- Make Cloches for Tender Tomatoes Protect your early tomatoes with these simple covers The earlier you can start tomato plants, the sooner you will reap the reward – the un-comparable flavor of the homegrown tomato. They are cold sensitive and need protection from nighttime temperatures. Cloches, bell-shaped domes that cover young transplants, are an […]
When you don’t have weights at home, strength training can be a challenge. For stronger athletes, simple bodyweight exercises and endless repetitions are probably not enough to stimulate a strength-training effect. That’s because, once you do more than 15 to 20 repetitions, you enter the zone of muscular endurance and conditioning rather than strength training, says John Mark Seelig, captain of the men’s U.S. Rafting team and owner of Goat Training in Edwards, Colorado. “Doing a bunch of reps might work for somebody for a couple of weeks, maybe a month,” he says, “but long-term, it’s not very effective, and the repetitive motion can lead to overuse injuries.” Without weights or gym equipment, how can you keep the rep scheme low while making the intensity high enough to build strength?
“With my athletes, I’ve introduced isometrics and tempos to their at-home programming,” Seelig says. Isometric exercises force muscles to contract without changing length (think static holds, like wall sits, planks, and lock-offs). Tempo increases muscles’ time under tension and emphasizes the eccentric phase of muscle contraction (when muscle fibers elongate under a load, also called negatives). “These techniques are incredibly effective for strength,” Seelig says. “You don’t need additional weight, and you can continue to progress through the workout in a linear fashion by adjusting the timing.” For those who want to improve upon their training routines at home, he recommends these moves for a full-body strength workout.
Start with a good warm-up: run for five minutes, then cycle through three rounds of pull-ups, air squats, push-ups, and single-leg straight-leg deadlifts, performing ten reps each at a steady pace. Gradually increase your speed and intensity each round. For the workout itself, aim for three to four sets of each exercise, with one to two minutes of rest between each effort. When you’re counting reps, don’t go until complete failure. “That’s a common mistake I see with home-gym workouts,” says Seelig. Adjust your intensity so that you always have one to two reps left in the tank during each set.
“Even if you’re not training for a specific goal or race, know this will help you maintain your strength. More importantly, it’s going to be good for your mental health,” Seelig says.
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Hold your chest and head high, pull your shoulders back and down, and keep your spine stacked in a neutral position. Then lower into a squat until your thighs are slightly below parallel to the floor (or as low as you can go with good form). Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Then engage your glutes, and push through your heels to stand. “If you can’t reach 30 seconds, reduce the range of motion to a manageable level by staying higher in the squat,” says Seelig. “If you can easily get to 45 seconds, add weight.” If you don’t have free weights, fill a backpack with canned food, water bottles, rocks, textbooks, or anything that’s heavy until you can hit the target time range.
What it does: Strengthens the chest, triceps, shoulders, back muscles, and core.
How to do it: Start in a standard push-up position, with your arms straight, your hands below your shoulders, and your feet together. Maintain a rigid plank form, with your body in a straight line from your heels to your head. Bend your elbows backwards along your sides to lower your chin and chest until they are an inch or two from the floor. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds, then push back up to the starting position. “This is very challenging,” says Seelig. “If you can’t get to 30 seconds, elevate your hands on a bench, cooler, or some raised surface. If you can easily hit 45 seconds, elevate your feet.”
Too monotonous? Mix it up with the Bring Sally Up challenge. Play “Flower” by Moby, and lower every time you hear “down.” Hold the low position until you hear “up,” and continue like this for the duration of the song—if you can make it until the end.
Tempo Single-Leg Deadlift
What it does: Emphasizes the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, while training balance.
How to do it: Stand on one leg, with a slight bend in your knee. Engage your core, and square your hips. Then, without rounding your back, reach forward and down toward the floor slowly (taking three to five seconds), lifting your free leg behind you until your upper body and leg are in the same plane, parallel to the floor or as far as you can go with good form. Pause for a second, then reverse the movement for one repetition. Keep your hips level (point your raised foot toward the floor) and your back straight throughout the movement. Focus on leg control and balance. To make it even harder, extend the duration of the lowering phase.
Volume: Eight to twelve reps on each leg. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
Tempo Pike Push-Up
What it does: Strengthens the shoulders, triceps, chest, upper back, and core.
How to do it: Start in a downward-facing dog position, with your feet together and your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart (the closer your feet are to your hands, the harder the exercise). Then slowly (taking three to five seconds) bend your elbows and lower your head between your hands, just above the floor. Hold the low position for a second or two, then push back up to the starting position for one repetition. Keep your hips high and your heels low, and maintain the inverted V position throughout the movement.
Volume: Eight to twelve reps.
What it does: Primarily strengthens the glutes, quads, and inner thighs, while also working the hamstrings, calves, hip stabilizers, and core.
How to do it: Stand tall, with your feet hip-width apart, square your hips, and engage your core. Then take a large step backwards to enter a split-squat stance (also known as a stationary lunge). Bend your knees to lower your hips until your front thigh is roughly parallel to the ground and your back knee is hovering just an inch or two off the floor. Hold this low position for 30 to 45 seconds, then engage both legs to stand for one repetition. Keep your chest high, your pelvis neutral, your torso upright, and your back straight throughout the movement.
Volume: Eight to twelve reps on each leg. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
What it does: Builds upper-body and core strength and trains balance, body awareness, deep breathing, and focus.
How to do it: Enter a handstand, either unassisted or with your heels up against a wall. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Remember to breathe.
This week Honest Trailers takes a stab (see what we did there?) at Scream, the parody that became a horror that was still kind of a parody but then had a more explicit parody made about it… you know what, this could do on for a while. Enjoy!
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When Season 1 of The Mandalorian began to air in November of 2019, I joked at the time that we were getting another “Dave Filoni special.” One season of surface-level setup, followed by each successive season getting weirder and diving down into more esoteric Star Wars lore. You know, the same way Filoni structured Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
What I didn’t expect was for Boba Fett to feature heavily in that lore. But here we are, at the end of The Mandalorian’s second season, and the erstwhile bounty hunter is poised to become a bigger player than ever in the Star Wars underworld…
SPOILERS FOR THE SEASON 2 FINALE OF THE MANDALORIAN BEYOND THIS POINT
THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT
Star Wars doesn’t usually do stingers. But for the season finale of The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm made an exception. Having kept his word to help Din Djarin rescue Grogu, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand find themselves back on Tatooine. The two of them clean house in Jabba’s Palace, wiping out Bib Fortuna and his flunkies with ease. Though it is worth noting that Fennec is ethical in her choice of victims, allowing Fortuna’s enslaved Twi’lek woman to go free. With the bodies of their enemies still warm on the floor, Boba alights upon the throne while Fennec celebrates with a bottle of galactic moonshine. The scene ends with a promise of more adventures to come next year.
From the official announcement in the StarWars.com press release:
Jon Favreau, executive producer of The Mandalorian, confirmed today on Good Morning America that the new series is currently in production and will arrive December 2021, only on Disney+. The Book of Boba Fett will be set within the timeline of The Mandalorian and star Temuera Morrison as the titular bounty hunter, along with Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand. Robert Rodriguez — who directed Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian, a thrilling installment that reintroduced Boba Fett to the Star Wars galaxy — joins Favreau and Dave Filoni as executive producer.
But before we can get into what to expect from The Book of Boba Fett, a Disney+ live-action Star Wars show set to air in December of 2021, we need to lay out what audiences will know going in. Here are the timeline facts we have as of this writing regarding Boba Fett.
- 3 ABY: Boba Fett collects the bounty on Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt
- 4 ABY: Boba Fett falls into the sarlacc pit
- 4 ABY: Jabba the Hutt dies at the hand of Leia Organa
- 5 ABY: Hutt Cartel power structure collapses
- 5 ABY: Boba Fett escapes the sarlacc pit*
- 9 ABY: Fett rescues mortally wounded Fennec Shand
- 10ABY: Fett kills Bib Fortuna and takes over Jabba’ Palace
*In 5 ABY, Jabba’s former beastmaster and Rancor trainer Malakili finds the recently killed sarlacc with no sign of Fett anywhere
Then there’s the marked difference in Boba Fett himself. Prior to this time in the sarlacc pit, Fett is mainly portrayed as a ruthless hunter and killer. In his dealings as a bounty hunter, Boba goes out of his way to inflict pain and suffering on any who cross his path whether they’re fellow hunters, marks, or simply innocent bystanders. He’s not above torture or flying extremely out of his way in an attempt to seek revenge on an old adversary. The Boba Fett from The Mandalorian, however? He is still ruthlessly efficient. But he isn’t cruel. And he appears capable of compassion and upholding a code of honor, even if it’s just his own.
All of these things add up to a very intriguing premise for The Book of Boba Fett. One that will be heavily influenced by whatever the bounty hunter was up to in the four years between his rescue from the sarlacc and his arrival at the feet of the dying Fennec in the Tatooine sands.
BOBA FETT? WHERE?
Of course, there are clues sprinkled liberally — both in The Mandalorian and other auxiliary Star Wars sources — that hint all might not be as it appears. For example, we know from Aftermath: Life Debt that Jawas sliced open and looted the sarlacc for anything valuable while scavenging Jabba’s barge. While Malakili never peeks inside the gutted creature when he comes across it in 5 ABY, a lack of struggle or screams for help are good signs the Jawas not only got Boba Fett’s armor, but the man as well. But the sarlacc had yet to be eaten by other Tatooine fauna, indicating the pillaging is fairly fresh. That leaves about a four-year gap in Boba’s life that is currently uncounted for.
This, in turn, leads to intriguing questions like “Did Boba Fett trade his armor to the Jawas so they would rescue him?” and “Why didn’t he retrieve his armor from Cobb Vanth before Din Djarin got ahold of it?” and “What exactly was Boba doing for over 1,400 days?”
It seems likely Fett traded his Mandalorian armor for his life. It seems probable his code of honor kept him from killing the Jawas and taking his armor back. It seems plausible Boba spent time with the Tusken Raiders learning how to use a gaffi stick, and that Cobb’s cordial relationship with the Jawas — or Boba’s code of honor in dealing with the Jawas — provided Cobb with protection. But the biggest clue to how the bounty hunter spent his time is hiding in plain sight on the throne in Jabba’s Palace in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale.
Old Tongue. Again. My nemesis. A Star Wars language that keeps cropping up. Mostly to taunt me with gibberish since the Rosetta Stone was included in a single piece of merch available only at a single shop inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and clearly no one intended anyone to translate much of what the Old Tongue is used for. But not this time. No. This time, the Old Tongue speaks. And what does the throne say?
That’s it. That’s all it says. You can see where the text is mirrored on both the top and bottom rows. The “B,” “O,” “A,” and “T” are direct one-to-one translations. The “F” and the “E” are variants of the Old Tongue letters, but consistent enough to be legible. Sort of how Aurebesh is the main written language of Star Wars but it has regional variations such as the inscription on Enfys Nest’s helmet (Dishabesh) or the dataplaque in the possession of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate (Protobesh).
Now, it could just be an Easter egg hidden for the handful of people who are invested enough to find it. The “Drink more Ovaltine” of Star Wars. But what if it’s not? Why would Boba Fett’s name already be inscribed on a throne in Jabba’s Palace, written in a dead language?
STRAP IN, IT’S GONNA GET WEIRD
The second season of The Mandalorian was bursting with deep lore. From the krayt dragon pearls to the ball Grogu sat upon at the temple on Tython bearing a striking resemblance to Zeffo power supplies to the strong insinuation that Palpatine was using Grogu’s blood to try and artificially increase the midichlorian count in his Snoke clones, the show led audiences deeper into the mystical side of Star Wars by inches. This brings me to the sarlacc.
Sarlaccs are deeply unsettling. Taking approximately 30,000 years to reach maturity, they are neither plant nor animal. In-universe xenobiologists are consistently stumped by this creature that reproduces by spewing spores into the upper atmosphere that can withstand the vacuum of space. About the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza, sarlaccs house multiple stomachs to imprison future food while they slowly digest older prey. All that scar tissue on Boba Fett’s body? The corroded nature of his armor when in Cobb’s possession? All due to the sarlacc. In fact, the beskar armor is probably what kept Fett alive long enough to be rescued. It also gives Lucasfilm a handy excuse for why Temuera Morrison looks older than Boba should at this point in the timeline, since he was not created with the clones’ accelerated aging feature. But wait, it gets creepier.
In Star Wars Legends stories, sarlaccs were bioengineered prisons of a sort. Prey was stuck to the walls of the sarlacc by numerous hollow spines that replaced all vital fluids with the creature’s own juices. This would keep the victim alive and in agony while the sarlacc fed. It would also cause the victim to meld with the sarlacc, giving the creature a kind of hivemind sentience of accumulated memories stolen from its prey. Kind of like the Bor Gullet from Rogue One. So it’s within the realm of possibility the personality changes in Boba Fett are a direct result of him having untold centuries of fractured knowledge amassed by the sarlacc rattling around in his head. Including, perhaps, a dead language.
I suggest that Boba Fett was already the kingpin of Tatooine’s underworld prior to the start of The Mandalorian. Four years is a lot of missing time. Fett still had access to his ship, yet he remained on the backwater world, without retrieving his father’s armor. He had enough money and clout to save Fennec’s life with advanced cybernetics, as well as repair his beskar. Neither of those things are cheap or easy. Who is to say Bib Fortuna was surprised to see Boba alive because of the events in Return of the Jedi? He could just as easily have been shocked that Fett and Fennec survived boarding Moff Gideon’s ship full of Dark Troopers. Fett’s behavior towards Fortuna felt personal and like nothing we saw between the two in Return of the Jedi. Why kill him when Bib Fortuna had shown himself to be politically savvy enough to see a new master when they come blasting into the throne room unless it was personal?
THE ONLY WAY IS FORWARD
Regardless of the specifics though, by the end of The Mandalorian Season 2, it is clear Boba Fett has plans. Plans that involved the seedy underbelly of the galaxy. With the Hutts destabilized and the status of Crimson Dawn unknown in the aftermath of Maul’s deaths, there are numerous opportunities waiting for the right person to come along and take advantage of the chaos.
Perhaps Boba might even have a run-in with another crime boss: Han Solo’s old flame, Qi’ra. After all, the last we saw of her in Solo, she was about to be taken under the wing of Maul himself. If anyone is still directly the Crimson Dawn empire, the smart money is on her. But whether Lucasfilm brings in known quantities or blows open the lore with all-new factions jockeying for power, organized crime has always been the third faction of Star Wars. It’s about time audiences got to know how things work far from the light of the Jedi Temple and the secret machinations of the Sith.
Here’s a Translation of What the Sith Dagger in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Says
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“The cross – country ski industry expects a significant increase in the number of skiers this season, based on increased interest in outdoor activities,” says Reese Brown, executive director of the Cross-Country Ski Association. But don’t worry: there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out. If you’ve never considered Cross-country skiing before, this may be the winter you’re doing. It’s a good way to go out and explore the local areas, and naturally it’s a crowd-free activity. While you can ski through the woods on your own, the designated cross-country ski area comes with a toilet, trail maps, equipment rentals, and instructions. In any case, imagine empty trails through a wide open forest, unlike mountain ski resorts, little in the form of lines, loggias, and expensive tickets. Here are seven of our favorite places to enjoy the sport.
Tahoe City, California
The Tahoe XC (one-day tickets from $ 36) isn’t the biggest area on this list, it offers about 30 miles of well-groomed trails-about a quarter the size of the most famous Royal Gorge-within a 45-minute drive, but it’s full of character and charm. Located in Tahoe City, California, it is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco. From the top of the Lakeview climb, you’ll get a panoramic view of the largest Alpine lake in North America and a wooden bench to catch your breath. You will find three cabins that are heated, special trails for snow shoeing, and six miles of trails for dogs. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, usually available in a jar in the dorm, will be served this year.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
The best way to explore the 75 miles of cross-country ski trails at Devil’s Thumb Ranch is to stay at the hotel. The complex has 15 private cabins of various sizes, as well as accommodation rooms (starting at $ 279). Currently, spa treatments such as massages and body baths are only available for guests of the lodge with COVID-19 protocols. But you don’t need to be an overnight visitor to enjoy the trails, which are open to day-trippers for a $ 30 ticket. There is also the option of cycling with thick tires on the trails, as the resort offers bike rental and guided tours. You are just 20 minutes away on a downhill ski trip at Winter Park Resort and less than two hours away from Denver.
It will take you four hours to get to the Metaw Valley from Seattle, but it’s worth it. This remote corner of Northern Washington looks like Switzerland with its jagged snow-capped peaks. Home to the largest cross-country ski area in North America, Methow Trails has over 125 miles of trails (one-day tickets from $ 25; those under 17 or over 75 free skis). Sections of the system allow you to ride on thick tires, snowshoe and ski with your dog. The slopes of the Rendezvous hut, which you can connect for skiing from cottage to cottage, are booked months in advance. Instead, check out six elegant architect-designed huts (starting at $ 145) nine miles to the northwest, or find other accommodations in the nearby towns of Winthrop, Twisp, or Mazama.
Theodore Wirth Regional Park
You won’t find the best cross-country skiing so close to a major metropolis. The extensive trail system in the state of Theodore Wirth Regional Park (one-day tickets from $ 20) has more than 20 miles of trails running through secluded forests, with views of the Minneapolis skyline. Cross-country skiing lessons for all ages. The World Cup cross-country skiing event was supposed to be held here last March, it would have been the first Nordic World Ski Championships in the United States in almost two decades, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
You’ll arrive at Galena Lodge in Idaho (one-day tickets from $ 18) for cross-country skiing-there are more than 30 miles of perfectly prepared trails through a stunning stretch of Sawtooth National Forest, but you’ll stay for a meal. The on-site restaurant serves steaming bowls of curry, soup and Chili, as well as European-style sausage dishes and freshly baked pastries. This winter, the vintage camper will also have a food truck that offers easy service. Stay in a yurt on site (starting at $ 150) or in the nearby town of Ketchum. Skiing in Sunny Valley is just a 30-minute drive away.
Dorchester, New Hampshire
There is so much love in Green Woodlands, a private plot of land between the towns of Lyme and Dorchester, New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston. The family, which runs the Green Woodlands Foundation, has opened up the land to mountain bikers in the summer and nordic skiers in the winter, clearing about 30 miles of trails and stocking up on four warm huts with hot chocolate. There is no fee for skiing here, all you are asked for is a positive attitude along the way. Skis and boots are even provided free of charge through the anor system. The tracks were designed by a former Dartmouth College ski coach and Olympic biathlete named John Morton.
You can also ski for free at the atMeissner Nordic, a network of trails on U.S. Forest Service land. However, you will need a 4sno-Park parking permit, and donations to use the trail are recommended. The club that supports the area also keeps warming huts near the wood-burning trail. Show up for night skiing with a full moon, when the trails are filled with light bags with candles, or opt for free ski training days where volunteers teach lessons and local ski shops hand out free rentals.
Until recently, 1000-fill was a rare commodity. The jackets that included it were always few and far between. But this year will be bigger than usual, giving weight weenies new options for ultra-packable heat. However, don’t worry too much: the quantity will be limited and the prices will be high to what we are used to. Mountain Hardwear, for example, originally made only 2,000 of its flagship Ghost Whisperer UL ($375), while it can probably snag its best-selling 800-fill version for $ 50 less. Is the extra energy savings, and two ounces of weight, really worth it?
Calculating the filling capacity is a useful way to estimate the weight-to-heat ratio of various down jackets. Filling capacity is a measurement of fluff quality, and it is an approximate volume in cubic inches from an ounce down. So an ounce of 650-fill down takes up about 650 cubic inches of space, an ounce of 850-fill down works at 850 cubic inches, and so on. It is important to note that the filling power is not necessarily equal to the heat. Here’s what the numbers mean: because the 1000-down filler is high in volume, it’s not as dense as the other filled ones and has more room to catch the air in the plumage. A jacket with a filling of 650 takes up less volume than a jacket with a filling of 1000, which makes it more dense and has less space for hot air. But when it comes to warmth, what really matters is how much of that fluff is tucked into the jacket.
As an example, we will use UL Ghost Whisperer from Mountain Hardwear. The jacket features a two-ounce 1,000-fill down (this common measurement is often a page, though each brand lists it), which means it’s about 2,000 inches. Please note that the heat associated with the volume. So a jacket with 2,000 cubic inches of 800 fillers should be as warm as an identical jacket filled with 2,000 cubic inches of 1,000 fillers, like the Ghost Whisperer UL: a version with 1,000 fillers will be lighter.
But how much easier? Using a bit of high school algebra, we can work backwards by dividing 2 ounces of Ghost UL, 000 cubic inches below by 1000 to determine that the fluff weighs two. How does this compare to a jacket made of 800 fillers? The same 2,000 cubic inches (which means the jacket is just as warm), divided into 800 fillers, gives 2.5 ounces. Even a jacket made of 650 fillers of the same heat weighs only three ounces. In small jackets, the difference in weight from 1,000 to 850 may be minimal, although the difference may be greater in products such as sleeping bags that use tens of thousands of cubic inches of down.
So while strength shaves for those looking for weight in many jackets are probably all, if manufacturers spend big dollars filling their jackets with 1,000 padding, it’s probably because they’re trying to make them ultralight. This means that they will also try to minimize the weight of fabrics, zippers, and other features. But if the weight is less of a concern, they could increase durability and functionality and use cheaper down.
How I Tested
I took these packing jackets, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing all over the West between fall 2019 and summer 2020. Temperatures ranged from the low fifties to the fierce single digits below zero. Given the variety of jackets and their different warm-ups, each of them usually fell into their optimal ranges of activity and temperature. (The latter is the subject of an assessment based on my body, what I wore with the jackets, and the activity of the day.)
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL ($375)
Best For: Nerds obsessed with ultralight tech
Weight: 6.7 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 2 ounces
Optimal Temperature Range: 50 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit
There may never have been a fuller jacket at this weight, or at least I haven’t seen one yet. Thanks in large part to the featherweight nylon face fabric (or outer layer) that gives its name to the jacket, the Ghost Whisperer line was able to claim that title for a while. But the brand’s newest iteration swaps 800-fill for primo1, 000 stuffing and replaces ultralight Ten denier fabrics with frankly paper-light five-denier, bringing the weight of Ghost Whisperer UL to a billiard ball
That weight was enough to take on the peaks in summer travel in Montana. It’s a toasted intermediate layer (it fits perfectly under the ski shell) in the colder months, but it’s probably not the only one I’ve bloated on cold ski hikes (adding a park would be good for cold transitions). And at this heat level, the difference between the UL and the 8.8 oz 800-fill version will really only be noticeable on demanding ounce counters. Beyond the cost, the weight savings may or may not be worth the paranoia that comes from cleaning this jacket against a branch. I babied my own and still saw some slight inconvenience while bushwhacking.
Buy Men’s Buy Women’s
Eddie Bauer Centennial Collection MicroTherm 1000 ($399)
Best For: Moving while bundled up
Weight: 9.6 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 3.2 ounces
Optimal Temperature Range: 50 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit
The Micro Therm 1000 has only a little over an ounce down to Ghost UL, but the Bauertook has little on-face capability with the rugged (for this category) 20-den material. In addition, elastic fleece panels under the arms increase flexibility and breathability.
This jacket kept me a little warmer than the ghost whisper. I made myself comfortable at forty feet, not moving. The armpit panels didn’t seem to compromise the heat, but they were a nice feature as he moved over the tree line during fall hikes to Bear Peak in Boulder, Colorado, with early morning temperatures in the forties. The face cloth still deserves some care around sharp objects, but I felt confident to get stuck in my backpack or use it while walking and around blowing down.
Buy Men’s Buy Women’s
Mont Bell Plasma 1000 ($439)
Best For: Shoulder-season backpacking
Weight: 8.4 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 3.4 ounces
Optimal Temperature Range: 45 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit
While the downward weight of the Mont Bell is similar to that of the Eddie Bauer, the Plasma 1000 bulkhead design folds down slightly thicker, making it noticeably puffier and warmer than the Mount Hardwear or Eddie Bauerjackets. This was my hyped-up for winter desert hikes: Itook down Little Death Hollow to the Escalante River in Utah, where morning temperature didn’t creep past the high thirties. It was also a comfortable ski-crossing jacket in the days when the mercury was falling at the age of thirty. The fabric of the seven deniers ‘ face feels a bit light and light and was as delicate as that of the Ghost Whisperer: I tested the bracelet on a thick stone as I walked down the Escalante and injected a small tear, but the heat-to-weight ratio of the plasma is almost the best of the stones. It all comes down to a little less than a 32-ounce Nalgene.
Rab Zero G ($550)
Best For: Super-cold adventures
Weight: 10 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 4.05 ounces
Optimal Temperature Range: 35 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit
Large nipples, such as Rab’s Zero G, are where the 1,000-fill down value becomes most obvious. With the extra down inside (which uses more than twice the lower Ghost Whisperer), the weight difference between the equally warm padding and the jacket can be much more obvious. The Zero G was warm enough, like an insurance jacket for ice climbing or bloated for a full winter backpack up to Hyalite Canyon in Montana. The trade-off, however, is that the extra 1,000 padding makes this the most expensive jacket I’ve tried, for more than $ 110.
Zero G quickly became my favorite bloated winter on the days when the numbers fell well below zero. Thanks to the ten-denier face cloth, it remained surprisingly intact (I put a little Nick on the body with a wandering ice screw in my backpack), although it saw more use than any of its competitors.
Down offers an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio and extreme level of compressibility. Those features have made it the go-to insulation for outdoors enthusiasts since it was first used in a jacket by an Australian climber 98 years ago. But down also has one major flaw: when it gets wet, it loses its ability to loft and provide insulation. So for years, the gear industry has been looking for a replacement.
Lofted synthetic insulation materials are capable of maintaining their structure when wet, but even with recent advancements, they’ve never been able to truly match both the compressibility and weight of the real deal. Water-repellent treatments applied to down clusters have had limited success at reducing the material’s tendency to clump and lose loft when exposed to moisture. They’ve shifted the point at which down will clump but have not eliminated it entirely.
So what’s the answer? A collaboration between Sitka, a Montana-based hunting brand, and PrimaLoft, the well-known maker of synthetic insulation materials, may have found one by adding a synthetic structure—they call it “scaffolding”—to high-quality goose down, forcing it to retain its loft even when wet. I’ve been testing a jacket and a pair of insulated pants made from the material for the past month. Throughout the spring bear-hunting season, they’ve provided the warmth and packability we’ve all learned to expect from normal down insulation. But even through periods of heavy rain, they remained lofty. Heavy rain will penetrate the shell fabric and can pass through to the wearer’s skin, but it does not appear to otherwise impair the function of the clothing.
“Whether you’re crossing a stream or encountering rain, PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend will keep you warm, even if you find yourself in wet conditions,” says Vanessa Mason, PrimaLoft’s senior vice president of engineering.
Before I get going on this new technology, it’s worth revisiting the terminology involved.
Down: Down is a cluster, not a feather. If you think of a bird’s feathers as a shell, keeping wind and water out, then down is the fluffy insulation material between the bird’s skin and that shell. We use down the same way. We’ve all found pointy feathers poking out of down jackets, sleeping bags, quilts, and pillows, but that’s because the way down is harvested leaves some feathers with the down material. The subsequent processing to remove those feathers is one of the determining factors in the quality of the end product. In this case, the down employed in the unique blend created for Sitka by PrimaLoft is 93 percent down and 7 percent feathers. That’s very good; cheaper down insulation will typically have a higher feather percentage, but it’s rare to see that number made public.
Fill Power: This is the volume of space that one ounce of down is capable of lofting into. A higher fill power will not necessarily be warmer, but because you can use less of it to fill a given volume, it will be lighter and enable a garment made using it to compress into a smaller package. In this case, PrimaLoft and Sitka employ a 900-fill-power down in the blend. So one ounce will loft into 900 cubic inches. The two companies experimented with a 1,000-fill-power down but found it cost prohibitive. Previous down-blend materials created by PrimaLoft have used lower fill-power materials, but they haven’t been as light or as packable. Down can come from both ducks and geese; because geese are larger, they also produce larger down clusters, and larger clusters create higher fill-power numbers. The down included in this blend comes from geese.
DWR: A durable water-repellant coating is a treatment that can be applied both to down and to a garment’s face fabric, which can keep water from soaking into the fabric or cluster. There’s been a lot of improvement in DWR chemicals in recent years, reducing their environmental impact and expanding their effectiveness. Materials treated with DWR will be water-resistant—capable of shedding light precipitation—but not waterproof. They are not capable of keeping water out during very heavy precipitation, submersion, or even long-term exposure to moisture, such as a garment might experience while being worn through long-duration, high-exertion activities, particularly inside a a clothing system with limited breathability. In such cases, even DWR-treated down tends to clump; garments using it will lose their ability to insulate.
Both PrimaLoft and John Barklow, Sitka’s big-game project manager, have been trying to solve the issue of moisture and insulation for decades.
PrimaLoft was founded in the 1980s in response to the U.S. military’s search for an alternative to down that could remain warm when wet. In 1985, PrimaLoft patented a material called synthetic down, which would eventually be renamed PrimaLoft One. It was first employed in a civilian jacket by L.L.Bean in 1989.
After training Special Operations forces in outdoor survival, Barklow began working in clothing design following the 9/11 terror attacks and collaborating with Rick Elder (who now runs Beyond Clothing) to create the original protective combat uniform—a system of synthetic layers designed to help soldiers remain comfortable and safe while undergoing high-output activities in cold, wet weather.
In a way, this product represents the culmination of both parties’ efforts: everything that’s good about down, plus the ability to reliably work when wet.
The End Result
This isn’t the first time PrimaLoft has combined down and synthetic insulation. In 2013, the company released a blend that was 70 percent 750-fill down and 30 percent polyester fibers. It kept wearers warm, even when saturated with sweat or precipitation, but it didn’t truly match the packability or weight of a pure down insulation. Sitka was seeking a no-compromise product, so with Barklow’s input, PrimaLoft increased the down content to 80 percent and utilized a higher-fill-power down treated with a DWR coating.
That lighter, fluffier down is now supported by just enough synthetic fibers to force it to loft, even when it doesn’t want to. The result is an insulation that genuinely retains its ability to insulate when soaked through with sweat, precipitation, or, in my testing, pouring water on it from a bucket and dunking it in a sink. In fact, I’ve been unable to create conditions that result in clumping.
This is particularly important, because the insulation can be used in the lifesaving rewarming drill that Barklow invented during his time as a Special Operations forces trainer, which is designed to help an individual drag their body out of hypothermic conditions with nothing but exercise and clothing capable of quickly drying. In less dire conditions, it means that wearers can simply don an item of clothing made from the blend over wet clothes and expect the heat generated by wearing it to help dry those saturated clothes. That hasn’t been possible with down before, because the moisture moving outward from the wearer’s body would instead saturate the down, eliminating its ability to insulate and leaving you wet and cold.
“This is going to keep on delivering warmth, even when other downs will fail,” says Barklow. He’s used the material in two products: the Kelvin Lite Down jacket, and the Kelvin Lite Down 3/4 pant. But he didn’t stop there. The jacket actually foregoes the down blend under its arms and in the lower-back area in favor of a pure PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation. The pants do the same in the panels that cover your butt.
Using PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend across all parts of the jacket and pants would add cost and decrease performance. In areas of the jacket and pants that are typically compressed while being worn, down insulation wouldn’t provide warmth. So sticking with less compressible insulation in these areas enables the garments to provide insulation where the weight of your arms, a pack’s hipbelt, or simply sitting would eliminate the benefits of down.
Those insulation materials are contained in a very light 20-denier nylon face fabric equipped with two-way stretch. The stretch isn’t there to add freedom of movement but rather a level of durability that defies the system’s light weight. If you catch it on a branch or a rock, it will stretch rather than tear.
Both the Sitka jacket and pants feel as light, warm, and packable as normal high-quality, ultralight down items. What they offer is increased reliability. And because you can count on them to work no matter the conditions, the real innovation here is that they enable you to carry fewer pieces and less weight as a result.
“Weight is critical, but you don’t want to compromise your safety for weight,” says Barklow. “In a worst-case scenario, this will continue to retain loft and continue to be warm.”
This is it: the electric pickup truck everyone has been waiting for. The all-new GMC Hummer EV isn’t only the first zero emissions pickup, it’s also the first electric 4×4 from a mainstream manufacturer. And, if that’s not enough, it’ll be the fastest off-roader ever available to the public, too.
We’ve got exclusive details.
“We had one goal for Hummer: build the most capable factory truck ever,” says Al Oppenheiser, the vehicle’s chief engineer. In designing the truck, General Motors leveraged the performance advantages offered by electric motors and set out to design “an absolute off-road beast,” according to the engineer. The fact that the Hummer doesn’t produce any tailpipe emissions is almost an incidental benefit.
The Hummer brand was created in 1992 to sell a civilian version of the military’s Humvee. In 1998, it was acquired by General Motors, which grew the brand into offering a range of large, inefficient, gas-powered SUVs. When GM went bankrupt in 2009, it decided to sell the brand, but was unable to find a buyer, and the last of those internal combustion Hummers was produced in 2010.
Like Ford with its new Mustang Mach E, GM wants to leverage the strength of an existing brand to ensure it resonated with the car buying public. Hummer no longer has its own dealer network, so building this new EV under its GMC truck brand provides that mechanism for distribution, while casting a halo around future GMC electric vehicles. This should be obvious, but it’s worth repeating: the Hummer EV shares no parts with the internal combustion-powered Hummers of the 2000s.
The 2022 GMC Hummer EV will enter production during the fall of 2021, and will initially be available only in a trim level the company is calling Edition 1. That first version will be priced at $112,595 and come equipped with three motors producing a total of 1,000 horsepower, along with software that enables the truck to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds, four-wheel steering, height-adjustable air suspension, an off-road oriented torque vectoring system I’ll detail below, GM’s Super Cruiser semi-autonomous driving technology, and a removable glass roof.
More trim levels will begin rolling out in the fall of 2022, first with a $100,000 version that will come with all the performance options, but on which most of the luxury features will be optional, then in spring of 2023, a slower, two-motor version will be priced at $90,000. Finally, in Spring of 2024, a basic two-motor Hummer EV without the air suspension or other advanced off-road technologies will be available for $80,000. All signs point toward the Hummer EV beating both the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian R1T and R1S to market.
It appears as if all versions of the Hummer EV will achieve at least 350-miles of range on a single charge, and will be able to take advantage of the new 350-kilowatt high output fast charging stations that are being installed in public places around the country, allowing them to add 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
All Edition 1s will be identical, featuring white paint and the light gray interior pictured here. Special off-road equipment will include 35-inch, specially-developed Goodyear mud-terrain tires (37s can fit without modification), underbody skid plates, rock sliders (metal rails that protect the area of the body underneath the doors), and underbody cameras.
Off-road capability is defined by traction, gearing, angles, and articulation. I spoke with Aaron Pfau, the Hummer EV’s lead development engineer, and Mike Colville, GM’s senior manager of Electric Vehicle Integration in order to find out more about those four things.
On an internal combustion four-wheel drive vehicle, power is distributed through a center differential or coupling that, when locked, apportions 50 percent of motive force to each axle. Those matched axle speeds are what’s traditionally known as four-wheel drive, but when the going gets slippery, the wheels on each axle with the least traction still get all the power, causing them to spin. To lock the speeds of all four wheels together in order to maximize traction, you need locking differentials on both axles, too.
Equipped with multiple motors, electric vehicles are going to have to approach off-road traction differently. Pfau and Colville say that one of the Hummer EV's three motors is located on the front axle, driving the front wheels through a locking differential. Each of the rear wheels is powered by a dedicated motor. A drive model selector will enable drivers to select the kind of terrain they’re tackling, and the Hummer EV will alter variables like wheel speeds, ride height, and throttle response to suit. Software that constantly compares the individual speeds of each wheel to the overall speed of the vehicle will enable the motors to match the speeds of all four wheels, mimicking the function of four-wheel drive and locking diffs. But, the ability to individually power the rear wheels also allows the system to direct power to whichever of those has the most traction. That ability to vector torque towards traction should endow the Hummer EV with an unprecedented ability to keep moving forward through even the gnarliest of slippery conditions.
In recent years, internal combustion 4x4s have adopted a brake-based alternative to locking axle diffs. By using the antilock braking system to quickly tweak invidivual calipers, wheel speeds are matched when necessary, without the need to compromise a vehicle's ability to steer, and with minimal involvement from the driver. Pfau clarifies that the Hummer EV will also be fitted with such a system, but that the vehicle will prioritize the use of torque vectoring off-road. “Why slow down when you can instead apply power,” Pfau says.
The ability of a vehicle to climb and descend very steep obstacles has traditionally been provided by gearing. Gears multiply the force an internal combustion engine is able to exert on the wheels. GM is not yet releasing a torque figure for the Hummer EV’s electric motors, only the end result of multiplying that motor output by the vehicle’s gearing: 11,500 pound-feet of torque. Without knowing the other parts of that equation we can’t create a comparison to other vehicles, but since electric motors produce their maximum torque from the very beginning of their rotations, that number does at least allow us to ascertain that steep terrain shouldn’t be an obstacle for this thing.
I was able to shake approach, departure, and breaker angles out of the company. Those are the steepest obstacles a vehicle is able to climb onto, off of, or over. And the Hummer EV is going to be able to climb onto, off of, and over some very, very steep stuff. Angles for the current four-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon are 43.9 degreed (approach), 37 degrees (departure), and 22.6 degrees (breakover). At its standard ride height setting, the Hummer EV offers 44.3 degrees of approach, 33.7 degrees of departure, and 25.4 degrees of breakover. But, adjust the suspension to its maximum ride height and those numbers increase to 49.7 (approach), 38.4 (departure), and 33.2 (breakover). The Wrangler Rubicon is generally accepted to be the most capable 4×4 currently available, that the Hummer EV is able to offer such significantly steeper angles is simply extraordinary.
GM isn’t talking articulation numbers or suspension arrangements yet, and at the time of writing, I have not even seen a picture of the finished vehicle. It seems certain that without power to distribute through traditional axles that all four wheels of the Hummer EV will be individually suspended. If the company has been able to overcome the traditional limitations of independent suspension and has figured out a solution that can match (or even beat) the articulation offered by live axles—and I see no reason why that wouldn’t be possible—then we could legitimately be talking about not only a vehicle that exceeds the off-road capability of any stock truck before it, but which legitimately ushers in an entirely new era off-road driving.
One thing we do know the Hummer EV is doing with its suspension is rear wheel steering. To the best of my knowledge that’s only ever been offered before on a very small number of sports cars, and never before on an off-roader. Those sports cars use the technology to aid turning speeds, and are equipped with only a very small degree of rear steering angle. Pfau and Colville say that the Hummer EV will able to turn its rear wheels a full ten degrees though, an ability that it will use to boost maneuverability in tight turns, and grant the vehicle the ability to drive diagonally at low speeds.
That’s a whole lot of dry analysis and numbers all trying to describe what’s actually adding up to be a very exciting vehicle. So, I asked Colville what it was like to drive. “It’s something entirely different,” the engineer describes. “With the removable roof and the near total silence from the electric motors, it just really makes you feel like you’re immersed in the environment.”