Friday, April 15, 2016

#ORInsightLab Review: Men's Stronghold Twill Pants


The next installment of the #ORInsightLab has arrived!  This review will cover the performance of the Outdoor Research Stronghold Twill pants.  These past few months I've been able to test out these pants while bouldering.  Pants are, in my opinion, the most important clothing you will wear; they literally cover half of your body!  When it comes to climbing, pants become even more important.  The pair you choose can make or break your day at the boulders.  The only place I knew where to test these were my favorite stomping grounds here in the northeast.

Slice v10, NWCT

I'm going to be straightforward, the Stronghold Twill were not my favorite.  They just didn't fit the way I want climbing pants to fit.  The legs were very loose and baggy.  I was still able to send my v10 boulder problems, but there was just too much movement in the pant legs while climbing.  The material was comfortable but did not provide much in terms of stretch, which is something I prefer in a climbing pant.  Overall, the performance failed my standards for climbing but they style did not.  I liked the way they looked for more casual occasions, such as the after climb pub visit.

Comparing the fit of the Stronghold Twill, I much preferred the fit of the Outdoor Research Men's Deadpoint pants. A tighter fit in the leg with stretchy fabric has a much better feel while climbing.  The Stronghold Twill gets its points for style and comfort, just not for its climbing performance.  I give these pants 3 sprays out of 5.



Disclosure:  The products received from Outdoor Research for the #ORInsightLab program are provided in exchange for honest feedback.  All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way by receiving such products.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Red Rock Canyon Classics

I finally got around to getting the video edit done from my February trip to Red Rock Canyon.  While there, I focused my efforts on volume rather than trying to put down a hard grade or two.  The weather was perfect for the four days that we were there and got to top out many of the classics that I didn't try the year before.  If I can get back out there next year, my plan is to focus on projecting (and hopefully sending!) some of the harder lines in the area.  Here's the final published edit:


Monday, February 22, 2016

#ORInsightLab Review: Men's Starfire Hoody



With another round of being part of the #ORInsightLab program comes another great opportunity to test some outdoor apparel from Outdoor Research.  As mentioned in previous posts about #ORInsightLab, this program offers a select group of outdoor enthusiasts the chance to test out gear for Outdoor Research and provide them with performance feedback. 


The first of the reviews will be starting with the Men's Starfire Hoody.  This hoody went through some tough and rigorous adventuring here in the northeast and all the way out in the deserts of Las Vegas.  The first thing I noticed while wearing this jacket was that it held in heat very well, which is perfect for the winter time of year when I tend to be outside bouldering.  The flexibility of the fabric was also ideal for the climbing trips.  The thumb loops in the sleeves were great for keeping my hands warm while resting between problem attempts.  The jacket material was also perfectly flexible and un-restrictive while climbing.


The overall feel of the material was very soft on the inside but had a durable feel on the exterior.  The only aspect I would like to change about the jacket is the stiffness of the zipper.  It causes the front of the jacket to bunch up in the center area at times but wasn't a huge issue with the performance.  I liked this hoody for a warmer layer when I am out climbing, but I really liked it more for the normal kick-back-with-your-friends-kind-of-wear.  The blue color was prime for my taste and it had a great style that is well suited for an outdoor adventurer.  I give the Starfire Hoody 4.5 sprays out of 5!



The products received from Outdoor Research for the #ORInsightLab program are provided in exchange for honest feedback.  All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way by receiving of such products.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: Clif Bar Organics Trail Mix Bar

Photo from ClifBar.com

As climbers, we are the "bring only the essentials along type of folk".  Why?  Because all of the crap we carry with us is pretty damn heavy.  Minimalists by nature I guess, but we still have to eat to sustain ourselves through the long runouts, epic highballs, and grueling hikes to get on that one true line that calls our name.  There are a lot of foods that we'd like to carry with us (sandwiches, bananas, pizzas, etc.), but that just isn't going to work out without a possible mess in the backpack and space consumption.  So, what food is it that climbers can't get enough of at the crag?  Easy enough, snack bars.  They're easy to carry, various flavors, and are generally pretty healthy for you.

A lot of work gets put into the rock.  A lot of energy is needed to sustain all day climbing.

I always carry tons of different snack bars out with me to the crag and I go to the crag often.  I am always on the lookout for different flavors.  One of my favorite go to brands for snack bars is Clif Bar and Company.  I was intrigued when their new Clif's Organics snack bar line came onto the market.  Clif Bar has always been a favorite for climbers, mostly due to the nutritional value and helping them stay primed for the next route or boulder.

Clif Bar was kind enough to send out a selection of the Organics products for me to try.  I took them out on my climbing trips to find out if they had the taste and the ability to keep me energized throughout the day. The samples included the dark chocolate peanut butter, dark chocolate pomegranate raspberry, and coconut almond peanut.

Photo from ClifBar.com


All of them had a great taste and the consistency was what you would expect of something made with natural ingredients.  The Organics line also has the visual deliciousness element, in that you can see the ingredients you are eating and makes it more appealing.  The one that stood out the most for me was the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.  The taste and texture were perfect. I also found that these bars packed enough punch in them to sustain me through the day while bouldering/rock climbing.

I hope everyone enjoyed the spray about the Clif Bar Organics.  Check them out at your local grocer and make sure to bring them along on your next adventure!


Disclosure:  Clif Bar provided me samples of the Organic line in exchange for an honest review on this website.  The opinions expressed are my own and are in no way influenced by receiving of such samples.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#ORInsightLab: Men's Airbrake Gloves Review


Alas, the final review for this year's Outdoor Research #ORInsightLab program: the Men's Airbrake Gloves!  I've been crag hopping with these gloves all over the place, from the west coast in British Columbia to the northeast crags of New England.  Apart from feeling like Ironman while wearing these gloves, they did what belay gloves should do and that is to protect your hands from burning out from all day belaying.

Some of the features that I really dug were the gel padded palm area where the majority of rope abrasion occurs.  The other part I like is the leather supplement on the backside of the glove over the index and little finger to prevent rope rollover during belaying or catching a whipper.  The backside of the gloves are thin and flexible to allow for a very comfortable fit.

Great coverage of the sensitive areas during belaying


While I liked the gloves a ton, I did not find the ventilation adequate enough in warmer climbing temps.  But I had with me the Outdoor Research Men's Handbrake Gloves that have a lot more ventilation (no fingertips!).  But ever since the temps cooled, the Airbrake gloves have been great. They have been keeping my hands at a perfect temp to keep me ready for the next ascent.  I highly recommend the Airbrake gloves(and Handbrake gloves!), especially for this time of year!  Belay away!


Disclosure: Outdoor Research provided me with the Airbrake Gloves in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own and are not influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#ORInsightLab Gear Review: Ferrosi Hoody



Welcome to the first #ORInsightLab gear review of 2015!  As mentioned in a previous post, #ORInsightLab is a program set up by Outdoor Research to get feedback on some of their gear.  They choose a handful of awesome outdoorsy people and give them some gear in exchange for an honest review.  This allows them to improve upon their product lines if needed.  The first piece of gear on the review block is the Ferrosi Hoody, the close family relative of the Ferrosi pants line.

I took this jacket to one of my favorite local spots in Connecticut for some bouldering.  I climbed all morning wearing the Ferrosi Hooody as I cruised through some of the classics.  When I took a break on my crash pad I started to think about what I really liked about the jacket.  As I ran my hand over the light weight fabric feeling the slightly coarse texture of each sleeve I came to the conclusion that what I like most about it were the same as what I like about rock climbing: the balance and flow.



The jacket was well balanced in that it kept my body in equilibrium with the surrounding environment.  The hoody allowed for heat to easily escape while also letting moisture evaporate through the breathability of the material.  The jacket fabric was very fluid and felt like it flowed well with tougher movements.  The cloth contoured perfectly and was unrestricted during many different types of movement.  There was also a distinct advantage to its durabiltiy: mosquito proof.  Only the exposed areas were the dining spots for the little bloodsuckers!  When the day got warmer the jacket stuffs down to the size of a softball, which made for easy storage.



The Ferrosi Hoody is going to be a favorite of mine due to the lightweight, easy storage, and amazing comfort while wearing.  The only thing I did not like about the jacket was the hood.  The hood works functionally but just felt uncomfortably loose while wearing.  This isn't a deal breaker though since the rest of the jacket performs so amazingly well.  At the end of the day, I gave this jacket 4.5 sprays out of 5.



Up next for review:  Men's Air Brake Gloves



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Low Start to Fotowa 8a (v11) Project Sent!



My two season project, the low start to Fotowa 8A (v11, FA by Dave Theriault), has finally been accomplished.  I had a trip planned for the Red River Gorge and knew I had to get it sent before I put a solid week of sport climbing under my belt.  With that amount of time on endurance routes at the Red, I knew it would cut into my bouldering performance.  It was also a race against the onslaught of the spring weather conditions and I knew I would have only a few opportunities to get the send.

Winter taking over Great Barrington

Before the 4 month long winter freeze that forced my bouldering aspirations westward into Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, I made decent progress on Fotowa.  I could make it from the low start to the thin rail crimp almost every time, but I couldn't pull the trigger on the v9 power move to the slot.  My left hand would blow off the crimp and take a chunk out of my knuckles each time.  There wasn't enough tape to keep the blood from flowing at times.  After countless trips and failed attempts, it was too late for the send in 2014; the Northeast was at the mercy of one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record.

Defeated and disheartened, I took to the indoors to train and to train hard.  Through my failed attempts, I learned my weaknesses.  I focused my energy on core training and explosive power development on thin holds.  For this, I utilized my favorite training regimen: the small campus rungs (training video to come soon).  The core training was more basic such as scissor kicks, leg lifts, and tons of crunches.

Back to training out the weaknesses.

Fast forward through 4 months of training, I was about 1 week away from my trip to the Red River Gorge.  A perfect opportunity came along for me to get out of work and head up to Great Barrington, Fotowa's home.  A few warm-ups in and it was go time for the day's purpose.  It didn't take long for my muscles to remember the sequence.  After about a dozen tries and some mental frustration I told myself only a few more attempts before I would move on for the day.  I told myself that if I get to the v9 rail crimp move that I would put everything I had into it and "leave it all on the table" so that I could at least accept failure knowing I put my all into it.  Except the last go was the best go and there was no more failure. 


It's such a great feeling to unlock a sequence and finally be able to let go of something that has become a borderline obsession.  There is an emotional attachment to something you have spent so much time an energy into working on.  Slowly but surely another route or problem will come my way that I will obsess over until accomplished.  I will keep doing this season after season until my body gives up.