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    Gerry Lopez Shares the History Behind our Cotton Board Shorts

    by Gerry Lopez

    Patagonia_cotton_board_shorts If you've browsed the men's board shorts collection on, you've no doubt noticed, and probably wondered about, the Men's Cotton Board Shorts. Gerry Lopez gives us some background on these very unique (especially in today's market) surf shorts:

    Our board shorts line has a new addition with a long history. The Patagonia Cotton Board Shorts, or Palaka shorts as they were originally known, come with a special heritage in not only the surf world but old Hawaii as well.

    When I started surfing in the late 1950s, Palaka shorts were one of the earliest fashion statements of an emerging surf culture. Surf shorts were a hard thing to come by back then, none were available commercially. Surfers in the know would go to specialty Japanese tailor shops like Take’s in Waikiki or H. Miura’s in Haleiwa to order a pair of custom fitted shorts. More often than not, the material of choice would be Palaka cotton. One of the reasons for choosing this print was because many of the best surfers in Hawaii already were wearing it. But also because it was a sturdy fabric that was comfortable after several washings and would last through many years of hard use. It must be remembered that surfers of that period wore their shorts all day, every day, every month throughout the year. These shorts, quite literally, were lived in.

    Continue reading "Gerry Lopez Shares the History Behind our Cotton Board Shorts" »

    DAS Parka Gets Renamed by Climber Zack Smith: "Defense Against Slicing"

    Zack_kichatnas_2008_167_2 Zack Smith is a ninja, a master of all climbing styles, a bona fide climbing badass, and if you haven’t heard about him, it’s likely because he prefers it that way. From Patagonia, to Pakistan, to every crag within a six-hour drive of his Moab residence, Zack’s been stealthily pushing rock and alpine climbing standards off the radar of the mainstream media for over a decade now.

    [Photo: Zack Smith lovin' life on the Kichatna Spire, Alaska.]

    He’s FA’ed scores of 5.12 and 5.13 desert lines and multiple 5.12 routes in the Black Canyon, managed a near boltless ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, set a speed record when he stuck the first free ascent of the Central Tower of Paine (and freed both the north and south towers that same week), and is a regular personality at alpine-rock basecamps the world over. I’d tell you more, but I’m hard-up for all the details as they’re mostly unpublished.

    I can’t remember exactly when I met Zack, but a slew of mutual friends put us in good company years ago and we’ve shared plenty of good times cragging, kicking it 'round the campfire, and hanging out ever since. So, with no major sponsors and living off a mountain guides’ salary, I was more than happy to pull a DAS Parka from a demo bag and put it in the mail to Zack when he sent me a humble request for one several months ago. He was in need for an upcoming expedition to the Kichatna Spires in AK with our friend Josh Wharton.

    Continue reading "DAS Parka Gets Renamed by Climber Zack Smith: "Defense Against Slicing"" »

    Any Organic Thematic Filmatic Philanthropists Out There?

    Two Patagonia employees from our Upper West Side store, Eric Taber and Emily Triantaphyllis, are involved in the creation of a new independent film called What's Organic About Organic? The film -- a character-based mosaic that delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market -- has been shot but the post-production is on hold until the team can raise a few more bucks.

    The filmmakers recently received a grant from the Farmers Advocating for Organics (FAFO) fund, and part of that grant is a matching funds component. If you believe in spreading the good word about organic farming please consider making a donation to this project. In Emily's words, "Here’s a great chance to contribute to a film that will begin the dialogue necessary to really evaluate what sustainable agriculture is and how it can benefit our health AND our environment."

    Have a look at the trailer then visit What's Organic About Organic? for more details. The deadline for matching funds from FAFO is August 1, 2008; donations are tax deductible.

    "The Mad Brown" Goes Ground Up

    20080531angleterre1147 Down with The Mad Brown! Exciting news from Patagonia Europe Rock Climbing ambassador Nicolas Favresse*. Nicolas and partner Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll spent the month of May in Wales, and while there, completed the first onsight ascent of "The Mad Brown" (E7 6b [5.12- X], 4 pitches). In Nicolas' words:

    I just wanted to share with you the super nice experience I had climbing in the UK. I spent 3 weeks with my friend Sean mostly in Wales and trying to learn as much as possible of their unique vision and ethic with climbing. We mostly trad climbed in Wales trying things ground up and onsight. It's quite a mind game with lots of time no room for mistakes but the mind process is unique and teaches you how to stay zen in any situations. It's a good skill to sharpen for the futur [sic] projects!

    The route, located in Gogarth, North Wales, is a choss-beast of stern proportions and is characterized by its exposure, angle, and loose flakes resembling--in Favresse's words--"overhanging cheese."

    [*Ed Note: Nicolas' complete Patagonia Ambassador information is available on our Patagonia Europe website. To view, select the European country and language of your choice from the drop-down menus that will appear after clicking this link to the Patagonia Europe Ambassador Page. Photos courtesy of Nicolas Favresse and Adam Wainwright.]

    Continue reading ""The Mad Brown" Goes Ground Up" »

    Product Testing - Airius Short-Sleeve, Sageburner Shorts and Capilene LW Endurance Ankle Sock

    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.

    Endurance_socks Product Report  - The outfit: Airius Short-Sleeve, Sageburner Shorts* and Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks
    Activity: Running (20 miles). Elev. = 5500' | Temp = 65-70 | Humidity = desert
    Tested by: Adam Bradley (aka: ¡El Monstro!), Customer Service

    On a Friday morning in early June, I set off for a run along the Truckee River. I wore my Airius T-shirt, Sage Burner Shorts and Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks. I was perfectly happy running in the cool early morning breeze, since one of my favorite things about Airius is that it allows breeze to come thru the fabric so readily. The shorts have such a short inseam I hardly noticed those either.  Of course my trusty socks which I have logged many a mile in performed well too.  Only 2 blisters, which where more from breaking in new shoes. 

    [*Ed Note: This item has been discontinued. Patagonia Ultra-Marathon athletes recommend W's Long-Haul Runners as a substitute for the Sage Burners.]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - Airius Short-Sleeve, Sageburner Shorts and Capilene LW Endurance Ankle Sock" »

    Why Can't It Just Be 'Milk'?

    Cowface Wholesome. It's one of the first words that comes to mind when someone says "milk." What about milk isn't wholesome? It is a basic product of mammalian life that--when delivered from mother to offspring--is unassailably pure. It is so fundamental and unadulterated that its nature and constitution are seldom questioned. Which is why it caught me completely off-guard when a Swiss friend asked me "What is 'organic' milk? Milk is milk. Why do you have all this 'organic milk' in the United States?"

    Jura_village The question came as we stood, literally, at the foot of Switzerland's Jura, a velvety green sweep of mountains in the border region shared by France, Switzerland, and Germany. The Swiss Jura is home to many of the country's most picturesque pastoral villages, and where much of the milk comes from for the legendary Swiss cheeses and chocolates.

    We had just finished a meandering bike tour of the area's vast array of mountain trails, which wind seamlessly from forest to pasture to village. I had commented on the unbelievably short distance between pasture and product in these villages; from where we stood--on the edge of a pasture and, oddly enough, the town square--we could see each element of the town's dairy foodchain. In the most dramatic example, a scant 50 feet lay between the town's cheese shop and the cows whose milk made that cheese.

    And that's when the question came.

    "Why do you need to call this organic?" my friend asked, as he kicked at the lush green veld. It was one of those 'ah ha!' moments for me, and I saw with new clarity something I had always overlooked back at home.

    [Top: image used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License, Photo: Andrew Duffell. Bottom: Swiss village, localcrew collection]

    Continue reading "Why Can't It Just Be 'Milk'?" »

    Crystal Thornburg to Present Sliding Liberia This Saturday at Café Haleiwa

    Poster_2_2 We've mentioned Sliding Liberia a few times here on TCL, and everyone agrees it's an amazing film. According to the official Web site, the DVD will be available in stores on August 1st. If you happen to live on O’ahu or plan on visiting the island this Saturday, slide on over to Duncan Campbell's Café Haleiwa and check out a screening of the film. Patagonia ambassador Crystal Thornburg will be there, along with cinematographer Dave Homcy, to present the film.

    Primo Beer, Café Haleiwa and the Bonzer Front present the O’ahu Premier of international and national award winning film Sliding Liberia on Liberian Independence Day, Saturday, July 26, starting at 5PM in Historic Haleiwa, on the north shore of O’ahu. Local award winning cinematographer and Director of Photography Dave Homcy (Shelter, A Brokedown Melody, Surfwise) along with Hawai’i-born activist and waterwoman Crystal Thornburg (featured surfer) will be presenting the film.

    Continue reading "Crystal Thornburg to Present Sliding Liberia This Saturday at Café Haleiwa" »

    Beyond and Back: SAVAGE

    by Jeff Johnson

    JJ_savage_1Phew … I’m back! Finally. Got back a couple months ago after being out of the country for half a year. Long story, too long. I’ll get to that later.

    You know how it is when you come back from traveling; an estrangement occurs. Re-entry is tough. You gotta take it slow. So I disappeared into Yosemite Valley for the spring.

    One morning while wandering through Camp 4 looking for a climbing partner, I came across Scott Parry. A friend had introduced us before but it had been brief. I’m always a little wary of climbing with strangers. You never really know what you’re getting into till it’s too late. And half of climbing is spending a lot of in-between time together: long approaches, re-racking on ledges between pitches, beers at the end of the day, etc. You better enjoy this person’s company or the experience might leave you bouldering most of the time, by yourself.

    [Scott Parry climbing "Steppin Out" 5.10d, Yosemite Valley. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    At first impression Scott was intimidating to me: reddish hair pulled back into cornrows, braided pigtails, reading glasses and an intense, all-encompassing look in his eyes. His generic, industrialized work-wear was all but ripped to shreds, at the shoulders and at the knees. Gnarly. But maybe it was his nickname that rattled me: Savage as some call him, a result from his penchant for climbing off-widths, where he says, “You gotta dig deep to climb off-widths – get in there and go savage.”

    Continue reading "Beyond and Back: SAVAGE" »

    Rick Ridgeway Presents Freedom to Roam at Western Governors' Association Meeting

    Rick2_3 On June 29, Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Programs and Communication, presented the Freedom to Roam initiative at the annual meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As host of this year’s meeting, Governor Freudenthal (D-WY) chose wildlife corridors as the main topic, and he invited Rick to make the presentation.

    [Rick Ridgeway presents Freedom to Roam to the Western Governors' Association. Photo: Joe Riis]

    The day started with an evocative speech from Tom Brokaw about why we should save what’s left of the wild American West, and the wildlife that inhabits it. There were over 500 people in the audience, including 14 governors and four premiers from Canada’s border provinces, as well as dozens of high-level executives from companies attending the conference, and many were in tears.

    Continue reading "Rick Ridgeway Presents Freedom to Roam at Western Governors' Association Meeting " »

    From the PCT to MVTR

    Pct_3 In 1974 a friend and I celebrated our high school graduation by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. Of course we weren't suspect of our gear at the time, but looking back I can’t believe how much of it was really ill-suited for the job. Near the top of that list was rainwear. For those of us who remember the pre Gore-Tex™ era, it’s hard to believe that urethane-coated nylon was really all we had to keep dry back then. (Well, there was Foamback, but that’s a whole other story).

    Because it was the lightest raincoat I could find, I took a Trailwise Coated Anorak (if you remember Trailwise, you’re really dating yourself). I often wondered as I plodded along in the rain if I would be drier if I just took it off. But since this was also before Capilene® and even polypropylene, I was wearing the uniform of the 70's hiker: a cotton t-shirt and jeans. Getting those things wet was something to be avoided at all costs.

    Ken_pct_start_2 Just 3 years later in 1977, my PCT partner Tony and his brother Jon set off on the Continental Divide Trail. They were the proud owners of perhaps the first incarnation of the Gore-Tex™ shell, The Early Winters Gore-Tex™ jacket. After they finished I asked what they thought of this new fangled Gore-Tex™stuff.

    [Top: High along the PCT in the North Cascades. Bottom: Not-So-Old-School getting ready for the hike of a lifetime. Photos, Old School]

    Continue reading "From the PCT to MVTR" »

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