SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Inspired by Everest, Blessed by Buddhist Prayer Flags: Sherpa Adventure Gear Goes the Distance

Engineered for technical outdoor pursuits and even the coldest of snowshoeing adventures, Sherpa Adventure Gear’s combination of the Mantra Jacket, Himal Pant and Renzing Hat combines modern-day fabrics with Nepalese influence.    

My Sherpa Adventure Gear discovery originated among the trafficked floors of the 2011 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City.  The booth was an extravagant resemblance of a Buddhist temple under the power and protection of Nepalese prayer flags.  Even for a trade show booth, it was a sight to be marveled.  It inspired an urgency to try what Sherpa Adventure Gear had to offer for my future snowshoeing expeditions in Devil’s Thumb Ranch and Glacier National Park.

Not to be ignored, the company and its gear are a remarkable blend of Sherpa culture, contemporary designs, and the splendor of the Himalayan lands.  The Sherpa Renzing Hat shines brightly as the company’s cornerstone unique flavor for providing top gear knitted by Nepalese women in the valley of Kathmandu.  

Made with 100 percent lambswool, the hand-knit hat is itch-free and extremely warm.  As pictured, I used the hat during my snowshoeing trek in Glacier National Park – where the temps reached as low as -15F on the trail.  The hat’s wool fibers were covered in frost from the condensation of my labored breathing while snowshoeing.  And my head stayed warm for the entire trek.    

By purchasing a hat, you directly support the livelihoods of Sherpa families in the far regions of Nepal at the foot of the majestic Mt. Everest.  Of course, you also receive a hat that’s made from wool that insulates, breathes and regulates your noggin’s temperature.  The microfleece earband lining adds warmth and comfort.  Plus, the hat looks different and unique – not what every snowshoer is wearing on the trail. 

The Mantra Jacket and Himal Pant combo proved to be ideal for snowshoeing – especially during my hikes among the beautiful snowy acreage of Devil’s Thumb Ranch.  However, Sherpa designs its gear with durability and weight in mind.  

Real-life Sherpas pack a tremendous amount of weight in and out of the Himalayas – each ounce makes a difference.  But what would call for complexity in the engineering of garments, Sherpa Adventure Gear is surprisingly straightforward and thoughtfully contrived.

Sherpa Adventure Gear is influenced by the Sherpa culture, which surrounds more than just mountaineering and an appreciation for the outdoors.  Sherpas are also known for their admiration of farming, a devotion to Tibetan Buddhism, and a naturally peaceful community.  The gear I tested in the snowy landscapes of Colorado and Montana was a pleasant extension of that heritage.  

The Mantra is a hybrid jacket that incorporates a front and back that lightly insulates the body’s core with PrimaLoft.  The sleeves and neck area are made of resilient wool that adds to the jacket’s overall warmth.  While it seems bulky, it’s far from it: The Mantra is a highly compressible jacket for easy packing.  

Don’t rule-out the essentials.  The jacket’s innovation is focused on the combination of materials that are breathable, odor resistant, water resistant and wind proof.  This versatile blend of wool, nylon, and PrimaLoft offers a durable solution to one-day treks and enough support for multi-day slogs. 

For the day-tripper, the Mantra can be worn with a reliable base layer (preferably wool) and offers the warmth needed in combination with the expected exertion of snowshoeing.  Supporting features include two zip side pockets and a chest pocket (sadly, no inside pocket).  

In addition, the sleeves include thumbholes to prevent bunching and shifting when slipping on a shell jacket.  And to help with maintaining a tight seal around the core, the Mantra offers a Lycra binding at the hem.  

Designed for ice climbing, the Himal pants are truly what snowshoers require for the deep snow pack and icy trails – total awesomeness.  The Himal’s gusseted crotch and articulated knees provide an enhanced range of motion for snowshoers who aim to trudge through deep snow and steep ascents.  

Of course, with this set of features, snowshoers require a garment that unites stretchability and resiliency.  Again, the Himal Pant was made for ice climbing, so it’s a natural crossover for snowshoeing: Water repellency, and unrestricted range of mobility and breathability.

This season, I had the opportunity to test several soft shell pants.  Most offered the usual desired qualities, but the Himals supplied more than the basics.  On top of its three-layer bonded fabric are six zip pockets (two side, two back and two cargo) and Schoeller instep patches to protect the inner ankle areas from sharp edges, crampons and cleats/spikes.  

In my opinion, the Himal’s pockets make up for the Mantra’s lack of pocket capacity.  Plus, shredding a good pair of soft shell pants is always a bummer.  The instep patches are a wonderful addition to the Himal’s features – my favorite, in fact.  Further supporting the instep areas are two ankle zips to allow for easy on/off over large boots.  

The Sherpa Adventure Gear Mantra, Himal and Renzing trio are aptly prepared for any snowshoeing occasion.  However, I was reminded of the Sherpa’s legacy with the Mantra’s zipper pull, which resembled a grouping of prayer flags.  While this offered no advantage to the design of the jacket, it was a subtle reminder of the importance of tradition and the human experience.  Sherpa Adventure Gear is no mainstream brand with a penchant for the ordinary; it’s a copious plunge into the creativity of a serene civilization.

Check out the various colors of Renzing Hats: http://bit.ly/eJueIp.  

For more information on Sherpa Adventure Gear, visit http://www.sherpaadventuregear.com.  To purchase some Sherpa gear on Backcountry.com, click here