Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Review of The North Face Men’s Plasma ThermoBall Jacket

north face plasma thermoball jacket
The North Face Plasma ThermoBall jacket is the latest in go-anywhere sportswear for men. It’s casual-looking enough for a jaunt around town, but under its civilized exterior, this jacket has serious chops. What makes this jacket unique is its insulation: PrimaLoft ThermoBall — the newest synthetic alternative to down. ThermoBall has the warmth equivalent of 600-fill down, and it will continue keeping you toasty even when it gets wet. The round synthetic fibers in ThermoBall don’t clump together like traditional down, and the fiber’s innovative shape allows it to trap heat in small air pockets to retain warmth.

Besides its amazing filler material, the North Face Plasma ThermoBall jacket has an exterior made of double-layer HyVent waterproof nylon. This durable material is breathable and will keep you from getting clammy inside your jacket. The jacket’s fully taped seams protect you from drafts and leaks, and its underarm zips are great for when you get hot hiking up that ridge you’ve had in your sights all day. A removable and fully adjustable hood gives this hard-working piece of outerwear even more versatility, and its two hand pockets and single sleeve pocket have sturdy zippers to keep all your valuables safe.

The jacket is available in four colors, some of which are monochrome and some of which mix it up a bit with different-colored bodies and sleeves. The cosmic blue/asphalt grey combination is vibrant and eye-catching; if you prefer a dark-colored jacket, you can choose between a burgundy/black combination, a black-on-black option, and a navy-on-navy style.

The North Face ThermoBall jacket combines the coziness of down with the sleekness of a synthetic. The insulation is light and compressible, making the jacket excellent for stowing in a backpack on between-season camping trips. Its thin design is deceptive though; the Plasma ThermoBall is great for temperatures ranging from below zero into the mid 30s. Since it doesn’t have the bulk of traditional down, it's perfect for layering and can be worn over pretty much any normal daywear without looking bulky.

Whether you’re planning a trek deep into the mountains or just want to stay warm on a frigid night on the town, The North Face ThermoBall jacket is an excellent choice. This jacket is covered by The North Face’s lifetime guarantee, so if its features ever don’t live up to the company’s stellar reputation, they’ll repair it for free. Any item of clothing that combines comfort, utility, style, and incredibly high quality is worth checking out, so give the Plasma ThermoBall jacket a try if you want to stay warm but still look great next winter.

Monday, June 2, 2014

North America’s Most Popular Rock Climbing Areas

Some of the world’s most spectacular rock climbing spots are located right here in North America. If you have not climbed some of these destinations, consider heading to them now and checking them off of your list. In fact, many of these attractions have so many amazing climbing routes that you could spend months exploring just one of them.

5: Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is a beautiful destination in northeastern New England that is home to some of the best rock climbing around for those who enjoy being near water. In fact, the only sea cliff climbing in the United States may be enjoyed here. Otter Cliffs is especially popular, while The Precipice and Great Head attract climbers on a regular basis as well. Climbing season runs from April to October, while the latter part of that period is usually the best time to climb.

4: Potrero Chico, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Potrero Chico is an international rock climbing destination that is located near Monterrey, Mexico, about 100 miles from the American border. Some of its limestone spires and cliffs reach 2,000 feet into the air. The climbs range in difficulty from easy slabs to overhanging faces, and most of them are bolted. Temperatures are nice throughout much of the year and hot during the summer. One of the nice features of this area is that several of its climbs can be reached after an easy 10-minute walk from a nearby campground.

3: Yosemite National Park, California
California’s Yosemite National Park is home to some of North America’s most popular rock faces: El Capitan’s southwest and southeast faces and The Half Dome’s northwest and south faces and west shoulder. El Capitan's rock formation was deemed impossible to climb for quite some time before it was conquered and then became one of the most popular climbing areas in the world. Meanwhile, the Half Dome is home to more than ten spectacular and popular climbing routes. These and many of the other faces located at Yosemite reach 3,000 or more feet toward the sky. Yosemite is conveniently situated within a few hours driving time from both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

2: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
Although Canada is home to several well-known rock climbing destinations, Squamish is likely the most popular one. Although its biggest attraction is unquestionably Stawamus Chief, the world’s second-largest granite monolith, there are thousands of granitic routes at Squamish that attract climbing enthusiasts of all ability levels. In fact, several simply live in the community of Squamish and climb its cliffs throughout the year. Squamish is located about 40 miles north of Vancouver, and the area is very wet throughout the winter months. Therefore, May to September is usually the best time to climb.

1: Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock State Park is a 641-acre recreation area in central Oregon that is home to many of the world’s most admired climbing routes. In fact, some of these basalt and tuff cliffs are among the most challenging ones in the world, and many view Smith Rock as the birthplace of the sport and as its world capital. Some of the more popular climbs here include Red Wall, Monkey Face and Spiderman. You should climb one or more of this state park's thousands of climbing routes in the spring or fall as summers are hot and winters are chilly.