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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Swank SL sunglasses? I was late to the party!

 Moving from the Evergreen State to the Desert was a shock to my system.  Where sunglasses were protection some days, now they are almost without exception, everyday, mandatory dress for me.

So I tend to like and find useful full coverage dark lens sunglasses that are equally appropriate for the mountains, climbing or skiing.   A frame that if it doesn't offer optional side shields at least offers good frame design that blocks the rays from the side.  The same glasses will hopefully have well designed lens to block the sun from above and reflection from below.

So a sunglass that only offers limited coverage is seldom useful to me.   The "off sun" days or doing some thing where I want exceptional ventilation.  Running is a great example.   Around town another.

Enter the Swank SL....

From the Tofosi web site:



msrp?   $49.95

Swank SL is a lighter, streamlined version of Swank with a rimless lens. This model has photochromic lenses with a tint that becomes darker as the day becomes brighter. Rx Available."

My "full coverage needs" are pretty well covered by a well maintained stash of Julbo and some newer Smith products.  But geeeeezze they are expensive.  

Smith's excellent full coverage, "Guide's Choice".

But for this style of  minimalist sunglass I have a few old school Varnet and Rayban glasses.  I don't review or write about things I don't like so why the Swank?  

Sometimes I want a sunglass that simply isn't full coverage.  One that is light on the face ( there go the old school glass lens) and always with exceptional quality lens.   Tifosi has the lens program covered here.  The first thing I noticed putting them on was just how clear the lens are.  No distortion.  Rayban and Varnet quality lens but in a synthetic, not glass, and so much lighter on the face.   And better yet they are Tofosi's "fototec" lens or for us civilains simple "photchromic".  They get darker with the amount of sun they are exposed to.  Handy!

more here..

More from Tifosi:

"Fototec is Tifosi’s photochromic technology, designed to effortlessly change tints as you move through different lighting 

conditions. Each lens has a variable tint with particles that interact with light when it hits the lens. The brighter the sun, 

the darker the tint.    Frames are made with durable Grilamid TR-90, making them lightweight and comfortable. The 

hydrophilic nose pads keep sunglasses in place for an active lifestyle. These stylish sunnies will protect eyes from 

100% of harmful UV rays."

The Swank doesn't get dark enough to be a level 4 sunglass but it might make it to a level 3 for sun protection.  Pretty much all the best sunglasses with synthetic lens these days, are made of polycarbonate.  But few hit any where close to Tifosi's price point and obvious lens clarity.  Some even claim they use "ballistic polycarbonate".   Trust me!  All of them make a "poke in the eye with a sharp stick" better than what it use to be.   

I have a few pairs of classic, smaller lens Raybans I have used for years.  The Swank SL just replaced them.  I like them a lot.  More than I had expected.    One major issue with the Tifosi Swank that isn't covered under warranty.   The frames fit me and my wife.  Unusual when you make the size comparison.  So it is  good that the MSRP isn't crazy expensive.  That way you can (likely) keep yours :)

The Tifosi Swank SL.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Rethinking tech Bindings?

The most difficult lines I have skied have all been in lwt "race level" Tech bindings.    The story linked below isn't the first time I have heard of a major failure on a tech binding toe while in use.    

Y'all be careful out there!

"How a Close Call in La Grave Changed My Thoughts About Bindings" 

Gear failure is part of the risk we accept as skiers—so how do we stay safe?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Alien 1.0 and Low Tech Race bindings

I have a new pair of size 29 Alien 1.0s and a new set of Dynafit Low Tech Race 1.0 bindings I'd like to sell. $750 for the boots with a new and spiffy pair of the lycra gaiters included.  $300 for the bindings (still new in box) .  Boots just aren't a good fit for my feet.  The same bindings I use pretty much every where and on any ski up to a 110.  These are spares.

Make you a deal if you buy both.  I'll pay the shipping in the US. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The top three Arcteryx Cold Weather Synthetic jackets?

Image result for arc teryx kappa hoody

The top 3 Arcteryx cold weather jackets?

  • I'm well into the process of wearing them out                 
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: large in the Kappa and SV, XL in the SL (all seem to have a similar  fit in those sizes)                   
Unusual review for me.

I was looking for the warmest jacket I could find with literally some of the best cold weather climbing jackets hanging in my gear room now. That included both the Arcteryx Kappa and a Fission SL. The list got one more this winter with the Fission SV. I ordered up new versions of each from BC. Tried them all on and kept the SV. The others went back...nothing new there from what I already had.

A life style new to me, but for the last 6 months I've been getting up just prior to dawn, rain, shine or snow to feed livestock for the last 6 months. One of the coldest winters on record here.   Going on 60 days at or below freezing now.  The Kappa, a trusted friend for winter climbing in the Alps and Canada wasn't warm enough most days early and late. The Fission SL, the "go to" hard core winter climbing coat, wasn't up to the task when the wind started blowing @ -25F any time of day. Mind you both of those Arcteryx jackets are really good cold weather pieces! But this is an honest comparison made by wearing all three day after day of multiple sub zero weeks this winter. The SV is slightly longer, sheds wind much better than the other two and because of both the length and wind resistance, it is noticeably warmer. The double chest pockets are handier if required. I now know why you see this jacket on a lot of full time ski instructors in the Rocky Mtn States. Not seen a warmer jacket that can take a real beating (day in and day out on the ski hill or in the barn) and still do the job just as well at the end of the Season as the beginning. If you really need a cold weather jacket the SV is worth the extra price compared to the Kappa for warmth IMO.  Kappa is a taped Goretex product but not warrantied to be water "proof".   Although feature to feature IMO the Kappa is a better buy if it is warm enough for you.  And if you don't need fully taped and water proof Goretex.  Never needed Goretex frankly other than rain gear but have found the water proof layer really nice when it has been needed here.   Goretex was not something I bought the SV for however.  And would now just for the extra protection.    The Fission SL (fully water proof  Goretex as well) is a great climbing jacket for warmth and weight. But I find it hard to justify the price when compared to the other two. For a climbing parka and really cold dry occasions (think of missing the Tram mid winter on the Midi) my impression is you can do better for warmth and weight (short of snow cave living) by going to one of the better down jackets intended for the same use. Still not a big fan of the SV's fashion styling ( still undecided if I like the collar/hood design or not).  OK I'd will admit I wish the collar was higher".  Glad all the SV jacket has a dbl zipper because when it is not really cold, the jacket is too long and too warm.  When it is really cold and windy the length is perfect :)  The SV is now the only COLD WEATHER jacket I have hanging in our mud room getting daily use. And it is THE jacket I grab when I want to be warm and protected from the weather/elements on foot, on a horse or on a exposed 4 wheeler. Given the choices in cold weather jackets I have available that is saying a lot. It is still not the jacket I would take climbing. It is too heavy and frankly not cut for climbing. Kappa and SL are both lighter and cut to easily climb technical ground in. But the Fission SV is the one jacket I wish I had when I really need a warm jacket. Simply because it is the warmest most weather resistant synthetic insulation I own.

I like the snap on the hem and zipper of all three jackets.  Not a fan of the big toothed zipper used although it does work well but hard to get started sometimes.  I have to take my time and be careful.  Never a good situation when it required for a piece of my climbing kit.  Cuffs are dialed!   But also could be done better with just elastic like the Atom Series.    Hoods as expected, are exceptional with or without a helmet.  External pockets?  Not so much thought there was my opinion.  They work..enough said.  Dbls always better than one for me.  Internal pockets on all of them are awesome!   All three are solid cold weather jackets.  Kappa is the lightest least bulky, easiest to wear.  The Fission SL is warmer, slightly bulkier, more wind proof "perhaps" and costs amore than dbl what you can buy a Kappa for.  But it is water proof :)  The Fission SV is longer, more weather proof and WARMER than either.  It has a funky hood and collar design.  Both are good, neither is perfect.   SV does have double breast pockets....which I really like.   Cost is more than a Kappa, and less than the SL.   Best to find any of them on sale in late Spring or early Summer!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reel Rock #11

I was lucky enough recently to preview all of the RR #11 Tour.  Some amazing climbing and even more amazing people profiled.  Well worth a look see,  A little digging on the Internet will give you  a number of options for viewing.   From a guy who use to really look forward to the Warren Miller ski films Real Rock Productions have taken over a good part of that yearly stoke.

Hard not to be inspired by the footage and the climbers involved no mater what part of the climbing world you are involved in.