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Author Archives: Justin

  • Merino Wool Blends

    Posted on March 29, 2010 by Justin

    Merino wool is an excellent fabric for keeping your feet dry, warm and comfortable. But you've probably noticed that many of the merino wool socks available contain a blend of merino wool and other synthetic fabrics. The reason for this is very simple. 100% Merino wool socks do not last as well as blended socks. While popular sock companies like Smart Wool are working on new knitting designs to improve the durability of merino wool socks, nothing lasts today as well as a blend of merino wool and some other popular synthetic fabrics.

    You will typically find that merino wool hiking socks contain nylon or polyester as well as a small percentage of lycra/spandex. The lycra/spandex is there to help the sock stay up and keep its shape. Nylon and polyester are very durable fibers. When added to merino wool socks, they extend the life of the sock dramatically. A few years ago, I bought 2 pair of 100% merino wool socks. After just one summer of wearing them hiking, the heels and toes wore completely out of them. I bought the same model sock from the same company after they had changed up the sock a little and had added in some nylon. So far they've lasted me a whole summer of hiking and will likely last a couple more.

    So, when you're shopping for some nice merino wool socks that you expect to last more than just a summer, you'll want to get a pair that have some nylon or polyester blended into the fabric.

    This post was posted in Hiking, Merino Wool Socks, Socks

  • Merino Wool Thermal Underwear

    Posted on March 26, 2010 by Justin

    Within the last 3-4 years, merino wool has come to the forefront of athletic undergarments and thermal underwear. If you've shopped for such items recently you've likely seen merino wool products advertised and have probably wondered what all the hype is about.

    In my opinion, synthetic fabrics still outperform natural fabrics. However, many outdoor enthusiasts have found that their skin can be quite sensitive to synthetic fabrics leaving them with no alternative. When considering all of the natural fabrics available for thermal underwear and other next to skin garments, merino wool is the fabric of choice. Let's take a look at the reasons.

    Reason number 1: Wool fibers retain an excellent amount of heat and it also traps air well making it an excellent insulator. Just ask your nearest sheep.

    Reason number 2: Wool Fibers are coated with natural oils from the sheep helping it to repel water. As a result, the wool absorbs little water and thus dries quickly.

    Reason number 3: Wool also has the ability to retain heat even when it is wet. This makes it more favorable than cotton since cotton since cotton loses heat when it gets wet.

    Essentially, wool has very similar characteristics to synthetic fabrics like polyester or polypropylene making it a great natural fabric for thermal insulation.

    So what is the difference in regular Wool and Merino Wool? Merino wool comes from merino sheep. The wool from merino sheep is much finer making it softer and non-itchy like the wool of most other sheep. If you've ever worn a wool sweater you know what I'm referring to when I say itchy. Merino wool, especially the type found in high end garments is cottony soft. So merino wool products are the perfect natural garment to keep you warm and comfortable without putting up with the itchy feel of regular wool.

    This post was posted in Base Layer, Merino Wool, Merino Wool, Thermal Underwear

  • Polypropylene Sock Liners

    Posted on March 9, 2009 by Justin

    Do your feet stay wet, cold and clammy when you're hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, exercising, etc? You might want to try some thin polypropylene sock liners by Fox River Mills (children sizes). Polypropylene sock liners are great for warm or cold weather. The polypropylene fabric is designed to keep your feet nice and dry helping your feet to regulate their temperature better. Polypro sock liners are especially nice in the winter time because they add a layer of warmth to your feet while keeping them dry. Polypropylene retains more heat than any other fabric and it also absorbs less water than any other fabric. If you have trouble with smelly feet, you'll want the Fox River Polypro socks with x-static. X-static is an anti-bacteria fabric that prevents odor causing bacteria from developing in your socks.

    This post was posted in Clothing Layers, Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Running, Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Socks

  • Champion Sports Bras Always Top of Test Results

    Posted on June 2, 2008 by Justin

    If you're an active woman, then you know how uncomfortable it is to wear the wrong sports bra. If you've found the right sports bra, chances are it is made by Champion. Champion has been the leader in women's athletic apparel for quite some time with receiving top spots in independent test results season after season. One of Champions top rated sports bras for this season is the Champion Power Back Underwire Sports Bra featured in this abc7 news article. For fuller figures, the Champion Action Shape Sports Bra was an all around favorite for comfort and performance. So, the next time you are shopping for the best looking, most comfortable, no bounce sports bra go for the Champion brand.

    This post was posted in Running

  • Polypropylene Fabric- What's With The Hype?

    Posted on April 9, 2008 by Justin

    Polypropylene is a material that few people are aware of and even fewer know how to pronounce. But more and more performance clothing manufacturers are using polypropylene as a core fabric in their products. These manufacturers tout polypropylene's ability to keep the wearer warm, dry and comfortable during high aerobic activities such as running, hiking, skiing and snowboarding just to name a few. So what would make polypropylene fabrics an alternative to well known products like Under Armour? Polypropylene, like many other synthetic fabrics on the market today is a polymer or a plastic. This means that it is very lightweight and will absorb little if any water and instead repel water. As a result, polypropylene fabrics dry extremely fast. This feature is particularly useful for next to skin products such as socks and performance underwear. When worn next to your skin, polypropylene will stay dry and helps prevent chaffing and keeping comfortable throughout your aerobic activity.

    Another very useful feature of polypropylene is it's ability to retain heat. Polypropylene retains more heat than any other fabric. This means that on top of being very lightweight, thermal underwear made of polypro will be warmer than long johns made of polyester or cotton fabrics.

    One of the features I like about polypro is that it typically costs much less than other performance products. I can buy several sets of polypropylene thermals for the price of just one Under Armour thermal top. So the next time you are in the market for some performance active wear, you'll want to check the label to see if it is made of polypropylene.

    This post was posted in Base Layer, Fabric Types, Outdoor Gear, Thermal Underwear

  • Made in China

    Posted on March 4, 2008 by Justin

    Have you ever noticed how much of what we buy is now Made in China? The low cost China labor is making it extremely hard for domestic manufacturers to compete. Just last year, the largest manufacturer of Thermal Underwear in America and perhaps the largest in the world sold off their inventory and closed their doors. Morgan Mills, owned by Hanesbrandsinc. was known nationwide for their comfortable and affordable thermal underwear products. But, like so many other US manufacturers, they just could not continue to compete with the manufacturers that sent their production overseas allowing them to cut their manufacturing costs and increase profits. The concept of cutting costs through cheap foreign labor is not new. The resulting domestic economic impact however is new for many US companies who have tried to remain true to their US employees. The bottom line is, outsourcing creates fewer winners and a whole lot more losers. Sending labor to China and other foreign companies increases our dependence on other countries. It also eliminates jobs here in the US. The outcome is wealthier manufacturers and jobless US laborers.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized

  • Outdoor Retailer Show in 13 days

    Posted on January 10, 2008 by Justin

    If you haven't already signed up to attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, it isn't too late, but it won't be free. Registrants after December 28th will need to pay $30 for a pass to the latest outdoor gear, news and accessories on display at the Outdoor Retailer show this season.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized

  • Merino Wool VS Traditional Wool

    Posted on December 13, 2007 by Justin

    Everyone knows how warm wool is. The natural insulating properties of wool along with the ability to wick sweat and keep your skin dry has made it a favorite among hikers, backpackers, campers, etc. The only nameable downside to wool is the scratchy, itchy texture of the wool fibers. Synthetic fabrics can cause allergic reactions in the skin making them not an option form many. For others the scratchy, itchy feeling of wool is unbearable and not a good option either. Well, that's where Merino wool comes in. Merino wool comes from merino sheep. The wool fibers of merino sheep are finer and softer and non itchy making it the perfect natural solution to staying, warm, dry and comfortable. With merino wool, you get all the natural features of wool without the itch. So, the next time you are shopping for Wool Socks remember to look for Merino wool

    This post was posted in Merino Wool Socks, Socks

  • Outdoor Retailer Show Coming Up

    Posted on July 23, 2007 by Justin

    Alright all you outdoor enthusiasts! If you love outdoor gear, you don't want to miss this. Next month holds one of the largest and most exciting outdoor gear shows in the world. Hosted in Salt Lake City Utah on August 7-12, Outdoorretailer will be showcasing the outdoor industries latest and greatest outdoor gear. This event is held semi annually and is the place to go for all of the up and coming gear ranging from techi handheld navigation gadgets, to the newest fabric technology to keep you comfortable in the outdoors. August 7-8 is the "Open Air Demo" where you can actually try out and test all the latest outdoor gear from big names like Black Diamond, Kelty, The North Face and many others. August 9-12 is the indoor exibition where you can browse through thousands of new products that won't be on the market until next year. Some Manufacturers will even allow you to purchase samples of their products at wholesale. I was able to buy several items from Snowpeak that didn't end up on the market.

    You can get into the show free even if you are not a retailer or a manufacturer. All you have to do is sign up as a media group or some other non-buyer organization and you can get in for free. Time is running out. There are only 18 days until the event. Visit this link: for details and to register. Don't miss out!

    This post was posted in Uncategorized

  • Hiking Blogs

    Posted on March 26, 2007 by Justin

    Check out this new directory that keeps track of all the hiking, backpacking, and trail running blogs out there. HIKING BLOGS

    This post was posted in Hiking

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