even there. I can’t count how many times I slide my hands in and out of the mitt to take pictures, scratch my eyes or zip up the tent. At first I was skeptical of the thin fabric, thinking I was going to need additional layers to stay warm. Boy was I wrong. Simply put, this jacket blew me away.

Loki LORE Soft Shell Jacket

Key Features:

  1. The hood. Lined with Loki’s patented Face Shield that easily pulls down to cover your face and/or neck.
  2. The N_Pac. Open the zipper on the back of your jacket and turn the pocket inside out to form a backpack. The N_Pac can double as a pillow!
  3. The Loki Mitt. A brilliant invention that tucks the mitten inside the sleeve of the jacket for easy storage and fast access.