I had this old, beat-up REI Mistral soft shell for 4 years, and finally, when the cuffs started fraying so badly that particles of dirt, rocks, and Doritos would get into the sleeves, I started looking to replace it. My pal Chris, who won’t buy anything without a hood — if Patagonia made a pair of underwear with a hood, he’d own them — was starting to convince me of the value of hoods on multi-pitch rock climbs.
I pulled the trigger on an Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody, and haven’t regretted it since. For $125 (maybe a little less 2 years ago?), I had my all-purpose softshell that packed down to almost nothing — more than once I took it off on an approach and just stuffed it into the already partially-full lid of my climbing pack, without taking the pack off. It took up zero room in a bullet pack for a multi-pitch climb. And several times, I found myself in a situation where I was shivering at a belay during a spring or fall climb, and forgotten about the temperature change when the Colorado sun hides behind a cloud for a few minutes. Unzip front of jacket a few inches, pull hood up and over helmet, re-zip front zipper, and begin warming. It was just enough temperature control to keep me from whining on many occasions.
Like any dirtbag, I like things that serve many purposes, so it became my bike-commuting jacket as well — just enough wind resistance for most of the year here in Denver. And just enough warmth for my poorly-heated nonprofit office for most of the winter. So I wore it everywhere – as a midlayer when skiing and ice climbing, an outer layer when day hiking or backpacking, a dinner jacket when taking my special lady out. It was my favorite layer for two years, maybe ever (not including my 1989 Hershey Track Meet State Qualifier t-shirt, which somehow fit me as an adult).
And then I lost it, somewhere in Salt Lake City a month ago. And I have been a wreck, hoping I’d find it in a backpack somewhere, or unearthed in a recent move into a new apartment. Alas, it is gone, and I ordered another one from the Outdoor Research web site last night, same color, same size, hopefully same smile on my face when I get it in the mail.