Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blue Jeans and other oddities?

Blue jeans?  Seriously? 
OK, no question this is a  a little out of character for Cold Thistle.  But I have been riding my horse more than I have been climbing or skiing in the last 6 months so I figured why not?   Good climbing gear might well be found any where one is willing to look with an open mind.  

Just a few years ago high tech stretch fabrics changed how everyone climbed.  And those same fabrics made climbing easier.  Some times much, much easier.  Winter climbing was a sport that the newest stretch fabrics had a big impact for me.

Funny because the equestrian world  hasn't really changed a lot in the last 300+ years.  Lots of leather, wax coated cotton, wool and silk still used there.

As the weather turned this fall this year I suited up myself and a couple of my riding friends with several  versions of the Gamma line of soft shell climbing pants from Arcteryx.  All three versions are a huge hit in nasty weather on a horse.  Weight and insulation required is determined by the temperatures and moisture coming down that one chooses to ride in.  Kinda like skiing and climbing there.

The upper layers commonly seen around our barn now are as often as not Patagonia or Arcteryx as they are Carhart or a bright yellow rain slicker.

Either way, the newest stretch fabrics are really appreciated on the lower body, just like they are in climbing.  Hard too believe for many I suspect but one might easily compare riding a horse to skiing or climbing when you look at what is required for mobility and from your garments.

So I was an eye opener to me to use a pair of Gamma ARs riding a horse on a chilly day.  Just as much an eye opener is to find the Wrangler "Advanced Comfort" jeans something that I would be willing to rock climb in.   Not Lycra by any means.  Heavier, more durable and none of the pretty colors :)  Just good old shades of blue denim with a tiny bit of Spandex added (1%).  1% doesn't sound like much.  But this time around they have the feel of a decent pair of well worn, button front, 501s and enough stretch (seriously) as to NOT get your attention on a moderately BIG move.    BTW,  denim jeans are way more retro than Lycra for the fashion conscious out there :) 

And the Wrangler version beats the retail price of another jean option, the Prana Axion by a good bit of coin.

But retro aint everything :)

Patagonia and Arcteryx @ 25 degrees mid December.  Awesome combo in a saddle.



Bruno Schull said...

Do I climb with or without those big belt buckles shown on the Wrangler site? :)

Dane said...

Bruno those buckles are required body armor in the American West :)

Anonymous said...


Good to see you posting on your blog again. I have always enjoyed your gear and clothing reviews.


jmc said...

Spandura is a common fabric among the enduro (horse)riders, I believe. I don't know what current generations of it are like, but I had a pair of pants, and a pair of gloves (spandura body, taped goretex liner, ~200wt removeable fleece liner) made from it. Compared to hardshells of the time (~1997-2001? about how long the pants lasted), having pants that stretched was a transformative experience. They snagged fairly easily though, the thighs of the pants became a bit of a mess from ice screw tips.
The gloves were the best thing around - not bulky, great dexterity. On a visit to Seattle, I called up and got a factory tour from Kaj Bune(ah, back in a more intimate time of the outdoor industry...). The secret behind the gloves, in addition to the wonder-fabric of Spandura, was OR's Goretex taping abilities. They had one machine that could tape thumbs - while other companies were making a laminated envelope of goretex/other WB fabric, in an approximate shape of a hand, OR was sewing and taping a 3D liner. Clean, low-bulk, awesome. A pre-cursor of the attention to detail that Arcteryx later capitalized on.

2 pairs of BD rockbottomms from the same era are still going strong. A few holes, but wearable. Some sport hill Koch SC pants purchased last year, will see how long they hold up. For rocklimbing/good weather alpine conditions, I am partial to these heavier-weight, somewhat-insulated pants. "Technical sweatpants" if you will.