Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Dirtbag RV Tech Tee Review

I know what you are thinking, "It's a t-shirt, how can you possibly have anything to review about it??"  On the surface the Dirtbag RV Tech Tee, by Outdoor Research, looks exactly what any t-shirt would look like.  But once I slipped it over my head and slid my arms through the sleeves, I noticed it had quite a different feel than most t-shirts.  It was very light-weight, soft, and had a ventilating feel to it.  I knew this shirt would be a great to try out while sport climbing and bouldering.

RV Tech Tee keeping me cool through the roof move!

What better test area for this shirt than one of the most prized crags of the Northeast: Rumney, NH.  Temps were forecast to be in the low 80s F (27 C) and I wanted to get a feel of how well it kept me cool and dry since that is its purpose.  After climbing for about 7 hours my shirt remained dry and I was staying quite cool.  However, the dark blue color absorbed a lot of the suns heat, making me quite warm.  It was fortunate for me that the moisture wicking of this material was excellent.  My shirt would be wet for about 5 minutes before being completely dry.  The performance while climbing was amazing as well.  The shirt is stretchy and elastic and also did not restrict the dynamic throws on the tough routes at Rumney.  The shirt performed so well that I wanted to wear it while bouldering the following weekend.

The only thing I would like to see different about this shirt is lighter colors to help reduce the absorbency of the sun's heat.  Overall, though, I am impressed with the Tech Tee and will continue to wear it while I climb and hang out with friends around the campfires.

Up next for the final review for #ORInsightLab are the Men's Ferrosi 3/4 Pants:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Handbrake Gloves Review

(photo from

The Handbrake Gloves, by Outdoor Research, is the product from the #ORInsightLab program I have had the most experience with this summer.  I have been out sport climbing almost every weekend this spring and summer.  These gloves have been through many trials in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Squamish, BC.  I am a huge fan of sport climbing, and I love everything about it except for belaying.  Having the rope directly rubbing back and forth on my hand, wearing away small bits of skin into a "rug burn" is very irritating.  My hands already get enough abuse from the rock and chalk, so minimizing hand damage in any way is always a plus.

Luckily, Outdoor Research wanted our opinion for the #ORInsightLab program!  When I first examined the gloves I thought they might also be used for mixed martial arts cage fighting.  Seriously, these things have some stacked knuckle padding!  The glove consists of very durable cow leather (sorry vegans!) and provides a nice, snug fit.  It allows for a smooth belay descent of the climber while leaving my hands unscathed.  I assumed these gloves would be pretty well worn after using them for about 100 belays, but they still look new with very minimal wear.  I have never worn belay gloves before, but now I have been spoiled and can no longer go back to bare-handing the rope while belaying.

While these Handbrake gloves are rough and tough and can protect my hands during a half-hour hang dog ascent, there is one thing that could make them better.  An improved ventilation system would make them more comfortable on the mid summer climbing sessions.  My hands felt like they were in a sauna and had quite the sweat fest.  But I would rather have sweaty palms instead of torn and destroyed ones, so this was definitely not a deal breaker.

These gloves go with me wherever I take my rope.  They are also about to hit their 4th climbing location this weekend up at Rumney, NH for a great rope-burn free weekend of some sport climbing.  Invest in your hands!  Get the Handbrake Gloves by Outdoor Research.  They are worth it!

Next up for review, the Outdoor Research Dirtbag RV Tech Tee:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Squamish Spray Down Day One: The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada

Lesson #1 when packing for a long trip: weigh your luggage!  You don’t want to have a garage sale-like event happening at the check-in desk at the airport.  Fun fact here: a Sterling Evolution 9.8 60 m rope and Metolius rope bag weighs exactly 10lbs (according to luggage scale at flight check-in).  Luckily all it took was a little shuffling and all was ‘flying’ smoothly again.  See what I did there?  

Some people just aren't cut out for the red eye flights!

After arriving in Squamish I decided to locate the outdoor/climbing shops to pick up a guidebook.  I highly recommend doing this for this area due to the sheer number of boulder problems and routes (totals go into the thousands for both!).  Also,bring an ATC and learn how to rappel off of the top anchors if you don't already know how.  Most locations in the northeast have locking biners at the top or cold shut anchors that will allow the climber to be lowered by the belayer.  

My final thought for the day is this: mingle with the folks at the crags or boulder fields.  Many of them were locals and were very friendly and helpful in finding routes/boulders that suited my style.  They provided some colorful history of the area along with some of the best places to grab a brew.  So far after 1 day, I have accomplished more than I imagined here in the outdoor recreation capital of Canada!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bags are Packed and We're Ready to Go!

And.....We're off!!!!

Six days in Squamish for the Squamish Mountain Festival and eight days in Hawaii for some bouldering, surfing, and stand-up-paddleboarding make for a perfect vacation for some much needed time off!  I plan on doing something a little different on this trip and provide some daily updates on the happenings and run-ins with stellar rock climbing routes, volcanic bouldering, or some epic waves that will most likely toss me around like a rag doll!

This trip will be fresh adventure for me.  I've never climbed outside of the northeast or surfed.  But that is what makes an adventure great: trying new things!  Along the way, I will be testing some gear for Outdoor Research and seeing how it handles outside of my usual climbing areas here in New England! Stayed tuned for updates, photos, stories, and helpful tips for traveling on a multi-location climbing trip!

Gear packed and ready!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Growler S/S Shirt Review

Tags on a shirt can be important, "Designed by Adventure"
(Photo by Mike Bowsher)

This week's 'Spray Down' for #ORInsightLab will be about Outdoor Research's Growler S/S shirt!  I decided to take this item for multiple test runs up at my favorite crag, Farley Ledges.  By now, you readers have to know I love this place for how much I have been writing about it and using it as my testing grounds for the #ORInsighLab program.  This past weekend was a hot one with temps reaching into the mid 80's F (~29 C for the international or scientist folks).  It is imperative that my clothing is able to keep me cool and dry through multiple lead ascents at the hot humid ledges of Massachusetts.

The shirt itself has slightly more stiffness (95% nylon vs 98% cotton of the Jinx S/S) than the Jinx S/S shirt but by no means performed in a lesser capacity.  The temperature crept higher and felt sauna-like while climbing.  Once I started perspiring I thought that this shirt would be a nightmare for the rest of the day!  But the surprise came with the shirt became wet.  Not only did it dry quickly, it brought a relieving cooling sensation much like the kind you get when you open a refrigerator door, very refreshing!  The shirt kept me cool at this point so it was time to ascertain the performance aspect of the shirt during such a sticky humid day.

Staying cool on the roof section on Oosik 5.12a at Farley Ledges!
(Photo by Shannon B.)

Quick and upfront: the shirt performed excellent!  My key favorites of this shirt is its ability to move with me and not stick to me while climbing in the heat.  It did not feel restrictive in any ranges of motion my upper body performed.  Although I do wish that the shirt had some elasticity, this preferred perk did not deter the overall performance.  The Growler S/S also seems very durable as it stood up well to some stomach drags over some roof routes.  The no nonsense collar on this shirt also maintained its fold and did not become wrinkled after washing, which is one of my biggest annoyances of collared shirts.  Once again, with this shirt also carries an element of style.  After leaving the crag you can feel at ease knowing that if you didn't get your sends that day you will have at least looked good trying! 

Definitely feeling good at the end of the day!
 (photo shot by Shannon B.)

I definitely recommend this shirt as it performs very well in the heat, tough rock situations, and can be worn in a casual setting with a cold brew in hand.  OK the last part doesn't necessarily require a brew in hand...but it definitely doesn't hurt!  Stay classy folks and send away!

Stay tuned to the blog for the next installment of #ORInsightLab reviews: The Outdoor Research Handbrake gloves!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Deadpoint Shorts Review

The Outdoor Research Deadpoint Shorts are up this week to be sprayed about for the #ORInsightLab program.  This review is going to sound like a promotional plug for for the shorts because that is how awesome they have performed.  I have worn them every time I have been out sport climbing this spring and summer. The performance has been impeccable!  I really wanted to test out the durability of these shorts since most of my clothing doesn't make it past a season of climbing.

The Deadpoint Shorts were perfect length and didn't get caught on my knee while high stepping on the routes.  The stretch cotton canvas is the perfect material for climbing.  The material has held up very well so far.  I've been beating these up on the wall with scraping, impacts and slow drag friction.  The fabric hasn't snagged or frayed through any of these brush-ups.  One of the greatest aspects of these shorts is that they work well in a casual environment also.  The material is very soft and comfortable, which is something that doesn't always come with things touted as durable.  

I couldn't find anything wrong with the way the Deadpoint Shorts felt or performed.  I plan on taking these to Squamish and Hawaii for rock climbing in a few weeks since they passed all my expectations for climbing apparel.  I have to give props to Outdoor Research on these, they did an amazing job constructing such a great piece of clothing for rock climbing!

Up for the next installment for #ORInsighLab is the Men's Growler S/S shirt: