It was 1994 and I was headed to the Valley. I’d saved up for an extended climbing trip and I would return to Salt Lake City with a donut for an account balance. A couple big-ticket items would put a dent in that savings right from the start. One was a portaledge. The other was a GriGri.
I group the Variant with obsolete layers such as the heavy-duty Synchilla jacket. Wind rips right through the fabric, necessitating a windproof layer that makes me overheat. Sure, fancy new designs look good at the coffee shop but this jacket, at least, is not mountain functional.
Helmets can be so top heavy the straps can’t hold them in position. You look back at your partner and his frontal lobe is shining in the sun while the helmet humps the back of his head. Thank goodness technology has finally caught up.
Weighing just 1 pound, 7 ounces, this down-filled sack has no frills. No Gore-Tex or other waterproof coatings to repel moisture and no extra, hidden pockets for your snicker bars. It’s just a simple pairing of paper-thin nylon and 800-fill down.
Those in search of bondage slippers that match a sporty banana hammock to wear while working “the proj” in Thailand will be disappointed. The Force are a comfy and reliable factory basic, but that’s what I like about them.
After a spring and summer of using the Brooks-Range Alpini Mountain Anorak Hoody in Alaska and Wyoming, it has become my insulating layer of choice–better, in almost all circumstances, than any syntheic puffy I’ve used.
The Enclosure survived two months in the Chugach, two weeks in the Alaska Range, and a week rock climbing at the local crag with only slight abrasion marks, one pinhole, and a lovely stain pattern.
Although I found that the PSolar BX made breathing super-cold Alaskan air more comfortable, I have always been skeptical of any techy do-dads like flux capacitors and time machines.