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So hot right now: the new Woolx

So hot right now: the new Woolx

Remember a couple months ago when the days were still long and the sun scorching down and winter seemed like a distant afterthought?  I sure do - and not just because that was when I won a sweet Stingray tree tent and some new threads from Woolx in the Last Adventures of Summer contest :)  I am counting the days until I finally have the chance to start overnighting in the Stingray, but I've already been able to put the Woolx gear through the ringer and want to share what I learned.

(Disclaimer: this is a review of a contest prize e.g. free gear, but I am in no way obligated to give a positive review.) 

1) Merino Wool is awesome.  Okay, I already knew that before Woolx but really - merino is lightweight, stretchy, totally non-scratch, dries quickly, and doesn't stink.  Yes please! 

Women's lightweight "Basecamp" hoodie from Woolx

Women's lightweight "Basecamp" hoodie from Woolx

2) Merino Wool is NOT just for the cold.  This one was actually a surprise to me, since I typically turn to merino layers for the cold season.  I just so happened to be in hot and humid Thailand right after getting the new gear from Woolx, and guess what: the lightweight tank top and merino capris were absolutely perfect for scorching, muggy days climbing in Tonsai. 

Climbing with my Woolx tank top in hot, muggy Thailand (tights: adidas Outdoor)

Climbing with my Woolx tank top in hot, muggy Thailand (tights: adidas Outdoor)

3) Those socks rock.  And by that I mean the crew-length "Fearless" socks.  I've been using merino wool in functional footwear forever, but until Woolx I never owned any casual merino socks; enter the Fearless, which is my new favorite barefoot-around-the-house addition.  Plus they've already kept me company on almost half a dozen long-haul flights. 

those socks :) 

those socks :) 

4) Woolx makes neat stuff.  Something I loved: they have an eye for detail, like adding a sleek external pocket on the capris; it's so stealth I didn't even notice it the first time I wore the tights, yet big enough to hold an iPhone.  Good stuff. 

All in all, I'm a fan - high-quality, functional clothing at a lower price point than the merino wool stronghouses Icebreaker and Smartwool.  The selection of styles is still a bit limited, but I'd expect that we'll see a broader selection of great stuff from Woolx as they're gaining share on the incumbents. And if you're looking for stocking stuffers and Christmas presents that don't break the bank, they've got a bunch of high quality accessories too! 

 

 

When every ounce matters: gear that'll get you to the top

When every ounce matters: gear that'll get you to the top

I spend a lot of time in the mountains, and usually I am trying to go fast - either because I am running an ultra marathon, or simply because speed means safety.  As such my kit needs to be functional and reliable and above all: light weight.  Yes, I am one of those mountain people that saw off the handle of their toothbrush to save space and weight; you can imagine that I pay great attention to the weight-to-value ratio of my gear, no matter if it's the caloric density of my preferred nutrition or the empty weight of my backpack.  Read on for a summary of my lightweight favorites, gear that accompanies me on just about every mountain adventure.  

  • Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z (295g / 10oz)
    I rarely ever go for a long run, big hike or heavy carry without trekking poles.  Black Diamond's excellent Distance series is not just comfortable and lightweight, but also sturdy enough to withstand some serious abuse - mine have been up and down Aconcagua, run a couple 100-Mile races with me, and kept me balanced while carrying a 70lbs pig down from the top of El Capitan. 
22,862ft: Me and my BD poles on the summit of Aconcagua

22,862ft: Me and my BD poles on the summit of Aconcagua

  • Backpack: Hyperlite Southwest 4400 (1005g / 35.4oz)
    Hyperlite Mountain Gear has taken the market by storm, establishing itself as a leader in topnotch UL gear for extreme backcountry adventure essentially overnight.  Because who wouldn't love a near-indestructible pack that's waterproof and weighs almost nothing?  Exactly. That's probably why a recent backpackers.com review of the Southwest closes with "I might consider proposing marriage to the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400, except for the fact that I’m already taken..." - I pretty much agree, though I prefer the larger 4400 version since its size allows me to hump Himalaya-expedition-worthy loads when necessary.
The Southwest 4400 high up on Kusum Kanguru, a rarely climbed technical peak in the Khumbu / Nepal

The Southwest 4400 high up on Kusum Kanguru, a rarely climbed technical peak in the Khumbu / Nepal

  • Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Neo Air X Therm Max (430g / 15oz) 
    A sleeping pad with a high R rating is critical for my high altitude climbs and treks where it's not unusual for me to see temperatures near zero degrees Fahrenheit inside my tent at night.  With an R rating of 5.7, there's no better lightweight solution than Therm-a-Rest's Neo Air X Therm.  Good insulation means better chances for a good night's rest means more energy for long, hard days at altitude! 
     
  • Upper Body Attire: adidas Outdoor Terrex Skyclimb top  (192g / 6.8oz)
    I just recently got to add this top to my wardrobe - thank you adidas Outdoor! - and it has already become my new favorite piece of clothing.  In addition to being lightweight, the Skyclimb top has a super flattering design and wears like a dream - it is soft and fluffy but supremely functional, dries quickly and provides excellent temperature regulation.    
the adidas Outdoor Terrex Skyclimb top: super versatile, super comfortable, super functional.  

the adidas Outdoor Terrex Skyclimb top: super versatile, super comfortable, super functional.  

  • Mountain Boots:  Salomon S-LAB X ALP Carbon GTX (1000g / 35oz)
    This boot is currently unbeatable in its category: it's light, crampon-compatible, waterproof, and climbs well.  I reviewed it in detail a few months ago - take a look at the original post here if you want to know more.   
     
  • Solar LightLuminAid PackLite 16 (85g / 3oz)
    I have been traveling with LuminAid's PackLite ever since getting a Cairn box that included this awesome solar light.  The PackLite provides up to 30 hours of light bright enough to read by, is waterproof, charges well, and packs up into a convenient compact format that carries on the outside of your pack as easily as a luggage tag.  
The PackLite 16 on top of Surya Peak, Langtang National Park / Nepal 

The PackLite 16 on top of Surya Peak, Langtang National Park / Nepal 

There you have it: ~3kgs or 6.6lbs of awesome gear that covers most of the essentials; just add a pair of pants, sleeping bag, and food/water.  Speaking of - if you've got recommendations for pants / sleeping bag / other fabulous lightweight items, I'd love to hear them.  Comment or DM me on Instagram