We love summer! It’s our season. The weather is warm, the grass is green and the backcountry campfires seem endless. So needless to say when we decided to offer winter trips for the first time we didn’t entirely know what we were getting ourselves into. Sure I’d considered myself a seasoned snow person. I’ve been snowboarding since I was an awkward teen and even lived in Tahoe for a winter season a few years back, but the wintery isolated trails of Yosemite Valley are a far cry from the groomed runs of Northstar’s backside.
Never one to back down from new experiences though, I jumped at the opportunity to guide during the off-season and couldn’t wait to watch the valley transform. One thing I knew for sure though is we would need to gear up for winter fast!
We came in contact with a company called Oros Apparel. If you haven’t heard of them, you’re not the only one. A clothing start-up from Ohio, they are new on the scene, but growing rapidly and quickly changing the game in apparel. What makes them unique we discovered is the insulation they use, a space age technology called Aerogel – literally! It came from NASA!
Here are the details in their own words:
Can air be warm?
Makers of down jackets, vests and sleeping bags have used air as a medium of warmth for decades. Using space between down traps air, keeping it from altering temperature, and allowing you to stay warm. We discovered a way to use a synthetic material, called aerogel, to do something similar, but in a much thinner, more attractive way.
Warm, but thin
Composed of over 90% air, our proprietary SolarCore aerogel has the lowest thermal conductivity of any solid. What does that mean? That it’s not only extremely strong, durable, and flexible; but it’s 2- to 8-times more effective than traditional insulation. Plus, SolarCore is compression-resistant and waterproof —something your old goose down jacket certainly isn’t. Air, it seems, is truly the best material for outdoor activity. This translates into a high-comfort, low-profile jacket, reducing the relative weight and bulk of the garment to allow you to perform outdoors under any conditions, without restricting your movement.
I mean they have a video of their founder getting sprayed by liquid nitrogen! How could you not be intrigued?!
This seemed like a perfect solution to our winter doubts. As we know the weather can be unpredictable in the Sierras. Down jackets could keep us warm, but not help in rain and while we could layer with a rain jacket, the unbreathable Gortex makes your down a sweaty mess (not to mention ultimately looking like the Michelin Man…). In addition, meeting clients in the morning and finishing hikes as the winter sun begins to set meant we need something heavy duty that could embrace these chilly temperatures and wind while still remaining light and breathable as we hiked and snowshoed. Without hesitation we gave the Oros winter jackets a try!
Here are some of the features of the Orion Series Jacket:
- Waterproof outer shell
- Adjustable and removable hood
- Removable powder skirt
- 6 exterior pockets including a ski pass pocket
- Two internal pockets
- Heat-sealed waterproof zippers
- Solarcore Insulation – NASA-inspired insulation designed to keep you warm, without the bulk and layers
- High Performance – Developed with a distinct style that offers high mobility and protection in any element
- Thin Profile – Design provides high-comfort and flexibility in any condition
So what were the results??
We’re a few months into our Oros trial and loving it. Not only have we taken these bad boys all around Yosemite, but they’ve also come with us to the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe and San Diego – though truth be told in San Diego it was more like “Hey mom check out my sweet new jacket, aren’t you jealous?” than for functional purposes.
What we love:
- The insulation: You can tell when you first pick up the jacket that it’s worth its weight. The NASA aerogel feel like squishy foam giving you a hug. The winter jackets are insulated throughout the arms as well so your entire upper body stays toasty.
- Pockets! – What would a good a snow jacket be without pocket options? They’ve thought of everything. So when I took the jackets to hit the slopes of Tahoe I had a place for my phone, credit cards, season pass and oh so important snickers bar. Even as rain began to fall all my items stayed dry and protected.
- Profile: There’s nothing worse than having to wear 90 layers to stay warm in inclement conditions. The warmth yet thin profile of the Oros jacket is awesome. We stayed perfectly comfortable with a simple base layer on underneath and didn’t have that constricting feeling of wearing everything you own. When you’re traveling and hiking you know everything item counts, so to be able to only need 1 item to serve as warmth and weather protection is AMAZING.
- The overall style: Let’s be honest – these jackets are stylish. As guides we want to look professional while also being prepared. The removable hood allows for a sleek collared jacket while the Oros branding is simple and tasteful (avoiding the whole walking billboard thing).
- Lightweight Breathability: Most importantly we’re guides. We need to be able to move in these jackets – hike for miles, carry backpacks, snowshoe for hours and embrace whatever elements come our way. The lightweight breathability of these jackets allow you do just that. You’re not stopping every half hour to de-layer or bundle up. For every activity I worn this jacket in I’ve felt stable in my temperature.
Overall we’ve been extremely impressed with the quality and performance of Oros Apparel. While they still may be a growing company they clearly care about the product they are producing and aren’t taking any short cuts. As someone who professionally has to be in the elements and prepared for extreme weather I know I can count on their product to get me through any conditions.