Product Testing - R1, Wool 2, Capilene, and Guide Pants
We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our athletes and ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.
Product Report - The outfit: R1 Flash P/O, Wool 2 zip neck, Synchilla Duckbill Cap, Simple Guide Pants, Capilene Silkweight (now Cap 1) Bottoms, Ultra Light Weight Hiking Crew Liner Socks.
Activity: Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes, California
Tested by: Adam, Patagonia Mail Order Customer Service
Christmas Eve brought bluebird skies and warmer temps (mid 30s) to the Mammoth area. 9 AM saw John, Yosh, Jack (the dog), Shelly and myself heading out from Tamarack X Country Ski Area toward Duck Pass. It was breezy right from the get go. Shelly and I were on snow shoes and John and Yosh where on touring skis.
I wore a R1 Flash P/O over for my mid layer over a Wool 2 zip neck. On my dome was perched a Synchilla Duckbill Cap. For bottoms I was wearing the Simple Guide Pants over a pair of old Capilene Silkweight Bottoms (now Cap 1). I was also wearing a pair of our Ultra Light Weight Hiking Crew Liners.
We cruised up along the edge of a lake that gave an awesome 360-degree view of the surrounding range. The wind was whipping out on the exposed lake, yet the sun was intense. I was happy to have the cap to give me some sun protection and that I could flip the ears up or down depending on how cold I was.
I also like the deep zippers on both the R1 and Wool 2, so it's possible to spill heat or conserve it as needed. Also the R1 is so well thought out. Like all of our base layers and mid layers, they have long hems and long sleeves. I'm pretty tall (6',1"),and I like that my backside isn't exposed to the elements when bending over or sitting. With the R.5 fabric below the hem, I can tuck in the pull-over to my Simple Guide Pants without it getting all bulky down there. And I like the long sleeves for the times when I travel light (with no gloves) and need to keep my hands warm by pulling the sleeves over them. That has saved me many a time. For further heat management, the R1 has R.5 material at the wrists and hem. I can push the sleeves up over my elbows when hot to spill more heat. Once tucked into the pants if I need to ditch hat or gloves I can put them inside my R1 like a giant marsupial pocket!
When we got over to Cold Springs we decided to break trail so as not to interfere with skate skiers (seeing as we where a group of 4 and one dog). I built up some heat breaking trail through a snow covered campground, and put those R1 features to use.
Once we got to the Duck Pass Trailhead we were in the shade of the forest for the rest of the climb up to 10,000 ft. I was happy to just zip up the Wool 2 and R1 and don my Synchilla Duckbill Cap again. John and Yosh got us pointed in the right direction to keep on climbing up the trail. Breaking trail for Shelly and myself, I built up more heat. Shelly found a nice rock to spread out on in the sun. Here we sucked down some ice-cold Guiness. We both put on our Ready Mix Jackets. Kind of cool that my black Ready Mix matches the black Guiness can!
We could see Banner and Ritter and the edge of the Minarets looking south. I have yet to really wear the Ready Mix for anything else other than sitting at a standstill in wind. I really like the cut of the jacket, how much attention to detail went into it (all the welded seams), its compressibility, and awesome hood shape (I am an eye glass wearer and rely on hoods to keep the weather off of them).
While sitting on the rock I snagged my Simple Guides on the rock, but they stretched and didn’t tear. Awesome! I know if it was a hard shell pant it would have ripped.
From here we continued on up to a small lake above Emerald Lake. The Sierra in winter are the best. No signs of campfire rings, trash, dog poop, ski lift machinery chugging along, not even a plane flying over. We were surprised for all the thousands of people down in the valley that we had this entire bowl to ourselves 5 miles away from the crowds. After enjoying the silence we decided to punch out.
Of course I had to take us on the most round-about way home. Again it is amazing that in temps down to 25 I am still wearing the R1 Flash Pull Over and Wool 2 all day. I am a big fan of never wearing a shell unless it is breezy, night time and I'm trying to conserve heat, or it is raining/snowing. I generate a lot of heat so I prefer the breathability of our base layers/ mid layers. I find the flat outer face of tops like the R1 and Cap 4 provide a little wind resistance. This got me to thinking how rad it would be to have a Synchilla Duckbill Cap made out of R1 fabric. It would be almost as warm, but more breathable than Synchilla. That way I could wear the hat all day to keep the sun off my beak without overheating. Regulator fabrics really do take one through a wind range of climates and keep one comfortable.
Wool 2 was my big surprise. Now that it is winter and I am wearing a long sleeve base layer all day I really like the buttery softness of the wool. It is so much more comfortable than a synthetic for all day comfort. It also controls odor exceptionally well as I hadn’t washed mine after 5 days use and it smelled fine. It is also warmer than its synthetic counterpart, but it doesn’t wick as well as my old stand by Airius. I noticed breaking trail through the campground I got wet from perspiration on the inside of the Wool 2 and I have never experienced that once with Airius fabric. However I prefer the softness of Wool 2 for all day comfort in winter climates.
After winding in and out of all the side trails possible on the way back we saw an awesome moonrise over the Antelope Valley. We reached the car in 25-degree temps. Again amazed through wind, cold in the shade under forest cover, 8,000 – 10,000 ft, hot sun reflecting off the snow and cold windy evening temps the R1 kept me warm and comfortable.
Hike over, we went back to John and Yosh’s house and tucked into a Tofurky Christmas Eve dinner.
[Top and middle: Snowshoeing in the Mammoth Lakes area. Photos: Adam Bradley; Bottom: Just desserts. Photo: Shelly Culbertson]