Its time of the year when people go shopping for their next piece of clothing for either a family holiday, hiking trip or just a climbing holiday in a winter destination.
Kelly and I have been traveling for the last 5 months mainly for climbing and guiding but hiking, camping and just staying outdoors is all part of the business. It is cold be it belaying on the big walls of Yosemite or climbing in the Italian Alps. Right now in Haute Provence, the small village of Annot we are working on our trad climbing techniques on the sandstone cracks with temperatures rapidly dropping day by day as winter sets in.
While traveling, Kelly and I do not have a privilege of carrying a lot of clothing and we make sure what we carry works. Here is 2 pieces of clothing that should be in your backpack for the upcoming December holidays.
Arcteryx Phase SV Crew LS
The most basic outdoor piece of clothing one should own is a good base layer. I have heard too many times people say, “oh its just a piece of underwear beneath your jacket right?” or “I can always wear that long sleeve that I own since my Uni days, it works well in the lecture hall!” After a few trips to rather cold (+/- 5) but not extreme conditions, I realize the need for a good piece of base layer as it acts as a moisture control next to the skin. Which means that my sweaty armpits actually drys out faster and that actually allows me to stay warmer.
Sometimes I would just wear the Phase SV (sometimes with a T-shirt over to prevent my nips from showing) when the temperatures are cool and if my activities are high intensity like climbing a multi pitch in Verdon gorge in autumn. This piece of clothing is also super light weight (155gm) and almost doesn’t occupy any space. I have used many brands of base layers and the Phase SV Crew LS outperform all of them owning to its moisture wicking properties. Oh, did I mention about the odor control fabric it uses actually works?
Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pants
This trip to Europe, I have 3 pairs of pants for the 4 months here. Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pant, Arcteryx Palisade pant and Marmot Rock Star. When the temperatures are low between 0 degrees – 10 degrees or if we have a long day out hanging off a multi pitch, I would opt to wear the Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pants simply because the pants is durable and keeps me warm. I have worn this pants from the big walls in Yosemite to single pitch cragging in Annot. The Gamma Rock Pant features a light weight stretchy fabric which give you a good range of movement needed during climbing and also burly double weaved textile on the knees and seat needed during those endless limestone chimneys on La Demande in Verdon. The lightweight soft-shell material keeps the wind out and at the same time is highly breathable.
My fav part of the design is the integrated belt system which sits flat under the harness and is fully adjustable. This makes those hanging belays so much more comfortable as there is no pressure points on the waist. It also have a belt window at the back for those bouldering days where you clip your chalk bag directly to your pants. A tough pair of pants which I wouldn’t give a second thought when jamming my knees in those offwidths.
So there you have it 2 very important but basic gears for the winter destination that you are heading to this December.
While writing this, the temperature is 1 degrees in Annot and The Arcteryx new line of down jacket, Thorium AR, is my line of defense during the long and cold winter nights in Europe!