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Essential Gear

What’s in our CEO’s Weekend Getaway Bag?

December 23, 2016
mountain_bike

Michael Millenacker, CEO of Royal Robbins, is a busy man. To Michael, though, that means he just has to plan his weekend getaways a little more carefully, rather than going without.

“Weekends, time away from work, is really important,” Michael says. “I believe we’re more efficient during the work week if we get away from it on the weekends.”

He learned that philosophy from Royal Robbins himself. Michael started with the company in 1995, taking his New York City-based clothing brand background and applying it to what he calls “work with a purpose,” inspired by the environmental conservation and give-back, community mentality of the brand.

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Michael on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness

“Royal taught me to rock climb and white-water kayak,” Michael says. “I think the brain flows freer and we’re more enthusiastic and more efficient each day if we take that time. And that goes double for the weekend. Go ahead and think about work now and then, but think about other things, too. Be open to creative ideas.”

Michael’s most recent weekend away was a trip to Santa Cruz with his wife, departing after work on Friday and returning before work Monday morning. “It’s amazing how much you can actually pack into a weekend,” Michael says. “We went surfing at Steamer Lane, mountain biking at Wilder Ranch, which is world class, very close to Santa Cruz mountain biking headquarters. We also went hiking and swimming in the Santa Cruz mountains in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.”

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

The redwood trees of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park are quite simply spectacular.

“We stayed with friends, having a barbecue one night and inviting a bunch of friends over. We went to Tramonti, a casual gourmet pizza place, and The Crow’s Nest Restaurant, a beautiful spot over the water, on the other nights. I love to try and fit in as much in as you possibly can, doing several outdoor activities in one day. We really felt like we made the most of the weekend.”

Packing well for a weekend away (particularly a multi-adventure weekend) is essential to making the most of your time. Here’s Michael’s packing list for his Santa Cruz weekend:

  • “I took my new Santa Cruz Bronson mountain bike. When in Rome, or should I say Santa Cruz.”email_Michaels_bag-bottom
  • “The MerinoLux™ Go Everywhere® Tee is my favorite: it’s great for [being] active, and it’s great for hanging out with friends.”
  • “My Harbour surfboard is a nine-foot longboard, perfect for breaks on Santa Cruz.”
  • “When it cools off you always want to have a flannel, like the Performance Flannel. It’s a staple when you’re traveling.”
  • “The Backcountry Short is great for hiking, and it dries quickly after swimming.”
  • “I still love convertibles, like the Traveler Stretch Convertible Pant. You never know what you’ll be doing next.”
  • “The Convoy Utility Short is great for hiking and walking around town.”
  • “My super lightweight Eagle Creek Synch pack.”

“For me, that spirit of adventure is our brand promise,” Michael says. “For each of us it’s different, but as long as you’re doing something on a regular basis, as long as you’re adventuring, you’re truly improving yourself. That’s something Royal and I both really encourage: getting the most out of each day as you possibly can.”

What do you always pack for a weekend getaway? Tell us in the comments!

For more great stories, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Related Links:
1. Michael Millenacker Appointed CEO of Royal Robbins
2. Employee Picks for Summer 2016
3. New Age of Climbing

 

Essential Gear

Pack In Pack Out

December 10, 2016
Pack In Pack Out

Walk into any outdoor store and one thing becomes immediately clear: You can’t fit everything on the shelves in a backpack – or even a normal-sized room. There’s simply too much of it. And even if you could carry around all of that new, fancy gear… who would want to? For any trip or hike, no matter its duration, you only actually need a few key pieces of gear on your back and in your bag consistently to get by: A good shirt, a solid pair of pants, and the essential gear you need to survive outside. Everything else is filler. (Yes, I mean you, portable hot-tub.) Instead, make sure you pack is always stocked with the stuff that will last, from your next trip to your last.

Here are some recommendations I’ve pulled from my own pack (in the order they came out):

Stainless Steel Multi-Toolleatherman-wave

The easiest and most efficient way to carry all the tools you could ever need in your pack is to bring along a multi-tool. I’ve used the classic, all-stainless steel Leatherman Wave ($91) for years, and it’s still arguably the best design out there. Admittedly though, I have a new, slightly lighter weight and streamlined favorite: the Gerber Crucial ($52). It’s also made out of stainless steel, has all the tools I use the most – knife, pliers, screwdriver – and nothing else. It’s almost half the weight of the Leatherman, and impossible to bust.

Metal Spork

Yes, your spork counts as gear; and, yes, I’m serious. If you’ve ever had your only plastic eating utensil break the first week into a month-long trip, you’ll know exactly how serious I am. It’s a simple thing, but it needs to work; otherwise, you’re going to be eating with your hands. Before titanium sporks came around, like the ones Snow Peak now makes ($10), I used to just take out the stainless steel flatware from my kitchen drawer, because I knew I could trust it. (That’s still a viable option, by the way, if you don’t want to spend the $10). Now though, thanks to titanium sporks, you can combine your spoon and fork into one utensil, and have it weigh about the same as if it was made of plastic. And it’s almost physically impossible to break.

Ceramic Water Filternalgene-32-oz-wide-mouth

Unless you want to risk a severe case of giardia, you need to filter or boil your water in the backcountry. Boiling takes extra fuel that you have to buy and carry; and then you’ve got hot potable water on your hands, which is the opposite of fun. Life is simply better with a no-nonsense ceramic water filter, like the Katadyn Pocket Filter ($370), which allows you to quickly and easily filter water from an ice-cold source and drink it immediately. Why not get a paper water filter that’s less than half the price? Simple: You can always – and I mean always – clean a ceramic water filter in the field if it gets clogged. Once a paper filter gets clogged, it’s useless. The Katadyn Pocket Filter also comes with a 20-year warranty, so that’s hard to beat.

Wide Mouth Waterbottle

You need something to put your potable water in once you’ve filtered it, and there’s nothing better for it than the tried-and-true 32 oz. Wide Mouth Nalgene ($11). It’s the perfect size, the wide opening makes it easy to fill, the caps don’t come off unless you want them to, and you can’t break ‘em, even if you try.

Field-Repairable White Gas Stovemsr-whisper

There are some great, ultra-lightweight camping stoves out there that run on iso-butane/propane mixes, which heat incredibly efficiently when they’re working, but then are pretty much busted once they’re not. White gas is plenty efficient for anyone’s needs, and burns at any temperature (whereas many mixes stop working once it gets down below freezing), so I’ve never stopped using my  MSR Whisperlite Stove ($90), and don’t plan to. There aren’t many moving pieces, and they’re all easy to access and repair in the field, so even when it gets clogged, I know I can always fix it. This is a must when on a longer expedition, and provides some nice peace of mind on a weekend trip.

Non-Stick Anodized Aluminum Pots

I know, non-stick anodized aluminum sounds like something fancy; and that’s because it is. But it’s also awesome when made into camping cookware. It’s extremely light, tough as a bull’s horn, distributes heat quickly and evenly across its entire surface (and cools down quickly, too), and the non-stick surface allows you to leave the oil and butter at home. When I go out on my own, or with just one other person, I like using the MSR Quick 2 System ($100). If I go out with a group, I bring the MSR Flex4 System ($160).

Gore-Tex Patch Kit and Seam Sealer

A Gore-Tex patch kit paired with waterproof seam sealer will allow you to repair just about any ripped synthetic fabric, anywhere, any time. Rip your backpack or put a hole through your tent with your crampon (again)? Don’t throw it away. A simple $6 Gore-Tex patch and a  $8 tube of seam sealer will be able to fix that immediately, and the fix will last. My gaiters are now more patch material than original fabric, and they still work great. Of course, a single waterproof patch kit and a tube of seam sealer might not last you your entire life, but they will help you significantly extend the life of some of your other, more expensive gear.

 

RELATED LINKS:

PRESS RELEASE: Royal Robbins Proudly Announces Renewed Partnership with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

How to Make Your Hiking Gear Last

Essential Gear

The Softest Gifts of the Year

December 5, 2016
maeve

The softest gifts are the best gifts. Here at Royal Robbins, we are known for our fantastic fabrics. We believe that how something feels and performs is just as important as how something looks.

Here our our softest favorites for this holiday season.

 

The Softest Flannel – Performance Flannel

performance_flannel

Why can’t a technical shirt be cozy? Or rather, why can’t a cozy shirt also be moisture wicking and dry incredibly quickly? Well, frankly there’s no reason why not.

We usually associate flannel shirts with soft but heavy cotton shirts that are wonderful for a winter night, but the second you start to warm up, they get extremely clammy. The Performance Flannel eliminates clamminess while feeling just as soft as ever.

Flannel shirts can come in all types of weights and contents, including cotton, wool, nylon and polyester. The main thing that makes a flannel a flannel is the napping process, which raises the ends of the fabric’s fibers to allow it to retain heat better and gives it that fuzzy softness.

By using nylon and polyester, we ensure that all that heat-generated moisture gets wicked away to cool you off, without sacrificing warmth when it’s cold outside. As an added bonus, these dry so quickly, you don’t need to use the dryer, saving time, money, and the environment (seriously: dryers account for up to 7% of US residential CO2 emissions, more than any appliance other than a fridge. Here’s some info on how the find the best dryers from National Geographic).

(Pro Tip: we suggest washing this right away. It feels better and better with age)

 

The Adventurer in MerinoLux™

merinolux

Merino wool blended with eco-conscious Sorona® fibers delivers superior softness and durability with the temperature regulating, odor resistant and quick dry capabilities of traditional Merino. Basically, it’s Merino, but Deluxe.

You can read more in depth on Sorona here, but in the meantime, let’s summarize: it reduces CO2 emissions vs. traditional polyesters, makes sometimes itchy wool softer, and is extremely durable.  Softer? Lasts longer? Sign me up.

 

The Stylist Traveler in Wrinkle-Resistant Blends

long_sleeves

The Desert Pucker is the all-time, best-selling Royal Robbins® shirt. Why? It’s velvety soft and smooth, like butter against your skin. We get that soft touch from eco-conscious Modal® fibers, which are sourced from sustainably managed beech tree forests in Austria. Someone recently described the Desert Pucker as feeling like “If you took rabbit fur and made it really really short so that it was smooth and not furry.” We’re not sure we understand that, but we definitely don’t disagree.

In fact, we love Modal® so much, with its moisture wicking and UPF properties, we’ve put it in nearly 40 styles.

But Modal® isn’t alone. Tencel® is a very similar fiber that we’ve used to great success in women’s tops and dresses, including the fan favorite Essential Tencel® collection. Like Modal, Tencel is sourced from sustainably-managed forests in Europe. It blends extremely well with polyesters, cottons, and wool. The Beechwood Wool Blend Long Sleeve is an excellent example: Tencel makes the shirt super soft, while the wool makes it a little bit warmer for the cooler months, along with UPF 50+ protection, wrinkle resistance, and quick dry performance.

 

The Heavier Layer

layers

Our ultra soft performance fabrics aren’t just limited to lighter weight layers. The Performance Flannel Overshirt and the Tencel® Terry Cardi are excellent examples.

 

Because Your Legs Deserve It Too

pants

Men’s pants are not usually thought of as soft. In fact, that’s probably a bad thing. But SOFT and DURABLE should go hand in hand. For the Brushed Back Twill Pant, we took the durability of the classic Billy Goat® cotton canvas and remade it in a stylish twill. Then, we brushed the inside so that the layer against your skin is extra soft with a hint of fuzzy. Rugged and cozy, all at the same time.

 

Essential Gear

7 Essential Outdoor Items You’ll Always Want to Have in Your Pack

November 7, 2016
onLocationCo-ROYAL_ROBBINS_024

Walk into any outdoor store and one thing becomes immediately clear: You can’t fit everything on the shelves in a backpack – or even a normal-sized room. There’s simply too much of it. And even if you could carry around all of that new, fancy gear . . . who would want to? For any trip, no matter its duration, you only actually need a few key pieces of gear on your back and in your bag consistently to get by: A good shirt, a solid pair of pants, and the essential gear you need to survive outside. Everything else is filler. (Yes, I mean you, portable hot-tub.) Instead, make sure you pack is always stocked with the stuff that will last, from your next trip to your last.

Here are some recommendations I’ve pulled from my own pack (in the order they came out):

leatherman-waveStainless Steel Multi-Tool

The easiest and most efficient way to carry all the tools you could ever need in your pack is to bring along a multi-tool. I’ve used the classic, all-stainless steel Leatherman Wave ($91) for years, and it’s still arguably the best design out there. Admittedly though, I have a new, slightly lighter weight and streamlined favorite: the Gerber Crucial ($52). It’s also made out of stainless steel, has all the tools I use the most – knife, pliers, screwdriver – and nothing else. It’s almost half the weight of the Leatherman, and impossible to bust.

katadyn-pocket-filterMetal Spork

Yes, your spork counts as gear; and, yes, I’m serious. If you’ve ever had your only plastic eating utensil break the first week into a month-long trip, you’ll know exactly how serious I am. It’s a simple thing, but it needs to work; otherwise, you’re going to be eating with your hands. Before titanium sporks came around, like the ones Snow Peak now makes ($10), I used to just take out the stainless steel flatware from my kitchen drawer, because I knew I could trust it. (That’s still a viable option, by the way, if you don’t want to spend the $10). Now though, thanks to titanium sporks, you can combine your spoon and fork into one utensil, and have it weigh about the same as if it was made of plastic. And it’s almost physically impossible to break.

Ceramic Water Filter

Unless you want to risk a severe case of giardia, you need to filter or boil your water in the backcountry. Boiling takes extra fuel that you have to buy and carry; and then you’ve got hot potable water on your hands, which is the opposite of fun. Life is simply better with a no-nonsense ceramic water filter, like the Katadyn Pocket Filter ($370), which allows you to quickly and easily filter water from an ice-cold source and drink it immediately. Why not get a paper water filter that’s less than half the price? Simple: You can always – and I mean always – clean a ceramic water filter in the field if it gets clogged. Once a paper filter gets clogged, it’s useless. The Katadyn Pocket Filter also comes with a 20-year warranty, so that’s hard to beat.nalgene-32-oz-wide-mouth

Wide Mouth Waterbottle

You need something to put your potable water in once you’ve filtered it, and there’s nothing better for it than the tried-and-true 32 oz. Wide Mouth Nalgene ($11). It’s the perfect size, the wide opening makes it easy to fill, the caps don’t come off unless you want them to, and you can’t break ‘em, even if you try.

msr-whisperField-Repairable White Gas Stove

There are some great, ultra-lightweight camping stoves out there that run on iso-butane/propane mixes, which heat incredibly efficiently when they’re working, but then are pretty much busted once they’re not. White gas is plenty efficient for anyone’s needs, and burns at any temperature (whereas many mixes stop working once it gets down below freezing), so I’ve never stopped using my MSR Whisperlite Stove ($90), and don’t plan to. There aren’t many moving pieces, and they’re all easy to access and repair in the field, so even when it gets clogged, I know I can always fix it. This is a must when on a longer expedition, and provides some nice peace of mind on a weekend trip.

Non-Stick Anodized Aluminum Pots

msr-quickI know, non-stick anodized aluminum sounds like something fancy; and that’s because it is. But it’s also awesome when made into camping cookware. It’s extremely light, tough as a bull’s horn, distributes heat quickly and evenly across its entire surface (and cools down quickly, too), and the non-stick surface allows you to leave the oil and butter at home. When I go out on my own, or with just one other person, I like using the MSR Quick 2 System ($100). If I go out with a group, I bring the MSR Flex4 System ($160).

Gore-Tex Patch Kit and Seam Sealer

A Gore-Tex patch kit paired with waterproof seam sealer will allow you to repair just about any ripped synthetic fabric, anywhere, any time. Rip your backpack or put a hole through your tent with your crampon (again)? Don’t throw it away. A simple $6 Gore-Tex patch and a $8 tube of seam sealer will be able to fix that immediately, and the fix will last. My gaiters are now more patch material than original fabric, and they still work great. Of course, a single waterproof patch kit and a tube of seam sealer might not last you your entire life, but they will help you significantly extend the life of some of your other, more expensive gear.

Related Links:

PRESS RELEASE: Royal Robbins Proudly Announces Renewed Partnership with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

How to Make Your Hiking Gear Last

 

Essential Gear

How to Make Your Hiking Gear Last

October 17, 2016
AdobeStock_98909506

Gear takes on a life of its own. We rely on it. Boots become old friends. A favorite jacket holds memories. Here are five tips to take care of your gear so it lasts for many adventures to come.

I have a grey wool sweater with a black-and-white snowflake pattern around the collar and sleeves. It was my mother’s ski sweater in the 1970s. Forty-six years later, it’s still going strong. I mend the left sleeve regularly, given its tendency to split at the cuff. And if I pair it with a good base-layer shirt, I only have to wash it twice a year: before and after winter.

This sweater is a familiar friend. I remember being wrapped in it as a kid during a family winter hike, its sleeves hanging down to my knees. I remember wearing it with self-conscious pride during my first ski season, worried my friends would think it was tacky rather than retro. Now I wear it because I love it. I hope it lasts another 46 years.

Any outdoor enthusiast has pieces of gear like that – wearable memories, clothing with soul. Here are five tips to make sure you’re looking after your friends.

1. Buy quality. That’s the first step. Invest in good fabrics and pieces that are well made. It will cost more, sure, but a $150 sweater that lasts for 46 years works out to little more than $3 per year. Also, check out the clothing company’s returns and repairs policy.

2. Wash infrequently. This is going to be a tricky one for some people, but washing is hard on clothes and it’s hard on the environment. Wash as needed: We tend to wash clothes like shirts and jeans too often, and hard-shells and jackets too little. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow:

  • If it looks and smells clean, it probably is.
  • Spot-clean small stains rather than washing the entire garment.
  • Dirty outer-wear (like down jackets) functions poorly, so wash it at home after adventures. Tip: To keep your down fluffy, put three tennis balls in the dryer with your down jacket and dry on medium-low heat.
  • Follow the garment instructions: the Diablo Tank, for example, is constructed from an eco-conscious, breathable fabric that’s engineered to enhance its natural ventilation. Because of its unique fabric properties, it needs to be machine washed in cold water, on a delicate cycle, no bleach or fabric softener. It also should be washed inside out and tumble-dried on low or line-dried.
  • Condition your muscles, not your clothes. Fabric softener can affect technical fabrics that have quick-drying, moisture-wicking, or breathability properties.

3. Storage matters. UPF light can damage gear, so store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. When line-drying, whites can stay in the light, but keep dark colors in the shade. When storing, don’t hang clothes with delicate fabrics. Sweaters like the Three Seasons Pullover should be hand-washed, line-dried, and stored folded up, rather than hung.

AdobeStock_92091089

4. Where do you fail? We’re usually hard on our clothes in the same way, time after time. Watch for fail patterns in your clothes – Do you take out the knees? Cell-phone wear in the same back pocket? Thigh-seams worn from rubbing together? Once you know your particular areas of wear-and-tear, shop mindfully, looking for reinforced areas where you need them. It also pays to find a good local tailor or repair shop that can mend your favorite, broken-in pieces.

5. Think long-term. Buy gear from companies that are mindful of what they’re doing. Sustainable clothing might not have an immediate impact on the longevity of your gear, but it will matter in the long run – for all of us. Royal Robbins works with bluesign Technologies, which is a commitment to sustainable apparel production for the entire textile chain, from chemical suppliers to manufacturers. More than 30 styles (like the Discovery Jacket) already use bluesign® approved fabrics, with more on the way. Getting the process right takes time, but Royal Robbins is committed to reducing negative social and environmental impacts.

Do you have a favorite piece of outdoor adventure gear or hiking attire that’s stood the test of time? Share it with us here!

For more great stories on the best outdoor destinations, product recommendations, and more, be sure to sign up for our emails!

RELATED LINKS:

  1. Sustainable Sorona: Performance and Softness
  2. Reducing Impact with bluesign Technologies
  3. Pushing Forward by Leaning Back: Building from a Heritage of Environmental and Social Responsibility
Essential Gear Outdoor Destinations

Chile: The Perfect Multi-Climate Adventure Travel Destination

September 30, 2016
web_social_insta_MerinoLuxChile-blog-header

Chile is a perfect multi-climate adventure travel destination. Located on the Pacific Ocean in South America, this very long, very thin country has incredibly varied terrain from the Atacama Desert in the north, to the wine country in the center, and the iconic Patagonia region in the south, with the massive Andes Mountains lining the eastern edge.

Last month I spent eight days with my family in Chile – three days in the Atacama Desert, and five days in Central Chile skiing in the Andes and visiting the capital of Santiago. Patagonia is worth a two week trip all to itself (next time!).

Late August is late winter / early spring in Chile. I’d recommend going a bit earlier to catch some better snow, but Santiago was significantly more pleasant than it would have been in the dead of winter.

What to bring:
We needed versatile, multi-climate clothes to venture in a desert (hot during the day, cold at night), skiing, and a city with a very mild climate. Aside from ski gear, we focused on multiple, lighter weight layers that washed easily.

The Atacama Desert – A Stargazer’s Paradise

The Atacama Desert is one of the highest deserts in the world. At the feet of the Andes, it ranges from 7,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level. San Pedro de Atacama is the largest town in the area. The Atacama is known for incredible star gazing due to its clear skies, dry air, and minimal light pollution.

Where to Stay:  Tierra de Atacama in San Pedro de Atacama. Ranked by National Geographic as one of the most unique hotels in the world, it was built using local materials. The furniture and accessories are all handmade, giving it an authentic local feel. For a bit lower cost, there are several other hotels and hostels in San Pedro.

Cool Stuff to Do:

Salar de Atacama – these incredible salts flats are sandwiched between the Andes Mountains on one side and the Cordillera de Domeyko on the other. The salt flat is the third largest in the world and sits at an average of 7,500 feet above sea level. The eastern edge is lined by active volcanoes.

Looking-across-the-Salar-de-Atacama-towards-the-volcanoes

Looking across the Salar de Atacama towards the volcanoes

If you’ve never seen a salt flat, it’s hard to explain just how much salt there is. As you can tell in the photo, there is a thick thick crust of salt on the ground, almost like a rocky sand beach.

It's-not-dirt,-it's-salt

It’s not dirt, it’s salt

And did I mention that the Andean flamingo is native to the area?

Andean-flamingoes-at-sunset

Andean flamingoes at sunset in the Salar de Atacama



El Tatio Geysers – These are the highest geysers in the world at over 14,000 feet in elevation. Tucked right near the Chilean-Bolivian border, they aren’t quite of the scale of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, but they’re plenty exciting in their own right. But beware of the temperature: if you head up early in the morning, it is usually well below freezing.

The-El-Tatio-Geysers-sit-at-over-14,000-feet-in-elevation

A-lonely-vicuna-in-the-El-Tatio-Geyser-field

A lonely vicuña in the El Tatio geyser field

Valle de la Muerte – Also known as the Mars Valley, it’s known for its moonlike landscape, incredible rock formations and massive clay mounds (mountains is more accurate) that rise out of the desert. We did an afternoon mountain bike that took us from about 7,000 feet to 11,000 feet. I’ll admit that we did have to walk some. But the views from the top were incredible.

Biking-through-the-Valle-de-la-Muerte

Biking through the Valle de la Muerte

Star gazing – It’s one of the most renowned star gazing destinations in the world, and we didn’t do it! Blame it on the local wine I guess.

How do you get there: Calama is a two hour flight from the capital of Chile, Santiago (most major airlines have direct flights from the US to Santiago). San Pedro de Atacama is about a 90-minute drive from the Calama airport.

What to Wear: The desert is very warm during the day and very cold at night. I’d recommend multiple layers as opposed to just a heavy down coat. MerinoLux™ tops were a favorite because they’re naturally odor resistant, and we often ran out of time to change before dinner.

Valle Nevado Ski Resort

Where to Stay: The resort offers 3 hotels at varying price points. However, they all sit right now to each other and funnel into the same ski lifts and social scene. Other than skiing, the resort offered nightly wine tastings and had a great, heated outdoor pool. The après-ski scene on the deck wasn’t too shabby either.

Cool Stuff to Do: Heli skiing! Valle Nevado Heli Skiing is run by incredibly experienced backcountry and heli ski guides, including X-Games Gold Medalist Reggie Crist (see his ski films here) and Mike Barney of Colorado.

The-Andes-feature-world-class-skiing

The Andes feature world class skiing. Note: those are tears of joy on my face, not fear.

Skiing untracked runs in some of the most awe-inspiring terrain in the world was an unforgettable experience. Heli skiing usually makes people think SUPREME INTENSITY, but actually you can ski a wide range of terrains. And great guides (again, I can’t speak highly enough of Reggie and Mike) can make it a very safe experience.

Valle Nevado is the largest ski resort in Chile. Though it does not have the expansive off-piste offerings of Las Lenas in nearby Argentina, there is a wide variety of lift- and pommel-accessible terrain.

How do you get there: Valle Nevado is a 2-hour drive from downtown Santiago.

What to Wear: Ski gear! But aside from that, the resort is informal but still has a neat, pulled together vibe. My dad wore a pair of the Brushed Back Twill Pants, and he wore them 2 of the 3 nights. He’s an incredible athlete – at 63, he heli skis and is a Class IV+ whitewater kayaker. I lived in the MerinoLux™ Tee and ¼ Zip every day. I suffer from the “cold on the lift” and “hot on the slopes” syndrome, so the moisture wicking combined with a little Merino warmth was crucial.

Santiago – Business Capital of South American

Where to Stay: The W Hotel Santiago was fantastic. As a city of 5 million people and a major business center of South America, Santiago features a huge variety of lodging options.

Cool Stuff to Do: Santiago is about the food. We went to two fantastic restaurants for dinner. Aquì Esta El Coco served phenomenal fish and had one of the coolest wine cellars I’ve ever seen. It’s located below the front steps, which have a glass portal so you can take a look down there.

Happening focused on steak, for which Chile is almost as renowned as Argentina. We had a group of 12 and ordered a bunch of small plates to share; we ended up sharing entrees as well. Fantastic meal.

Santiago’s sightseeing isn’t great. Santa Lucia Hill in the center of the city offers a beautiful view. The hill, which was conquered by Santiago’s founder Pedro de Valdivia in 1541, is the site of Fort Hidalgo, which dates to the early 1800’s and has been recently restored. In general, the city lacks the public art or architecture projects that you might find in Buenos Aires or in European capitals. Many of the historical buildings have been destroyed by major earthquakes (most recently in 1985), and the socialist and fascist governments that dominated the latter half of the 20th century did not invest heavily in art.

For Next Time: The day trips just outside of Santiago – wine country and the beach – are renowned. Mainly locals told us they loved living in Santiago not necessarily because there was a lot to do in the city, but because there was a lot to do nearby.

What to Wear: While Santiago is a business center (you’ll see a lot of suits out at corporate dinners), it’s not as formal as New York or London. There’s no need for a blazer on men or a dress on women, but you wouldn’t feel out of place. A fun sweater is the perfect layer.

Chile is about adventure travel. The Atacama Desert featured some of the most unique terrain I’ve ever scene. Skiing in the Andes is mind-blowing due to the immense scale of the mountains. And next time, I’m definitely going on a hike through Patagonia.

Essential Gear Inside Royal Robbins

MerinoLux™ – Our Softest Merino Wool Blend Yet

September 26, 2016
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Finally, a performance Merino wool blend that won’t break the bank, MerinoLux ™ — and it’s sustainably sourced to boot.

When someone says they’ve come up with a “new” wool garment, I can’t help but be curious. I mean, people have been making clothes out of wool for a long time (about 10,000 years), so what could be particularly new about the material at this point? There’s a good reason for its continued use, though: the stuff works. Name any significant expedition, ever, and wool was likely on the gear list. Ernest Shackleton wore wool on each of his fateful trips to the Antarctic – and made it back in one piece. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenszig Norgay wore wool on the first successful climb of Mount Everest, too. You probably even have a pair of wool socks in your drawer right now. If you don’t, I bet you’re wearing them.

To find out what is so new about Royal Robbins’ new Merino wool blend, MerinoLux™ (which happens to be about half the price of similar Merino wool fabrics) I got on the phone with Royal Robbin’s Vice President of Product, Liz Braund.

Liz Braund makes new friends in Myanmar

Liz Braund in Myanmar

Dave Costello: What’s MerinoLux™?

Liz Braund: MerinoLux™ is an innovative blend of two great materials that, when combined together, make one really nice fabric. It’s composed of 68% Sorona® Polyester, which is actually corn-based and much more eco-friendly than most polyesters, and 32% Merino wool. The corn that is used for making the polyester is a byproduct, so instead of just being thrown away, we’re making it into clothing. Sorona® is a great stretch fabric, it’s eco-conscious, and it’s really soft. It’s also wrinkle resistant. Merino wool has natural odor resistance, is warm, and even warm when wet, so it works great to wick moisture away from the skin, and helps keep you at a nice, even, constant temperature. All of the Merino wool we use is certified non-mulesed, which means that the wool is humanely gathered from the sheep. This combination of materials creates a twisted yarn, so that gives it its own natural spring. This allows us to get the nice comfort stretch without having to put spandex into the fabric.

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DC: How is it different from other wool fabrics?

LB: Part of the challenge with making anything with wool is that some people perceive it as itchy, or too warm, but with the combination of the Merino and the Sorona® together, there’s no itch with MerinoLux™. It feels nice against the skin. The additional benefit is price. The higher blends of Merinos, or the 100% Merino’s can get into the $100 range for a T-shirt. The MerinoLux™ shirts start out at $50-$60. It’s really great for the consumer looking for the benefits of wool, but without breaking the bank.

DC: Why are you still using wool?

LB: Wool is really the original outdoor technical fiber – and that’s for a reason. Wool is a year-round fabric. A lot of people think of it as too warm for the summer, but it really does a great job of regulating your body temperature, because it actually wicks moisture away from your skin really well. You still get the thermal insulation properties of the garment even when it’s wet, too. With the addition of the Sorona® polyester, MerinoLux™ actually dries even faster than 100% wool, though. Wool also has natural anti-microbial properties. It’s anti-odor because it inhibits the growth of bacteria on the fabric. You can wear it much longer than a 100% synthetic garment because of this. It also eliminates the need to put a biocide or an antimicrobial agent on the fabric, because the wool in the garment naturally does it on its own.

DC: Where did the idea for MerinoLux™ come from and how was it developed?

LB: The idea came from the product team here. They very much understood and appreciated the properties and benefits of wool, and wanted to provide a wool garment that was accessible to more people. We had been doing a lot of work with Sorona® in other garments here at Royal Robbins, and had really noticed that, one, you get that natural stretch in the fabric; two, it’s eco-conscious; and three, it performed really well. So we thought, ‘what if we combined these two great fabrics into one?’ MerinoLux™ turned out to be the answer.

DC: How did the R&D go?

LB: Making any new fabric is all about trial and error. The team here went about working with the mill on finding the right balance of the blends. Then our first round of prototypes was tested by core users, and then, after several more prototypes and rounds of field-testing, the final formula was determined. The whole process took about 6 months.

DC: What’s your favorite MerinoLux™ product?

LB: I have a real favorite, and that’s the MerinoLux™ Dress, which will come out in Spring 2017. I travel a lot for work, and that top is like the perfect contingency. I can wear leggings under it, and it works as a great dinner piece over some great looking jeans or pants. It’s comfortable on the plane and IT DOESN’T SMELL. It looks great on, and has great performance characteristics.

Essential Gear

Sustainable Sorona®: Performance and Softness

September 1, 2016
Maize field, low angle view

Sustainability is a major focus for us here at Royal Robbins – earlier this week we discussed our partnership with bluesign® Technologies and our commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of textile manufacturing. We also talked about the first sustainability story in the outdoor industry – Nutcracker and the clean climbing revolution.

Today, let’s talk about our new favorite fiber – soft, durable Sorona®.

 

Sustainable? Yup

Sorona® is an eco-conscious, corn-based biopolymer that reduces energy consumption by 30-40% and greenhouse gas emissions by 55-60% compared to nylon production.

Performance? Oh yeah

Sorona® adds both softness and strength when it’s blended with other fibers. That’s why we love blending it with polyester and Merino wool, which can sometimes be a bit itchy or wear out easily. Sorona® has the inherent ability to heighten the performance aspects of the other fibers, and it dries very quickly.

Clothing with Sorona® feels better, performs better, and is better for the environment.

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The Diablo – hot weather performance with Sorona®

 

Sustainability during Production

Sorona® fibers are created by combining several monomers, starting with a corn-based monomer called Bio-PDO, which was developed by scientists over an intensive 10-year period.

Sorona® contains 37% annually renewable plant-based ingredients by weight. Sorona® polymer production uses 30% less non-renewable energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 63% compared to the production of an equal amount of nylon 6.

Why is Sorona® production so much more sustainable than nylon?

  • In the factory, Sorona® fiber extrusion occurs at lower temperatures than other synthetic fibers.
  • Sorona® dyes at the boiling point of water with no additional heat, pressure, or chemical carriers.
  • No catalysts containing any heavy metals are used in the polymerization of Sorona®, and no additional chemical treatments for stain resistance are required, a benefit for manufacturers.


Story of Sorona

Sustainability at the Consumer Level

Not only does Sorona® have a lower environmental impact during production but its performance properties reduce energy use during the garment’s life cycle.

  • Easy to wash in cold water – less energy use than hot water
  • Dries extremely quick so it spends less time in the dryer
  • Longevity to buy less stuff – Sorona® offers fade resistance, wrinkle release, and durability, all of which help contribute to the end-to-end sustainability story (and make fantastic travel clothing)
Royal Robbins Merino Men's Shirts

MerinoLux: Tech meets Soft with Sorona®

 

Royal Robbins and Sorona®

Two of our favorite product collections this spring feature Sorona® as the core ingredient – Diablo and MerinoLux.Diablo 1 for Zappo's

The Diablo collection, focusing on men’s shirts and women’s shirts, is designed to provide superior ventilation and performance on your hottest active day, whether it’s a hot, dry hike in the mountains or a humid day on water fishing.

We’ve blended traditional polyester with eco-conscious Sorona® to create a highly breathable fabric with strong moisture wicking and quick drying properties, and then further enhanced it with targeted perforations for extreme ventilation.

The sustainable Sorona® fibers give this fabric a soft hand, durability and a hint of stretch, making it ideal for outdoor adventure and active travel with its refined silhouettes.

MerinoLux for Zappo'sThe MerinoLux collection blends Sorona® with Merino wool to make a softer, stronger Merino baselayer (definitely de-Lux). No more itching, better shape retention, and the same temperature and moisture control that you want from Merino. It’s outdoor adventure gear, only better.

We’re thrilled about Sorona®, and we’re thrilled about the products we’ve created. Discover some new favorites for your next outdoor adventure here.

 

 

Find out more about sustainable Sorona® here.

Essential Gear

Employee Picks for Summer 2016

July 8, 2016
Royal Robbins Employee Favorite Styles Staff Picks

Find out what the Royal Robbins® team loves to wear from our current season.

Tupelo Cardi. “My favorite style is the Tupelo Cardi. This is my favorite because I love lightweight sweaters! I am often cold, and I appreciate the slight warmth. I wear this to work, on the weekends and out to dinner!” – Lauren Sacks

Jammer Pant. “Runner Up. The Jammer Pant is my second favorite because I wear them hiking and appreciate the pockets. The draw cord to adjust the length also helps regulate my body temperature. The fabric dries quickly and the waistband is super comfortable.” – Lauren Sacks

Jammer Pant

MerinoLux™ Go Everywhere Tee®. “Merino wool performance with no itch. I can wear it to the office and then straight out to hike. Also works great for my boat-to-bike commute!” – Michael Millenacker

Oasis Plaid Pullover. “It’s soft and comfortable. Fit is good and I wear it almost twice a week.” – Berkeley Store employee

Point Reyes Plaid. “Looks great and it’s lightweight. I love to wear it to social events.” – Christian

Point Reyes Plaid

Jammer Skirt. “Fits great and feels good. I took it on trips this summer, and went hiking with it.” – Kim

Jammer Skirt

Desert Knit Micro-Stripe Crew. “It is light weight looks nice and feels nice too, I wear it at work and around the house it’s a cool shirt to do some work in or to chill in too.” – Alan Arreola

Zip N’ Go Pant. “These are also another of my favorite styles. I wear them almost every day except when its super hot. I do work in them too and they are lightweight.” – Alan Arreola

Cool Mesh Tunic. “My favorite style is the Royal Robbins Women’s Cool Mesh Tunic. It’s the perfect summer getaway top – breathable cotton with textural interest keeps you cool and comfortable, and the right amount of feminine details make it versatile for a variety of fun activities. This top is
great for pretty much any activity – I love the beach so I keep it casual over a bathing suit with jean shorts and sandals during day and then dress it up with a belt, a pencil skirt and stack heeled booties for a night out.” – Louise Vickroy

Cool Mesh Tunic

Cool Mesh (all of it). “Feels great and it looks great on/went camping with it. And I wear it all the time at work.” – Tina Jayan

Cool Mesh Tunic

Billy Goat Stretch 6 Pocket. “It’s durable, has great stretch, and can go anywhere. It has the toughness of denim and still looks great in formal situations. I wear this pant for camping, hiking, and just hanging out. You can wear this in almost any location in any condition.” – DJ Schamber

Diablo S/S. “This is also my fav because it’s very breathable, its ventilated, and looks stylin. Its an awesome trekking, hot weather shirt, and also doubles as a nice collar shirt to wear out. I wear this shirt for hot conditions. Anywhere that’ll be real hot and sweaty like hiking, or even hot music festivals. Hah. And I’d totes wear this out on the town cuz its that nice looking.” – DJ Schamber

Diablo L/S. “It’s silky smooth and super breathable. And it doesn’t wrinkle. Which is great because I hate to iron. I’ve worn it fishing in 90-degree weather, hiking in 45 degrees, and out to dinner in the city. So, it works for a lot.” – Stephen Sherrill

Diablo Long Sleeve

Essential Floret Tank. “I like the Essential Floret Tank for my drives up to Eureka to visit my newborn grandson.  When there I layer with the Expedition Stretch Sun Cover, as it tends to get a bit chilly along the northern coast.  We go for long walks in the Redwood Forest.  Beauty surrounds us inside and out!” – Donna Johnson

Noe Pleated Tank. This style is so popular it gets two team votes for #1.

“My favorite style is the Noe Pleated Tank because it’s comfortable, unique detail, flattering fit and washes well. It’s great for everyday wear.” – Jennifer Pimlott

“Super soft ECO friendly fabric, light weight, wrinkle resistant, good layering piece. I wear it for travel and everyday.” – Wendy Bretzel

Noe Short Sleeve. “This is my favorite because it’s soft and can be dressed up or down. I wear it for hiking and for post-hiking coffee in my mountain town.”

 

Essential Gear

The Return of the Original Classic Billy Goat® Short

February 26, 2016

Over the last few years, we’ve been getting a lot of negative comments about our Classic Billy Goat® Short, the original piece of clothing stitched up by Liz Robbins. For instance:

“I have loved these shorts but not so much in the last couple of years. They don’t last as long, they fray at the hem. How about adding some thicker material worthy of the name Billy Goat?” – Curtis, November 2015

“The quality and durability of these shorts has been reduced in the last couple of years. I have several pairs purchased 5 years ago that look better than the pairs I ordered last year. Please bring back the old quality. Really liked the old shorts!” – Don, September 2015

Durability is something we pride ourselves on, and we lost our way. On our original pair of shorts no less. So this season, we are bringing back the durability you’ve always prized. We tested fabrics, we tested factory construction, and we tested the final product.

The rugged Billy Goat® is back.

Royal used to tell a (somewhat apocryphal) story that upon seeing the photograph taken after Liz became in the first woman to climb Half Dome in 1967, they said to themselves, “We better get in the apparel business.”

 

Royal and Liz atop Half Dome 1967 (Color) Billy Goat Shorts

 

Whether those ratty shorts were a direct link or not, in 1975 Liz Robbins needed a pair of comfortable shorts to hike, climb and hang out in at Yosemite. She knew exactly what she and Royal required—and it didn’t exist.

At that time climbers were buying apparel at army surplus stores to save money or they were wearing cutoffs. Those shorts would be shredded after only one climb.

 

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They needed a pair of shorts that performed – it had to be durable enough to stand up to Yosemite’s granite walls – and that was comfortable. And above all, it had to look good.

Two days ago, we sat with Liz to talk about the original Billy Goat® Short. Here at the company, we all know the story. But it’s always fun to hear it directly from the source.

Liz knew that the key, especially for men, was comfort. “When we first went to make the Billy Goat, we knew it would need elastic in the waistband – not all the way around but just at the hips – so that you could move in it.”

Not having designed a pair of shorts before, Liz went to her friend Susie Tompkins, founder of Esprit, for help. “The Billy Goat® Short was the first thing I ever made that required a pattern maker. I had no idea how to design the fit on a short. I used to go over and work with Susie and her pattern maker to get the fit correct.”

When the first prototype came back from the factory, the wide elastic waistband made the shorts look like swim trunks. Factories at the time used a machine that stitched all five lines of elastic at once, which looked too big and bulky.

Liz went back and used a single needle machine to stitch each row of elastic separately, leading to a cleaner look with greater stretch. The factories pushed back, claiming it was too expensive.

“It doesn’t matter how much it costs us,” Liz replied. “It has to look good.”

“The thing that always sticks out to me is that, at the time, people told me that it wouldn’t sell (because of the elastic waistband). But it sold because it was COMFORTABLE.”

Though she original called the shorts The Ranger, she changed it to the Billy Goat® because “they’re good for rambling.”

The combination of performance and style is one that we carry with us today. We are proud to re-release the Classic Billy Goat® Short, in a style and construction worthy of its heritage.

You can shop the Classic Billy Goat® Short here.

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