Shit on Sale – September 2019

Back in July, I published a Shit on Sale, and my friend Jeff reached out asking where the love was for men’s gear. My gut response was “literally any other gear blog.” Women’s gear rarely gets the same coverage, and pretty frequently, manufacturers will launch product in men’s version and quietly add women’s the following season. Even the name of the site is femignarly, for chrissake.

But the more I thought about it, the more I feel like it needs to be included. There are a lot of blogs and groups and classes than are led by women, for women and they are an integral part of growing participation and developing skills for women in the outdoors. But on the flip side, sometimes there are important conversations that go on in an echo chamber. I want this site to be for feminists (intersectional, at that – and consumer advocates, mindful consumers, and frugal clearance rack enthusiasts) – and all of those categories include men. So, welcome boys! Come for the gear deals, stay for the conversations about the pay gap in athlete sponsorship and sustainable improvements in gear production.

Shit on Sale is a monthly round up of damn good deals scraped from the clearance rack. I’m a huge fan of getting the best quality you can get with your budget, and finding items that’ll serve you for years to come. As an eco-conscious reminder, remember to buy what you truly need and pass along or recycle any items you’re replacing.

  • 7Mesh Revelation Jacket – $99 (MSRP $450; 78% off – black has a more comprehensive size run): This one’s for the biker babes. If you haven’t heard of 7Mesh, they are a fairly new company full of Arc’teryx alumni that build gear for cyclists. This jacket features Gore Tex Pro, just like all of Arc’teryx’s $500+ technical shells, but the cut and features are tailored to biking. The hem is higher in the front, which is more comfortable if you’re hunched over the drop bars, and the vents are located on the forearm and side (more visible here), so you can keep one hand on the handlebars and unzip with the other, compared to your standard alpine shell where you’d have to stop, raise one arm in the air, and unzip the pit zips with the other. The side vents also double as a pass-through if you need to get to your jersey pocket for snacks. The hood is low profile and designed to fit under your helmet so you don’t compromise visibility while maneuvering through traffic. I convinced my ski wife to pick one up for shoulder season mountain biking and now her husband has one to match. It runs small, so if you’re between sizes, round up.

 

  • Sierra Designs Sierra Down Jacket – starting at $65 (MSRP $159; 59% off): This is essentially the Patagonia Down Sweater – 800 fill power jacket, polyester ripstop face fabric, around 12oz. The only difference is that this uses hydrophobic down, which helps with moisture management, but has a trade off with compressibility. The face fabric is also 40 denier polyester vs. 20×30 denier recycled polyester on the Down Sweater, so there’s a tradeoff between durability and sustainability. The Men’s version is also discounted, starting at $80.

 

  • Marmot Neothermal Polartec Power Grid Hoodie – $59.99 (MSRP $125; 52% off): This jacket uses Polartec Power Grid fabric, which makes it the same fabric as the Patagonia R1 series (with the exception of recycled fibers in the R1 line). It’s rare that a fabric can wick and dry quickly, yet also insulate well. Power Grid is one of the few pieces that does both adequately and can be worn against the skin or over another layer. The hoodless version, the Preon jacket, is also on sale for $59.97 for men.

 

  • Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Flux Stretch Hooded Jacket – $101.99 (MSRP $249; 59% off): This jacket is a nylon face fabric with Primaloft Gold (60g/sm in the hood and sleeves, with 80g/sm in the rest of the body). This construction is similar to the North Face Thermoball or Patagonia Nano Puff. The Nano, and as of this season, the ThermoBall both use recycled polyester on the face fabric and partially recycled insulation. But if you’re going to put this jacket through the ringer and wear it for casual wear and as an outdoor workhorse, the nylon fabric on the Eddie Bauer version will pay off in durability. The extra insulation in the body also means it’ll run a little warmer. For men, there’s also a clearance version for $90 with the Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket (in Glacier blue). This version also uses a Pertex face fabric, which adds to the wind and water resistance.

 

  • Marmot Scree Softshell Pants – starting at $49.95 (MSRP $110; 55% off): I waxed poetic in a gear review these pants when they first went on sale for the season, and the pricing has only gotten sharper since then. Discounts on the men’s version has been slashed even more at $39.95.
13308431_10100779254659393_5124683785329289846_o
Marmot Scree Softshell Pants. Photo by Mitch Pittman.
  • Patagonia Descensionist Pant – starting at $134.97 (MSRP $379; 64% off): The entire Patagonia Descensionist line is being discontinued and replaced with a new version with a slightly softer hand feel. They features a 3L H2No construction and are uninsulated, so they’ll do double duty inbounds and out. The matching jacket is also on sale (starting at $179.97) and the men’s equivalents are also modestly discounted.

 

  • Black Crows Camox Freebird Skis – $399.99 (MSRP $719.95; 44% off): These are a touring favorite in the PNW, with a wide enough waist at 96mm and shape that provides float for all but the largest skiers, yet the weight is friendly for vert-heavy days on the volcanos. And that’s only one model from Black Crows that’s on serious discount.
Advertisements

Brand Cage Match Showdown: Recycled Fabrics

Let’s get ready to rrrrrumble! It’s time for a brand-level sustainability showdown! Recycled synthetic fabrics are exploding in the market and all the major outdoor brands are pouncing to push their eco lines, but which brands offer the most comprehensive selection of recycled goods?

Before diving into the countdown, let’s do a quick rundown of recycled synthetic fabrics. Nylon and polyester are made by spinnerets, which are, uh, kind of like a pasta maker or spiralizer. Petroleum-based plastics are pushed in and spit out in long strands, called filaments. Filaments are either kept long (to make slick polyester fabrics) or cut into shorter pieces called staples (for cotton-y feeling material) and then spun together to make yarn.

Recycled polyester (also known as rPET) started production in the mid-1990s. It’s actually much more likely to be recycled plastic like soda bottles than recycled pieces of fabric (but that’s totally possible, too). Originally, production was predominately in polar fleece, over the years, the process has been refined to the point where rPET can be used to create a variety of weights and textures. It looks, feels, and performs just as well as virgin polyester (yes, that’s the technical term. Yet another case where virginity provides no more or no less value). Over the course of the next decade, expect to see polyester adoption from all sorts of brands – active wear, formal wear, luxury brands, and bargain brands. It uses less energy and less water than virgin polyester and will eventually move close to cost parity. (Current upcharges are predominately driven by the fact that demand outpaces production capacity in recycling facilities.

Nylon’s a different story, since the polymer chemistry is more complex. It was considered non-recyclable until the past 5 years, when the technology was “unlocked” with results that met customer expectations. Most of the inputs are already fabric, but a few innovating companies are figuring out how to make it work with nylon fishing nets. The process is expensive. Not only is the chemistry complicated, but nylon melts at low temperatures where contaminates and bacteria aren’t destroyed in the process. Everything that gets recycled has to be meticulously cleaned before going through the process.

If you’re wondering why it matters (besides, you know, our potential extinction), by 2020, Gen Z will account for 40% of consumers. Gen Z responds to brands that take a stand on issues that are relevant to their industry, and 94% believe environmental issues are a corporate responsibility. Growth in consumer products is being largely driven with by products with marketable sustainable features, and recommerce like Patagonia Worn Wear or Poshmark are far outpacing the growth of traditional retail. It’s imperative that outdoor brands are pivoting alongside customer sentiment.

Also, before we get into the brand rankings, it’s important to note that you should recycle your clothes (synthetic or otherwise)! Goodwill recycles unsellable donations. The North Face and Levi’s both have recycling collections in their store (for any brand), and H&M does them one better by giving customers who recycle a 15% off coupon. Some towns accept fabric goods at their transfer stations, and a few even offer curbside pickup (shoutout to Raleigh, NC).

But all of the green fabric initiatives in the world won’t correct for overconsumption. We produce 8 times as many garments per year now than we did in the 70’s and buy about 70 pieces per year. Do your research on what you need (or hit me up, I love this shit), wear it to death, donate or re-sell if you don’t, and buy used when you can. Read your care labels and take good care of pieces to extend the lifespan of your garments.

Alright, on to the rankings for trashiest synthetics:

  1. Patagonia – This is a no-brainer. They literally invented polyester recycling in the 90s in their fleece. And they’re the pioneers in nylon recycling; Patagonia has a subsidiary called Tin Shed Ventures LLC that’s a venture capital fund for sustainable business. Those fishing nets getting turned into consumer-grade nylon? They’re recycled into skateboards and sunglasses by a company called Bureo that’s funded by Tin Shed. Almost their entire synthetic assortment is at least 40% recycled fibers, with the exception of a mesh bike chamois or two, their hose down series, and a few pairs of pants. Other signs they’re extra committed? Here’s an example of their Pluma jacket, a recycled nylon Gore Pro piece for $549. Peer garments like the Arcteryx Beta LT, Marmot Alpinist, and Black Diamond Sharp End range in MSRP from $525 to $625, meaning that they’re likely funding all the complexities of nylon recycling with a margin hit instead of passing along the upcharge to the customer.

 

  1. Norrona – If you thought Patagonia was the only major player in eco-friendly outdoor gear, you’re missing this leader in the industry from Norway. They’ve been in the recycled fabric game for over a decade, and the thing I like most about them is their transparency. 71% of their polyester was recycled in 2018, and their goal is to be at 100% by 2020. Recycled yardage was used for 6% of their nylon in 2016, and by 2018, it had been increased to 64%. And they walk the walk as employees, even sharing the percentage of employees who commute in sustainable ways and what percentage of their office waste went to landfill.

 

  1. The North Face – TNF has recycled material as one of their top priorities for production improvements, and they’re doing it in a strategic way: targeting high volume styles first and focusing on their polyester pieces first. Their recycled assortment is up to over 500 items, and they accept recycled clothing and footwear in all of their stores.

 

  1. Marmot – Marmot was a surprise to me. They’re lower price point and owned by Newell Brands, who have made a lot of money over the years pumping plastic out to consumers in a plethora of forms. But they’ve built a solid selection of recycled material goods, currently around 10-15% of their total item count. They made their first foray into recycled nylon with their strong-selling Precip rainwear line, and their website has a nice filter for recycled materials, so you can target your search with more sustainable construction and expand from there if needed.

 

  1. Mountain Hardwear – MHW’s dabbled in recycled materials, with about 33 items across both genders/5% of selection (approximately, a few items aren’t rendering as such in search, but have the details on their item page). Their strategy seems rather disjointed. Last year, they launched the Exposure/2 touting their use of recycled nylon in their Gore Pro pieced. Their pledge to support environmentally responsible fabric production is still up on the collection’s landing page, which is a little awkward since this year’s model is back to virgin nylon (and no, they don’t pass any of the savings along to you). They went sustainable with the Compressor line, which is mysteriously missing for women this season, even though it shares construction with the Patagonia Nanopuff, one of the bestselling jackets in the market. Their Lamina Eco AF line is also… interesting. A – if less than 10% of your goods are made with recycled materials, you don’t get the right to call anything you do “eco AF.” B – why not put a strategy in place to get to 50% recycled materials instead of eco-hacking 2 pieces to the point they’re unsellable (there are no reviews anywhere on the web for either temperature rating).

 

  1. Rab Equipment – Rab falls surprisingly low on the list, given that they’re an EU brand, which tends to be further ahead on sustainable movements, and they’re working in higher price points where there should be room for R&D. A search for recycled materials on their site only yields 10 items, all of which are jackets, where performance has been known and trusted for years. Adoption of recycled goods is part of their broader goal to reduce their carbon footprint by 25%. I have high hopes for improvement and admire their willingness to publicly disclose their goals and put hard data behind it. So yeah, it’s a little strange that food composting and encouraging bike commuting are on their list of things to start doing, I see potential with Rab.

 

  1. Columbia – Columbia has a few apparel recycling initiatives. Like North Face, their ReThreads program accepts clothes and footwear for recycling, and they launched their OutDry Extreme Eco line in Spring 2017. The problem is that no progress has been made since the launch – their total sustainable selection is only 9 pieces. Like the MHW Lamina Eco line, they use dye-less fabric, so eco items look sad and drab, and is out of touch with customer preferences, where there’s more support for closed loop dye processes and all-natural dyes. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are slow sales on the Eco, and if those have slowed adoption in the rest of Columbia’s line. They’re still pretty vocal about their use of recycled fabrics (it’s #1 on their list of accomplishments in the green space , but with such a small, stagnant assortment, it feels performative and like greenwashing. Why don’t they get more credit for ReThreads? The majority of clothes recycling ends up in things like insulation for houses. “Downcycling” is better than not being recycled at all, but that only delays how quickly materials end up in landfills. Upcycling, like fabric recycling, closes the loop on material use and is quickly becoming the industry standard. At the opening price point where Columbia predominately plays, the vast majority of their assortment is polyester, which means it’s all low hanging fruit for recycled fabric adoption. What are they waiting for?

 

  1. Arc’teryx – The only thing worse than being unengaged in the move to closed loop fabric production is actively fighting against it. Arc’teryx has spoken out in the past against the use of recycled fabrics, stating that they don’t perform as well and that they consume more resources than virgin fabric (the latter built on the notion that recycled fabrics are wholly coming from used garments in another country and being shipped back and forth, not that they’re coming from plastic waste that spans the globe). Both of these statements are largely false. Not only does this mean that all Arc’teryx products have an unnecessarily high carbon footprint, they’re also eroding customer trust in brands that are doing the work to find greener solutions for outdoor use. It does make sense that they’re somewhat late to adoption considering their line does heavily skew into nylon since it’s stronger than polyester and can help shave ounces for weight-conscious athletes, but their stance that they can’t be bothered to even test fabrications on the market because everything is built for “extreme alpine conditions” rings hollow. Start with this probably-not-technical-nor-wildly-critical-on-adventure trucker hat. Or your probably-never-going-to-the-mountains dress. Combing the site revealed at least one item that has any sort of recycled components, but it’s impossible to find the full collection through browse or search, and same if you’re looking through a search engine. Do they realize that it’s something to be proud of and showcase? Note that Arc’teryx is engaged in several other sustainable initiatives; closed loop fabric production is not an overall indicator of sustainability. But from this facet, they’re far behind.

 

  1. Outdoor Research – OR’s not the easiest site to navigate when it comes to recycled fabrics, and I’ve found a few in their assortment and need to update accordingly. OR comes to the table with literally nothing. Even product made with Primaloft Eco has been sold through and replaced with virgin polyester. Even Walmart started sourcing recycled fibers in 2016 – where are these guys? Their entire corporate values page is 172 words long (3.5 Tweets if you’re under 35). 0% of it is fact based (like either explaining the initiatives being pursued or stats, numbers, and the like). There’s nothing on Diversity & Inclusion, no information about how they guarantee acceptable labor standards in their factories, and no information about reducing their energy footprint in their offices, distribution network, and store. Something tells me the page hasn’t been updated since 2008 and their strategies haven’t either.

Anti-Odor Treatments Stink

I think your anti-odor treated clothing kind of stinks. Anti-odor treatments rely on antimicrobials to kill bacteria, and there’s a major problem with pathogenic bacteria becoming resistant to many of our go-to antibiotics. The pipeline for new drugs is pretty dry, and the World Health Organization considers antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to be one of the “biggest threats to public health.” Yet outdoor apparel manufacturers continue to treat their garments with antimicrobials, get Bluesign certification, and tout their products as “ethical.” Is it? Debatable. Widespread use of antimicrobials in the fight against stink hardly seems like the right thing to do if it compromises the health of other people.

In order to have a productive conversation about antimicrobials, it’s important to talk about where BO comes from. I preface this by noting that I’m not a microbiologist or doctor or epidemiologist – I’m an apparel person. I know more about some parts of the issue than others, and while I cite a lot of experts, my understanding & interpretation of the facts might be a little less than perfect.

The start of the stink is in your apocrine glands, which are found in your armpits and your crotch. The rest of your body is covered in eccrine glands, which mainly secrete water & salt. It really doesn’t really have a whole lot to offer bacteria, which is why you might have sweat dripping down your face during a long run or hard climb, but don’t end up with BO coming from your forehead. Apocrine glands are different. They dump into a hair follicle instead of onto the surface of the skin, and the sweat they produce contains proteins & lipids. Bacteria on the skin break these down, and release an odor in the process. (Fun fact, men produce more lipids in their sweat, which is why they tend to be smellier).

It’s important to take a minute to note that these bacteria aren’t infectious. Less than 1% are. Bacteria covers almost every surface on earth, but put down the bleach – it doesn’t warrant a germophobic freak out. The strains in and on your body are either commensal (non-harmful) or mutualistic, where we need them to survive.

There are 3 main types of bacteria involved in your armpits & BO: corynebacteria, staphylococci, and micrococci. Corynebacteria is one of the most prominent species, and is a stinky one since they give off sulfur odorants as they break down lipids. But it doesn’t grow well on any textile types. Staphylococci is found in a few different strains, varying from neutral to stinky, and can be found in both natural and synthetic fabrics. And then there’s micrococcus. It’s not a prominent species in your pits, but it thrives in polyester fabrics and creates a foul odor that can sometimes survive through the wash.

Now, before delving into how anti-microbial treatments work, it’s important to cover how you usually handle bacteria on a day-to-day basis. Most of the cleansers, detergents, and soaps you use are surfactants. They’re like a relocation program for bacteria (and dirt, stains, and residues). They loosen the surface tension on whatever you’re washing so you can scrub it free and move down the drain (or to a paper towel or a kitchen sponge, etc). Most soaps don’t kill germs, they just make it easier to scrub them free. (Side note: this is why pros tell you to sing the birthday song while you wash your hands!)

Topical anti-odor treatments like Polygiene, Silvadur, and PurThread combat odors by killing the bacteria with silver ions in silver salts. For full deets on the mechanisms, hit up this paper by legit microbiologists. These treatments are classified as nonpublic-health antimicrobial pesticides, which go through an expedited certification process, and means manufacturers can’t cite any hygienic or sanitary benefits for the treatment. They’re only approved for aesthetic purposes or to protect the lifespan of the garment. (Chemicals used in sanitation are considered public health antimicrobial pesticides, and anything that’s used to kill bacteria on or in your body goes through a different approval process with the FDA).

Each silver salt manufacturer touts how their treatments are only active on the fabrics’ surfaces, and that they won’t interfere with your skins microflora. This is a good thing, since some of the microorganisms on our skin are good guys that protect us from pathogenic bacteria. But on the flip side, it means that you’re still going to stink. As I mentioned previously, the bacteria that causes BO comes from your skin, only some species transfer onto fabrics, and those species don’t include the most prominent smelly strain in your pits. But there are much bigger problems with silver antimicrobials than still-kinda-stinky pits:

 

Antimicrobial Resistance

As I mentioned previously, antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to public health due to lack of new drugs in the pipeline. (Curious why the stream of treatments dried up? Big pharma’s chasing more profitable options that treat chronic conditions. Thx guys…). Every time we use antimicrobials, sometimes microbes get wiped out completely, sometimes they don’t. Hospital grade sterilizers wipe out everything in their path when used properly, but consumer grade disinfectants tend to leave some microbes behind (hence the not-quite-everything “effective against 99% of germs” claims). Sometimes they leave behind strains they’ve never been proven effective against. Others, they leave behind a few microbes that have genetically or phenotypically (expression of genes) changed to withstand the antimicrobial, through mechanisms like changes to their cell walls or production of enzymes that neutralize the treatment. Problems occur when the pathogenic ones are left, continue to multiply, and spread to other hosts.

Infectious disease researchers developed a set of guidelines to combat AMR, called antimicrobial stewardship, which are 6 steps to optimize use of current antimicrobials and maximize their efficacy.

 

How big of a deal is this?

The use of silver salts in consumer products is not front & center of the antimicrobial stewardship movement. There’s much more emphasis on clinical settings for doctors like my hometown dermatologist, who prescribed antibiotics for years for my hormonal acne, where other more effective treatment options exist. The meat industry is also a top priority, as farmers traditionally give antibiotics to their healthy stock pre-emptively because crowded industrial farms lend themselves to infection, and an antibiotic regimen usually leads to fatter (i.e. more profitable) stock. (And despite all the evidence of resistance issues, “big farm-a” continues to push more antibiotics as the solution).

Many outdoor recreationalists will probably tell me that I can pry their Polygiene-treated base layers from their cold, dead hands. That’s fine – I still begrudgingly buy it if a piece that is otherwise perfect has an anti-odor treatment. But if this piece motivates them to use disposal kiosks at pharmacies for unused antibiotics or switch to meat raised without antibiotics, they’d come out decidedly ahead from an antimicrobial stewardship perspective.

But silver use in consumer products still matters. There’s a set of different silver ion treatments that are used in the medical field in treated bandages, wound creams, and to coat catheters, and there’s growing interest in further usage as resistance issues become more prevalent. Silver ions aren’t seeing widespread resistance at this point since it attacks microbes through several mechanisms, like inhibiting cell respiration or cell wall damage. Silver antimicrobial manufacturers tout those facts to prove that silver antmicrobial resistance isn’t actually an issue. But antimicrobial stewardship makes no exemption clause for anitmicrobials that aren’t currently in jeopardy, and plenty of researchers have stated, unequivocally, that silver ions are not immune to resistance. Further, there’s ample literature showing that antibiotic resistance and metallic ion resistance is co-selective, meaning that the genetic traits that “win” against metal ion treatments also make it more resistant to traditional antibiotics. I’m not willing to compromise those in the war on BO.

 

Why do companies use it?

It’s a cash cow. They list a bunch of other reasons on their websites, but they’re secondary. Silver treatments are made from recycled silver from photography and industrial uses – basically waste. It’s a fairly cheap feature to add to garments, but customer research shows that the consumer is willing to pay a 152% premium on the purchase price. It also pulls consumers to trade into polyester over naturally-odor-resistant wool. Merino wool prices are rising rapidly at auction due to droughts in Australia, and the fact that most wool mills are in China will only add another layer of complexity to fabric sourcing. Polyester is easier. Production is consistent and manufacturers will never have to suddenly re-forecast their business because the cost of fabric jumped up and they need to increase MSRP by 15%. Mills are more spread out across a variety of countries.

They say it’s for environmentalism, with sites like these that tout polyester as the poster child for green clothing manufacturing, without acknowledging that they’re comparing recycled polyester to traditional cotton (vs. organic), and that harsh chemicals are not a given in wool production. There’s no mention of the microplastics that shed from synthetics or the fact that, while recyclable, the customer hasn’t caught on (have you ever sought out how to recycle your old clothes?), and that synthetics are the most likely material to be thrown in the trash by consumers.

They say it’s also green because customers will wash items less often. Sportswear gets washed far more frequently than other garment types, so manufacturers see odor resistant treatments as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases after the sale. Likewise, odors are a common reason synthetic garments get thrown out well before their fabric’s lifespan. It’s a good intention, but the problem is that there’s no consumer research supporting the idea that customers are coming home from a long hike where their garments absorbed a lot of sweat, a little dirt, and a dribble or two from your post-hike Taco Time treat and stripping off their base layers and popping them back in their dresser. And that might not be a bad thing: antimicrobials kill the bacteria-causing odors on your garment, but it does nothing to counter the oil absorbed from your skin (synthetics particularly absorb body oils), dirt, sunscreen, bug spray, or food stains. Antimicrobials only address one reason why customers choose to toss an item into the wash – BO, but it doesn’t guarantee the customer will feel clean and fresh enough to extend time between washes.

There are other ways to handle odors and to lower energy consumption for laundry (keep scrolling for tips & tricks), but they don’t have the ROI of antimicrobial treatments.

 

How are companies getting all these ethical certifications then?

Certifying bodies like Bluesign and Oeko-tex are primarily concerned with whether there are harmful effects for people or the environment throughout production and consumption of the goods. The protocols are set and standardized to address known harmful chemicals that are used in or are byproducts of production, and AMR falls outside their scope. Unlike formaldehyde, phalatess, or azo dyes, silver salts aren’t dangerous to the wearer or to the environment.

They’re also worlds better than initial odor-control formulations. Initial treatments included triclosan, which can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. 75% of the population have detectable amounts of triclosan detected in their urine. And that’s a problem because it disrupts hormone regulation and when it’s absorbed into your body, you’re a lot like the livestock with a consistent low dose of antimicrobials in your body at all times, leading to resistance issues. The FDA banned triclosan from hand and body soaps over safety concerns. And silver salts were also preceded by silver nanoparticles, which work similarly to salts, but have a different effect when they’re leached into the environment. Silver nanoparticles are harmful to a number of aquatic species when they’re stripped off garments, while silver ions bind with environmental sulfates and create a stable silver sulfide precipitate.

 

What does this mean for silver jewelry?

One of the facts that silver treatment producers use to legitimize silver antimicrobials is that the amount of silver used in treatment is small: a silver ring uses the same amount of silver as silver salts for 5,000 garments. The difference is that silver salts used in treatment are designed to deliver ions in a manner that is extremely effective. The silver alloys only release silver ions when they oxidize through tarnishing. The vast majority of sterling jewelry is either plated with gold or rhodium or an acrylic electrocoating is added, but in either case, these outer applications are used to prevent tarnishing. The silver is only exposed if the outer plating or coating is scratched off or exposed to chemicals (like hairspray and perfume). And even when the platings are removed, only the surface of the silver oxidizes, and the ions don’t release nearly as quickly as in salts.

 

Other options for handling BO.

  • Use surfactants as the first resort. There are tons of wet wipes on the market with a wide variety of surfactants that will release the surface tension of the bacteria and make it easy to wipe them away. Wipe down your pits, bits, and ass, and you’ve managed most of the odor-causing bacteria on your body. These are great since they come in small travel sizes at 2 ounces, they aren’t scented, and if they’re designed for your butthole, you can pretty much guarantee they’re going to be gentle and non-irritating. Unscented baby wipes or feminine wipes do the job just as well. If you want to step your game up from there, pack a travel bottle of Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap and a small microfiber towel (and be sure not to use it in water sources – carry the water away from lakes and streams and dispose of it in a cathole – otherwise it’s not actually biodegradable). For longer trips, you’re equipped to give yourself a bird bath and do some quick backcountry laundry. And unlike antimicrobials, surfactants will break down the oil and sunscreen that you’ve absorbed into your base layers as well. And for laundry at home, standard surfactant detergents will remove most of the microbes from your clothing. That holds true for most of your cleaning agents; if you have a healthy immune system, you can skip regular use of bleach, disinfectants, or products touting the percentage of germs they kill.
  • Use antimicrobials only when needed. Sometimes bacteria builds up and synthetics take on a “permastink” that seems to last through the wash. Treat them with a single-use treatment as needed. I use white vinegar most often. It’s not a registered antimicrobial with either the EPA or FDA because it doesn’t kill some important pathogens, but it will reduce the micrococci living in your clothing. I also like it because it’s 5% acetic acid, which is a fairly gentle solvent, so it also removes body oils and underarm deodorant build up. It’s also non-toxic and cheap. I usually fill a large bowl with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution and let it soak. That’s one of the kickers – antimicrobials take time to kill of microbes, even up to 10 minutes. (So if you’re spraying surface cleaners with bleach on your counters and wiping it down immediately, you’re not really utilizing the disinfectant. Check the directions on your cleaning supplies for how long you should let the spray sit before wiping surfaces down). If vinegar isn’t effective, there are tougher options like hydrogen peroxide (also the active ingredient in color safe bleach and Oxy Clean) and enzyme cleaners like the ones marketed for pet stains & odors are more severe. Just check your care labels and/or verify with the manufacturer that these cleaning agents won’t negatively impact the garment or other chemical finishes, like the ones used for wicking and UPF.
  • Wear wool. Wool doesn’t facilitate growth of the stinky species of microflora, so it’s naturally odor resistant. Depending on how the wool has been washed and treated, there may also be lanolin, a waxy substance produced by sheep, on the fibers. Lanolin has some antimicrobial properties, but does not meet the efficacy requirements for EPA/FDA classification as such.
  • Shave your armpits. You too, boys. Bacteria like warm, wet things to grow on, and shaving your armpits reduces their real estate.
  • Don’t let wet clothes sit. When you come back from a trip, don’t leave your layers packed away when you get home (do as I say, not as I do). Make sure anything moist doesn’t get balled up in your hamper either. Give it a place to dry out. Likewise with wet clothes that have been through the wash. If you find yourself fighting permastink, leaving them in the washer for a while isn’t helping your cause.

 

Other options for reducing your clothing’s carbon footprint.

  • Only wash your clothes when they need it. Not every item needs to go through the wash with every use, and even the laundry industry is advocating for… less laundering? For activewear and underwear, there’s a good chance you’ll want to wash it fairly frequently. But for casual clothing, if it still smells fresh and feels fresh, skip it. Don’t worry – everyone else does it too. Here are the number of wears per wash for a bunch of different apparel types with data from across the globe (page 10 on the PDF version). Note that Americans skew towards the greener side of the scale when it comes to laundry frequency. Apparently we’re down to accept environmentalism when it means being lazy. The right laundering frequency will depend on the weather, how sweaty you are, and how much oil your skin produces.
  • Use cold water. Washing with hot water is more effective on tough stains or permastink, but otherwise, detergent is equally effective as long as water temps are over 40 degrees. This reduces energy used by your washer (water heating is estimated to comprise 75-90% of the energy used in your wash cycle), and it also extends the life of most garments, since color fading and delicate fabrics can be damaged by the heat from warm wash cycles.
  • Air dry. Machine drying clothes is much more energy-intensive than washing, regardless of the water temperature, due to the voltage on machine driers. Get a folding rack or retractable clothesline to make the most of your indoor space, and on nice, dry days, take it outside if you have the space. The fake ass “fresh air” scents added to laundry detergent don’t have shit on the real deal.
  • Use efficient appliances. Do we really need to add that?
  • Do full loads of laundry. Smart appliances might have sensors that optimize water usage for smaller loads, but the energy consumption is the same. And if you only have a few pieces to do, grab a large bowl or a bucket and do it by hand.

Some manufacturers are starting to make changes, with Norrøna dropping antimicrobials and Patagonia switching to HeiQ Fresh in this fall’s line, which is an amino sugar polymer that “removes” lipids and protein in sweat but doesn’t infiltrate or effect the microbes. All eyes will be on reviews to see if the customer finds it as effective as silver-based antimicrobials.

Shit on Sale – August 2019

Happy getting close to the end of summer. Fall-Winter assortments are starting to launch, which means retailers are starting to drop their summer prices, and everything lingering from last winter is truly getting slashed. Here’s the best shit, and note that Steep & Cheap has a 10% off code (2COOL4SCHOOL) going through the 16th for some bonus savings (all prices taken from 8/15):

 

  • Tons of merino pieces from Kari Traa – (66-75% off); I’m so glad that the jury’s still out as to whether wool is agreeable with my skin, because otherwise I’d be drowning in these base layers. Merino is getting really expensive, thanks to droughts in Australia decreasing demand. While most brands are going for simple and safe designs to maximize sales, Kari Traa’s doubling down on what made them stand out with fun colors and prints. There’s a mock-neck ($29.99/reg. retail $120), hoodie ($29.99/reg. retail $110), boot-length base layer pant ($24.99/reg. retail $75), full length base layer pant (29.99/reg. retail $120), and another mock neck with a lighter weight wood ($29.99/reg. retail $110)

 

  • Women’s Gore Tex Pro Jackets – $219 (Reg. Retail $549; 60% off): These two jackets are essentially the same as many of the higher end Arc’teryx shells, so if you’ve heard people preaching that Arc’teryx makes the most bomber shells, they’re generally right, but you can still get the same performance for less. These feature a Gore Tex Pro laminate, one of the most waterproof and breathable options on the market. (That’s right, “waterproof” isn’t a black & white feature. Water will break through anything with enough pressure – even sheet metal – and likewise, some membranes are rated to higher pressure ratings than others). It’s also a 3-layer construction, where the interior protective layer is bonded to the membrane and outer layer, which makes it more durable and more packable than 2-layer jackets.
    • Black Diamond Women’s Sharp End Shell Jacket: This jacket is super similar to the $649 Beta SV. Gore Tex requires that manufacturers using their Pro membrane have a face fabric denier of 40 (think thread density, which has a big impact on durability). The Sharp End has a 70 denier face fabric, just under the Beta SV denier of 80. This jacket can endure years of wear – even if you spend more days outside than inside. It also features pit zips and a climbing compatible design (like harness-friendly pockets and a helmet-compatible hood).
    • Marmot Women’s Alpinist Jacket: This jacket is more like the $525 Beta LT, with the 40 denier face fabric, but has an edge with a few features. The fit is more relaxed than the Beta, so there’s more room to layer. It’s got pit zips and extra pockets. And it also has a zip-in powder skirt, which is really appealing. A lot of manufacturers consider their technical shells to be an all-around garment, but if you’re a frequent skier, the powder skirt is going to go a long ways in terms of keeping you warm and dry, and the pass pocket and mesh drop pocket means it has most of the features of a dedicated ski coat. If you’re an ounce counter, it does add about 50% to the weight (when the powder skirt’s zipped in).

 

  • The North Face Men’s Free Thinker Gore Tex Ski Jacket – $279 (MSRP $649; 62% off): There’s Gore Pro for the boys as well. This ski jacket’s perfect whether you’re headed inbounds or out. It has all the design features you’d look for in a ski jacket – long hem, goggle wipe, powder skirt, and plenty of internal and external pockets to skip the ski pack for the day.

 

  • Marmot Women’s Spire Jacket – $139.97 (MSRP $400; 65% off): If you run cold or want the maximum amount of wind protection out of your hard shell, skip the Gore Pro, save some money, and go with a 3 layer Gore Tex Performance. It has all the waterproofing of the Pro membrane, but doesn’t breathe quite the same. I have the Pro membrane in my Beta LT, and hate the feeling of the wind cutting through my jacket and definitely paid a premium for features that I didn’t need. This shell otherwise has the same features as the Alpinist, which makes it a great choice for the multi-sport recreationalist.

 

  • Outdoor Research Men’s Ascendant Hoody – $79.99 (MSRP $249; 68% off): I’m really not sure how these are so cheap. The Ascendant has become kind of the gold standard for midlayers – warm, light, breathable, durable, weather resistant. It features some of the more advanced face fabric and insulation on the market. The Alpha Direct insulation is a fleece-y synthetic lofted fabric that’s nubby – so it traps air, but also vents well. And since it’s a fabric instead of a fill material, there doesn’t need to be a liner layer of fabric, which means more breathability and less weight. My boyfriend picked his up last fall and gets pretty heavy use out of it, but it still doesn’t show any signs of wear & tear.

 

  • Marmot Women’s Quasar Nova Down Jacket – $64.99-89.97 (MSRP $260; 65-75% off): Keeping with the theme of my boyfriend’s insulation layers, this is his midweight puffy. It’s an 800 fill weight jacket with a nylon plain weave face fabric, which means it isn’t the crème de la crème, but it’s pretty damn close. For reference, the lightest midweights on the market like the Cerium LT use 850 fill (and cost a hefty $349). The Rab Electron ($325) uses a Pertex face fabric that’s more resistant to wind, wear, and water. And the Patagonia Down Sweater ($229) is essentially the same construction. If you’re really looking to stunt one of the premium brands, use the difference in cost and buy a nice trucker hat. If you’re hunting for a hoody, select sizes are down to $114.97. And pro tip – it is possible to get your puffer for cheaper. Outdoor brands have set responsibly sourced down as the industry standard, but it decreases output and adds cost in the auditing process. If you aren’t putting the same level of scrutiny on the down in your comforters and pillows, why pay a large upcharge for your down jacket compared to similar options at Costco or Amazon?

 

  • Women’s 2 Layer Gore Tex Shell Ski Pants – $109.97 (MSRP $275; 60% off): These are perfect ski pants for the PNW, where the skiing is wet and warm. The waterproofing’s strong, and the lack of insulation means you can swap out your bottom layers for the occasional cold snap. (These would pair perfectly with the Marmot Toaster Knicker). If you’re curvy, go with the Marmot Lightray. If you’re not, go for the Patagonia Powder Bowl. The Powder Bowl also comes in an insulated version if you run cold for $169, and the Patagonia Untracked pants are a more durable version of the Powder Bowl, featuring 3 layer waterproof construction and a nylon face instead of polyester ($179).

 

  • Dakine Women’s Callahan Hoodie – $48 (MSRP $80, 40% off): The general rule about base layers is to keep them thin and let your insulation layers do the insulating. Lighter pieces won’t hold as much water and tend to dry faster, and asking base layer to also keep you warm is a lot to demand of a garment. The Nano Red fabric Dakine uses is the exception to the rule. This is a weird fleece you can wear against your skin that regulates temperature and moisture extremely well. I call it my skimo spandex, because it was the perfect piece for beer league races and the Patrol Race last winter, where I didn’t have time to hassle with adjusting layers.

Adventure Underwear 101

Underneath all of your technical layers, there’s one piece of clothing that gets worn all year-round, on all types of outdoor escapades: your adventure underwear*. (*unless you’re team commando – we’ll talk about you too). I fielded your questions on outdoor underpants, and despite common knowledge about your rain gear and down puffies, there’s a lot of guesswork going on in the underwear drawer.

IMG_7166
Image and fantASStic booty courtesy of Meghan Young

What’s the best fabric to wear? Gynecologists say that cotton’s best for your lady bits, but as they say, “cotton kills.”

I preface this by saying I’m a panty person. I’m not an OBGYN. But I’ve heard doctor’s refer to lady parts as a “self-cleaning oven” and doesn’t need much beyond basic hygiene – unless you’ve got a condition or medication that throws off you’re hormones and/or microflora. That being said, some materials are more comfortable than others:

  • Cotton has a good reputation because it’s soft and breathable, which is ideal for everyday undies that you’re wearing to work or around the house. But cotton absorbs sweat (meaning the fibers soak up moisture and hold onto it vs. wicking, where capillaries push moisture to the surface to dry). This leads to the two grossest words in the English language – moist panties – which can lead to chaffing or an imbalance in your microflora. Modal is a semi-synthetic fiber that performs very similarly to cotton, but with a softer, more luxurious feel and better durability.
  • Synthetics got a bad rap as hot & unbreathable thanks to the old polyester leisure suits of the 70s. In the past few decades, some brilliant textile engineers have made this category diverse and high-tech (including new innovations like period panties). Here’s a few tips to navigate the category:
    • Skip lace & satin pieces. If pieces are built to be sexy & seen, they’re probably built for a different type of “performance.”
    • Thinner is better. All else being equal, thin fabrics will hold less water and dry faster than thick fabrics.
    • Look for performance claims like “wicking” or “quick dry.” These are claims where the manufacturer has to have lab-backed data in order to make these promises, otherwise they risk FTC lawsuits. There are no hard & fast standards for the claims, but brands set them themselves, and the standards tend to align with the brand’s price point. For more info on how wicking works, these guys speak to some of the science, but it’s generally hard to know as the customer how well a garment wicks until you try it on or wear it for a workout.
    • Seamless and Microfiber options are solid. If you’re not interested in investing in performance sport underwear, these fabrications do a pretty good job of wicking, drying, and fitting comfortably. Most everyday brands won’t call out their wicking properties, but that’s mainly because they don’t pay for the extra testing to back it up.
  • Merino might be the holy grail of outdoor skivvies. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not just for cold weather. Merino holds a little bit of moisture and releases it as your body warms up, so they help you regulate your temperature in hot weather too. They breathe, they naturally wick, and the thin ones dry almost as fast as synthetics. The downsides? They’re expensive at close to $30 a pair for women’s. Droughts in Australia have made wool auctions competitive, and prices are climbing. As people are priced out of wool, manufacturers are getting more and more democratic with their cuts and colors, so there aren’t as many options. And wool’s not quite as durable as synthetics, so they require a little more care during the wash process with mild detergents and temps.

1959514_10152102520436033_1664917928236221680_n

What the heck is anti-microbial and does it work and should I like it?!

I have a lot of thoughts about antimicrobials that I will save for a later post, but basically, they’re silver salts that have been recycled from electronic waste. Silver interferes with the reproduction & growth of bacteria, and while scientists are still researching the exact mechanism, there’s a lot of info on how it works here. Antimicrobial treatments are designed to fight odors in synthetics, since the smelly type of sweat, Micrococcus, thrives more in synthetics than wool (which is why wool gets such a good rap for being naturally odor-resistant). Antimicrobial treatment only works in the garment, so you don’t have to worry about it wiping out the good bacteria in your lady parts. But that also means that your lady parts will still smell like you’ve been working out or gone a few days without a shower when you’re out on a backpacking trip.

The problem with antimicrobials is that there are some concerns about antimicrobial stewardship, or the idea that we should protect antimicrobials because there aren’t many new ones in the pipeline. The threat is by no means as big as issues like antibiotic overuse in commercial farming, there is concern that heavy use of silver antimicrobials could have implications for the long term use of silver in the medical field (like in catheters and silver-treated wound dressing). There’s still a lot of research left do be done, but generally, if you expose bacteria to the same thing long enough, it’ll most likely develop resistance to that treatment. And that would be a bigger problem than a little BO.

Manufacturers love treatments like Polygiene because it’s a margin booster. Their sales packets cite that customers are willing to spend 152% more on odor-treated garments, and the treatments themselves are fairly cheap. But there are other cheaper, less risky ways to manage odors like:

  • Pack an extra pair of skivvies. Change into your fresh, dry pair at night. Or even better, go commando until the morning. Let your hoo-ha breathe. Getting out of your sweaty, damp underwear means less odors and less risk of infection. They weigh less than an ounce. You can afford the pack weight.
  • Take some wipes. Baby wipes & hygiene wipes use surfactants that basically makes it easier to wipe the bacteria away from your skin instead of killing it. Likewise, use a biodegradable surfactant like Dr. Bronner’s to wash your underwear if you’re out long enough to do hotel room or backcountry laundry.
  • Use white vinegar for what I call “deep stank” – those BO smells that linger after laundering. Vinegar is a fairly potent disinfectant. It just isn’t classified that way by the EPA since it doesn’t kill 99.99% of bacterial species, including some major dangerous ones that can make you sick. So while I wouldn’t use it for medical sterilizations, it does a number on the Micrococcus living in your base layers. Mix with water, soak, and then wash as usual.
  • Embrace the stink. As a reminder, these bacteria are largely not harmful beyond their odors. BO shouldn’t be that much of a game changer on how you feel about your outdoor time. If it is, try a new hobby or make some new fun friends.

 

Any cuts to stay away from? Because I personally find thongs perfect for ultra-light packing.

Thongs get a really bad rap. The modern, American thong was developed to just barely comply with nudity rules in NY clubs in the 40s, so there are generations of women who believe they’re just wrong (the Google search “is wearing a thong unhealthy” is closely followed by questioning whether or not thongs are sinful). When thongs went mainstream in the 90s (thanks, Monica Lewinsky & Sisqo), a bunch of Puritans wrote health pieces about how thongs were bad for your health and would transfer bacteria from “back to front” or cause micro-tears in your rectum. If your underwear has that much “travel,” it doesn’t fit and is likely too big. If your underwear bothers your butthole, it doesn’t fit either and is likely too small. Wear comfortable that fits, no matter the cut, no matter whether you’re out on an adventure or hanging around town. The only downside with thongs is that they do take a bit longer to dry compared to other cuts since it’s in closer contact with your skin.

There are some benefits to coverage, though. Manufacturers are starting to make boyshorts with a few inches of coverage, which can help with chaffing or add a wicking layer under non-wicking bottoms (like rain pants or soccer shorts/Patagonia Barely Baggies).

Otherwise, it helps if your undies and your bottoms play nice together. Low rise pants should be paired with low rise panties, and vice versa. The amount of construction & binding in your underwear should counter the construction in your pants. Breezy running shorts? Go with a sturdier binding (that elastic around the legs & waist). And those new laser cut styles? (Like this). Customers rail on the fact that they don’t stay in place, but they’re not designed to be worn under a sun dress. If you do, you might lose them. But they’re great for tight pants like leggings where the garment can keep it in place, and as a bonus, there’s less elastic squeezin’ on your bod.

 

What about hiking commando?

If you’re wearing a pair of wicking pants or shorts, you might not miss them. But it’s likely a recipe for swass if you’re wearing a pair of snow pants or rain pants that aren’t going to wick moisture. Also, for the ladies, bodies expel more discharge when you’re working out hard (more abdominal pressure, more heat, you’re likely standing, so there’s more of a gravity effect). For a multi-day trip, it’s much easier to pack clean undies than it is to pack clean pants, so undergarments may be key to feeling fresh for your full trip.

 

Gear Review: Marmot Scree Softshell Pants

The Marmot Scree Softshell just hit the Marmot End of Season Sale with a nice fat discount (Women’s are $66 at Marmot, and start at $39.95 at Steep & Cheap; Men’s down to $55), and they’re one of my most loved softshells. I totally struck gold on them – wandering into REI 4 years ago and dropping full price on whatever the sales staff thought would get me up and down Adams, but they’ve absolutely been worth the investment. Here’s a few things I love about mine:

  • The fit. I have a small collection of softshell and trail pants, and somehow despite having the figure of a 12 year old boy, somehow I’m still struggle with pants that fit in the butt, hips, and thighs and gape at the waist. They have a tendency to sag and restrict my movement, and come dangerously close to showing off some whale tail when I bend over. The Screes have a nice, medium rise and nips in at the waist, where they feel nice & secure without a belt or harness. Also – pro tip for the curvy crowd: if you’re scouting a new brand, find the ratio between the hip and the waist measurements on the size chart to get a sense of how booty-friendly the brand is. For my size, Marmot’s hip measurement is 42% larger than the waist spec. One of my other go-to brands, Arc’teryx, has a hip measurement 40% larger. And my Patagonia Simul Alpine Softshells only measure 22% wider at the waist than the hip, which explains why I find their fit a little awkward.

Also worth a mention – the Scree pants also come in short (that’s me) & long lengths. Here are the women’s short, women’s long, men’s short, and men’s long versions.

Sizing runs a tad small. My Prana Halle and Patagonia Simul Alpine pants are both 0s. I have the Scree pants in a 4 Short, and they’re only a smidge looser. From trying the 2s, they seem a little tighter than a 0 from Prana or Patagonia.

13301315_10100779254290133_3392371488914560527_o
Photo by Mitch Pittman
  • Durability. I’d ballpark that the durability for the Scree pants are about on par with the Arc’teryx Gamma AR pants based on the fabric weight, weave, and fiber composition. But if that estimate is a little off, just take solace in the fact that you can buy roughly 3 pairs of the Screes before matching the MSRP of the Gamma AR. I did notice that a thread on my Screes started to come loose within the first year of purchase. At this point, I’ve probably pulled yards of thread out of these pants, but they don’t seem to be coming apart. Magic? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

  • Climate Control. My favorite thing about these pants is how well they handle wild swings in the weather. They do a great job of blocking the wind, and I’ve been impressed with the water resistance. And like the Gamma AR, they have a brushed backing that adds warmth in cold weather, but the brushed fibers also wick extremely well, which keeps them from feeling to hot or swampy when the weather warms up. They were the perfect pants for Rainier, where I was warm enough in below-freezing weather on the summit, but just as comfortable laying in the sun with a bag of Doritos once we were done. And I’ve been most impressed with how quickly these pants dry. Coming down from Silver Star, our group got off trail and ended up fording the creek in thigh-deep water. It only took a few steps on the other side for my pants to feel dry – wish I could’ve said the same about my boots!

2018-07-17_07-09-51_014

 

  • Stretch. The Scree pants have 10% spandex in the fabric, which makes them one of the stretchiest pants on the market. The Gamma MX has 8%, my Prana Halle pants have 3%, and the Patagonia Simul Alpine pants have 0% in the main body & a hint of stretch in the gusset. I don’t usually do the splits on climbs, but when a friend tells me to bring my pointe shoes and stretch out for some photo fun after a long slog in, the spandex really comes in handy.
11930785_10100624348153273_2586919551490582291_o
Pic by Mitch Pittman
  • They live up to their namesake. I thought the name “Scree” was peculiar. Odd flex to name a pair of pants for something annoying. It’s not exactly industry standard to name an item after a rain-on-snow event, slide alder, or chunder. But I wore them scree skiing down a giant choss pile in the Pasayten Wilderness, and somehow made it back to the trail without a single rock in my shoes. The taper at the ankle gives it a bit of a mom-jeans look, but it’s nice to be able to skip gaiters.

2019-06-15_15-23-01_352

  • One Good Pocket. This is specific to the women’s version – I’m sure you could backpack for a week out of the men’s. But the women’s has two zipper pockets at the hip, which don’t hold a ton, but there’s a nice zipper pocket that holds my phone, even though it’s arguably a tablet. And it’s low enough that I don’t have to worry about interference with a beacon.

 

  • This season’s colors. Marmot makes quite… questionable decisions from a design perspective. They’re still chasing heavily into ombre & ikat, even though they exploded 6 years ago and has cooled off significantly since then, and sometimes combining both or marrying them up with unflattering seamwork and colorblocking. And in years past, Marmot made similarly questionable choices for the Screes with neon pink and teal, but this year’s seasonal colors of Dark Steel and Crocodile are really nice. They’re neutral enough to go with a variety of jackets, but more fun than plain black. The forest-y green with neon yellow hits is on-trend and relevant, and likewise reminiscent of heavily used color palates for both genders from tastemakers like Arc’teryx and Patagonia.

13308431_10100779254659393_5124683785329289846_o

 

 

Shit on Sale – July 2019

Dissatisfied with last week’s 4th of July sales? You’re not alone. Sales events are meant to drive profit, so you’ll rarely find the bargains that pop up on the clearance rack (unless it’s one of those unicorns that’s always full price). So if 25% off a few apparel brands left you less than enthused, here’s July’s roundup of shit on sale (prices pulled 7/7):

 

  • Marker Kingpin 13 Touring Bindings – $352.50 or $317.25 with promo code through July 9th (Reg. Retail $649; 46% off or 52% off, respectively): Marker Kingpins were the end-all, be-all of downhill performance touring bindings until Fritschi cut some ounces and the Shift later popped onto the market. But they’re still a modern binding and a safe/reliable option on the scale of tech bindings. No skis? Wait til closer to Black Friday sales when shops take a deeper round of discounts on last season inventory. Need a lower DIN? The Kingpin 10s are also on sale here and here.

 

  • North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag – $79.99 (Reg. Retail $199; 60% off): If you’re shopping for a budget backpacking setup, this bag is the ticket. 20 degrees is warm enough to handle the shoulder seasons and high alpine camping, so unless you’re snow camping, you can cover all your bases with a single bag (and even then – I manage to layer and make it work with my Blue Kazoo, the down version of the Cat). My boyfriend’s compresses to the same size as my 650 fill Blue Kazoo, and hasn’t had any issues with wear & tear.

 

  • Osprey Dyna 15 Running Pack – $90.73 (Reg. Retail $140; 35% off): A color update on the Osprey Dyna line has moved black & grey to the clearance line in favor of Outdoorsy Girl Teal and I Hike Purple (apparently we can’t find our gear if it doesn’t come in those two signature colors?). I love the 15 – compresses down nicely for short days and doesn’t bounce. It’s also become my go-to choice for summer day hikes where I’m probably in pocketless running shorts, but still want easy access to my phone and my chapstick.

 

  • Deuter Women’s Guide 40+ SL Pack – $79 (Reg. Retail $180; 56% off): A few years ago, Osprey put out a women’s climbing video that, ironically, didn’t feature any climbing packs. Theirs have always been unisex. Most of the ones on the market are. Deuter’s already a gem for carrying selection parity across genders, and even better that it’s on sale. If you’re wondering about the difference between your standard hiking or backpacking packs and a designated climbing pack, climbing packs tend to stay more streamlined, without the mesh stash pockets that might get snagged and don’t store gear quite as securely. You’ll find more technical features, like extra gear loops on the waistband and a helmet carry. The ice tool attachments are more secure than your average gear loops (avoid being That Girl who has to post of social media about the ice axe that fell off your pack), and this one features bomber reinforced ski straps. The 28L version is on discount too here.

 

Hood2
Marmot Ether DriClime. Pic courtesy of Mitch Pittman

 

  • Salewa Women’s Ortles 3 GTX Pro Pant – $224.97 (Reg. Retail $499.95, 55% off): These are the Arcteryx Beta AR pants with a slightly different logo. Same membrane, generally the same fabric, full length zippers, one thigh pocket. Perfect quiver-of-one hardshell for skiing, hiking, and climbing of all types. The one thing they don’t have in common is a price of $500 with tax.

 

  • Patagonia Women’s Powslayer Bibs – $329.97 (Reg. Retail $599, 45% off): I feel like women have a love/hate relationship with most ski bibs. You don’t have to worry about snow down the pants if you wreck hard, bending over won’t expose the tramp stamp zone to a cold rush of air, and the shoulder straps alleviate a lot of fit problems for the big butt, tiny waist demographic. But they’ve also got weird quirks like covering your chest (as if boobs didn’t sweat enough already) and it takes forever to strip off all your gear for a bathroom break. Patagonia gets the women’s design right with the Powslayer. Dropseat zippers are easy to access, just an inch or two above your waist, and a lower rise beneath the bust line. These pants also get rave reviews from the women with athletic-built legs (aka, lots of skiers) due to the more generous cut in the butt & thighs.

 

  • Kari Traa Floke Long Sleeve Top – $29.97 (Reg. Retail $79.95; 63% off): This one is for the wool fans out there. Wool is getting expensive as droughts in Australia cut production and increased bidding competition for buyers. As an alternative, manufacturers are blending in fibers like modal, Tencel, and Lyocell, semi-synthetic fibers made from cellulose that share a lot of properties with wool. It wicks well, isn’t a breeding ground for BO, and gives merino some extra durability. However, it is a little slower to dry, so if you’re going to try out a merino/modal blend, experiment with something cheap.