We tossed around doing gear reviews and came to the conclusion that if we do one, we better have a story worthy trip. We definitely didn’t want to just favorably review product which were sent to us for free OR review them doing the most mundane hike, climb, or whatever (which…surprise! A lot of gear reviews are done this way). That brings me to one quick tidbit of inside info on choosing gear as a consumer. First, seek expert knowledge…preferably human expert knowledge. This “human” aspect is important and can most easily be obtained by walking into your local outdoor shop and striking up conversation – with a human. Many of these store employees receive clinics on much of the product in store. If the person you asked didn’t know, chances are there is someone who does know. These folks job is outdoor gear and apparel – utilize that wisdom all while testing, touching, and asking questions about the product while in the store.
This first gear review takes place in Patagonia. Not the brand, but the region in South America. This place is an absolutely enormous expanse of land stretching between Chile and Argentina. I could write for another four days on the beauty and vastness of Patagonia, but I know you wouldn’t read it all and that is not the purpose of this blog. Briefly though, we spent one half of the trip backpacking the “O” loop in Torres del Paine park in Chile. 8 days, 7 nights setting up camp every night and carrying everything with us. The second half was spent in El Chalten, Argentina – the trekking capital of the country. There we diversified ourselves spending 3 days hiking, 2 days bouldering, 1 day fishing and 2 days relaxing and recovering from the previous backpacking succinctly described above – given our longest backpacking trip prior was 1 night.
Now…finally…the three items below I wore literally every day - one of the brands I work with, the other two I have no affiliation. All of these I also wore quite a bit during the months preceding the trip. The common denominator for all three of these products is the ability to wear on the trail then to the tavern. 99% of us are recreational outdoor folk - as opposed to professionals - and the latest and greatest gear is a bit of overkill most of the time. I like to be able to hike the trails, then walk into a pub afterward not feeling like I have to change from my alpinist-transformer getup. There are plenty of products and brands who do this tech/leisure gear very well and these are three.
Rab Kinetic Plus
Going from top down, the Rab Kinetic Plus jacket is bar none the best lightweight softshell I have ever worn. It won the Editors Choice Award in 2017 for Backpackers magazine. Technical aspects aside, it doesn’t make that annoying normal rain jacket sound. Rab uses Proflex – a super stretchy, super breathable and of course waterproof membrane as well as an extra DWR treatment on top. Being as stretchy and breathable as it is, I wore it all the time for every activity – backpacking, fly fishing, bouldering, all of em. It was huge asset on those notorious windy Patagonia days as the material is windproof too. It seems great for very aerobic activities, a pure rain jacket, or light outer layer for cool mornings and afternoons – all which I encountered in Patagonia. It also fits on the slim side which makes it look super good on – not baggy. If you plan on wearing multiple layers underneath or like a more relaxed fit, size up.
Bulletprufe pants – slim fit
I have been wearing these pants for quite some time, but for this trip, it is the only pair I brought. They are made of a blend of 4 materials – 35% Nylon, 10% polyester, 5% spandex, and 50% cotton. I could geek out on materials here but just want to say I am about a rough on pants and gear in general as anyone on earth. I can often be found hiking thru briars, slipping into rivers, sliding feet first down steep leafy embankments, or any combination of these activities. I also tend to wash clothes pretty infrequently. These things have slight stretch for flexibility, hiking or climbing. They have bar none the best durability and abrasion resistance with seams that are triple stitched to last. My first pair I bought two years ago, and wear them on any outdoor excursion I take. I bought two more pairs for “work” and other social situations I need to look presentable which leads me to the last point. They fit absolutely perfect. I have the slim fit and am a somewhat slim guy – not sure if that helps but it’s true.
Teva Arrowood WP mid
Ending where our body meets the earth beneath us, the is my go to approach shoe, hiker, and shoe in general. They have a leather upper with a waterproof seal. They have a Floatlite footbed and outsole which brings the weight of these bad boys down to about 10 oz…significantly lighter than any other hiker I dare you to find out there. The Floatlite footbed is super cushy and the same outsole the Hoka One One uses. I would classify these not as a hiker with a lifestyle problem but a lifestyle shoe with a hiking problem…make sense? Ok good.
They held up excellently and am still wearing them as my hiker/approach shoe/out to eat shoe today. The don’t show dirt very well which makes them easy transition into the pub to drink one or more beers after your outdoor excursion. I did find them very grippy on rock and talus, and the minimal weight seemed to make those latter days of the backpacking portion that much easier. I do like less substantial and lighter shoes…even for long backpacking trips. If you like super thick outsoles with a lot of cushion, I would advise against these for rigorous outdoor activities with treacherous terrain and try for their more substantial brother the Arrowood Riva.
Thanks for reading our first gear review. As I said before, we wont do these unless we take part in some adventure that really puts gear to the test. If you have specific questions, just ask us! If you dig this or other content you see or read on here - share - we would be super grateful.
Our goal at ORO is two things - empower the independent retailer and inspire folks to get outside more! With that, I hope we can encourage folks little by little to travel far and shop near.