Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Quick Reminder about Brighton's Uphill Policy and Parking

Just a reminder to be courteous to ski patrollers, follow the rules, and park by the church when going to skin uphill at Brighton.  Please read the following link!:


Thanks!  Enjoy the new snow.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Utah Skimo Citizen Series Race #1 - Skin the Turkey

I don't have time to do a full race report, so here are some links to some other blogs with pictures and videos of the first Citizen Series race of the season.  There will be a total of 11 races throughout the year and they are a blast!




There were record crowds on Thanksgiving morning.  Nearly 100 people!  The Wasatch already has one of the strongest communities for Skimo in the country and it is growing quickly.

If you've never been out to these races, definitely come join in the fun.  The races are free (donations are great to help pay for insurance, but not required), there's always a lot of swag given away after the race, and it's a good excuse to get into the mountain for some exercise in the middle of a busy work week.

To join Utahskimo, go to Utahskimo.org and click "register."  It's a $30 fee which will get you a year membership, get you into each race for free (what a deal! 11 free races for FREE!), give you a 15% discount on all backcountry skiing and snowboarding and mountaineering equipment at GEAR:30, and, most importantly, it helps pay for insurance for the Citizen Series races and allows the Skimo scene in Utah to continue to grow.

For a calendar of all the Citizen Series Races, click here.  A few more races will be added shortly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bear 100 Interview

I've been meaning to post my race report from the Bear 100 Endurance Race to the blog, but I got half way done with it and haven't found the time to finish it off.  I did a little interview for a GEAR:30 Radio Podcast which, for the most part, covers my experience.  I still plan to finish and post my race report, but until then, here is a link to the interview:


When you go to the link, the podcast that is on the page is called "The Swap" and is not my interview.  It's supposed to be but there's something funky going on there. You have to click the lines in the upper righthand corner and then click on "Greg Reynolds-Bear 100 Interview".

For more information about the Bear 100, here is a link to the race website:


Also, for some other race reports about the same race (from people much faster than I am), check out these links:



Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Couple Pictures from Summer Adventures

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Doesn't bode real well for me.

I have had the best intentions to start posting regularly on the blog again.  I have failed miserably.  I have about 20 half-finished blog articles that have yet to be posted and I just haven't had time to finish any of them.  

Well, I have about 20 minutes tonight, so I thought I would simply post some pictures from some of my more recent adventures.  I am hoping that longer trip reports, gear reviews, etc. will follow, but I am not making any promises.

This was during our Grand Traverse in a day attempt in July.  I was not fit enough to complete the route in a day, but we were able to do the Cathedral Traverse in decent time.  Here I am on top of Teewinot with Owen and the Grand in the background.

Here I'm standing on top of Mt. Owen.  If I look a little fat in this picture that's because I am. 

Daniel, my climbing partner, is a much stronger climber than I am.  He quickly and effortlessly ran up Owen.  When I was at the final move to get to the summit, I got a little sketched by the exposure.  He dropped me a rope just in case.  I wouldn't have hesitated to pull the move in the past.  It's funny how a family changes one's perspectives.  I consider that a good thing.

Heading over to Gunsight Notch.  Daniel is in this picture.  Daniel is the director of the Weber State University Outdoor Program.  He runs an awesome program for students and the community.  About the nicest and most talented guy you'll ever meet, too.  It was fun to spend this time with him.

Daniel on top of the Grand.  We had intended to head up the Italian Cracks variation on the North Face of the Grand.  We ended up climbing the North Ridge.  The chimneys on the North Ridge were wet and tiring.  Daniel led and was psyched on the climbing even though we would have rather climbed the Italian Cracks.  I was less enthusiastic about the route and was wondering how it was ever considered a classic.  Now that I've forgotten how tired I was and how wet the chimneys were, I think I like the route.  Probably wouldn't intentionally climbing it again.  I'm excited to do the Italian Cracks though.

We headed down to the Lower Saddle and bivied for the night.  I was moving too slowly by that point to finish off the route in a day.  We decided to just run up the Middle Teton the next morning and head back home to family festivities.

Myself on top of the Middle Teton with the Grand in the background.

The next adventure worth sharing was a recent trip to the Cirque of the Towers with my family.  Because my wife was carrying our little boy, I got to carry my stuff, her stuff, Lincoln's stuff, and climbing gear.  I'm just not that tough of a person and this pack just about did me in.

70lbs is more than I've carried in a long time and more than I ever want to carry again.

Kelsey, Lincoln, and I on our way up over Jackass Pass.

The view of the Cirque of the Towers from Jackass Pass.  A few friends of mine just happened to be going to the Cirque the same days that I was going to be there with my family.  In spite of the fact that this was supposed to be a family backpacking trip, my wife gave me permission to climb with them for part of a day.  We headed up and did the East Ridge of Wolf's Head.

Heading up over Tiger's Tower between Pingora and Wolf's Head.  In the foreground is Joe Keeler and Ryan Thompson is in the background.

Myself, Wes, and Joe and we approach Wolf's Head.

Joe and I and the beginning of the Piton Pitch, enjoying the view of Bollinger Peak in the background.  Joe was really fun to climb with.  He has such a positive attitude and a lot of enthusiasm.  He's also a good climber.  The other two, Wes and Ryan, and great to climb with too, but Joe and I got to rope up together on this particular climb.

Wes, Joe, Ryan, and I enjoying the view on top of Wolf's Head.  It was an easy route to climb, but the beautiful views and great exposure made this a definite classic.

The view on the descent from Wolf's Head.

Kelsey and Lincoln going to sleep.  Lincoln is a great hiker.  He happily rides in the backpack all day.  Sleeping is another story.  We're still trying to figure that one out.  This picture was taken before Kelsey went to sleep.  She looks much less happy in the morning after a night with little sleep.

The Cirque of the Towers has to be one of the most beautiful places in the lower 48 states.  Every time I'm there I'm surprised by its beauty.  I will post a lot more pictures of this trip that were taken on my father-in-law's DSLR as soon as we exchange pictures.  They were absolutely spectacular.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Summer in a Nutshell and Upcoming Posts. . .

So, I have done a horrible job over the last 6 months or so keeping up on the blog.  The combination of a new business, a new baby, a new (old, but new to us) house we're remodeling a little bit, and wanting to spend all my free time with the family or in the mountains, I have all but forgotten about the blog.

Anyway, I wanted to briefly recap some of my summer events and mention a few posts that are coming down the pike.

So, I started out my spring and summer with the goal of running a 100 mile trail race in September and doing the Grand Traverse at the beginning of July.  This means that my free time has been spent doing local trail runs and bagging local peaks.  I have been averaging (up until a few weeks ago, anyway) about 60 miles and about 15-20k vert per week.  It's been fun to see the improvement in my cardio and ability to hike steep hills without getting winded or legs getting tired.  I hope that fitness translates on the skimo gear and with mountain boots on.

On the ridge just below Mt. Ogden

On Malan's Peak, on the way down from Mt. Ogden.

Looking north along the ridge toward Ben Lomond.

Heading back down from Ben Lomond looking south. 

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I headed to the Tetons to try our hand at the Grand Traverse in a day.  Well, we didn't get the Grand Traverse done, but we did the Cathedral Traverse in a day and headed up the Middle Teton the next day before heading home.  It was a great trip and learning experience, but I am definitely eager to get back there and try to finish the traverse.  A longer post with pictures is in the works.

A couple days after the Tetons I took my wife and little boy backpacking, along with some other family, up a local peak to celebrate Independence Day and watch the fireworks from above.  Our little boy is quite the little outdoorsman.  He is happiest when he is sitting in his backpack hiking around and he sleeps better in a tent than he does at home.  It was a fun trip.  We're looking forward to some longer outings later this summer.

Kelsey, Lincoln, and I right before heading up Ben Lomond.  Lincoln sporting his Julbo glasses.  Thanks again Kristen for hooking him up!

Lincoln loving the mountains.  

A have had the opportunity to test out the Aarn Guiding Light backpack, a Stephenson Warmlite Triple Bag, the Marmot Speedri Jacket, and a few other pieces of gear over the last year or so.  Those reviews are in the works and will hopefully be posted soon.

I am going to try to post about one or two times per week.  Hopefully that's doable.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thanks Andy and Jason for the Great Slideshow!

I just want to give a big thanks to the Dorais Bros' for their slideshow last week.  They did a great job.  We really appreciate them coming out and sharing their experience, pictures, and enthusiasm with the Ogden community.

We'd also like to thank Outdoor Research for their support.  They have been an awesome partners to work with and donated some great swag for the event.

If you haven't seen their blogs yet, you're missing out.  There are very few blogs that I've found that keep me as excited and motivated to get into the mountains as their blogs do.

Here are the links again:



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dorais Brothers' Slideshow - Tuesday, May 7 at 7pm

GEAR:30 and Outdoor Research are proud to present The Dorais Brothers' Slideshow, "Mountain Endurance: Red-lining in the Wasatch."

GEAR:30 came up with the title and flyer.  The humble guys that the Dorais Bros are, they thought the flyer sounded a bit exaggerated.  For those of us that follow their blogs, we understand that it's accurate.

Anyway, come join us!

Here's a link to their blogs:

My Thoughts on this year's Piolets d'Or 2013 Winners

This might be old news. . . it's an old post too that I just didn't get around to finishing and publishing.

Participation trophies were handed out at this year's Piolets d'Or, thereby making the award, well, much less valuable.


Now, I have been a fan of the Piolets d'Or award for years.  I felt like it was a good way to recognize people who have accomplished incredible things in the mountains.  It has encouraged climbers to push their own limits and the limits of the sport.  It has encouraged climbers to expand their vision of what is possible.  It has now become a participation trophy.

I'm sure my opinion means little to most people, especially to those that are involved in choosing the Piolet d'Or winners, but that's the nice thing about blogs; if you don't want to hear it, don't read it.

In the article on Alpinist, it is stated that the Piolet d'Or has adopted a non-competitive, "everybody wins" approach to climbing, discouraging competition in the sport.  Marko Prezelj chose not to accept his Piolet d'Or a few years ago because he said something about not liking the rivalry that develops between climbing teams because they are all vying for the coveted award.  He said that it encourages drama and winners and losers are judged.

Well, I think it's great that Prezelj has his opinion and that he acted upon his convictions, but I strongly disagree.

If people feel like they've lost because somebody else won, that's a personal pride issue, not an award issue.  If somebody feels like an award is causing an unhealthy rivalry among climbing teams, that's a personal problem.  It's not the award causing those feelings, that is the climber's pride and ego getting in the way.  Pride says, "if you succeed, then I am a failure."  I have never once felt that way while climbing with others or hearing about others' successes in the mountains.

One of the greatest things about the climbing community that I belong to (and I thought it was this way everywhere) is that everybody wants everybody to succeed.  We all celebrate each others' successes.  There's never the feeling of failure when somebody else succeeds.

There is also competition among our community.  Recently we had a bouldering competition as part of the Ogden Climbing Festival.  Though each climber was hoping to win, all of the climbers were cheering each other on, wanting each other to climb their best.

Having an award like the Piolet d'Or is not about pointing out those that don't win; it's about celebrating those that have succeeded in pushing the sport the most.  There's no shame in climbing an incredible route, being nominated for a Piolet d'Or, and then not winning the ultimate prize.

But, when you start handing awards out to everybody, it devalues the award.  Even if everybody is worthy of winning the award, the award is not worth as much to the sport or those that are in the running.  The "everybody wins"/participation trophy approach is the quickest way to make the award irrelevant and encourage mediocrity or at least stop encouraging excellence.

Reward the excellence of the best climbs by nominating them for the Piolet d'Or, but then recognize the very best of these top climbs with the actual award.  It encourages future climbers to push their personal limits and the limits of the sport.

I hope that the participation trophy approach is a one-time thing and doesn't become the standard.  If so, I imagine somebody else with some other award will eventually step up to recognize the best climb, it will become the most sought after award, and people will start to forget about the Piolet d'Or.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Metamucil Therapy

This is a re-post from February 9, 2012.  I had forgotten about it until I ran into somebody that had read the blog and mentioned he enjoyed this article, and that he had tried it out with some success.  I posted it back when about seven people (all of which are family members) read my blog.  I am up to about 12 people now, so for the five that haven't read this article, here you go.  Maybe it can enhance your future outdoor experiences.

Metamucil Therapy

Without going into too much detail about my own digestive system, I want to share something that makes my multi-day outdoor outings much more enjoyable.  One of the many great outdoor innovations (debatable) of our time is the freeze-dried, just-add-boiling water backpacking food.  It is light, easy to prepare, pretty tasty, etc.  But like most food you find today, one thing freeze-dried food lacks is fiber.  Most people get the majority of their fiber from vegetables and some fresh fruits.  In the mountains, however, it is difficult to take fresh fruits and vegetables.  Vegetables generally don't have enough calories to be worth their weight and bulk to carry.  Fruits are usually heavy and sometimes hard to keep from spoiling or getting smashed.  Combine this with the fact that many foods that are great for the mountains, especially during winter (proteins and fats, like cheese, meats, etc), often have the opposite effect of the fruits and veggies, and you have a recipe for, at the least, discomfort, and at the most, digestive disaster (which isn't pretty on multiple levels).

Last year, while camping at Ingraham Flats on Mt. Rainier, our group was sharing a camping area with a guided group of about 15 people.  Of course, while camping on a glacier, there aren't too many places (one, to be exact) to go to do your business.  That one place is right out in front of everybody.  So, when you walk over to, well, you know, you simply inform everybody that you're dropping your pants and everybody else turns around (hopefully).  I don't know about you, but I enjoy my privacy while #2ing.  So, I hope, when I get over to take care of business, it goes quick and clean and nobody sees anything.  Well, imagine (figure of speech, probably not worth really imagining) you just hiked up to Ingraham Flats (or 14 camp, or any other glacier with other people), you have to go to the bathroom, you've eaten a lot of cheese and other calorie-rich, fiber-poor foods, you haven't been able to eat many fruits or vegetables, and there are people around.  In your head you're praying that the whole process takes less than 30 seconds, but you know that's not likely.  Bad situation.  You'd probably almost rather hike back down to Camp Muir to use the solar toilets.

Ok, so when you're in the mountains and not on a glacier and it's time to find some privacy, maybe it's not as big of a deal to keep it under 30 seconds, or a minute.  It is, however, much more enjoyable when the process is clean and comfortable.  It makes hiking more comfortable, cleaning up leftover bathroom supplies easier, etc.  A nice, comfortable two-zy can be quite an enjoyable process, especially if the view is good.  It's a nice change from staring at the wall of a bathroom.

A poo with a view, Avalanche Canyon, Tetons

Digestive health is simply a small detail that nobody talks about that can make a trip more or much less enjoyable.

In order to minimize my bad outdoor bathroom experiences and take full advantage of potential good experiences (i.e. good views), I do what I call, "Metamucil Therapy."  The idea is simple.  About a week before the trip, start taking metamucil.  Don't go overboard, but be consistent.  Make sure your digestive system is working well.  Then, when you get into the mountains, keep taking it.  You may need to up the dosage a little to get the same desired effect as you did at home with a healthier diet.  Metamucil is not like most other laxatives on the market.  It doesn't cause diarrhea (at least it shouldn't).  It's bulk-forming and softening.  That's why I use it instead of other fiber supplements while in the mountains.  And it tastes better than a lot of other fiber options, in my opinion.

It's a good idea to try it out before your trip.  It may take some time for your body to get used to it and there's a small chance that it just won't work well for you.  But if it does work, what a great outdoor skill to improve.  I use this system on pretty much every trip I go on that is over more than about 2 days.  It has allowed for consistent sub-30 second bm's, which is key when other people are around and there's no escape to seclusion.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Most Recent and Most Exciting Adventure

I got a phone call from my wife yesterday as she was driving back from Salt Lake City, letting me know she was having contractions and was headed to the hospital.  Three hours later, we had a new baby boy!

I don't care what other people say or think - fatherhood and children are 1 million times better than any mountain adventure I've ever had, and this is only day 1.

Lincoln Mac Reynolds is his name, we think.  He was 6lb 10oz, 19.5 inches long.  Born at 36 weeks.

Here are a few pictures:

Proud New Papa

Happy New Mama.

Healthy New Baby

Everybody racing to be the first on Facebook with the announcement (this was not staged until I was about to take a picture and then the last person but up their phone).

Lincoln Mac Reynolds.  He was breech and had to be delivered C-Section.  His head was a little flat on one side but has since rounded out nicely.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Stairway To Heaven, Provo Canyon

My friend Phil and I made plans about 6 months ago to head to the Tetons in early February to give the Black Ice Couloir on the Grand a go.  We had been told that climbing the Black Ice Couloir during the winter is the closest thing to climbing the Japanese Couloir on Denali as you can get in the states.  Both are at about the same elevation, both have about the same technical grade, and both have to deal with similar temperatures. Because the Cassin Ridge is on my "to do before I die" list, we thought it would be worth checking out.

As early February arrived, my wife (who is pregnant) started having consistent contractions.  She got a checkup and the doctor told us the baby could come at any time, even though it was still a couple months early.  I didn't feel comfortable taking off on a climbing trip and risking missing the birth of my first child, and not being around to help my wife during her time of need.  Phil understood and we canceled the trip.

After about a week of no action on the baby front, my wife started encouraging me to go to the Tetons and get this climb done (probably so she didn't have to hear my talk about it anymore, and because she is very supportive of my good habits).  Without too much effort, I was convinced and we started making plans to go again.  A busy week of work postponed it a week, but we were ready to go.

Another appointment with the doctor a couple days before we were to leave confirmed that taking off at this point was too risky.  My wife was partially dilated and mostly effaced, and the baby was a week away of being full-term.  I called Phil up to apologize again.  He understood and we made plans for a climb closer to home (since we both already had work off).

With that wordy introduction, here are some pictures and explanations of our climb of Stairway to Heaven in Provo Canyon:

Stairway to Heaven

Neither I nor Phil had ever climbed Stairway to Heaven.  In fact, we had never done any ice climbing in Provo Canyon.  Most of our ice climbing had either kept us closer to home, or led us to some larger mountains in Wyoming or deeper into the mountains of Utah.  But, with a baby coming soon, we decided to get on something bigger than Ogden had to offer, but close enough I could get back quickly if necessary.

Phil took a nasty 65 foot tumble on snowy 4th class terrain about 3 weeks ago while approaching a gully of ice in Ogden.  He smashed his face, knee, hip, elbow, and was bruised all over.  He walked away from the fall, quite battered and sore, but still able to walk.  He assumed he was just bruised all over, but even after 3 weeks, putting on a seatbelt hurt his hip and he still has some pain in various parts of his body that were banged up on his tumble.

As we approached the waterfall, our excitement grew.  We had heard stories that Stairway can be quite busy, so we were psyched to see that we had the waterfall all to ourselves.  Phil claimed the first pitch and I belayed.

Approaching the waterfall.

Phil half way up the first pitch.  Following the path of least resistance, P1 is WI3.  Picking a steeper line could take it to WI4.  Our path was probably WI3.

After leading the first pitch, Phil mentioned that his previous fall (from 3 weeks earlier) had gotten into his head a little, and that he'd like to top rope a pitch or two before he tried to lead something a little harder.  In addition to that, his knee, hip, and arm still hadn't totally healed.  So, I took pitch 2. 
Myself on P2.  I don't remember how long it was.  Maybe 80-100 feet.  WI4

Again P2.

Topping out on Pitch 2.

Myself heading up Pitch 3.  It was only yesterday and I have already forgotten how long it is.  I think about 80-100 feet and WI5 (according to Mountain Project, which only had the rating, not the length).  The length to the belay anchor is much longer than 80 feet.  It seemed like steeper climbing than the previous pitches, but not quite as steep as Pitch 5 which is also rated WI5.

Near the top of Pitch 3.  Because it had been climbed a lot previously, this pitch went really quickly and easily with minimal effort.  Happy hooking:)

My view from above Pitch 3.  I didn't get many pictures of Phil because I usually couldn't see him as he followed.  

After following a few pitches, Phil decided his head just wasn't in the game for the day and I gladly continued to lead.  Phil is every bit the ice climber I am and would have cruised these pitches just fine.  I've taken some falls, never as big or as bad as his recent fall, and took longer to recover and get back out climbing than he did.  I'm impressed at how quickly he was back at it and don't blame him one bit for letting someone else lead.

I didn't get any pictures of Pitch 4.  It was a shorter, albeit steep pillar.  I'd guess it was about 25-30 feet.  WI4.  This ended up being one of the more difficult sections for me, simply because I got a tool stuck and had to fight for about 5 minutes to get it out.  I swung the tool into a depression and sunk the pick fairly deep, with the top of the pick flush with the ice so I couldn't pry it up to get it out.  I tried and tried for a few exhausting minutes before I put a screw in, shook out, and went at it again.  I was afraid to chip at the ice above the pick for fear of having that pick (the one weight-bearing pick) come loose.  So, I sunk my other tool about 4 feet above my stuck tool, matched on the higher tool, hiked my feet high, and kicked at the ice.  Looking back, I think that was a pretty dumb thing to do.  I could have potentially kicked the tool loose and lost it into the snow below (which was really only about 20 feet below) and been stuck with one tool.  Oh well, it worked, I got the tool loose, and I topped out on the 30ish foot pillar, somewhat pumped and tired.  What normally would have taken 5 minutes to climb probably took about 20.  But I didn't get any pictures of this pitch and Phil didn't either.  I think he was watching intently, waiting for me to do something stupid and fall.

Anyway, I pulled over the top and got a look at Pitch 5, the crux of the pitches that were in.  We were hoping that they would be in up to Pitch 7, but no luck.  

After the short pillar on Pitch 4, there is a small snowfield and then some low-angle ice leading up to the P5 pillar.  I belayed at the base of the pillar.

This is another view of P5 on the descent.  It was a really fun pitch.  There were a few bulges that almost made the climbing feel a little overhung in places, though I doubt that was the case.

Myself traversing out onto the pillar.  I had gloved stuffed in my jacket.  I'm really not that fat.

The views of the canyon from this high were incredible.  There was ice all over the cliffs on both sides of the canyon.  I couldn't believe it.  There was as much ice in just this small section of canyon as there is in all of Ogden and its surrounding areas.  

With that said, I think I'd put Ogden's ice climbs up against almost any other ice climb of similar size and difficulty.  I'd put Malan's waterfall up against almost any 3-pitch, WI5 climb around.  I'd put Willard Waterfall up against almost any multi-pitch WI3 climb around.  The beauty of the surroundings and the exposure (of Malan's 2nd pitch in particular) make these climbs incredible and classics, in my opinion.

Ok, back to Stairway.
Phil at the belay.

Though Pitch 5 is steeper, there was a narrow runnel that allowed for a little bit of stemming lower on the pitch.  The whole pitch went pretty smooth.  Up high I got a tool stuck again (same way as before), but got it out much quicker this time with a little bit of chipping from the other tool.  It did wear me out though.  This pitch was about 100 feet of steep climbing, followed by about a 75 foot snowfield to the anchors.  There wasn't enough ice on pitches 6 or 7 to climb, unless we wanted to do some mixed climbing, which we weren't really prepared for (in time or enthusiasm).

More stemming.

A bit higher.

More of the same.

After topping out on P5, we started rapping back down.  At the top of P2, I dropped a glove which slid down over the edge of the waterfall.  We had to work around another group that was heading up, which led me to forget about the glove.  We rapped down to the bottom of the waterfall before I realized I forgot to find that glove.  Phil hadn't come all the way down yet, so he headed back up and I belayed myself back up while he looked for the glove.  By the time I'd climbed back up the first pitch, Phil had been looking for 15 minutes without any luck.

I decided to climb halfway up the 2nd pitch to see if I could find the glove.

The glove slid down through the gully that is just up and right from where I am on this climb.  When I peeked my head up over the ice, the glove was sitting right there smiling at me.  This glove was a recent gift from my wife for Valentine's Day.  There was no way I could have gone home without it.  I'm grateful to her for the gloves.  They worked incredibly well on this climb.  Rab M14 gloves.  I recommend them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Marmot Nabu Neoshell Softshell Highlight

Part of this article was already posted.  This is the rest of it.

One of the most searched Marmot products in the past year has been the Zion jacket, according to the local Marmot sales rep.  That doesn't surprise me.  In a short time after posting Phil's review of the Zion jacket on this blog, it moved up to the second most read review and is still there.  We have been quite impressed with the Zion Jacket over the last year or so, but as was stated in the review, it isn't perfect.  The best part of the jacket is the Neoshell in a softshell application.  It breathes very well without the cool feeling that tends to accompany Neoshell hardshells.  The downside of the jacket is that it's on the heavy side and it is quite warm, making it a little less versatile during the warmer months.

When I saw the Marmot Nabu jacket at summer OR in July, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  It seemed to me like they took mine and Phil's complaints about the Zion jacket , fixed them, and called it the Nabu.  I am happy to say that the Nabu jacket showed up at GEAR:30 last week, one of the few placed around that have them this early.

*I haven't been able to use it yet, but from trying it on and checking it out in the store, I have not been disappointed.  I think this could be the ideal foul weather active piece for the whole year.

So, here are some pictures and descriptions of the jacket, as well as some specs.

Nabu Specs

  • Weight: 21.6oz (Men's Medium).  In comparison, the Zion weighs 26oz in size Medium
  • 2 handwarmer Pockets
  • 1 external zip chest pocket
  • 1 internal zip pocket with headphone port
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Adjustable, helmet-compatible hood (truly helmet-compatible, unlike the current Zion)
  • Drawcord hem
  • Lightly insulated

Pictures and Descriptions

The Men's Marmot Nabu Jacket.  If you like the Zion, I'm pretty sure you'll love the Nabu.  If you didn't like the Zion, I'm pretty sure you'll like the Nabu.

The women's color.  A vibrant red with blue zippers.  It's a really nice color combination, in my opinion.  So far we've had only good feedback from women on the color and fit of this jacket.

Not sure what happened to the color on this picture, but it is actually the same jacket as above, just a little washed out.  Anyway, there is a single zippered interior pocket on the inside.  It is big enough for a smart phone, wallet, etc.   Taped seams, Neoshell, and the light grid-mesh liner (which help to wick moisture) make this one of the most breathable, fully waterproof jackets on the market.  This used a similar application as Marmot did on the Zion jacket, but used a lighter interior liner fabric and exterior face fabric, which I can only imagine make the jacket more breathable, lighter, but probably less warm.

Detail of the interior grid mesh material.  At first I was calling it a really light grid-fleece liner, but it doesn't really feel much like fleece.  It goes over layers better than fleece, but also isn't quite as soft as fleece.  I think calling it a mesh is more accurate.

Polartec Neoshell in a softshell application.  Neoshell is incredible as a waterproof membrane.  It breathes far better than any other membrane I've used to date.  The downside is that, in a hardshell application, it moves humid air away from the body so efficiently that it can feel a little colder than other waterproof/windproof shells.  Not as ideal to wear while sitting on a cold ski lift.  For example, when I wear a Gore-tex shell, I can plan on the shell adding about 10 degrees of warmth to my layering system, at least until I get sweaty.  And unless I'm cold all day, I almost always get sweaty in Gore-tex.  With Neoshell, it doesn't trap much heat.  When I wear a Neoshell hardshell, I don't plan on it adding any warmth to my layering system, so I dress accordingly.  But I also expect that, if I've dressed correctly for the conditions, I either won't get sweaty during the day, or I'll dry off fairly quickly while still wearing my shell.

In softshell application, I and Phil have found that it breathes even better than in the hardshell (because the liner wicks moisture, I'd imagine), but it doesn't feel as cool as in a hardshell.  You don't get a slight chill when you're resting at the bottom of a frozen waterfall after a 45 minute approach, like you do in the hardshell.  It is just comfortable.  I think that the Neoshell softshell application is the best performing waterproof material so far.

The hood has an aperture drawcord the pulls the hood tight around the face.  The rest of the cord remains on the inside of the jacket.  Though this is clean and keeps the cord from smacking you in the face in high winds, it forces you to unzip the jacket tighten the hood. 

There is a second drawcord at the back of the hood that takes extra volume out of the hood and allows the hood to move with your head.  This hood can actually be worn with a helmet.  More on that in a minute.

I am 6'2", 190 lbs or so, and this is a Medium.  The Medium fits trim with little extra room to layer, but it is still a comfortable fit.  The large was a little roomier and allowed room to layer, but didn't seem too baggy.  I usually go for the trimmer fitting layers, but in this case, I liked the Large better for my size.  I think the medium would be a better fit for those that are under 175-180 lbs or so or you prefer a trimmer fit.  The face fabric on the Nabu is not as stiff as on the Zion, so the medium Nabu is a much more comfortable fit, in my opinion, than the medium Zion.

The hood fits nicely without a helmet.

The hood also fits nicely with a helmet.  The Zion jacket's hood was not quite big enough for a helmet, in my opinion.  When you zip the Zion up with a helmet on, the fabric is super tight across the mouth.  The Nabu has a little more room and is comfortable to wear zipped up with the hood over a helmet.

The hem still pulls up a bit with arms up, but not enough to pull out of a harness.  The cut isn't as good for climbing as the Rab jackets I've used, but it is a little more comfortable cut, especially under the armpits, than the Rab.  The only place I think the cut is a downer is when climbing.  Unfortunately, that's exactly what I want this jacket for.  

The jacket has a drop hem in the back.  The sleeves are a comfortable length on me (I have pretty average arms).  For those that have longer-than-normal arms, the sleeve length may be a little frustrating when climbing in the jacket.  For most people, the length should be fine.

There is great stretch in this jacket.  Because of the stretch and the softer face fabric, it is a very comfortable jacket to move in.  It feels less restricting than the Zion.  It also feels significantly lighter than the Zion.  Even though it is only 4.5oz lighter than the Zion, it feel to me like it's much lighter.  I think that is because the face fabric is thinner and more supple and the wearer has to put in less effort to move in it than the Zion.

More stretch.

Final Observations

Both Phil and I have been very impressed with the Zion jacket, but mostly with the softshell Neoshell fabric.  The jacket itself, needs some work.  Marmot told me that the hood is being revamped on the Zion jacket to better accommodate a helmet.  That's definitely a much needed update.  But there were multiple gripes that we had with the Zion jacket that we felt needed to be addressed.  To review, here they are:

  • Hood to small/jacket too trim around the mouth
  • Fabric too heavy
  • Jacket too warm for shoulder seasons and warmer winter days
  • Too many pockets (interior pockets, many exterior pockets, a shoulder pocket, etc)
  • Medium fit well in the body but pulled up out of a harness when lifting hands above the head

I think the Marmot Nabu remedies all of these problems, except maybe the jacket pulling up too much when lifting hands above the head.  

The hood is much better than on the Zion.  

The fabric is lighter and more supple, making the jacket feel much lighter than the Zion, even though there's only a 4.5oz difference.  

The grid-mesh liner fabric is much lighter than the fleece used in the Zion jacket, making the jacket less warm (which I consider a good thing, though many may disagree with me on that).  The fact that this jacket is less warm means it's a better 4-season jacket, instead of a cold weather only jacket that I feel the Zion is.

There are less pockets on the Nabu.  Only one less, but that's a start.  They got rid of the arm pocket that is on the Zion.  I like the pockets that are on the Nabu.  They make it a more versatile jacket.  If I was designing the perfect climbing jacket, I would have taken off even more pockets, but the pocket configuration on the Nabu are fine.  They're out of the way of a harness/hipbelt, so I'm happy.

The jacket doesn't come untucked out of a harness when I lift my arms.  This is true about both medium and large sizes.  It does pull up a little and then bellow out over the harness a bit, but most of my jackets do.  This cut is as good for climbing as most any I have tried, Rab and Arc'teryx not included.

Overall I am super impressed with the jacket.  I haven't used it yet in the mountains, so my mind could very well be changed in the coming months, but so far I think it could be one of the best active jackets on the market.