Shit on Sale – August 2020

Feels a little strange to spray about gear in the middle of a social uprising, in the middle of a pandemic, when so many have more pressing financial concerns. But after recent conversations about the exploding participation in outdoor rec and toxic gear culture in our community, I figure I’m best poised to make the outdoors more equitable with a giant spreadsheet tracking clearance prices. 

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. All prices pulled from 8/4 and covering fairly comprehensive sizing at that time.

Starting with some killer deals for summer:

  • Black Diamond Women’s Alpenglow Sun Hoodie – $15 (MSRP $85; 82% off): I’ve had this sun hoody for a little over a season, and this is a killer bargain. It’s treated with zinc oxide for a permanent UPF 50+ level of protection. (Some sun hoodies without the treatment get closer to UPF 15, which both EU laws and the American Skin Cancer Institute standards consider insufficient for true skin protection). I had a few gripes that I mentioned in Sun Hoody 101, as it’s a little heavier and warmer than competitors, but it’s great for days with large temperature swings. It also pills a bit under a beacon harness, and sizing has been inconsistent from year to year. But I’m flirting with the idea of adding one in Nickel as we start to inch towards shoulder season where it’s the perfect base layer.
Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoodie in Silver Pine
  • The North Face Men’s Horizon 2.0 Convertible Hiking Pants – $20 (MSRP $65; 69% off), also available in select short sizes for $15: Convertible pants might not be sexy, but the price point is. It might be possible to find a pair for a few bucks cheaper, but those tend to be cotton or polyester, whereas these are nylon, which features a better strength to weight ration. That means you can get durability and abrasion resistance without things feeling hot and heavy in your pants (and I mean that in the swampiest way possible).
  • Gregory Jade 38L Women’s Pack – $59 (MSRP $179.95; 67% off): This pack is the perfect size for quick overnights with just the necessities, or single day snowshoe or glacier trips with lots of layers and gear. Super similar weight and suspension to the Osprey Sirrus 36.
  • Gregory Maven 55L Women’s Pack – $75 (MSRP $229.95; 67% off): At first glance, this looks like the Jade listed above, but the lines are different. Gregory’s Deva line is a heavily padded pack with burly suspension, designed to transfer the weight off your shoulders. The Jade is their midweight line, and the Maven is their lightweight option. It’s similar to the Osprey Eja line (except a touch heavier), in that the suspension is designed to hug and flex with the body. The more minimal suspension cuts weight, but also keeps it closer to your center of gravity, which helps with balance for scramble-y routes. (However, under heavy loads or long stretches of days, it can start to feel a little uncomfortable).
  • Marmot Women’s Scree Softshell Pants – $49.99 (MSRP $120; 58% off): I’ve written a full review for these last summer, and after another year of ownership (5 total), they’re still my all-time favorites for days with cold weather or big temperature swings. They’ve been on the market long enough now that I’m starting to get nervous that they’ll try to overhaul them at some point, and super tempted to stock up on an extra pair or two. Some short and long sizes are also on sale here, and Steep and Cheap also has additional sizes for 50% off.
Marmot Scree Softshell Pants. Image by Mitch Pittman
  • The North Face Women’s Cat’s Meow 20 Degree Sleeping Bag – $79.99 (MSRP $169.95; 53% off), also available in Long: 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, you may be able to push it with heavy layering). I picked up one of these the last time they went on deep discount, and while I use it mostly for car camping and shorter backpacking trips, this would get the job done for the highest peaks or longest trails here in the PNW.
  • Strafe Alpha Direct Insulator Women’s Jacket – $48.95 (MSRP $249; 80% off): The Strafe Alpha Direct Insulator Jacket shares almost the same construction as the Outdoor Research Ascendant, 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 up an Ascendant two years ago, and gets pretty heavy use out of it, but it still doesn’t show any signs of wear & tear.

Off-Season Winter Specials

  • Outdoor Research Skyward II Women’s Ski Shell – $104.97 (MSRP $350; 70% off): The Skyward II is a 3 layer waterproof shell that uses a proprietary membrane (in lieu of a licensed one like Gore Tex). $105 is a steep deal for any company’s own-branded waterproofing, but OR’s has a better-than-average reputation. Their waterproofing, named AscentShell, uses electrospun PU (looks like steel wool under a microscope) instead of a solid sheet of it. This creates tons of microscopic holes that allow vapors out, but are too small to let droplets in. The technology makes the fabric super breathable, and they also added Spandex to make the garment move with you and fit like a glove. The Beet and Wave Blue colorways are also instock on OR’s website for the same price.
  • Norrona Lofoten Gore Tex Pro Women’s Jacket – $244.96 (MSRP $699; 65% off): This jacket is similar to the Skyward II, except that it uses Gore Tex Pro, the most advanced and breathable membrane by Gore Tex. Norrona’s designed the jacket to work inbounds or out, with all the pockets and gaiters you need for an inbounds powder day, while also featuring harness compatible pockets and underarm vents for touring well into the spring.
  • Marmot JM Pro Women’s Ski Shell – $180 (MSRP $450; 60% off) – This is the same jacket as the Lofoten, except that it uses the “standard” Gore Tex instead of the Pro membrane. (I know, confusing given the name of the item. Thanks, Marmot). It’s also fully instock for the same price in Lavender on Steep&Cheap.
  • Marmot JM Pro Women’s Ski Shell Pant – $69.97 (Green only; MSRP $349.95; 80% off): This is the other half of the JM Pro line (same fabrication and construction as the jacket listed above). I’ve tracked prices for over a year now, and previously, the best I had uncovered was $175 last October. So even if the neon green isn’t your scene, the other colorways are still a super deep discount for a 3 layer shell pant.
  • Marmot Lightray Ski Shell: $140 (Rose only; MSRP $350; 60% off): This jacket is similar to the JM Pro (listed above), with the same type of membrane, but the difference is that the lining is not laminated to the outer fabric and membrane so that it feels like one flush piece of material. (The JM Pro is a 3 layer construction, whereas this one is 2 layer). Instead, the lining is sewn in, which makes it a little heavier and less packable, which takes that perfect 50-50, inbounds/backcountry versatility and nudges it a touch towards resort use.
  • Burton Gore Tex Kaylo Jacket –  $119.97 (MSRP $269.95; 56% off): The Burton Kaylo jacket is like the Lightray (above), except that this one is insulated with 80g polyester fill in the body and 60g in the arms. That’s middle of the road for insulation, so I’d reach for this one if you’re in the Northeast or Rockies, or in the PNW with a raging case of cold natured-ness.
  • Kari Traa Synthetic Base Layers: Kari Traa generally offers overpriced, but beautiful base layers in wool and synthetics. But their sale pricing through spring and summer is super aggressive. I love that they don’t ascribe to the notion that women’s outdoor apparel has to have the same suburban dad vibes that dominate the outdoor world, and they provide pieces that are functional, but uniquely feminine.
    • Fryd Base Layer Bottoms – $17.98 (MSRP $39.95; 55% off): I’ve owned a top and bottom from the Fryd line (Kari Traa’s lightest synthetic line) for about half a season. I’d recommend sizing up, maybe twice if you want a more relaxed fit to your base layers.
    • Meteor Base Layer Bottoms – $14.99 (MSRP $40; 63% off): Also a synthetic stretch base layer, but slightly heavier weight than the Fryd line.
    • Meteor Base Layer Top – $16.99 (MSRP $45; 62% off): Midweight synthetic base layer top with a quarter zip mock neck.
  • Kari Traa Wool Base Layers:
    • Yndling Wool Bottoms – $34.99 (MSRP $100; 65% off): These mostly use a 200g weight fabric, but use thinner sections on key portions of the garment for ventilation.
    • Alelam Wool Top – $29.97 (MSRP $89.95; 67% off): This is a lighter, 150g weight fabric.
  • Intermediate skis:
    • Dynastar Legend W 88 – $149.99 (MSRP $599.95; 75% off): Out of these two skis, these Legends are slightly more demanding due to their metal laminate, so they’re a better choice for heavier skiers or progressing, aggressive intermediates. My first skis were the predecessor to the Legend 88, and I found them ideal for the skier that’s comfortable on piste and pushing their speed, yet wide and nimble enough to support some off-piste exploration.
    • K2 Thrilluvit 85 – $129.58 (MSRP $399.95; 68% off): This model is similar to the Legends, but lighter and softer. Otherwise, they both have a similar shape that leans on-piste, but can get by for your first forays in powder. For skiers who need something shorter than a 163cm, the slightly wider and more off-piste capable Alluvit 88 Ti is also on sale for $160 in a 156cm.

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