When newbie mountaineers approach me about what type of apparel they should I buy, I tell them to put down all the magazines and stop gazing into the glossy displays at stores. You won’t find credible guides on how to spend a few thousand bucks worth of gear. It’s really easy to get drawn in by the massive and smart marketing campaigns run by the big boy manufacturers, who pay for premium shelf space and slick advertisements. I happen to take a prudent approach to investing my hard earned dollars in equipment and gear. Just like buying stocks, I don’t like overpaying for gear where I can quantify usage and value. This particularly holds true with different parts of the layering system when mountaineering. In most cases, you will spend 2-3 days attempting a summit one of the large peaks in North America. During expeditions, it’s not uncommon for you to be living out of your backpack for several weeks. Therefore, I tend to place primacy on certain types of apparel. This is where I am willing to pay a premium.
Baselayers, footwear and insulation- this where I spend most of my money. When you’re at high altitude, there is no substitute for making sure that these three essential types of equipment work properly. It’s crucial that Baselayers provide both proper insulation and breathability, to keep you warm in extremely cold conditions and to keep you cool when you get overheated from exertion.
I was introduced to Terramar only 3 months ago at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. Terramar Sports was founded in 1971 and has perfected the science of keeping people warm, dry and comfortable. Back in the 80’s, Terramar was the first to employ pure Chinese silk in its underwear products, when it introduced its Thermasilk® line. It quickly became the first and largest seller and marketer of pure silk knitted underwear in the world. Terramar followed up with the development of EC2® Qwik-Dri™ moisture management technology. This new technology was designed to actually pull moisture away from the body. About 5 years ago, Terramar introduced a line of Body-Sensors® base layer garments and a new line of 100% Pure Australian Merino Wool base layer garments called Thermawool®.
I put Terramar to the test at Big Sky Montana this past weekend. Big Sky, at over 11,000 feet can get pretty chilly. As a telemark skier, I only wear three light layers. Us freeheelers are probably working about 3 times harder than alpine skiers (no offense, but it’s true). The Body-Sensors® baselayer kept me cool while charging down the bumps, and also did a great job of keeping my core temperature warm on the lift. My long-underwear and top uses EC2® Qwik-Dri fabrics that feel great against the skin. At times, you won’t even notice you’re wearing them. On Sunday, the temperatures got in to the single digit range. I opted for the Geo Fleece which is a 95% micro-polyester, 5% spandex blend. Although heavier in weight, I could barely feel the fleece.
I came away very impressed with the performance of the garments. These items will be in my pack this summer when I climb Rainier.