Why You Should NOT Wear Summer-weight Merino Wool

Summer-weight wool is not for the uninformed.

********** ORIGINALLY POSTED JUNE 26, 2013 **********

It’s been said that wool is a gateway to the heavier stuff. Start out wearing wool in the summer and before you know it, you’ll be sporting balaclavas at afternoon barbeques and parkas long before Labor Day.

Yeah, it’s true. Wool can lead you to a life of warmth, which sad to say, can be overdone.

It’s a treacherous line we walk when we start playing fast and loose with traditional fabric designations. Man, you’ve got to keep your head on straight. Just like the best things in life, wool in summer is a game of education and moderation.

 image

(Photo: Archer)

Summer-weight wool is not for the weak. Your average oily…err… synthetic short sleeve women’s technical top weighs in around 4-oz. An Ibex women’s, short sleeve Seventeen.5 Merino wool shirt packs on an additional 0.64-oz. That’s the equivalent of carrying an extra 2-3 grapes on your back (grapes, as in wine, snacks, yumminess).

Summer-weight wool is not for the adamant anti-fashionista. If you want your clothes to scream, “I’m an outdoor athlete, as you can see by my technical seaming and boxy silhouette,” Ibex summer-weight wool is not for you. The texture and drape of Merino wool, together with Ibex styling, mean people won’t know if you just came from the coffee shop or from flashing a 5.13. Sorry, we do things more like this.

Summer-weight wool is not for those who don’t sweat. Since wool has natural anti-bacterial qualities, wool gear fights off odor like Wonder Woman fighting off death rays with her bracelets. If you always smell like sweet honeysuckle pinched from the vine – even after a 10-mile trail run – you don’t need us.

Summer-weight wool is not for the uninformed. Technically, this isn’t really true. But before you open the door to summer-weight Merino wool, it’s helpful to know that not all wool is created equally. To maximize comfort and understand the moderation curve of which wool to where and when (…wow!), here’s what you need to know:

·      Micron: This is the diameter measurement of the individual wool strands. Summer-weight wool will clock in around 18.5-microns and under. 17.5 is crazy low and is as soft as your well-worn cotton t-shirt.

·      Quality: Here’s where it gets tricky. Not every strand of fiber in 17.5-micron wool will be 17.5-microns –some will be larger (more coarse) and some will be small (booyah!). Bottom line: there’s a sliding scale of quality even among similarly named wools. Find a manufacturer you like and trust.

If you want the wool (as most sane people do), you’ve gotta make sure you can handle the wool.  Start by visiting this page: http://shop.ibex.com/Why-Merino-Wool-In-The-Summer

Ibex is Biking to Work in May

May is National Bike to Work Month for most of the nation. That sounds auspicious indeed, but for lots of folks around the country, special calendar designation doesn’t factor into their daily routine. These are the folks who get out of bed, get ready for the day, and always throw a leg over the bike for the ride to work. To get a better picture of what it’s like to opt outside on the way to work, we asked our own Ibex employees what factors into their decisions to ride to work versus sitting in traffic.

Lisa-Marie, Ibex Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail

What has influenced your choice to skip the car commute? I live in Seattle and parking is awful to say the very least. I hate trying to find parking before or after my day at work, so riding or running just seems to make sense for me. I now live less than two miles from work, so when I ride I tend to take a fun detour on my way…like 12 miles out of the way! LOL

The Indie top is an Ibex favorite

Do you have some favorite layering pieces when you’re bike commuting? Well because I wear Ibex at work, I just toss on my Izzi tights and an Indie…I love, love my Indies! I have three now and have only been working here 3-ish months. If it’s raining, which it does like every day from Nov-April, I don’t always ride as much and just run to work wearing the same pieces. If it’s just light rain, then I have a rain shell I toss on.

What does your ride to work look like? To work, it’s on road and with traffic, but Seattle also has amazing bike lanes to make biking a little more road-friendly. We also have a trail called the Burke Gilman Trail which is right behind the store. After work, I can jump on that to get in a fun, longer ride and then hop back on the road to head home.

Sean Malone, Ibex Denver, Colorado

When and why did you start bike commuting? I have commuted by bicycle for many years. I started riding to school as a young teen, later in high school and then in college when I didn’t have a car. As an adult, I started commuting to work and realized how enjoyable it is; no traffic, the opportunity to be closer to nature and the city, and the additional benefit of exercise. What can you tell us about your ride to work? My commute right now is right about five miles, which in reality isn’t too far. Sometimes I will extend the commute to get a bit longer ride in. Other times I’ll stop for a coffee or run a quick errand. Fortunately, Denver has great bike paths, lanes and routes making interaction with cars minimal, however I do ensure my safety at busy intersections by making myself visible and by making sure drivers acknowledge my presence. On occasion, I will change up the route in to see other neighborhoods and for a little variety. What keeps you riding the bike vs. hopping in the car on a daily basis? By commuting to work and other places like the supermarket, coffee shop, etc. I have made a choice to reduce how much gasoline I use, but more importantly, it enables me to get additional exercise. Quite often the commute by bike is faster than driving. Also, it’s just plain cool to ride a bike!

Michael Logan, Ibex White River Junction, Vermont

Ibex headquarters in White River Junction, Vermont

Can you tell us about how you started riding your bike to work? I started bike commuting to Ibex in April 2015. There are many reasons why I started, including my desire to lessen my footprint, getting daily exercise, self-reliance, fresh air, some “me” time, and the fact that I only live nine miles away from work. To sum it up, I commute because I want to reduce my impact on the environment, get exercise, and, in my mind, it’s the right thing to do.

The Trio shorts are a three-season staple

Why do you ride your bike instead of driving to work? I’m going to be honest: I don’t commute via bike every day. There have been times when I’ve ridden five days a week, but that’s not every week. Why do I stick with it? Because I can do it. There are certainly days when I don’t want to ride, but once I’m on the bike I immediately start feeling better.

Vermont can present some interesting weather conditions. What kind of clothing selections work best for you when you’re bike commuting? I pretty much bike exclusively in Ibex. My go-to layers for three seasons are the Trio Shorts with an Indie Full Zip. I also have another Ibex half-zip jersey that I like a lot for when it’s really hot. I pair these with our leg and knee warmers when it’s cooler (30s for knee warmers, 20s for leg warmers), and when it’s below 20 degrees, I wear the El Fito full length tight. If it’s in the single digits, I pair those with a Woolies 1 Bottom, or layer them over a pair of leg warmers. I do have a simple nylon shell for extra coverage in light rain, or to just take the chill off of the initial morning ride.

 

Vermont presents interesting road conditions in mud season.

Outdoor Recreation—Shaping Economies of Tomorrow

Stewardship is part of the Ibex manifesto and we believe deeply in environmental conservation and protecting our wild places. Being outside exploring the natural world is engrained in who we are as people as well as what we are as a company. The ability to wander a wide-open landscape is not something we take for granted and it is the reason that Ibex stands up for public lands protection.

We recently opened a new store in Colorado, the only state in the nation that has a designated Public Lands Day, coming up on May 20. It’s also one of only a handful of states that has an office in place to act as a liaison between the outdoor recreation economy, public lands protection and the communities of people who live there.

The State of Colorado aligns itself with the outdoors

We were fortunate enough to speak with Luis Benitez, the director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Office to learn more about lands protection, how it relates to the outdoor recreation industry, and how participation in important economic and environmental conversations can affect positive outcomes for all of us.

Can you tell us what you do in your role with the State of Colorado?

I work for the office of outdoor industry for the state; it’s one of three states that have this role, (Utah and Washington state are the other two.) There are six others that are considering the inclusion of this role. Ultimately the reason my office exists is that it’s a direct reflection of just how much the outdoor recreation industry brings to our economy, our culture and our communities. We focus on economic development, conservation and stewardship, and education and workforce training.

What happens on Public Lands Day in Colorado?

Well, it’s a campaign to really make sure people are getting out and recreating on public lands. We’re going to be focusing on that, so admissions (to parks and monuments) will be either discounted or free of charge, then ultimately trying to get kids outside. Really, it’s a concerted effort to make sure people understand what our state public lands are and how to utilize and recreate on them.

Why does it make sense for a brand like Ibex that is passionate about public lands protection and environmental issues to be in Colorado vs. another state?

My goal is to grow the overall outdoor recreation economy. When it comes to locating in a state like Colorado, I think we’re kind of at the forefront of the conversation for the outdoor industry, for their stances on public lands, to innovation and entrepreneurship, to having the kind of community and population that’s deeply invested in and connected to the outdoor recreation industry. We want anybody who would look at our state and say, “gosh, if we’re involved in this industry, we’d like to be on the leading edge of what’s possible and we should really consider going there.”

The Outdoor Industry Association recently released some impressive numbers relating to the outdoor recreation economy. How do you reconcile these with historic economic drivers and enter the conversation of the economic, environmental and social impacts that industries are creating?

I think what we’re asserting here in Colorado is a blended economy. I think the reality is that we’ve drawn too many hard, fast lines in the sand for too long…I think that’s myopic.

I believe the responsible approach is to say this (the outdoor recreation industry) is a significant portion of our economy. It drives a lot more than just GDP; it drives health and wellness, it drives manufacturing, and it drives talent development. It drives all of these things, so I think the important thing is that all the different economies talk and figure out what’s best for their state.

States in the West have the most public land, so it makes sense that the issues of outdoor recreation and lands protection are top-of-mind talking points in states like Colorado. Do you get the sense that this is a conversation that resonates across the country, not just the intermountain West?

I think it’s being focused on a little bit more and will continue to be, just because of the fact that people are paying attention to the numbers that are coming out and want to know what it’s about. So, right now the Outdoor Industry Association is releasing those numbers, but ultimately what you’re going to have is the Department of Commerce researching those numbers. And when that happens, there’s going to be a different story. That will be a deeper understanding of what goes on.

Is there a closing message for those who are in tune with this debate of lands protection and outdoor recreation, trying not to frame it as outdoor vs. other industries? How do we take the momentum that so many voices have gained in the last year and move it forward?

I think you really hit the nail on the head. The big piece of this will be what happened with the outdoor industry tradeshow. People will start voting with their feet and start moving things around in the interest of the communities that are most important to them. That will be something that people will continue to pay attention to and continue to look for.

Laurie Strongin is Truly a Mega Mom

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, we thought we would reach out to our Ibex community and ask a simple question: Who would you like to nominate for special Mother’s Day recognition? We got a lot of responses suggesting some super moms out there, but of all the nominations, there was one that truly stood out. Her name is Laurie Strongin, she is a mother, and this is her remarkable story:

Can you tell us where you live and who you are?

I live in Washington, DC. I’m the Founder and CEO of a nonprofit that is reinventing how hospitals care for seriously ill kids and their families through innovative programs that entertain, reduce stress and empower kids to be active participants in their own care. I’m also the mom of two amazing boys: Joe is 15 and Jack is 20.

You have an inspirational and moving story as the founder of a charitable organization named Hope for Henry. Can you tell us a little about it?

In 2002, my seven-year-old son Henry Goldberg died of Fanconi anemia, a rare and fatal disease. The following year, my husband Allen Goldberg and I created the Hope for Henry Foundation. We considered tackling the disease that took our son’s life. Instead we found inspiration in Henry’s upbeat attitude and channeled our energies into promoting the transformative power of a poorly understood phenomenon we had witnessed first-hand – play and fun in the life of all children facing fatal illness.

Since 2003, Hope for Henry has improved the lives of more than 25,000 children at hospitals in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and other cities around the country.

(more…)

The Mechanics of Mud Running: 5 Tips

1. Comfortable Kicks

Shoe companies will tell you there’s a shoe for every occasion and weather. Things like lug pattern, water proof-ness and drop. But in my book there’s only two: shoes you feel fast in (lightweight, low drop, and a badass color way) and “SUVs” (cushy, durable, built for the long haul). As you might imagine, running in bad weather and mud (or snow) is for SUV shoes. It might sound counterintuitive; a light shoe will make you more fleet of foot and help you step more quickly—instead of sink—in mud and muck. This approach actually does work…for maybe the first 1-2 minutes of your run. After that, no matter how light the shoe is, it inevitably becomes heavy and stout just like the durable SUV shoe. My suggestion: save the fast shoes for dry days when you’re ready to fly on the trails and run the SUVs on days they’re intended for: the slow, muddy slog.

DSC09700

2. Sweat Your Socks

Point #1 illustrates that when mud is involved, any shoe – no matter the size or weight – will essentially take on the environment (pun intended) and be neutralized. But where there’s mud there is usually snow or puddles. These elements will eventually saturate the shoes’ upper and soak your socks. As the wetness sets in, it’s your sock selection that will have a bigger impact on your running enjoyment. It’s no wonder we’re partial to wool, but in muddy conditions it’s a fiber that is blister-preventing and softer than a synthetic running sock. Use a tall sock or one with a 3-5” cuff rather than no-shows to get extra abrasion resistance to your ankles and legs.

3. The Unusual Sore Spots

Trail running, compared to road, comes with demands on DSC09694different muscle groups. Muddy trail training adds another variability since balance and foot fall is so inconsistent. But the soreness and muscle activation is worth it! The sensations you’ll feel—typically in your feet, ankles and calves—will wake up proprioceptors (the stimuli your body gets from impact and agile motion) that will help with balance and injury-prevention when conditions are normalized in the drier spring, summer and fall.

4. One Less Layer

When you’re in muddy conditions you’re probably going to be working harder than a dry run so aim to dress for higher-than-average sweat rate; and even though the air temperature might be chilly, shorts or 3-quarter length tights are recommended over pants. Combined with tall socks (see #2), you’ll move through the muck with more ease while keeping the abrasion-factor low.

5. Ankle Weights = Strength

Resistance training in running is not the most common thing, especially in trail running where vertical gain in the landscape comes with the sensation of resistance all by itself. Some runners (usually racers) might wear a loaded-up pack or run with poles to add resistance weight or better distribute the energy to the arms when training for an event. But running in mud adds an accumulation of weight and resistance to your shoes which will make you move more slowly and require more energy. This “natural resistance” is a fast and free way to add leg strength and force you to adopt a new cadence (generally one that adds efficiency since your body will be looking to offset the weight). This is a great way to examine your stride and look for new, efficient ways to move that might actually improve your dry-trail performance, too.

Try Packing Something New

I’m always willing to try out new gear, but to be honest, most of the time, I know exactly what I’m going to pack for a given trip. I have a few tried-and-true staples that have never let me down, and more often than not, I throw them in my backpack without thinking twice. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in the outdoors and spending most of my free time there, too, so I think I’ve earned the right to be picky about what I wear in the field. It’s rare that a new piece of gear makes its way into the fold.

Walker_Orizaba

Photo: Emma Walker

As I packed my bags for a recent trip to Mexico to climb Pico de Orizaba, I tossed my brand-new Ibex Indie Hoody onto the pile. Full disclosure: I’ve long been a fan of lightweight, inexpensive synthetic base layers, but I figured anyone stuck in a tent with me would appreciate that Merino wool doesn’t stink like synthetics. (In fact, lucky for my tentmates, this held true throughout the trip.) My favorite features: Merino wool is really soft. I have pretty sensitive skin (and accompanying miserable memories of itchy rashes caused by the wool layers of my childhood!), but this layer was super comfortable next to my skin, even when I wore (and sweated in) it four days in a row. It also didn’t chafe on my shoulders or hips under the weight of a super-heavy mountaineering pack—no uncomfortable rashes or weird imprints on my skin. The hood actually fits under a helmet! Hoods are so often too bulky to fit under a climbing helmet, but not quite big enough to wear over. The Indie hood is snug enough to fit comfortably under a helmet and keep my ears warm without uncomfortable seams or tags.

Walker_Orizaba summit

Photo: Elizabeth Williams

It really did help me regulate temperature. Weather at high altitude is notoriously finicky; we often experienced fog and graupel, followed by glaring sun and a spike in temperature, all within the span of ten or fifteen minutes. But I didn’t have to keep adjusting my layers. Even when sweaty, my Indie kept me reasonably warm, and when the sun came out, it wasn’t blisteringly hot. Thumb holes and the 9.5-inch zipper also make it easy to make this baselayer warmer or cooler as needed. The smell factor—I can’t emphasize this enough. Since we live in base layers for days or sometimes even weeks between washings, they can get pretty ripe. I’m not saying my Indie still smelled like roses when I got home to do laundry, but I found it had significantly less odor than my base layers typically do. Also, unlike most of my synthetic base layers, it didn’t retain a trace of the smell after washing.

Indie_Moab

The Indie was just as good biking in Moab

The weekend after I got back from climbing Orizaba, I headed to Moab for a weekend of mountain biking with some friends. Springtime in the desert means warm days and chilly nights, so the Indie was a no-brainer. I wore it to keep the sun off my arms on a 65-degree day in the sun, and four hours of hard biking later, I was still perfectly comfortable. It literally performed as well in the desert as it did on a glacier at nearly 18,500 feet. The Indie Hoody has made its way to the top of my packing list, regardless of the destination.

The Changing Climate of Powder Chasing

As scientists around the world continue recording the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans, winter sports enthusiasts start getting nervous. What will winters look like in the future and how will that affect those powder days we all love? To get some answers, we talked to someone whose career is all about forecasting skiing conditions.

Who are you, where do you live, and what do you do?

My name is Joel Gratz. I was obsessed with skiing and weather from the age of four. I went to Penn State to study meteorology, then attended grad school at CU Boulder, and started a snow forecasting email list in 2007. A decade later, that email list has turned into OpenSnow, a website and mobile app on which I and other forecasters direct over 2 million skiers to the best snow.

Joel Gratz

(more…)

Meet the Designers Behind Ibex

There’s so much that goes into making a single garment, much less an entire product line. For our designers, their inspiration is built into the threads of each product. So what drives them to source the finest in innovative materials? How do they bring magic to the process of producing the finest Merino wool active and casual wear on the planet?

We spoke with three of our designers to find out.

Read on to find out more and then join these designers in our Boston, Seattle and Denver stores where they will share their inspiration first-hand (and a drink!), and listen to your feedback. You can be one of the first to see the all-new pieces for this spring and summer, and get a first-hand account from the designers themselves about everything that went into creating this unique collection. Event details below.

Designers
(more…)

How You Can Advocate for Public Lands

Rather than bury this resource deep in a story, let’s get straight to the point: Our public lands are threatened in a major way right now. Go here to email, snail mail, call, fax (search Google for “fax machine near me” for a laugh) your congress person to let them know how critical public lands are to our way of life. For us at Ibex this issue is especially critical; it’s even written in our own manifesto (see: Why Ibex challenges itself to make responsible decisions). You simply can’t put a price on these lands.

So, seriously. Leave this page. Now. What are you waiting for?

Now, once that is done, we invite you to keep reading. We don’t have to remind you of the impact the presidential election has had on this conversation but it certainly tees up a reminder to pay attention to how we got here and where we’re headed if we don’t stand up to the pressure.

How We Got Here

The United States National Park Service celebrated its one hundred year anniversary last year. It was an auspicious mile marker and signaled a public desire not only to explore the great lands of our once young country but also to preserve the magnificent landscapes, wildlife and natural resources that had been discovered in the process. The protection of public lands was built on a premise that has gone unchanged: our country’s resources should be used to serve the greatest good of the people. The “good” in this equation being the intrinsic need all creatures on this earth have to enjoy nature in ways big and small, inwardly and outwardly.

In 1872 Yellowstone National Park was declared the world’s first national park.

(more…)

Enjoy the Flavor of Vermont

Vermont is home to some of the oldest ski areas in the United States. They crisscross the big, rolling mountains with runs that cut through the seemingly endless New England hardwood forests. It’s this unique combination of pioneering ski history and the abundance of maple trees that creates the unique flavor of skiing found only in the great state of Vermont.

2017-03-20-JA-maple-bragg-0017-3

Maple syrup is a springtime ritual in Vermont. PC: John Atkinson

(more…)

The Ibex CloseKnit Weaves Social Responsibility Into Company Culture

The fibers of Ibex’s relationships–with our farmers, manufacturers, designers, among our staff, and with our customers–are woven into every product that leaves the factory. In the fall of 2016, the Ibex leadership established CloseKnit, an employee-run corporate social responsibility committee that aspires to strengthen these bonds and create new ones.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. To friends of Ibex, the formation of CloseKnit comes as no surprise: the company’s core values of making great product while taking care of the people and places around them are fertile soil for social engagement.

This year, the CloseKnit team will focus their energy on three projects that will illuminate the company’s mission of building Merino wool clothing for people pursuing adventures outside.  

close knit team

Left to right: Caitlin Quinn, Returns & Warranty Manager; Chelsea Pawlek, Supply Chain Manager; Michael Logan, Dealer Services; Keith Anderson, VP of Marketing; Regan Betts, Director of Brand; Lori Charlonne, Graphic Designer; Misti Martin Berry, Sr. Product Manager; Jake Quigley, Dealer Services; Dogs: Vaida, Rusty, Wiley

(more…)