Outdoor Research AirBrake Gloves Review

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Confession: Outdoor Research sent me the AirBrake gloves in early summer and I’m just now posting a review—eep! I’ll be honest, I just didn’t wear them enough this summer to really get a great feel for them. I’m not used to wearing gloves on both of my hands while I belay. And, most of the time I found myself just wearing one glove on my break hand. However, now that temperatures are cooling down here in Colorado, I’m getting a lot more use out of them.

When lowering someone heavier than me I really appreciate gloves, but it’s never felt necessary. Now that it’s a little cold, I never go climbing without belay gloves. My hands are the first thing to get numb and there’s nothing worse than a long belay with numb hands.

This is my second pair of belay gloves I’ve owned, and compared to my BD Stone gloves, they are a lot more grippy and offer better dexterity. The gel padding on the palm is said to “absorb and dissipate heat caused by the friction…” I hadn’t realized that was the reason behind the gel padding, but it makes sense and certainly helps. I really appreciate the gel padding, and I think it sets the AirBrake gloves apart from other belay gloves. I really found the gel padding handy during tyrolean traverses—especially when crossing a steel cable.

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The AirBrake is easy to slip on and off and felt true to size, if anything they fit a little tight. I appreciate a tight-fitting glove when rappelling and belaying so I didn’t mind. And, although it was a very simple feature, I appreciated the carabiner cut-out for clipping them to my harness during multi-pitch climbs.

Even in the summer, on really warms days, they were breathable. Thanks to a poly-spandex material on the top of the glove and little ventilation holes on the fingertips, my hands never got too sweaty.

I’ve heard plenty of folks recommend going to your local hardware store and picking up a pair of cheap work gloves. I pretty sure those people have never worn the AirBrake glove. Breathable, comfortable, durable, and with climbers in mind, I really appreciated the attention to detail that Outdoor Research put into making these.

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Mini Adventures in Leadville, Colorado

Every time I head to the mountains I find a new adventure. I’ve been to Leadville, Colorado plenty of times, yet it never gets old. This time my friends Jason, Heather, and I left late Friday night and drove to Twin Lakes. The goal—sunrise stand up paddleboarding and pretty views of fall foliage—we found both.

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Early light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

There are two things that will get me up before sunrise: alpenglow and a powder day. Maybe, I should now add paddleboarding. Despite the chilly fall temperatures waking up early was well worth it. Quietly paddling across the clear lake with the sunrise in the east and alpenglow and fall colors in the west was stunning. I felt glad that I could catch one last Alpine Sup adventure, with Heather, before it gets too cold.

First light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

First light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

After a yummy breakfast (thanks Jason) we set our sights on Independence Pass for a little climbing. The temperatures were warm, almost hot, and the fall colors were perfect. We choose an easy multi-pitch climb up Monitor Rock. Some of the climbing was so easy that we didn’t need to rope-up. Even though it was easy and barely 5th class, the exposure made me nervous. The art of staying calm and breathing when things get a bit scary can always be carried over to situations outside of climbing. So, in a way, it felt good to get a little scared.

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Heather and I making our way up Monitor Rock. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

We made our way back to the car midday, and rather than turning around we decided on the scenic route, west. Driving a winding mountain road, with yellow aspens on both sides of the road, we headed towards Aspen.

We got home late Saturday night and still had an entire day to spare before heading back to work—Colorado adventures really are the best!

Photos by Jason Gebauer Photography

Outdoor Research Andromeda Capri Review

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The Andromeda Capri from Outdoor Research won me over, but not for the reasons I expected.

The Andromeda is a mix of cotton and spandex which means they’re really comfortable and stretchy. Outdoor Research recommends them for climbing, however I wasn’t totally convinced. After a few outdoor outings, I decided the Andromeda wouldn’t be my climbing capri for my outdoor adventures. Here’s why:

1) I have a booty. Tight spandex + climbing harness + booty = is just not for me. Tights might be in right now, but this girl won’t be jumping on the bandwagon anytime soon.

2) The material. Yes, they’re really comfortable! But, cotton is not a preferred material for outdoor adventures. It doesn’t dry as fast as other materials and it’s just not quite as breathable or light as I prefer on warm summer days. The material is also not as resistant to tears, water, and dirt as I’d prefer.

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So the Andromeda isn’t my go-to capri for climbing outside. I’ll stick to my Outdoor Research Clearview pants for outdoor adventures. That doesn’t mean this capri wasn’t awesome. Here’s what I loved about the Andromeda:

1) The fit.

I’m guilty of spending too much money on a flattering pair of stretchy yoga-like pants and capris. The Andromeda capri material is thicker than some yoga capris I’ve owned and it’s flattering. I’m not exactly sure why, but I also feel like they have a slimming effect. I really love how they fit me! The Andromeda sits a little higher than some of my other capris and that helps them stay in place. They never dipped too low when I was moving or stretching in them.

2) They dry faster than I expected.

Yes, the thicker material got a little warm during outdoor activities and I was constantly worried that I was going to have a sweaty booty. But, it never happened.

3) The zippered pocket.

This is the first pair of capris that I’ve owned with a zippered pocket. Not only do I love a pocket, but I really love a pocket that holds my cell phone.

4) They’re really dang comfortable.

This capri is excellent for travel, yoga, bouldering, running errands, and just lounging. Yes, that list included bouldering. They didn’t make the cut for my outdoor sport climbing adventures, but I wear them just about every time I head to the gym for bouldering.

So, will I take them outside climbing? Probably not. But, I’m certainly finding them useful. The Andromeda capri is surprisingly flattering, the fit is awesome, and best of all they’re affordable. I would definitely recommend them.

 

 

 

SUP Adventures in the Alpine

Heather on Emerald Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer

Heather on Emerald Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer (http://www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

As if I needed just one more reason to play in the mountains, I’ve found it.

When Heather from Alpine SUP invited me along to Rocky Mountain National Park to paddle some of the popular lakes in that area, I was beyond excited! I spent a lot of time on the water as a kiddo. I’d take my grandpa’s windsurfing boards out, without the sail, and paddle around on the bay. I figured it would feel similar to do that just add 9,000′ in elevation, a slight change of scenery, and much colder water.

I was hoping that the first time I tried SUP it would be on a pretty mountain lake. This would surpass my expectations. I’m pretty sure Heather has taken the “pretty mountain lake” concept to the next level. She’s hiking close to 50 pounds of SUP gear and hiking/camping gear to high alpine lakes around Colorado.

Heather’s paddle board bag isn’t your typical hiking backpack either. SUPing alpine lakes hasn’t quite taken off, yet. The packs are made to get you from car to the nearest shoreline or lake, not for hiking long distance, especially uphill. Even with the handmade hip belt that Heather sewed on, the pack is still heavy and awkward.

Quick paddle before the storm blows in. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

Quick paddle before the storm blows in. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

We arrived late afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park rangers seemed okay with it, but asked us not to go in Bear Lake. We hiked up to the furthest lake first, Emerald Lake. I’ve never seen an alpine lake that wasn’t stunning, and Emerald’s views didn’t disappoint. Pretty quickly we could tell a storm was blowing in. Heather, myself, and their friend Adam took a quick paddle before we heard the first boom of thunder. After quickly deflating the board we hid under an overhanging boulder to wait out the storm.

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Paddling on Nymph Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

We passed up Dream Lake (which would be an excellent SUP option) and headed for Nymph Lake. Heather offered the first paddle to me. Without impending storm clouds I got to experience just how relaxing paddle boarding could be. If it weren’t for cost, I’d have bought one the next day!

Alpine SUP appeals to me for the same reason climbing does these days. I want to be in the mountains, I want to see new and beautiful places, and I like the little extra challenge of getting there.

Go follow Heather’s adventures! Alpine SUP is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

 

Hiking Handies Peak

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American Basin

The San Juans have done it again completely stolen my heart.

Handies Peak has been on my list of 14er hikes for a long time. It’s short, sweet, and best of all, located in the San Juan mountains my favorite.

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One of only a few photos that I actually took.

The long 4-wheel drive road is a lot like driving to Yankee Boy Basin in Ouray. We arrived in American Basin and I ran around frantically taking photos like the views and wildflowers might disappear by morning. We ate dinner, took more photos, and went to bed. At 2 am the alarms went off. Andrew snapped a few photos while I slowly got my gear together. We decided on an early start so we could catch the sunrise on the summit. Sunrise on a 14er summit has been on my “bucket list” for a while, and because Handies’ summit promised mountains as far as the eye can see and a well maintained trail to the top, we figured this should be the one.

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2 am in American Basin. Time to hike!

My body immediately rejected the early start. I felt sick. We joked that I should just never wake up early, because my body just wasn’t having it. I couldn’t eat or drink water, so the hike went slow. Andrew asked if I wanted to turn around, but I knew I didn’t. As overly safe as Andrew is, he did a quick assessment and then let me make the call. I knew it wasn’t altitude sickness and just an upset stomach, nothing totally uncommon for me. We made it to the summit with about 15 minutes to spare til sunrise. I was thankful that I hiked slowly, because sitting on the summit was chilly. I laid down and Andrew boiled water in a JetBoil. Hot tea never tasted so good!

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Taking in the views, just before sunrise

Maybe it was the tea or maybe just relaxing, but my stomach started feeling better. Despite low clouds, pinks and oranges started appearing in the sky. We didn’t think we’d see the sun due to the clouds, but we were content with the views anyway. A curious pika playing under Andrew’s camera bag distracted us, but suddenly I looked up to see a big bright ball in the sky. I squealed and pointed; Andrew grabbed his camera.

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curious pika

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Sunrise on Handies

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I couldn’t be happier that I got to see sunrise with this guy!

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We stayed on the summit just long enough to snap some more photos, have a mini dance party (that was just me), and eat a snack. As soon as we started down the trail I was blown away at what we had just hiked. A colorful alpine lake, streams, and wildflowers that never seemed to end made for the most enjoyable 14er descent I’ve ever experienced.

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wildflowers for days!

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I can’t call Handies my absolute favorite 14er (Sneffels still wins), but it easily wins the best views award.

Round trip: 5.5 miles

Vert gain: 2,500

Photos by Andrew Bradberry

 

 

Outdoor Research Sphinx Tank Review

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I’ll be honest, I own a lot of tank tops. And, I have a habit of only wearing a few of them over and over, while the others just sit at the bottom of the drawer. Before writing about the Outdoor Research Sphinx Tank, I had to really think about what made my favorite tanks, my favorite tanks. Most of them do a pretty solid job at wicking moisture, yet some still don’t make the cut. I think it comes down to two main things: material and fit. It’s hot here in Colorado. I want something light, breathable, and comfortable. The material should be tough enough to wear climbing and not get too clingy when I’m sweaty. A cute, flattering fit is definitely a bonus, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent some money on workout tops based on looks.

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One of my new favorite running tanks.

The Sphinx tank is a mix of soft polyester and spandex fabric, so its stretchy, yet comfortable. That material is great for rock climbing, yoga, or running because it stays in place, and doesn’t ride up. It did a great job of wicking moisture and it was light enough for the 90+ degree days. Outdoor Research definitely made a good-looking top with the heathered color and pretty stitching pattern. It also has a cute design, located on the racerback. Besides having a flattering fit, the racerback ensures you won’t have to fiddle with each strap during activities like climbing or yoga.

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It has a tiny pocket on the back for stashing small items.

There were a few small issues that didn’t work well for my body type. I tested a small, and it fit perfectly, except it clung to my midsection a little more than I would have liked. I should note that I prefer a little extra space in the midsection, so sometimes I size up, it’s really just a personal preference. My other small issue was near the scoop neck. It got a little baggy (see top photo) and bunched up. Extra material that I can’t fill, maybe? It never dipped too low, but I did find myself constantly pulling it up.

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I tend to prefer more coverage than a shelf bra can offer so I always double-up and wear a bra too.

Just like pants, tops can be a tricky fit. Women come in different shapes and sizes and one top is just not going to fit each of us the same way. Take this review of the Sphinx by Dirtbag Darling, while I agree with everything she had to say, we both had different sizing issues and she found the top fit looser than many of her other shirts.

Despite a few minor sizing issues for my body type, I still really like this top. It’s functional with the added bonus of being really pretty. The Sphinx is one of the few shirts that I own that stays in place, and doesn’t ride up, while climbing. The racerback style gives me a great range of motion, and the material is really comfortable. This tank definitely won’t be shoved to the bottom of my tank top drawer anytime soon.

Weight: 5.5 oz

Price: $62.00

Outdoor Research Clearview Pants Review

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When shopping for gear, finding a pair of pants, that fit right, is the most challenging thing I face. I’m pretty sure many women would agree with me on this. Each of us have our issues: Too short, too tall, hips, no hips, the list goes on.

When the Outdoor Research Clearview Pants arrived at my door, I was pleasantly surprised about how well they fit. I still remained a little skeptical of how they would do outdoors. I’ve had plenty of pants that didn’t present any obvious issues until I got mid-climb or hike.

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The Clearview pants did great! Everything I was concerned about quickly faded after just a few wears. Here’s what I love most:

  • The material (cotton canvas + lycra)
  • Fits well under harness
  • Belt loops
  • Large pockets
  • Breathable

The material is my absolute favorite feature! It’s tough and stretchy, which is great while climbing, but it’s also incredibly comfortable. I was concerned that they would get super baggy (a battle I often have with my hiking/climbing pants), but they didn’t. They do stretch out a little, but not so much that I ever need a belt. Although I didn’t need a belt, I’m still glad to see belt loops, because drawstrings are just silly. Even with the temperatures bordering on the triple digits, I can still wear these pants, because the material is nice and  breathable. The large pockets are great for outdoor adventures. I’m constantly throwing snacks, my phone, and other gadgets in my pockets while I’m playing outside.

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At 5’7″ the length was perfect, but after one wash and dry, they did shrink a bit. More-so for all the women who are shorter or taller than me, I’d like to see OR offering different inseam sizes.

The Clearview pants are my new favorite pants for all of my outdoor adventures, especially climbing. I can’t promise they’ll fit you, as well as they fit me, but I would highly recommend checking them out!

Price: $79

Weight: 15.5 oz

Color: grey (charcoal) and brown (mushroom)

I tested the Clearview pants in the mushroom color, size 4. My pants size ranges between 4-6, and I’ve found OR pants usually fit me best in a size 4.