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VOORMI River Run Hoodie: A featherweight top for all seasons
Posted on: January 3, 2017
During midsummer in New York's Adirondack Mountains, you notice the humidity as soon as you step outside. The moist air is thick, and it makes you feel as if you're in a warm bath, except you're just standing there.
Clouds collided overhead as I ran up the steep riverbed marking the start of the Blueberry Hill Trail in Elizabethtown. I expected it would downpour, so instead of running bareback I tossed on VOORMI's River Run Hoodie ($129) hoping the fabric's dual surface "precision blended wool" would keep me comfy. And I was comfy, except the inside of the hoodie had a gritty, almost sandpapery feel. This is likely from the kinky Colorado High Country merino wool fibers poking through the "razor thin" synthetic layer it was woven over.
A few minutes later, the rain came down hard and the River Run was saturated, but I continued on and even extended the run. I liked how the relaxed-fitting, full-cover hood bobbed on my head and didn't cover up my vision, and also that it didn't feel weighed down by the water.
The author wears the VOORMI River Run Hoodie while climbing Animal Magnetism (5.11) in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. [Photo] Luis Felipe Ossa Rodriguez (aka Lucho "Salsa")
When dry, the River Run fabric weight is 100 g/m2. That's lighter than comparable performance merino wool layers such as the Ibex Indie Hoody (195 g/m2) and the Icebreaker Cool-Lite Sphere Long Sleeve Hood (135 g/m2). SmartWool's lightest weight baselayer is 150 g/m2 and it's not available in a hoodie.
It also has thumb loops at the end of the sleeves. This keeps the sleeves from bunching up when you toss on additional layers. Another plus is that it's made in the USA.
Today, after five months of heavy use and several wash-and-dry cycles, the River Run has become softer and has completely lost its sandpapery feel. I've worn it in the backcountry, on snowy, frigid days (often under layers), and I've climbed in it for more days than I can keep track. I even wore it out to a few social gatherings because it's a classy looking top.
Examining the hoodie, it's obvious the layer is faring better than I am. A few threads are pilling up in four or five spots and there's a small hole in the chest. But I count more cuts than that on the back of my hands and scabbed-up ankles. All this wear-and-tear is from the recent climbing days I've had in Colorado while wearing the River Run: A jaunt up The Naked Edge (500 feet, 5.11) in Eldorado Canyon, projecting scary trad lines at Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon (Englishman's Home, 150 feet, 5.11+), and lapping offwidths and chimneys such as Coffin Crack—60 feet of 5.10 offwidth. Grinding my arms and chest again and again through Coffin Crack left its mark on the River Run but I can't imagine many other layers fairing better, except maybe a jean jacket.
I was feeling a bit claustrophobic near the start of The Naked Edge—it was a hot day, and I was wearing a long sleeve hoodie—but as soon as I stepped off the ground, under building clouds, I appreciated that the light insulation (100 g/m2). It also blocked light wind and provided protection from UV rays. I wore the River Run because wool retains some of its insulating properties when wet and there was a chance of rain (and it's naturally antimicrobial, a bonus when wearing it around town after climbing). The higher Scott Bennett and I got on the route, the cooler it got, so my comfort level only increased. Despite the changing air temperature combined with high-energy output, I never felt too hot or too cold. Nearing the top of the route under cloudy skies and strong wind, I looked up at Scott dancing at the anchor to keep warm. Meanwhile, I just felt comfortable.
That night at the brewery I received a few comments from friends who liked the look of the River Run. One even reached over the table, as people sometimes have to do, and rubbed their fingers on the sleeve to examine the River Run's softness. They were impressed.
A few days later it was cold and gusty at Castle Rock. Between laps, and to keep the gusts from cutting through the River Run, I threw on a Patagonia Nano Air puffy. Together the two layers kept out the wind and kept in the warmth.
Now that it's winter, I've found that the River Run is a great layer for ice climbing and cold weather running/riding.
Chris Van Leuven is the former digital editor for Alpinist. He's currently a "stay-at-home dude" and is working on a book. But a few times a week, he sneaks away from his desk to climb in Colorado's Front Range.
The author between pitches in Colorado's Boulder Canyon. [Photo] Chris Van Leuven collection
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