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    Dirtbag Diaries: The Way of the Underdog

    The_Way_of_the_dog_small_300 After a well-deserved summer break, Fitz is back with another episode of The Dirtbag Diaries.

    The Underdog is the most potent myth in America. It pervades film, pop culture, music and sports. Politicians use it to frame their campaigns. Professional sports teams use it to psyche themselves up before big games. In theory, we've always liked the long shot. Is this special type of hero just a myth or is the underdog real? Contributor Brendan Leonard thinks it's real because he's seen it in person. Jayson Sime was a small town Iowa kid from the tough part of town. He was told he wouldn't amount to much by his teachers and hazed by his peers. The greatest successes require the most difficult obstacles. From north of nowhere to a career in politics to Mount Shasta's summit, Jayson has overcome. Maybe heroes are real. To be in their presence is a powerful thing. Can you learn how to emulate the underdog by watching one?

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "The Way of the Underdog"
    (30:38 - right-click to download MP3)

    Actually, Fitz wasn't totally relaxing over the summer. He posted his annual Dirtbag's Playlist Volume 6, a special episode that highlights the music from all of last year's podcasts. He and his partner Bryan Smith also released The Season 2 video series.

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "The Way of the Underdog" or to hear past episodes of the podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    From the Trenches series - Caring for your Down Clothing

    Trenches Like flocks of swirling swallows or shimmering schools of tropical fish, our customers swoop in with mysteriously synchronized concerns and questions on a regular basis, prompting the need for ready answers. Times like these, nothing would be more handy than magically beaming knowledge out into the ether. Our very own Old School is here to do just that. He's stepped back from the front lines to answer some of these more popular questions.

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    How Do I Wash My Down Jacket?

    Ws down sweater Perhaps it due to all the warnings about the perils of wet down, but it seems a lot of people are afraid to wash their down jacket. Down is remarkably tough stuff and though wet down has virtually zero insulation properties, getting it wet doesn’t hurt it in the least. Washing a down jacket is not much harder than washing a pair of jeans. 

    There are 3 things you’ll need to wash your down jacket: down soap, a front load washer, and a dryer with reliably low heat. While you can use regular detergents, they can strip away the natural oils in down and don’t always rinse out cleanly so I recommend using a cleaner specifically designed for down. I find NikWax® Down Wash works really well but there are several other effective down cleaners on the market.

    Continue reading "From the Trenches series - Caring for your Down Clothing" »

    Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate

    Kc - hushe area school 295 I’ve long had this idealistic notion that the ends don’t justify any means. It’s why I’m a stickler for truthful reporting of climbs. The half-truths, clever omissions and misrepresentations we sometimes see – and I learn about too often in my work – are just different forms of lying, and for what? If you can’t be honest about climbing, what else in life do you lie about?

    But who cares…it means little – unless, on a fundamental level, we think that truth matters. I think that it does.

    So what, then, if someone is dishonest – or just inept – and they serve a greater good?

    60 Minutes recently aired a damning indictment of Greg Mortenson, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated humanitarian who founded the Central Asia Institute. The Institute has educated tens of thousands of young children, mostly girls, in rural and grossly neglected regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson, a former climber, started his organization after a failed attempt on K2 in 1993, when, he claimed, Pakistani villagers helped nurse him back to health and he promised to return and build a school. 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer – author of a 75-page article, Three Cups of Deceit (How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way) – allege significant fabrications in Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea, and its follow-up, Stones Into Schools. Worse are the allegations of serious financial mismanagement, including a woefully low percentage of CAI’s proceeds actually going to schools, and large sums being spent on publicity and travel for Mortenson’s books and speaking engagements, for which he, not the CAI, receives the proceeds.

    [Above: A Central Asia Institute school along the road to Hushe, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate" »

    Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife

    Caribou Last year, six groups of Patagonia employees ventured out to explore, document, and help protect various wildlife corridors in the U.S. Among those groups were Dave Campbell and Andrew Marshall, who travelled north in hopes of spotting caribou along the corridor located in the lush region of southeast British Columbia.

    These citizen-naturalists were participants in Witness for Wildlife, a Freedom to Roam initiative.  As a co-founder of Freedom to Roam, Patagonia has, for three years, supported efforts to protect the critical wildways that animals must have to move and survive in the face of pressure from human development and climate change. Witness for Wildlife needs more volunteers dedicated to chronicling and protecting wildlife corridors - visit www.witnessforwildlife.org to become a citizen naturalist, and read the following story by Patagonia employee Dave Campbell to get inspired.

    Last spring Patagonia’s environmental department announced that they’d pulled together funding to sponsor select employee groups to travel to and document critical, at-risk wildlife corridors within North America, as part of the Witness For Wildlife and Freedom To Roam campaigns. Coworker Andrew Marshall and I took interest in the endangered mountain caribou corridor of the Selkirk Mountains of B.C. and after an extensive amount of research, we found ourselves on the road headed north.

    Andrew and I identified a low elevation old-growth cedar forest deep inside the Goat Range Provincial Park and decided to access it via Wilson Creek. The weather was clear when we parked and while hiking up a two-track paralleling lower Wilson Creek it almost seemed like we were in for a smooth outing. However, within a half hour we encountered a large mass of wood debris where a bridge used to be at the first tributary, and after a messy crossing we were unsuccessful at finding a trail on the other side.

    [Photo courtesy Conservation Northwest ©2010 Patrice Halley]

    Continue reading "Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife" »

    Product Testing - New R1 & R2 at the top of Colorado

    We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Athletes & 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.
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    P8280700 Field Report: Climbing Mt Moriah, NV & Mt Elbert, CO
    Conditions: Cool & Windy
    Products Tested: W's R1®, M's R2®
    Tested by: localcrew and Dr. Liz

    With help from our friends at Polartec®, we've recently updated our Regulator® fleece. The information we have on our website says that this new stuff is warmer, lighter, and more compressible than the Regulator® fleeces that came before it. This is all true. But I’ve always wondered what phrases like “29% more breathable” (the R2® ) or “23% more compressible” (the R1® ) mean. How do you turn stuff  like that into something that makes sense? If my new R1® is 23% more compressible than my  old one, will I have space in my pack for another Snickers? (yippee!) Will 29% greater breathability on the R2® mean a 29% greater chance that my sweetie will smell my too-often loved, too-seldom washed Capilene® underlayers when we go hiking? ....Yippee!

    It was time to find out. OldSchool had picked up a box of some of the latest and greatest Capilene® and Regulator® stuff. It was only right to offer him a little help getting familiar with all these redesigned products. My little margarita and I had some hikes coming up, so I roped her into the deal. Old School handed us our goodies and our assignment: for Liz, the ladies' R1® Jacket; I got the men’s R2® Jacket. Ladies first . . .

    Women’s R1 Jacket
    W's R1 I, like many women I know, tend to have a very sensitive internal thermostat. I can go from chilly to burning alive in moments. For that reason, I am a fan of layers and I have a wide variety of layering options. The Capilene® 2 and 4 as well as the stretch velocity pullover are a few favorites for chilly outdoor running and hiking. For even cooler hikes, I always pack my Down Sweater and Houdini. When I was recently given the opportunity to test the R1® jacket, I was not sure that this addition could add a significant contribution to my array of layers. But I was wrong.

    [The summit trail on the way to the top of Eastern Nevada's Mount Moriah. Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - New R1 & R2 at the top of Colorado" »

    Product Testing - Backpacking with the New Capilene® 3

    We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Athletes & 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.
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    Field Report: Backpacking into the Ionian Basin. Klake11837

    Conditions: Rain, then Sierra sun.

    Product Tested: Capilene 3 Midweight Crew

    This season we’ve revised our Capilene® Midweight Baselayer, long our most popular cold weather Capilene. It’s now made from Polartec® Power Dry® 5.4-oz polyester, a double-knit fabric with 65% recycled content. The bi-component fabric matches an absorbent inner layer with an outer layer designed to spread moisture quickly, and the new fabric also has improved stretch and durability. But the first thing users of the new Capilene® 3 might notice is the feel; it is much softer against the skin than the old stuff. And it doesn’t just feel better, the new fabric dries 130% faster and wicks 38% better as well. Along with the new fabric, it gets new seaming and fit, making what we think has always been the best baselayer on the market even better.

    So, you might be saying, “It all sounds good, but what does this mean for the person in the field? Are these changes really noticeable?” Good question, questions we have asked ourselves. Our products have always been tested by our Ambassadors and product testers. These folks no doubt give outstanding insights but most are elite athletes, a far cry from the rest of us. So some of us Reno folks are giving our only slightly biased field reports on some of the new fall gear. We may not have a fabric lab but we have lots of mountains. Like most of you, we’re not pros, but still love to get out there…

    [Finally, Old School takes in the Ionian Basin. Photo:Sally Loomis]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - Backpacking with the New Capilene® 3" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Unseen But Felt

    Seen but unseen Host Fitz Cahall throws caution to the wind in today's beautifully narrated episode of The Dirtbag Diaries.

    This last fall, Becca and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. We began on foot in Sequoia National Park and hiked north through Yosemite. Along the way, we would climb as many routes as our rations, our bodies and the weather would allow. It was a slightly inefficient approach to a climbing trip that begged an explanation. To those who asked, I offered a slew of reasons. My heroes, John Muir and David Brower, had taken the same route. I wanted to prove we are capable of world-class adventure in our backyard ranges. Those closest to me knew better. I was trying to save myself. At its core, The Diaries has always been about the joy of wild places and our community's profound optimism, but at times contributors have stepped forward to provide stories about personal struggle, sorrow and depression. The Diaries has embraced both the light and the dark, because ultimately The Diaries are a reflection of me. Today, I present my own story. It may be hard to believe, but it happened.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Unseen But Felt"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com to hear the music from "Unseen But Felt" or download past episodes. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with like-minded listeners on Facebook and Twitter.

    The 2010 Kids' Catalog Backstory: More About Hiking Lessons

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    [The contest becomes official: Essays received from students of Santa Barbara Middle School sit waiting to be read. Photo: Tim Davis] 

    Last January, a half-inch-thick manila envelope was delivered to Patagonia's edit department and that made the contest official. We had 16 essays from students attending Santa Barbara Middle School and now we had to decide which essay – if any – could serve as the field report for 2010 Patagonia Kids' catalog. We had a weak backup plan in case the contest didn't work out, but we basically banked on the idea that the kids could write.

    Continue reading "The 2010 Kids' Catalog Backstory: More About Hiking Lessons " »

    Backcountry Film Festival - Call for Submissions

    Deeppopecrop Time to dust off those great video clips you shot last ski season and polish up your best footage, because the Winter Wildlands Alliance is gearing up for their annual  Backcountry Film Festival and they're seeking your submissions by September 15th. Now in its sixth year, the Festival continues its focus on grassroots filmmakers who tell compelling and entertaining stories of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation and environmental preservation.

    When they say "grassroots," they mean it. From the Festival website: "You don't need a degree from a film school. You don't need footage shot while dangling precariously, camera in hand, from an ice wall in the Rockies. All you need is a compelling story, some quality footage and a keen eye for a fun, educational or juicy topic."

    This year's categories are:  Best Short Short (under 5 minutes), Best Environmental Message and Best of Festival.

    Films entered into the festival should be short - no longer than 30 minutes. In keeping with the Winter Wildlands ethos, these films should share a thought-provoking, interesting story of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation. A strong focus on environmental themes is at the heart of the Festival and the Wildlands mission, so stories focusing on conservation, preservation and stewardship are encouraged. The sponsoring organization being the Winter Wildlands Alliance, aspiring entrants should heed their direction to only enter films that take place during winter, or have a very clear relation to winter. Regarding formats, the Festival warmly welcomes whatever your creativity can conjure - documentaries, fiction, experimental, you name it.

    The Film Festival gets noisy in Boise starting November 4 before taking to the road and hitting over 30 locations throughout the nation.

    Submissions must be in DVD format, received in Winter Wildlands Alliance's Boise office by September 15, 2010 and include three copies and a $20 submission fee. See festival rules for more information and address to which you may mail your submissions. You may also contact Shelley Pursell at [email protected]  or 208-343-1630 for further details.

    [Photo courtesy Winter Wildlands Alliance/Backcountry Film Festival. Skier, Sam Pope - KGB Productions. Photographer, Tuck Fauntleroy.]

    Talk About Your Dream Expedition, Win a NOLS Trip

    Dream_Postcard_5 Let’s put this in the simplest possible terms: If you can pick up a video camera and press "record," you have a chance to win a kick-ass trip.

    It really is almost too easy: all you have to do is submit a short video describing your dream expedition. If you’re at a computer, chances are good you’re sitting in front of a video camera right now. Click the “record” button and spill the beans. Tell the world where you dream of going and click “submit.” Make it good, and you can plan on packing your bags . . .

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    So where do you dream of going? A climbing trip to the Karakoram? A carbon-neutral quest for surf along the Baja coast? Perhaps you've got some pow to shred on the shoulders of Kamchatka's temptingly remote volcanoes. Regardless of where you dream your dreams will take you, a NOLS course is the best first step to getting there. That's why the National Outdoor Leadership School, the leader in wilderness and leadership education, is offering their classic Wind River Wilderness course as the top prize for the best Dream Expedition Video.

    Spending a solid month hiking, bagging peaks and catching trout in some of America's most beautiful mountains not your thing? No sweat. The grand-prize value can be applied to any NOLS course you're eligible for - it could be sailing and sea kayaking in the Gulf of California, mountaineering in the Waddington Range, exploring Amazonian rainforests, or losing (and finding) yourself on a three-month expedition to Patagonia. It's up to you. Oh . . . did we mention money for domestic travel expenses is included, as well as all the Patagonia gear you need to stay comfy on your trip?*

    So don't dally: Check out the full contest details, get yourself a camera and give the NOLS folks a taste of your inner Scorsese.

    *visit the NOLS contest page (www.nols.edu/contest) for complete rules and award guidelines.

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2010 Patagonia, Inc.