Native Eyewear

 Kodiak's in Dessert Tort with green reflex lenses.  These mirrored lenses seriously reduce glare!   

Kodiak's in Dessert Tort with green reflex lenses.  These mirrored lenses seriously reduce glare!   

Native Eyewear's Kodiak sunglasses are stylish in every sense of the word.  More than that, I enjoy wearing them in all types of scenarios.  When I wear them I can see clearly because the lenses help to offset my astigmatism when I am out in the sun.  The N3 polarized lenses are described as offering "crisp definition and peak visual acuity" and in my experience this is entirely the case.    

The tortoise shell pattern on this frame is attractive and sharp.  There are five frame options in the Kodiak lineup with a host of lens colors to choose from.   I am a petite person and was not able to try this pair on in person.  However, after investigating the frame styles in Native's current product lineup online, I opted for these and feel entirely satisfied.  The patented temple grip really help the glasses to remain in place and will not hurt your head.  When I put these glasses on my psyche instantaneously improves and the world truly looks better.  If I could wear them all day, I would. Corey Hart-like?  Perhaps not so extreme.  

The Kodiak sunglasses retail for $149.  Perks Native Eyewear offers with a verified purchase include: free shipping, a hard case for storage, an extra set of lenses and customers also receive a lifetime warranty on their sunglasses.  This is a major selling point!  A lifetime warranty is just an awesome insurance plan to have in your back pocket.  I highly recommend the Kodiak, but I also recommend scoping out the Native Eyewear site as there are many high quality frames to choose from.  

Sterling 9.4 mm Fusion Ion

 Sterling's Fusion Ion, 9.4 in green-ooh!

Sterling's Fusion Ion, 9.4 in green-ooh!

I have been climbing on Sterling Ropes for the last 12 years and was even sponsored by Sterling for a period of time.  Needless to say, I stocked up on product!  Way back in the early days of my climbing career, I haphazardly bought ropes that were either on sale or ropes that simply came in interesting colors.  Through that experience, though, I actually learned which rope companies I preferred, and I also learned about the value of paying for a high quality rope.  You get more out of a Sterling Rope as they can last multiple seasons when properly cared for.  Some ropes just do not perform well, get cable-like, are too heavy, or will not stand up to the rigor of projecting a route.  I am now very particular about the type of ropes that I purchase, and put forth a lot of effort to keep my ropes in good condition.

My initial purchasing assessment of a rope includes the diameter and length of the rope, and I also opt for dry treated ropes.  The fall factor, elongation and stretch of the rope, and overall materials used for construction are also important aspects to know about your rope purchase.  The UIAA is an accredited and independent third party entity that is used internationally by rope and gear companies to certify safety standards.  Color and duo patterns are really secondary concerns for me but are an added bonus.  My go-to Sterling Rope has been the 70 meter, dry treated, 9.4 millimeter Fusion Ion. Having a light-weight rope that can also withstand projecting days is hugely desirable. We buy 70 meter ropes, so that when we need to, we can trim and singe the ends of the rope and still maintain a safe length of about 60 meters; a great length to use at Rumney. 

I remember this one occasion when I was getting ready to attempt to redpoint and another climber asked me to use their rope.  She was planning on going next and wanted a top rope set up so she could safely work the moves.  I was in the middle of mentally preparing myself by rehearsing beta, so I politely said "Sorry, no thanks.  I need to use my own trusty rope!"  In instances like that it would be unsafe to climb on a strange rope.  Plus, clipping would feel different, and the rope would likely have felt heavier than my 9.4.  

It is clear that climbing ropes are a lifeline for climbers, and they are also an expensive part of the gear closet.  The Fusion Ion retails for about $278, but is totally worth it.  Just remember that going in straight on your gear when hanging will save the rope and you some $$.   

Royal Robbins Performance Flannel

 This  flannel  comes in many colors, but I love it in cove.

This flannel comes in many colors, but I love it in cove.

Royal Robbins offers a performance-based clothing line that allows you to transition nicely from activities to mainstream wear. Royal himself is a pillar in the history of American rock climbing, and so the philosophy behind the brand fits in with climbers and the eco-conscious consumer. Assuming you rinsed off in a river or lake at the end of your day, you could easily wear the Performance Flannel out at the cliff and then head to a social gathering, and no one would be the wiser! The Performance Flannel is definitely a top I have worn on cold winter nights at home, at gatherings with friends, and also while out at the crag in different weather conditions. After a few washes the flannel is now a go-to top, and I never worry about it looking wrinkly or shrinking. It is certainly a super soft and warm flannel that never makes me feel overheated. The nylon and polyester fabric wick away perspiration so you can wear it while being active. I wear a size small and can freely move about while wearing it. In fact, I just put the garment on and never think about it again because it provides a natural fit. Instead of buttons, the flannel has nine well-made snaps that you can easily unfasten without worrying about durability. The flannel also has a front zippered pocket and a chest pocket snap. The chest pocket snap, the top-most collar snap and the wrist cuffs possess the only visible buttons, and the rest are hidden on the inside panel of the shirt. A few years ago I climbed in Royal Robbins' three-quarter-length pants, and that is how I became familiar with the brand. I am looking forward to reviewing the Discovery Short as I think the design will fit nicely with a harness. The current CEO of Royal Robbins is a board member for Evolv Sports and as a result there is some connection with the two brands. This flannel is currently on sale for about forty bucks!

Royal Robbins passed away on March 14th.  May his legacy live on through the achievements he made in climbing, kayaking and this great company: NYT obituary.  

My top two favorite coats: compelling and rich.

I decided to share this post because buying a coat is an investment, and you want the product you buy to last and to fit properly.  The women's Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody and the women's Black Diamond's LT Hybrid Hoody, which might be phased out because I've owned it for at least two or more seasons, are the best coats for climbing throughout the year.  I definitely would opt to top off these two coats with my trusty '08 puffy in the winter, but I will wear either one while out at the crag in the spring, fall and even on some summer nights. I might be more inclined to continue wearing the LT Hybrid Hoody while actively climbing because I feel that the fabric stretches amply in the armpits to allow me to freely move.  The LT has stood up to granite and has no holes or tears.  In the colder months I find it distracting to be weighed down by extra layers.  The Nano-Air is certainly a high performing coat, and one that I want to hang on to for many more seasons to come.  The wrist fabric has cuffs that do not bunch up, the sleeves are the perfect length on my small frame, and the hood offers a snug fit over my head.  The Nano-Air also remains dry in inclement weather.  The zipper zips tight up to the tip of my nose without irritation, and it is an overall super comfy and warm coat.  One of the best features Patagonia offers is their product guarantee; it lasts a lifetime!  I found that small in both brands offered me the best fit.  

When I decide to purchase new clothing, for climbing or just in general, I now choose to avoid buying additional down or animal fibers like wool.  I also pay attention to a company's ethical stance regarding the environment and how animals are treated in the supply chain. Patagonia did have an issue with wool a year or so ago, but they steadfastly corrected the egregious misstep by a South American supplier. Animals that are bred for their wool are at a later date sent to the slaughterhouse.  And that realization, before Patagonia's supply news shed light on the issue, caused me to stop buying new wool products.  Years ago I decided to get rid of leather products that I might have acquired in the past, so no leather belts or shoes, but for now I am keeping my old wool sweaters and base layers.  To me, the amount of effort and cost put into the production of new products just to replace all of my old garb would be contributing to the overabundance of "stuff" and is not feasible.  That being said, if you need a few synthetic coats to last you a long-ass time, choose one of these or both.  

Cruzer Slip-on

The Evolv Cruzer in slate now comes with gold lettering on the side in a color dubbed canteen.  

 

The Cruzer by Evolv is an amazing and versatile slip-on shoe.  I have received a bunch of compliments and inquiries about this shoe, and if someone else is wearing the Cruzer we usually have an ice breaker moment and bond over our wise purchase.  Pretty rad for a shoe!  It is made from 100% cotton canvas material, has a comfy microfiber interior lining, and the sole is made from Evolv's high friction TRAX rubber.  And if you feel like wearing it like a slipper, the heel of the shoe flattens allowing you to quickly slip them on to your feet. The other cool feature is that you can easily stuff these in your backpack, compressing them until you pull your gear out of your bag.  I wear this shoe exclusively in the color slate, and I feel that the overall style of this shoe transitions nicely to the cliff as well as when I am out and about in my daily life.  I typically wear a size 7 street shoe, and this shoe fits me in a size 6.5 with a variety of socks or even barefoot.  A treacherous part of my day while out climbing has always been navigating rocky trails.  Before the Cruzer became available, I used to stumble a lot in other approach shoes.  Forget lace ups, and get this slip-on.  You will want to wear them everywhere! 

Evolv Shaman

 

Evolv Shamans

I used the new Shamans straight away on my project.  The shoes were form fitting, but comfortable right out of the box. I typically like to break new shoes in before using them on redpoint attempts, but once I tried them on I knew that these were ready to go. The Shamans offer superior edging on small footholds and are great on steep terrain. As a female climber I downsized a half size, and they fit my feet perfectly.  The three strap closure system never fails, and my heel sits perfectly tight in the shoe while heel hooking.  Right now I pretty much just climb in these shoes, and I highly recommend them!