Tag Archives: gear

Best Men’s Patagonia Ski Gear 2017

Let me preface by saying that, as a reader of my blog, you know I don’t bullshit around here. If I’m calling something the “best” then it’s a piece of gear I use, trust, and rely on. As a full time ski instructor at Deer Valley Resort, I spend more than 100 days on skis every year and my cold weather gear either keeps up with me or gets donated to the second hand store.

This isn’t another Amazon affiliate review from Joe Schmoe’s website – this is the real deal. Real advice from a backpacking guide and ski instructor you can count on to cut to the chase. So let’s get to it:

Patagonia Men’s R1 Fleece Pullover

Made from polyester, this excellent winter insulation layer is perfect for several reasons.

Patagonia's R1 Pullover

Patagonia’s R1 Pullover

First, Patagonia was one of the earliest makers of “waffle” pattern polyester insulation layers in this fashion. The inner fabric of the R1 fleece line is made of raised square grids which significantly improve the insulative value of the garment.

Second, Patagonia’s style fits my slender, longer frame quite well so it’s great for any of you “athletic” fit people out there.

After years of owning and using the R1 pullover, I have yet to see any wear or degrading of materials. I’ve taken this thing on so many trips I can’t even count and I’m not sure if it’s 4 or 7 years old at this point… I do know it’s still kicking strong and I doubt I’ll need to replace it any time soon.

To top this all off, they offer it in several variations and, while I own the R1 Pullover, if I could go back and buy the “right one” I would have gone with the R1 Fleece Hoody.

Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Jacket

This one is offered in two different flavors – synthetic or down (the down version is called a Down Sweater).

In case you’re not already aware of the difference here are the major points:


  • More Expensive
  • Most compressible
  • Higher insulation value
  • Loses almost all insulation value when wet


  • Less expensive
  • Slightly less compressible
  • Slightly lower insulation value
  • Loses less insulation value when wet

For mid-winter skiing there’s nothing wrong with down… I just opted for synthetic at the time because I wanted to save money and have more flexibility in using it for backpacking in the cold rainy off seasons.

Nano Puff Jacket

Nano Puff Jacket

I LOVE the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket for its absurd warmth. The jacket is comfy, highly durable, and warmer than it should be. This jacket lets absolutely no wind through (due to nylon outer and inner shells). Paired with a moderate helping of synthetic insulation this jacket will keep you roasting!

If money weren’t an obstacle and I could snag another jacket, I would grab the Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket and give it a try. Though I must say, the Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Hoody would be great for the added hood option.

Final Notes

If I had unlimited cash, I would most definitely try many other Patagonia ski apparel products. Even with access to great industry deals, I have to choose when and where to buy their often pricey gear.

At the right price, and after carefully considering what apparel I need, however, Patagonia gear has never let me down.

Maybe some day I’ll get the chance to test some of their other awesome looking goodies!

I usually use the R1 and Nano Puff with a hard shell jacket (I own several from various brands) as my full layering system for mid winter personal skiing and have never had a problem with this set up. It’s versatile, usually way too warm, and highly adaptable.


5 Pieces of Backpacking Gear You Can’t Live Without

#1. Tarp

Make your own silnylon tarp for a fraction of the price of a double wall tent and a fraction of the weight. Plus the weight per square foot of tarp versus tent is much lower. What that means is, more room under your tarp than in your tent, for less weight on your back.

Set up time of a tarp can be less than the simplest tent.

With no rigid poles, a tarp is just a big piece of fabric that can fill void spaces in your pack.

Start with Mountain Laurel Designs if you’re looking to buy a tarp.

#2. Dr. Bronners Castile Soap

Use it to sanitize your hands, brush your teeth, or check your air mattress for holes.

Dilute in a 1oz dropper bottle 1/3 Dr. Bronners and 2/3 water (by volume).

  • 5 drops on a dry toothbrush for toothpaste (don’t swallow it, and rinse mouth well)
  • 4 drops on wet hands before eating to keep yourself healthy (don’t forget to rinse your hands)
  • 6 drops in your pot or bowl to kill germs every few days, rinse well

#3. Hiking (Trekking) Poles

You’re hurting yourself (literally) by not using poles. While the exact number remains disputed, it is universally agreed upon that hiking poles do reduce stress on the body while hiking. Some speculate upwards of 25% stress reduction on the knees.

I recommend the Black Diamond Z Pole series. They pack down nicely to strap to the outside of my Gossamer Gear Gorilla (or Osprey Aether) when not in use I.E. boulder fields. The carbon versions weigh as little as 5oz per pole, which is important considering the energy expense of swinging any extra weight on your arms all day.

I bent my Black Diamond Distance poles (I didn’t have enough money for the carbon poles) by stupidly using them while glissading. Take my advice, pack these poles away when it would be wiser to use your hands. You and your poles will be the better for it. Going ultralight means knowing when (and when not) to use your gear.

Hiking poles are often a vital component of a good tarp pitch for me as well.

NOTE (12/4/14): I now highly recommend Gossamer Gear’s LT3C fixed length trekking pole for those with the budget and skill level to use them effectively.

#4. AquaMira

Forget pumps (heavy and bulky), gravity filters (unnecessarily complex and slow), or fancy UV light pens (unreliable and often ineffective).

AquaMira drops weigh 3oz (when full), never run out of batteries, take up less space than a headlamp, and will purify your water while you walk.

A single package of AquaMira drops will treat enough water to hike for “15-60 days“. In my experience, a new package of AquaMira will be used up in about 30-40 days on the trail.

Check out their site here.

NOTE (12/4/14): I now recommend bleach as a chemical purifier for backcountry travel. See my write up on my experience with bleach for water purification.

#5. Trail Runners

Forget hiking boots. With very few exceptions, they’re obsolete and ineffective in 3-season conditions.

Waterproof boots never keep the water out, the waterproofing wears out before the boot, and they invariably trap too much moisture inside the boot (from sweat). Also, THEY WEIGH A TON!

Weight on the feet is disproportionately more exhausting than weight carried on the torso.

Trail runners dry faster once wet, allow a much greater rate of transpiration, are more comfortable, cheaper, and (most importantly) can weigh 1/5 what a full boot does.

Once your pack weight is under 20lbs (hopefully closer to 10lbs), you won’t need the extra ankle support of a full boot.

Hit the trail with a pair of light runners, and you’ll never want to wear a boot again.