COLDSMOKE CHRONICLES : COSTA RICA RAINY SEASON

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When we heard our friends Jamie and Taylor were headed down to Costa Rica during the rainy season we thought it would be the perfect occasion to test out our eVent waterproof and super breathable rain jackets and our new Fidlock travel shorts.

Words by Jamie:

For years now I’ve dreamt about surfing Pavones, one of the longest left hand point breaks in the world. So for my birthday we flew to Central Costa Rica, rented a car and adventured down south to the Costa Rica, Panama border.  We took a weeks time, surfing and finding unique accommodations along the way.  A true sense of freedom.  We surfed in warm water with macaws flying overhead.  Fact: macaws fly in pairs and mate for life, if one dies the other will too shortly after.  It was very romantic.

After a few days of driving, we finally made it to Pavones.  The waves were fun and the next few days consisted of nothing but surfing, eating, exploring the jungle, lounging in our bungalow and of course, more surfing.  It was a beautiful birthday to remember.

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FIELD TEST: THE NEW FIDLOCK SHORTS

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After a winter of record rains, it’s the perfect time of year to wander the So-Cal mountains in search of once-in-a-decade swimming holes and waterfalls.

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So a few weeks ago we drove north to Ojai’s Matilija valley, one of our favorite places on earth and spent the day scrambling through the deep gorges.

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The overgrown trails, steep boulder strewn ravines, and frequent swimming holes made this the perfect terrain to test our new Fidlock shorts.

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After hours of boulder hopping and creek crossings we were rewarded with an epic double-tiered waterfall.

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ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME ADVENTURE THROUGH JAPAN’S SNOW COUNTRY

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We outfitted #coldstoked winner Kellen Mohr and friends for a once-in-a-lifetime RV adventure through Japan’s  empire of powder. Words and #35mm photographs by Kellen Mohr. Video by Chris Naum

 

Ski With Your Friends from Christopher Naum on Vimeo.

 

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Coldsmoke jackets safely stowed in our luggage, Chris and I boarded our flight to Tokyo with visions of bottomless powder, steaming ramen, and endless dry beers dancing in our heads as the California sun began to ooze over the Pacific. Who-knows-how-many-hours later, after lugging our ski bags through airports and on and off buses on the other side of the same ocean, we arrived in Rusutsu on the northern island of Hokkaido to see our friend Makenzie pull up in the van of our dreams, ready to whisk us to our waiting friends in the small cabin perched above Lake Tōya that would serve as our base camp for the next week.

 

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Days blurred together as we settled into a routine. Wake up, make breakfast, scramble around the cabin as the six of us gathered our gear for the day ahead, ski down the pump track we built down to the van, head for the hills, stop at a Seico Mart to grab a days worth of rice balls, cans of hot coffee, weird pastries, and tallboys, pull off the road to hit the infamous avalanche barriers that stand guard above Japan’s mountain passes, cruise into the lot at Kiroro Resort, acquire backcountry passes, and lap what the resort aptly calls the “Powder Zone” before beating a hasty retreat to a steaming onsen.

 

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Other days we elected to earn our turns, tumbling out of the van at a trailhead and skinning up through fairytale forests with the promise of deep stashes and powder slashes just around the corner. Before we knew it, a week had passed and we were trading the cabin in for a decidedly Japan-sized RV. Everything is smaller over there with the exception of the snowpack! The snow showed no signs of letting up at Kiroro, so we headed back, parked the RV in the base lot, and continued to pillage the Powder Zone.

 

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All too soon, we were dropping the RV off, saying goodbyes to the rest of the group, and Chris and I were headed to bask in the neon glow of Tokyo before our flight back to the US of A. We spent a sleepless 36 hours soaking in the sensory smorgasbord of Tokyo – from the eerily still imperial palace gardens to the hustle and bustle of Shibuya Crossing, the coziness of micro-restaurants tucked away in gas-lit alleys to the trolley-dodging chaos of the Tsukiji fish market, we roamed far and wide before boarding our flight home from the land of the rising sun.

 

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SNOW SURF: THE COLDWATER SURF PHOTOGRAPHY OF RYAN STRUCK

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Recently we linked up with photographer Ryan Struck, who brings “earn-your-turn” credentials and a talented eye to the task of capturing cold water surf stoke.

Ryan says, “The ‘Snow Surf’ series shows the coldest highs a surfer from the East Coast experiences. The water is mind numbing, quite literally after your first duck dive. I’ve definitely felt dazed shooting from the water after getting pounded by a big set, it really adds a different element to this pursuit of happiness.

Iceland, Alaska, and Norway are all the rage these days. Beyond the newly circulating surf photos people have been surfing in the snow and cold for decades. The Northeast is a beautiful and oft grumpy surf locale, the locs aren’t surfing for photos or marketing campaigns- they don’t want you shooting their waves at all. I respect that. Everyone pictured are friends of mine, we break bread and they trust I won’t blow their spot up when its firing. The surf community in the Northeast is a tight group and I’m ever inspired by their passion for wave riding, even in the snow.”

Enjoy!

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LISTEN TO THE SOOTHING SOUNDS OF A POLAR ICEBREAKER

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Noisy neighbors? Restless mind? Anxiety?  Press play on this recording of sub-zero reverberations titled “White Noise Sounds of Frozen Arctic Ocean with Polar Icebreaker Idling – Creating Delta Waves”.  A strangely satisfying 10-hour recording of distant howling wind, falling snow, and groaning ice. According to the video’s accompanying description, it was designed for “relaxation, meditation, study and sleep.” Vice calls it the “year’s best best ambient album.” We use it to channel arctic inspiration into next winter’s designs.

HYPEBEAST FEATURES: COLDSMOKE X GENERAL ADMISSION EDITORIAL

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Venice Beach stalwarts COLDSMOKE and General Admission recently teamed up on an exclusive editorial for winter 2016-2017. The lush imagery features a wide array of winter essentials culled from a bevy of major labels including adidas, Brain Dead, Norse Projects, Wings+Horns, New Balance, Rone and more. What’s more, the editorial showcases forthcoming items from COLDSMOKE such as the brand’s highly sought after C_Change fishtail parka, the Cruiser jacket, and the Polartec Windbloc sweatpants.

Select pieces in the editorial are for sale at General Admission.

CONGRATS MASON STREHL: OUR WINTER #COLDSTOKED WINNER

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Congratulations to Pacific Northwest native Mason Strehl, this season’s #coldstoked photo contest winner! What can we say that his photos don’t already. Fantastic shots of fun times in beautiful places.

As for the prize, we’re outfitting Mason on his upcoming adventure from Bellingham Washington up to Fairbanks Alaska. The kit includes the MA-1, The Cruiser Jacket, and Aurora Down Jacket.

You’ll be able to follow along with Mason via our instagram feed. And don’t forget to tag your own adventures #coldstoked for your chance to win.

We asked Mason to select twelve shots from his portfolio and tell us a little about each. Check out the stories and splendor below:

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This photo is from a mid-summer camping trip around the Mt. Baker wilderness. After a beautiful sunset and a clear, starry night we awoke enveloped in clouds. Instead of heading out we built a fire and made some coffee and just enjoyed the cool, wet weather. It’s definitely something you have to get used to living in Washington.

 

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This photo is from one of my many “suicide trips” of the summer. I left town the day before around 11pm and drove 3 hours to the Maple loop trailhead. I took a quick hour long nap once I got there and started hiking to reach the pass by sunrise. I continued along the loop and snapped a picture of Heather Lake, then headed down to the lake and swam out to that island in the freezing cold water. After that I was thoroughly chilled and I headed home getting back around noon – not bad for 13 hours out of town.

 

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When I lived in Oregon, I used to spend days just driving the coast and hiking and camping all up and down it. This was before Instagram started blowing spots up, and there was nothing cliche about going and shooting anywhere. I actually stumbled upon Samuel H. Boardman State park completely by accident and captured it as I discovered it over the day.

 

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After a night of camping with some really good people. Dylan Furst (@Fursty) , John Winfield (@johnwingfield) , Bridget Smith (@wanderingalaskan) and I were headed out camping and we got an invite from Andrew Kearns (@andrewtkearns) to spend the night with him and Tina Niemitalo (@tinaniemitalo) out at a spot he knew about. We were joined by Bex Fairleigh (@youngbex) and we spent the night around a fire cooking and laughing and getting to know each other. The next morning we woke up to one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen and I captured Andrew capturing a portrait of Bex amid the morning light.

 

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Mt. Baker wilderness has quickly become my favorite place since moving out to Washington. I’ve spent way too much time just out and about wandering the colorful fields and forrest. This particular trip I headed out and got lost with one of my favorite dogs Millie the Golden (@millethegolden). This was caught just as the evening sun came down getting ready to set.

 

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This photo is from the hands down best sunset I’ve seen in my life. Another Mt. Baker adventure with friends, we reached Artist Point just before sunset and ran around like madmen shooting and staring in awe at the light and cloud display nature was putting on for us.

 

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Another “suicide trip”. This one was pretty insane, I left after work and drove to Whistler and met with one of my photography and videography idols Aaron Leyland. He told me about a hidden cabin back in the mountains, and as I didn’t have anywhere to stay for the night I headed out to find it. I eventually found the road and drove as far up as my car would take me. When I couldn’t drive up anymore I got out and walked with my gear in snow and heavy winds. I didn’t reach the cabin till around 10pm, and I was completely soaked through. I started a fire in the cozy cabin and a local cruised up in his old Land Cruiser and joined me for the night. He was nice enough to give me a lift back to my car in the morning.

 

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This photo is from the same trip as the one above, just on the way home. I got a bit tired driving back and decided to pull off the road just outside Squamish and take a quick nap. I snapped this before I went to sleep.

 

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Another trip out to BC. This shot came during a 24 hour trip up to Garibaldi Provincial Park. I took off at around 5pm and shot up and stayed the night in the Garibaldi Lake trailhead. I got up at 5am and hiked the 18km trail in just a few hours, but managed to catch a few good shots on the way. My engine actually ended up blowing up on the way home from this trip so the rest of the day consisted of a long tow truck ride and a strong drink.

 

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Me and Dylan Furst decided to head out for a day of hiking in the rain out in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and after a long day of wet and cold adventuring we settled into our camp site for the night. This was the view I woke up to.

 

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This photo was one of my more recent shots from a trip to Alaska. I traveled up to Fairbanks with Megan Evanson (@megan_evanson) for a week and we decided to head to Summit County for the day. We spent the day exploring frozen river beds, icy canyons, and some very cold mountains, all in a brisk -30º F.

 

 

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One of my personal favorites, this shot came during a recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula. It was my first time out there, and some friends showed me the good spots. This suspended tree is definitely one of those spots, and as I love to hammock, I decided to throw one up directly underneath it. More camp coffee was made, and more hangs with friends were had.

 

ICELAND BY WINTER

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Cinematographer Justin Kane  and Designer Faye McAuliffe explore Iceland’s west coast.

COLDSMOKE CHRONICLES: IRELAND

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WHAT DO PUNKS, TEST PILOTS, AND YEEZY HAVE IN COMMON? A MICROSHINER REVIEW

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As a kid growing up in the 80s, there were few things I wanted more than a MA-1 flight jacket. What exactly provoked this desire, I couldn’t say, but at the Army Navy Surplus where I would invariably drag my parents, the MA-1 always stood out as the one piece of gear I just had to have. Fortunately, unlike the Atari console that evoked a similar pre-teen lust, I was lucky enough to actually get my hands on one. The MA-1 began life as a new lightweight flight jacket designed to replace the heavy leather bomber jackets used in World War Two. Made from the now readily available nylon fabric, the MA-1 was a perfect compliment to the technologic innovations of the jet age. Sleek and warm, the jacket was issued to air force pilots and naval aviators of many countries and saw widespread use in the decades between the Korean and Vietnam wars.

 

Interest in the jacket from the private sector, driven initially by the military surplus and black markets, spurred manufacturers Alpha Industries and later Rothco to begin supplying the MA-1 to commercial customers. Owing to the significant presence of US military forces there, the jacket first became fashionable throughout Europe and Japan in the 70s, largely with punk and other subcultures. By the time I was sporting one in the mid-80s, the design had become popularized, if not ubiquitous.

 

Still, there is no denying it’s fashion chops. Stylish, functional, and with more than ample street cred, it’s no wonder you find the likes of Bradley Cooper and Gigi Hadid wearing one. Both bootleg and bespoke versions abound, but we challenge you to find any better than this example from our friends at Coldsmoke.

 

Coldsmoke is a core apparel company born, like the MA-1, out of a real need, in this case high quality technical gear for heliski guides in British Columbia. The crew at Coldsmoke took this experience and leveraged it into a clothing line for the total landscape, meticulously designed and consciously manufactured with their close-knit clientele in mind. Using short runs and direct marketing to remain nimble and unfettered, Coldsmoke deftly bridges the gap between technical performance and fashionable good looks. What better to exemplify this philosophy than a MA-1?

 

Stepping off from their already preeminently qualified standard issue construction, the crew at Coldsmoke has just dropped a new MA-1 in navy using dead-stock Japanese flight cloth. Only 28 of these remarkable jackets are in existence, meaning that they are rarer than a Ferrari 250 GT California Spider. Only a hell of a lot more obtainable.

SWIMMING HEADLESS: A SHORT FILM ON GETTING THROUGH BY BEING PRESENT

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It’s a hardwired fact – we have no control over the difficulties life decides to throw our way. But while we are all vulnerable and powerless to this force, it doesn’t mean we don’t have the power to choose how we react. When you learn to go with the flow, simply allow life to happen as it will, and enjoy every moment with those surrounding you, less emphasis is placed on the past or future and more appreciation is placed on the only thing that’s real – the now. The resulting sensation could almost be described as “swimming headless,” a phrase originated by philosopher Alan Watts and the title of this piece.

Inspired by Watts’ teachings, photographer Kellen Mohr (the subject of this short documentary) navigated through an impossibly difficult hardship by maintaining a calm center, taking it a day at a time, and somehow always keeping a smile on his face. He’s an inspiration and a legend, and we count ourselves lucky to have had the chance to hang with him through the process of making this film.

Swimming Headless : A short film on photographer Kellen Mohr from tispr on Vimeo.

 

COLDSMOKE CHRONICLES: EAST OF THE SIERRAS

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Photos and words by Kellen Mohr

We loaded up the truck, hopped on the 395 and rolled into Lone Pine by late afternoon. After a crucial stop at the skate park next to a McDonald’s, we headed up to the Alabama Hills in time to catch the golden light as the sun set behind Mt. Whitney and the Eastern Sierras.

On a previous trip we had found a killer campsite tucked under a large overhang and were gunning for it this time around, but we found another car already there. So we scrambled up some pinnacles to scout for a new site, reveling in the cooler temps and soft light as the sun slipped away.

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From our vantage we saw the taillights of the car at the overhang turn on. It reversed and wound away down a dirt road.  We sprinted back to the truck, hopping from rock to rock, dodging angry desert plants, and mobbed to our perfect campsite. Hooting and hollering, we set up camp, then split off to get cold beer from a gas station in Lone Pine while Chris and Michael stayed behind to gather fuel and get a fire going. We returned with provisions, swapped stories around the fire, then pulled a night exploration of the canyon behind our site, scrambling over huge boulders, navigating the rocky maze with our headlamps and guided by cairns.

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The next morning we woke at 7 and headed up Whitney Portal road to skate its steep curves. After bombing the few sections that weren’t riddled with gaping cracks and cheesegrater pavement, we headed back into town to meet up with three friends who were living out of cars and travelling all over the West in search of killer climbing. After taking a quick dip in a roadside creek they took us out to a route in the Alabama Hills called Shark Fin. We climbed as clouds painted themselves onto the evening sky.

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Next we headed up to Bishop, where our friends showed us a secret spot alongside a rushing creek overflowing its banks with snowmelt rolling down from the huge dark mountains towering above us. We pulled off the road, circled the wagons, feasted, and hit the sack beneath the shimmering Milky Way.

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Chris and I woke before sunrise and explored our surroundings as the morning sun turned the peaks bright creamsicle orange. We headed back into Bishop to fuel up at Black Sheep, the go-to meeting spot for the many itinerant climbers living out of their cars, then headed out to a nearby river to cool off during the day’s hottest hours.

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When the temps dropped to a sane level, we headed over to the Buttermilks, a world-renowned bouldering area home to some of the biggest bouldering problems in the world. We lugged our crash pads up to the surprisingly empty problems and gave them our best shot.

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That evening I saw one of the most breathtaking sunsets ever. A continuous lenticular cloud hovered over the sierras, its edges illuminated in fantastic shades of orange and pink as the light in the valley turned a deep, apocalyptic orange.

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Earlier that day Michael had found a $15 kids bike at the Bishop Gear Exchange, and decided then bomb down to the paved highway where he vanished into the darkness in a flurry of flailing pedal strokes. We followed his erratic track through the gravel, positive that we’d find him in a heap. Two miles down the road we caught up with him grinning madly, unscathed but covered in dust.

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As the darkness grew deeper, we headed north to spend the night at one of the many hot springs that boil out of the Long Valley Caldera. We found an empty spring where we whiled away the night with many a brew. Hypnotized by the Milky Way glowing above our heads, we lost track of time, eventually retreating to the truck and turning it in at 4AM. Rising in the morning, we all went our separate ways returning from what felt two full weeks of constant exploration, though we had been gone a mere 4 days.

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SPRING #COLDSTOKED WINNER: THADDEUS COOK

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For this season’s #coldstoked photo competition, we tasked last season’s champ Kellen Mohr, with picking the new winner. Here’s what he had to say:

It was a pleasure digging through the thousands of beautiful photographs in search of this season’s winner.  I landed on lens assassin Thaddeus Cooke as this year’s #COLDSTOKED winner!  I based my choice on several criteria, the first of which is location.  Thaddeus gets after it in the wilds of Vermont; a place we don’t see on our feed quite as often as the PNW or Alberta or British Columbia, and his trips to remote plane-access-only Alaskan glaciers are icing on the cake.  Second, and this should go without saying; his photos are a jaw-droppingly good mix of clean, well-composed landscapes, perfectly timed action shots, portraits of good friends, and snapshots of great times in dreamy locales.  Third, his photos are powerfully evocative – the soft colors, thanks in part to his preference for 35mm film, harken back to simpler times when the experience was valued more than the shot, and they have the feeling of a memory.  All of this combines to create a vision of a cool cat staying true to his roots; one that we are more than happy to cloak in some Coldsmoke gear for whatever adventures his future holds.  At home in cold environments and always stoked – Thaddeus Cooke is this seasons #COLDSTOKED winner!

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GEAR REVIEW: INSULATED SHELL JACKET BY “MAN OF MANY”

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COLDSMOKE is a company of outdoorsman making products for those who share a similar passion. They seek gear that adapts to the various activities and environments that come with this lifestyle. Every design detail of the Insulated Shell Jacket, from its reduced, minimalist aesthetic to its cutting edge technical materials is based on the principles of adaptability and versatility. To materialize this vision, COLDSMOKE teamed up with another California-based gear company DSPTCH, who is well-known for their well crafted bags and accessories.

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The Insulted Shell Jacket features a laundry list of impressive details: eVent outer shell material, Polartec Alpha insulation in body, 3 panel ergonomically articulated arm construction, 3 way adjustable wrist closure with PRYM German made snaps; there’s more but we won’t keep going as the idea is clear. If that’s too complicated, just remember the basics: the material is super breathable and differs from your traditional waterproof breathable fabrics by its composition. Made up of millions of microscopic pores that work directly to vent sweat that builds up inside the jacket, it doesn’t require water vapor to build up in order to begin the process of venting.

The Polartec Alpha insulation was created for use in Special Forces gear, allowing it to adapt to a wide range of locales and activities without the wearer having to alter their layering in any meaningful way. The combination of style, tech and comfort results in the Shell Jacket being a real winner for anyone looking to have a diversely applicable outerwear item to keep for a long time.

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