Adventure Ambassador Harrison Candlin recently took to Californian high ground with his partner Madison for some R&R and to capture the incredible views of the Sierra Mountains. We gave them some fleece jackets to test, which proved to be up for their adventure.
Warmth In The Sierra Nevada
If there is one essential item for life high up in the mountains, it's a fleece. Even during a Californian summer, from dusk to dawn the temperatures drop when you're at elevation. Over the past month, we have been testing out the Women's Kodiak and Men's Pro Elite Climber fleece jackets in the Sierra Mountains. From sunrise rock scrambles to evening back country hikes, our jackets have not only looked great but kept us warm and comfortable countless times, and we have come to rely on them daily.
Women's Kodiak Fleece: Words From Madison
Before sunrise in Yosemite, IT IS COLD! My favourite morning wearing the Kodiak fleece was on the hike to Sentinel Dome. It was dark and chilly when we left the car, and wearing only a Merino T-shirt under the jacket I was hesitant to believe that the fleece alone would keep me warm enough. To my surprise, it did and for the 4km hike and for the 45 minutes standing on the cold granite waiting for the sun to hit us, its insulation (assisted by the elasticated hem and cuffs) allowed my body warmth to stay trapped inside. And despite the warmth, thanks to the breathability of the fabric, at no point did I overheat from the fast-paced walking. The morning sky was cloudy and the winds were blowing, but nonetheless I was warm, and with my hands in the soft pockets and zip right at the top, I could barely feel the wind.
While the jacket can't be classified as lightweight or compact (weighing in at 564g), it definitely makes up for it in comfort and warmth. This fleece is the most comfortable I have ever worn - the soft high pile, Polartec® fabric is super stretchy and caters to any movements, which makes it ideal for hiking and climbing. The design is inspired by the fluffy coat of the Alaskan Kodiak bear. The breathability means that even when on the move, you won't overheat. I have to recommend the Rhubarb colour for this one - it really stands out, looks great in photos, and the retro logo is such a nice touch.
Men's Pro Elite Climber Fleece: Words From Harrison
For months, if not years, I've been in search for the ultimate fleece that I can depend on in all climates and situations. I've owned many - some too rigid, some too thin and some had terrible zips. Not what I was after. However, the Men's Pro Elite Climber fleece is the perfect balance of comfort, rigidity and warmth. It's also considerably light for its size and thickness. It has a soft material build but with durable strength, and incorporates some little details that makes life a bit easier, like the larger zips ends that are easier to grab with gloves on and the elasticated wrist cuffs that prevents the fleece from moving up and down my arms.
The velour-lined high pile neckline keeps my neck warm and snug, which means I don't need a scarf or a down jacket with a hood for neck protection. From my experience using it, it's also pretty quick drying. I wore it in a light rain shower and after 20 minutes it was dry again. There is nothing worse than wet gear staying wet. The fabric of the Pro Elite Climber is pill resistant which is a nice, and necessary, added touch. I hate when fabrics pill, it looks cheap and nasty. Over the last two months we've made some rough ascents, grazing up against granite rock and squeezing our way through tight sections, but the fleece has sustained no abrasion damage and I now know I can rely on it surviving countless knocks and scratches. Overall, it's a great piece of kit that makes me know I'm wearing a 'pro' piece of equipment. My rating? 5 stars.
All images courtesy of Harrison Candlin