I live and play in Gunnison, Colorado, one of the coldest cities in the United States. With winter lows that sink below -20 on the regular and barely creep into single digits somedays, it’s the perfect venue to test out Columbia’s TurboDown tech inside and out.
On my first frigid testing mission at Gunnison's Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, the TurboDown's light weight stood out dramatically—it makes my other jackets seem heavy as steel curtains in comparison. But it retained body heat incredibly efficiently and deflected a biting wind with ease, eliminating the need for additional layers. The insulation features a combination of 850-fill down and 40 grams of Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat Insulation. The interior shell appears to be covered in high-tech material sourced from NASA, but to the innovative folks at Columbia it’s called “Omni Heat.” This thermal reflective material enables the jacket to provide more insulation and warmth than you’d expect from such a featherweight packable piece, but it’s breathable too so you don’t overheat. The ergonomic hood seals the deal and makes this jacket cozy enough to sleep in.
Being a photographer, I spend a lot of time waiting around for that one banger shot, and keeping warm during those times is one of my biggest challenges. From exploring the high desert in the early morning hours in sub-zero temps to capturing long exposures late at night, this jacket kept me dialed and warm throughout. The outer shell is water resistant (not waterproof) as I learned after spending several ours outside in a snowstorm. The shell is on the thin side to reduce weight and enhance breathability, so beware of rogue tree branches and other sharp objects to avoid tears.
The white colorway is a little too steezy and easy to stain for me, so I prefer either the graphite or black version. An additional inside pocket for goggles and snacks would be nice but isn’t a deal breaker. Other than that I was hard-pressed to find any negatives for this versatile piece. The pound-for-pound performance and versatility of Columbia's TurboDown jacket are its strongest qualities, and I’ll be packing it on all my winter missions. $325 | columbia.com
Words + Photos by Preston Hoffman
Simon Peterson slays some spring pow in the La Sals. April, 2009. We camped above Moab for three nights and more than a foot of snow fell in the mountains. The avalanche danger was "High" so we kept it mellow and milked some "hippy pow."
Photo by Mike Horn
One of many epic views from the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. This one was worth stopping for.
PHOTO BY MIKE HORN
This shot was taken just north of San Francisco while surfing with friends in December 2014.
Photo: Randy Elles | Location: Bolinas, CA
PHOTO JUSTIN CASH
Caption + Photo Justin Cash
Speed, beauty and determination are some of the first words that come to mind when describing 18-year-old BMX racer Mikayln Shaw. Add a heavy dose of true-grit toughness and top-tier talent and you’ve got one of the top competitors in the 17-20 Elite Women's Division. I had the pleasure of catching up with Mikalyn—who is a member of USA BMX and rides for Doublecross Bikes—this fall as she approached the closing races of her last amateur season. Read on as the Bailey, Colorado native reflects on fast tracks and riding with a broken wrist, and dreams big about her future in BMX as she turns pro.
Interview + Photos by Preston Hoffman
StokeLab: What got you started racing in the first place?
Mikalyn: My older brothers were actually into biking. We went to a track one year for one of their birthdays, and I tried riding one of their bikes. It was a lot of fun, and I had just quit dancing, so…that’s when BMX just kind of took over (laughs). I needed something with a little more adrenaline.
What’s going through your head when you're at the starting gate? I try to keep a clear mind and not think about the race, and just go out and do my thing.
What makes for a great track? Any track that’s super fast. In Kentucky there’s a place called Derby City—it’s downhill so it’s really fast which makes it a blast. Nashville has a really fun track that’s downhill, too. If the track is fast, it gives me more confidence to do well, knowing that I can give it all I have. Some tracks just flow better all-around, and are a little smoother, but either way you just have to make the most of it.
How do you adjust to different tracks when you travel so much? I visualize when I need to jump this, or manual that, and which is going to be the fastest line. At Nationals you only get maybe 4-5 laps for practice, so you really have to know the track.
You broke your wrist at the Las Vegas Nationals. How did the injury impact your season? Well, I was in a cast for like six weeks overall. But the race after that I raced in my cast anyway (laughs). It kinda sucked, but at least I was racing. I told myself, ‘I have to race, it’s in Colorado.’ I couldn’t exactly ride how I wanted to—but it was still fun. To me, it [the injury] just motivates me more and makes me want to come back even stronger. There are definitely some downfalls and hard days of course, but I just focus on not letting that bring me down.
What’s coming up next? Well I’m turning pro next year, so that’ll be a huge change. You don’t get to race as many Nationals because there are only Pro Series races, and females only race in the Elite Pro Series, where as the guys race in two different classes like A Pro and AA Pro.
Who do you look up to for motivation? My favorite rider is probably Caroline Buchanan, she rides for DK.
Is there one goal that you would ultimately like to achieve in BMX? I would like to shoot for the 2020 Olympics, which would be pretty awesome. It’s something that I have always dreamed of, so it helps me keep motivated.
Colorado for life, or are you open to living somewhere else? I would like to live [in a place] where it’s a bit warmer, so I could ride all year long, but Colorado is pretty solid (laughs)….
Our friends over at Romp in Crested Butte just debuted their limited-edition snowboard project by partnering with longtime Crested Butte local and storied shred Seth Weiner. Seth was the co-founder of Crested Butte's iconic snowboard shop "The Colorado Boarder."
A little background on Seth: He rode his first Snurfer in 1975 in his Ohio backyard. By 1977, he was snowboarding the Colorado backcountry. In 1987 Seth co-founded the Colorado Boarder in Mt Crested Butte, Colo., and a legendary shop was born. Seth says he and the Colorado Boarder crew "sold, rented, broke, and fixed snowboards for the next 14 years." During this time he also competed in the Rocky Mountain Snowboard series and judged many snowboard events. Seth still rides in Crested Butte and judges a successful season by how many over-the-head powder days he gets in the backcountry.
According to Romp co-founder Caleb Weinberg, Seth designed this board to be an all-mountain crusher for riding fast in varied terrain, whether it's a blower pow day or chalky hard day on the steeps. Romp builds all their skis—and now select snowboards—in Crested Butte.
Romp plans to build 10 boards for this run, and they will work with a different designer for each special release. Once they're gone, they're gone.
Available exclusively in a 160cm. Learn more at RompSkis.com or chat up Seth the next time you see him at the trailhead. —MH
PHOTO BY JUSTIN CASH
PHOTO BY JUSTIN CASH
PHOTO BY JUSTIN CASH
PHOTO BY JUSTIN CASH
We've never met a MacAskill edit that we didn't like, and "The Ridge" reminds us why. Danny jumps on a mountain bike in his native Isle of Skye, Scotland for this round of white-knuckled riding in the most beautiful and unforgiving terrain possible. So friggan sick. —MH
PHOTO BY MIKE HORN
The Monarch Crest Trail is revered as one of the best rides in the U.S. for a slew of good reasons, but to be honest I'd forgotten just how good it was until revisiting it in mid-September.
For one, it's rare you get to ride this much singletrack above treeline. After the initial climb it snakes in and out of the alpine, approaching 12,000 feet before plummeting thousands of feet into Salida, Colorado.
There are definitely some ups in between, but the downhill is so sustained and rowdy at times that your hands literally go numb. The Silver Creek section of the Crest is officially one of my top five favorite descents on the planet.
Needless to say the views are as breathtaking as the high altitude. On clear days, six mountain ranges are visible from the Crest: Pikes Peak and the Mosquito Range to the east; the Sangre de Cristos to the southeast; the San Juan Mountains to the southwest; the Uncompahgre Plateau to west; the Elk Mountains to the northwest; and the Sawatch Range to the north.
Fall was just starting to show its colors, especially at higher elevations. We opted to add on the Rainbow Trail at the end, and the nine miles of dips, drops, stinger climbs and flowy track did not disappoint. The Rainbow Trail is rowdy right to the very last switchback, and just when I thought my hands would fall off I popped out onto the road that carried us the last several miles into Poncha Springs and the truck we left in town.
It was nearly 10 p.m. by the time I made it home to Crested Butte after running shuttles and grabbing mandatory pies at Mikey's in Gunnison. An epic mission, for sure, and one for the memory books.
Words + Photos By Mike Horn
"Where does the 800-pound gorilla stand? Anywhere it wants to."
Something strange, unprecedented even, happened in Crested Butte this past weekend. A beer company—Anheuser-Busch—turned our remote mountain town into a movie set of sorts. I say "of sorts" because "Whatever, USA" felt like a music festival, carnival, TV commercial and frat party rolled in to one. As part of an ad campaign for Bud Light, 1,000-plus contest winners who were deemed "Up For Whatever" were whisked up to 8,885 feet for an all-you-can-drink throwdown in the mountains. It was a party of epic proportions, for contestants and locals alike.
Controversy swirled leading up to the takeover for a number of reasons, political and otherwise, but the event itself was tons of fun. How often do the likes of DJ ?uest Love, Lil Jon, Vanilla Ice and Charli XCX play free shows on Elk Ave.?
My biggest complaint is that locals were shut out of the main events at Big Mine Arena (and we couldn't ride the Ferris Wheel!). If Bud Light REALLY wanted to see who was #UpForWhatever, they should've opened the doors to the rowdiest locals in all the land. Just saying'. And, not to look a blue gift horse in the mouth, but I won't be drinking another Bud Light anytime soon…unless it's free of course.