The Outside Blog

Climbing : Jan 2010

Gear We Love: Flylow Dolce Vita Jacket

5100-2T Having lived in the same climate for the last five years, which is a new record in my adult life, I now feel adequately informed to finalize (for the moment) my quiver of ski gear and technical clothing. Here is one of the most recent jackets to earn a prime spot in the gear closet: the Flylow Dolce Vita Jacket. As a journalist, I often report on gear, which means that I test-drive quite a few items throughout the San Juan Mountains and at my home hill, Durango Mountain Resort. If it seems that my reviews up on this blog are mostly positive, it's because I pick my favorites to write about. There's no point in telling you about a jacket you shouldn't buy, right? 

Over the past few years I've tried a bunch of insulated ski jackets, and some honestly suck. I won't name names, but if they're not about as breathable as a trash bag, they're as stiff and loud as tin foil. I don't want to be scaring away the snow hares! It can't be rocket science to come up with a comfy, durable, warm, AND cute jacket, can it?  

Flylow is a startup outerwear company started by ski bums whose mission is to make burly but affordable gear for people who actually ski. A lot. We're not talking about the ski-three-times-a-year crowd. The Dolce Vita is one of Flylow's first girls' pieces (thanks for finally catering to the ladies, Flylow!) and I can say that they nailed it. 

It's warm enough for zero-degree days but it still breathes pretty well when I'm burning the BTUs on the downhills. Plus the soft and stretchy shell material blocks the wind but isn't all noisy when you move around. The best part is that it looks damn good on girls, if I do say so myself. I've gotten at least three (unsolicited!) compliments on its figure-accentuating look at the resort. It's always nice when people can identify you as a female from a distance. 

Flylow threw in a number of nifty features for good measure, like four internal pockets, extra-long pit zips, a hood that fits over a helmet but still cinches down for hat days, and a fleecey internal neck cuff that feels pretty nice on the cheeks. Plus there are wrist gaskets to keep drafts out of your sleeves. 

That said, all gear can be improved. I found this jacket a tad bulky and heavy for backcountry forays. When I'm moving against gravity, I prefer the lightest bang for my buck. (Admittedly, I rarely skin up with more than a base layer and a shell.) One other quibble: For those skiers who must have powder skirts, this isn't the jacket for you. It has a drawstring at the bottom hem but no powder skirt. 

For my needs, those are fair trade-offs, so this has become my go-to lift-lapping jacket. Backcountry skiers in colder climes could potentially make it an all-around jacket. But for $250, hell, it's an outrageous value. 

--Kate Siber

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Shaun White's Next for Olympics

Shaun White

Shaun White is the second to make the US Olympic Team, Burton announced Saturday. White snagged the win at the Grand Prix in Mammoth with a pair of double corks and a first-run score of 47. Meanwhile, Gretchen Bleiler came in first for the women, increasing her chances of making a second trip to the Olympics.

-- Lisa Lombardi

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The Gear Junkie Scoop: Preparing for Patagonia

Patagonia Race - Trekking
By Stephen Regenold

My plane ticket is booked. The training schedule I've committed to for months is winding down. The great adventure that is the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, a weeklong endurance event through Tierra del Fuego, Chile, kicks off on February 9. I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't scared.

Indeed, this race is the most ambitious--some might say crazy--event I have ever signed on to do. My four-person team will trek, bike, kayak, and climb in the forests and mountains of Patagonia for days on end. The race course will likely crest 400 miles in length.

But at least I should have the right gear for the job. Over the past two months, I've combed catalogs and phoned fellow gear junkies to come up with a best-of-the-best kit of equipment to battle exhaustion and the elements in the wilds of Patagonia.

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Grylls Bares All

Bear Grylls talks about the new season of "Man vs. Wild," broken bones, and why he doesn't let his wife watch the show in a new interview with ET. The interview was filmed during during a photo shoot for the May issue of Outside. Grylls last appeared in our November 2007 Survival issue.

Watch for our own exclusive video footage on the web site, coming soon.

-- Lisa Lombardi

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Testing for Exercise-Induced Asthma

A simple test for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma—previously performed on elite athletes—may now be ready for diagnosing the condition in the general public, according to a study done by the Ohio State Medical Center. The test involves forcing a patient to hyperventilate in a controlled setting for six minutes and then measuring lung function to see whether or not it decreased due to the stress. Until now, only elite athletes have been tested for exercise-induced asthma, but many people who are starting off 2010 with a new exercise regimen could be suffering from it, as well. If you notice wheezing, coughing, or a tightness in your chest when exercising, you should stop immediately. Also, know that the winter cold or chemicals used in a pool can make things worse.

-- Lisa Lombardi

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