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Patagonia Footwear

August 30th, 2008

Patagonia introduced their line of footwear late in 2006. Prior to this they had a robust relationship with Merrell, but were concerned about some of the manufacturing, and social standards within the footwear industry. So how does a company go about impacting an entrenched industry? Why they partner with the very company they had been working with in the past, Merrell. Except this time they mandated that the shoes bee constructed in a manner in line with their philosophy; make the best product, yet do no unnecessary harm. So what are the results, well here are some examples of their progress:

 Hevea Milk

The latex they use comes from milk harvested from the hevea tree. They felt using hevea milk had two positive results; firstly the harvesting process was actually good for the trees in that it helped boost the milk production. Secondly they found that the milk itself had a certain microstructure that when cured created thousands of tiny cushioning air bubbles. Now I can attest for the later; the Cardon shoes I have been wearing these past few months are the most comfortable shoe I have worn with respect to impact on my knees and spine. I have done trade shows where I would wear one brand of shoe, but have to switch back to the Cardon as my knees would begin aching from standing on the concrete for long periods of time.

 Better Leather

Before sourcing any of their leather, Patagonia really studied the industry. What they found was that all leather does not have the same impact on the environment. To insure that the leather they used in their footwear left the smallest possible footprint, they chose only those tanneries that had ISO 14001 registration. This strict set of environmental standards measures how efficiently a producer uses natural resources, how its processes impact the environment, and how closely the producer adheres to local and international environmental regulations. Patagonia believes that tanneries that measure up to ISO 14001 produce leather that is better for shoes and better for the planet.

 Hemp

Hemp may be one of the most useful, and misunderstood crops ever cultivated. It has a very short growing cycle, requires relatively little water and no pesticides, and is extremely resistant to molds and bacteria. Its root structure even helps prevent erosion. Shoes made of hemp require no break-in period, breathe better and smell better than those made of leather or synthetics, and are less prone to bacterial build up, which is a lot healthier on the feet. Patagonia uses hemp in a variety of ways, including as laces and as well as material for uppers. Check out the Wilkens shoe for their use of Hemp.

 Smart Step

During the shoe manufacturing process, scrap rubber is left on the cutting room floor. But that doesn’t mean it has to end up in a landfill. A number of Patagonia shoes, including the Drifter are made with Ecostep, a Vibram formulated compound that uses up to 30% recycled scrap rubber that would otherwise be thrown away. Ecostep is highly abrasive, resistant and provides great traction in all kinds of weather and terrain.

 

Vegan Friendly

Some of Patagonia’s footwear line, but not all, yet, are made without any animal bi-products. The solvents that are used are water based, and the uppers are synthetic or of natural fibers. A quick example that I can think of is the Tenzing shoe.

 

Now all of the above are obviously a movement in the right direction as far as reducing the shoe manufacturing industry’s footprint, but even Patagonia admits that there are still further advances to be made. Reducing the amount of water used in the tanning process is just one. Yet the journey can only start after the first steps have been made.

 

Now why did I take the time to put all of this down? One, I think Patagonia has a good story behind their footwear line; taking an industry that has been historically harsh on the environment and demonstrating that improvements can be made without sacrificing the quality of the product. I only wish that Patagonia was a little less humble, and did a better job promoting this story. The other reason and likely the most important to you as a consumer is that every shoe of Patagonia’s that I have worn has been comfortable and well made.

 

Just as with the Patagonia clothing they stand behind their product with their Patagonia Ironclad Guarantee: If you are not satisfied with one of their products at the time you receive it, or if one of their products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from, or to Patagonia for a replacement or refund. A reasonable charge will be assessed for damage due to wear and tear. They guarantee everything they make. That says something in this day and age!

 

Puma Ocean Racing Tranat-Day 3

August 29th, 2008

August 28, 2008

1000 miles behind us with about 2000 mile to go to Gibraltar. Here is a rundown of some testing conditions we’ve encountered in the past 24 hours. A nasty low parked to the south of us and we had to beat around the top of it. Mix in a little adverse current from the gulf stream and you have a bit of uncomfortable sailing on your hands. But, all is good now and we’re on a beam reach and churning up the miles after getting into the southerlies. These winds should stick with us for a couple of days.

It’s been pretty interesting getting to know people’s idiosyncrasies. For example, I have never seen Capey (Andrew Cape) get into his bunk until I essentially until tucked him yesterday for a little bit. He is always sleeping at his nav station or on the floor, or wherever he seems to want to. A great tendency I guess, to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any condition, always in his foul weather gear ready to jump at a moments notice.

Michi Mueller claims he is going around the world with his ponytail intact. I couldn’t imagine all that hair covered in salt for days at a time, but he appears committed. The boys claim that King Neptune may have something to say about Michi’s hairstyle when he crosses the equator for the first time. But only time will tell, Michi is the biggest guy on this boat and I for sure could seem him beating down the person that cuts his locks.

Boat handling on the lousy sea is going well so far. Still working out a bunch of little bugs but that is what we are doing this for.

-Kenny

Day 2 Puma Racing’s Test Run to Alicante

August 29th, 2008

August 27, 2008

Moving day aboard il mostro. We are always in a dilemma. When practicing, or in this case delivering the boat across the Atlantic Ocean, we have to learn, with the goal being keep making the boat and team faster. But, at the same time, if we break the boat we will have to limp back to Rhode Island or up to Halifax, or wherever the wind would take a wounded boat in the North Atlantic. That would be bad, real bad. After all, we do not want to miss the start of this race.

Don’t worry, we aren’t broken. Actually, we’re anything but. The boat is handling like a dream out here and the crew is settling into a routine onboard. What I have ringing in my head though is our illustrious Operations and Shore Team Manager Neil Cox stating one very specific demand about 2 minutes from pushing us off the dock in Newport in his best Australian tongue, “Mate, whatever you do, don’t break the vessel.”

Well Coxy, it is pretty hard to tame the monster at times. Navigator Andrew Cape got us nicely situated on the back side of a cold front and we just knocked off 254 miles in 12 hours. Not quite record pace but pretty quick none the less. And this is happening all while having “don’t break the vessel” ringing on our ears.

We have had a couple of interesting happenings onboard. Our media guru Rick “Danger” Deppe wanted to label his clothes and gear with his initials – including his headlamp. Unfortunately for Rick, he put on the headlamp prior to the indelible ink drying and effectively stamped his initials backwards on his forehead. My guess is that those are there for a few days. He looks like the front of an ambulance.

Anyway, all is good here. We’re getting back into the rhythm again, one of being wet and eating lousy food.

-Kenny

New boat hits the water

August 27th, 2008

BMW ORACLE Racing’s new 90-foot multihull yacht touched water for the first time today and the trimaran was commissioned with the traditional bottle of champagne smashed across the bow.

In a team gathering at the water’s edge, the carbon fiber boat was lowered into Fidalgo Bay in front of the boat yard where it was constructed on the Anacortes waterfront. Melinda Erkelens, Golden Gate Yacht Club board member and BMW ORACLE Racing team member, broke a bottle of Moët et Chandon as she commissioned the new BMW ORACLE Racing 90.

“We have learned a lot and developed a lot of new technology in building this boat and I’m really looking forward to testing it on the water,” said team CEO and Skipper Russell Coutts. “It is going to be an interesting challenge and we will need to build up slowly and carefully to testing its full potential,” Coutts said.

The team expects sea trials to begin in early September once the fit-out is complete and structural load tests are conducted dockside.

The team partnered with Van Peteghem and Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) of France and one of the most successful skippers in multihull racing, Franck Cammas, to design the innovative trimaran.

Led by Mark Turner and Tim Smyth, the BMW ORACLE Racing construction team has worked in a purpose-built composite yacht construction facility housed in a 100-foot x 200-foot, three-story shed.  Janicki Industries in nearby Sedro-Woolley provided high-tech precision tooling.

Bringing unique technological competence and setting new standards in the area of intelligent lightweight design, BMW has been a key partner in developing the boat. BMW aeronautical engineers, Christoph Erbelding and Thomas Hahn, have stayed with the design team since the 32nd campaign providing unique expertise in finite element analysis, which is a key tool for fulfilling EfficientDynamics requirements in the automotive industry.

The yacht is a key element of the team’s preparation for the next America’s Cup, representing San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), on which a ruling is expected from the New York State Court of Appeals in the next six months.

The entire crew is kitted out by SLAM.

PUMA® Ocean Racing Sets Sail For Spain, Bound for the Volvo Ocean Race Starting Line

August 26th, 2008

Newport, Rhode Island, August 26, 2008 – PUMA Ocean Racing left Newport, Rhode Island today for their final warm-up before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race.  This transatlantic crossing from Newport to Alicante, Spain is no simple feat and will be the final test of the PUMA Ocean Racing Team and the boat before the race begins.  Skipper Ken Read and his crew have been preparing PUMA’s il mostro for this moment since its launch in late April.  PUMA’s il mostro is expected to arrive in Spain by the first week in September.  Once in Alicante, the PUMA sailors will participate in required safety training, weather brief,s and il mostro will go through official measurement.  Ken Read will also make sure his crew has plenty of practice for the In-Port and Pro-Am Races on October 4-5, the official start of the 37,000 mile, 11-stop, adventure around the world. Today was the last time both il mostro and the crew will be in North America until the boat and sailors return back to US soil in late April of 2009 when the Volvo Ocean Race makes it only US stopover in Boston.  The Volvo Ocean Race at Fan Pier Boston waterfront will host the Volvo Ocean Race Official Race Village, organized by The Fallon Company.  PUMA, the only US based entry, will have sailed around the globe once before reaching Boston in 2009.  After the Boston stopover, they will head back across the Atlantic for the final legs of the 2008-2009 Race.  The around-the-world race will end in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2009.  

“We can’t wait to get this race started,” exclaimed Read as he left the dock for the “little sail” across the pond.   “We will have put nearly 8,000 miles of sailing on il mostro prior to the start of the race and feel pretty good about the boat and its capabilities.  I hope the boat is quick, but we will never know until we finally get this adventure started for real.”  

PUMA announced their entry into the sailing category in May 2007, when they officially entered into the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 with the PUMA Ocean Racing Team.  The around-the- world race will extend over 9 months and visit 11 port stopovers.  In addition to their Volvo entry, PUMA is also the official supplier of the merchandise for the 2008-2009 Race and will carry a full line of performance and lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories available at sailing specialty stores and select PUMA Concept stores.  

For more information about the race, team and the PUMA Sailing collections, please visit www.pumaoceanracing.com

Patagonia Focus on Design: Puckerwear Shirt

August 21st, 2008

OK, I think I am definetely getting lazy by just posting some video footage! Believe it or not though I actually learned something about the Puckerwear cloth:

Technorati Claim-Please ignore

August 19th, 2008

We are making this post so that we may claim our blog. We are to insert the following link: Technorati Profile

Now it is time to release the hounds to see if they can find us! I hope you really did not take the time to read this.

AAI Guide’s Choice Award Winners

August 16th, 2008

This year the American Alpine Institute presented six awards at the annual Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City last week. The equipment and clothing awarded the AAI Guides Choice designation have proven to be of the highest quality in their product category. The awards are determined on the basis of excellence in design, performance, and durability demonstrated in rigorous international field tests conducted by professional guides of AAI. Evaluations are made throughout the year in desert, cold weather, rain, snow, high wind, and high altitude environments. The American Alpine Institute has no financial ties or financial interest in any manufacturer or distributor. All testers and their expenses are paid by AAI.

A core group of AAI professional guides conduct Guides Choice field tests year round, throughout the world. Tests may be completed in a single long season (for example five summer months of intensive climbing in South America), or over several seasons (for example McKinley expeditions in the spring and Himalayan expeditions autumn). Because of the intensity and constancy of use, the wear and stress that gear receives during these tests corresponds to many years of use by a recreational climber.

The following products won this year’s Guide’s Choice Award:

Patagonia Guide Pant

The guide pant is comprised of a tough, weather-resistant nylon/polyester/spandex blend that both breathes well and retains its shape. The guide pant is a lighter alternative to many of the other options on the market, but not too light. Patagonia found a great compromise in the epic balancing act between weight and warmth. This product is just about the right for everybody.

Many of our female guides found that these pants fit better than any of the alternatives. The cut of the women’s guide pants is both feminine and comfortable. AAI Guide Mary Harlan felt that they were the best option on the market for female climbers.

Patagonia CSS Technology

Like all new products, two to three years ago the stitch-free composite seam system technology (CSS) had a few problems. Patagonia worked to eliminate these problems and this year after extreme testing in a variety of environments, our guides found absolutely no problems with the CSS technology.

Patagonia’s CSS technology provides for jackets that are streamlined without extra bulk, weight or material. Sewn seams are far more vulnerable to abrasion, wear and leakage than the durable non-stitched seams found in Patagonia’s modern jackets.

Buff for Buff Original Headwear

The Buff is a multifunctional article of clothing that may be used as a scarf, a neck cover, a face cover or a hat. Many guides find a variety of other purposes for the product. Over the last couple of seasons our guides have begun to wear these on a regular basis. Indeed, it has become almost a part of the AAI guide’s uniform. “When it’s too warm for a balaclava, but too cool to go without, the buff is the perfect piece of clothing,” Senior AAI guide Justin Wood said. Such a sentiment is common among the guide staff.

MontBell Ultralight Thermawrap Parka

The MontBell Thermawrap Parka is an incredibly well designed and functional mid-weight layer. The Exceloft synthetic insulation stays warm even when wet. The combinations of fabric and insulation are designed to dry extremely fast. This makes the jacket a valuable piece in warm and wet environments like the one that we have in the Pacific Northwest.As part of a layering system, our guides found that the jacket performs extremely well. Some of these light to mid-weight jackets are too warm to be used as a part of a layering system. This particular model doesn’t have that problem. On Denali our guides found this to be a good top layer low on the mountain and a phenomenal mid-layer as the temperatures dropped higher up.

Black Diamond Quantum Pack

Our guides found the 55 liter Quantum Pack to be an exceptionally well-designed backpack. This stream-lined pack feels bigger than other packs of the same volume. This has to do with its longer/taller profile. It’s built with ultralight, durable and water-shedding VX 21 Polyant laminated fabric and lined with lightweight 30d SillNylon. In other words, the pack is tough, light and carrys loads well. There are no extra bells and whistles. It is a good pack.


Black Diamond Anarchist Ski Pack

The 42 liter Black Diamond Anarchist Ski Pack is a durable well designed pack with the multi-day backcountry skier in mind. There is enough volume in the Anarchist to cover the minimalist skier for up to four days in the field. The pack’s expandable top-loading design features a side-access panel for easy admission. Its sleek design allows it to compliment the skier’s movements.

Like the Quantum Pack, the Anarchist is tough. The 420d nylon fabric and 1300d Ballistic reinforcements offer water-shedding, long-wearing performance. Our ski guides put this pack to the test, working it through day after day of deep powder in the Sierra and the San Juans and brushy wet approaches in the Cascades.

Mountaineers Books Outdoor Experts Series

A few years ago Mountaineers Books introduced a new series of “how-to” texts. The books took off in a way that went far beyond anyone’s expectations. This series of books now includes some of the most well-known outdoor education writers and climbers in the field. Kathy Cosely, Mark Houston, Craig Luebben, Jared Ogden, Molly Loomis, Martin Volken, Margaret Wheeler, Scott Schell, Andy Tyson, and Will Gadd are just a handful of the well-known mountain guides and climbers that have contributed to the series.

Voilé Telepro T6 Avalanche Shovel

One might think that a shovel is a shovel. But when our guides are up on Denali in -30 degree temperatures, trying to dig out a tent platform during a storm, a good shovel may make the difference between frostbite and comfort. The T6 Avalanche Shovel was the only model not to break or become damaged during our eight expeditions to the tallest mountain in North America this year. If that isn’t enough reason to give this product the Guide’s Choice Award, then we don’t know what is…

Kaenon Product Video

August 15th, 2008

Here is a good video explaining the Kaenon product!

Kaenon Polarized Sunglasses: SR-91 Lens and Kaenon Kore

August 13th, 2008

08.13.08 | Author: Jason Mitchell

I’ve tried a number of sunglasses from all the top companies over the years: Smith, Oakley, Scott, Ryders, Julbo and others.  Each one offers something unique and is made to fit different size faces or made to serve a specific function. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend towards offering more and more polarized lenses.

As such, I’ve had a number of polarized sunglasses and goggles come my way. Polarized lens technology has been around for a long time, but some do it better than others and some lens materials are better suited to it than others. I had a chance to sit down with Derek Newton, the local Kaenon Polarized sales rep while at Outdoor Retailer. He showed me a thing or two about the Kaenon Polarized lens that blew me away.

About Kaenon Polarized Lenses – SR-91®

I approached Kaenon Polarized like the many other sunglasses I’ve seen in the past–they’re all high quality, they all block the sun’s rays and they all offer protection, but why Kaenon?  As it turned out, the lens story is pretty much a no brainer. When it comes to polarized lenses, the best lens is a glass one. But, that doesn’t always work for all activities because glass lenses can shatter, they are heavier and you have a limited amount of frame styles that you can mount to a glass lens.

Looking at a standard polycarbonate polarized lens through a bright light, you could see the distortion around the edges–something I’ve seen before with polycarbonate polarized lenses. But, with the Kaenon SR-91 lens, there was no distortion.  On top of that, the standard vertical flip of the lens should yield a blackout lens (showing the polarization at work). With the polycarbonate lens, it didn’t totally black out, but wit the Kaenon SR-91 lens it did.

On top of the pure optical quality that is next to glass, the SR-91 lens is nearly scratch-proof, shatter-proof, bullet-proof and flexible.  The material isn’t stiff like glass or polycarbonate, so it absorbs shock when dropped.

Kaenon Polarized SR-91 Lenses Feature:

  • Radically new, proprietary lens material
  • Optical clarity as crisp as glass (a “40″ rating on ANSI Z.87.1 scale… the highest rating possible)
  • Lightweight and flexible lens
  • Highly scratch-resistant (on par with glass)
  • Impact-proof to exceed ANSI Z.87.1 standards
  • Material is capable of being drilled for frameless designs, etc.
  • Learn more

Kaenon Kore Sunglasses

With so many styles to choose from, I zeroed in on the sport-specific styles. The two frame styles that stand out here are both the Kore and Hard Kore. Each one features a sport-friendly wraparound design with open frame designs and rubberized nose and temples.

In the past, I’ve been mixed on polarized sunglasses–mainly because of the lack of optical clarity. I also live in Utah and don’t spend much time on the river or at the beach. Though every time I go home to Seattle, I appreciate the polarized lens technology as I goof off on the Puget Sound. But, with Kaenon’s lens technology, optical clarity and light weight, the potential is there to have the perfect sunglasses for all conditions that just happen to be polarized.

The Kore is their original cycling and skiing-friendly sunglasses and is available in a variety of frame colors, lens tints and lens sizes (S, M, L). MSRP is $209.00.

Kaenon Kore Sunglasses

As mentioned above, Kaenon Polarized sunglasses are available in many frame styles. They focus on providing a high-quality lens in a fashionable design. With all that variety, there’s bound to be one that suits your tastes and activity.

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