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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
Amy Bushatz: You know that feeling you get when you spend even a little bit of time outside? No matter how challenging it is to get out there, spending time in nature is always worth it. I’m your host, Amy Bushatz, and this is another episode of Humans Outside. Join me as we hear from fascinating outdoor minded guests. Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are, while we work to do the same? Let’s go.
If you’ve had trouble finding the perfect fit in outdoor winter gear, or any outdoor gear for that matter, let me hear an amen. My arms are weirdly long, which means any brand that doesn’t have obnoxiously long sleeves is too short on me. Those Nike tops with the thumb holes and the sleeves? Yeah, the thumb hold sits on my wrist bone. Weird, right? I didn’t choose this body, it chose me, so it is what it is.
But I’m willing to bet that we all have some kind of quirk like that. And that stuff matters, particularly in winter when you’re just trying to stay warm and comfortable so you can get out there, move your body, and have some fun.
You’ve heard me say I’ve given up on looking cute in winter and have leaned into the marshmallow man look with bunchy layers and all the puffy stuff. I also power through not being that comfortable because frankly one can only fight against the man for so long when it comes to what’s available out there for winter gear.
But does it really have to be that way? Is it possible to find gear that fits our body types- I mean, whatever that is for you, all the bodies, and is comfortable, and wears well, and doesn’t wear out immediately, and keeps you warm, and does literally all the jobs it’s supposed to do?
How do you shop for something that fits you well? What’s the secret to dressing so you stay warm and have happy winter sports, neither too warm or too cold? Here to help us with these questions is Jen Loofbourrow .Jen is the founder and owner of Alpine Fit, an Anchorage, Alaska based outdoor apparel company that focuses on producing quality clothing for a wide variety of body types and sizes, with a focus on the all important Base Layer.
Among its many accolades, Alpine Fit was named the Women Owned Alaska Small Business of the Year for 2023 by the Small Business Administration, and in 2021 partnered with Title IX as their Movers and Makers Pitchfest winner. Jen knows all about staying warm and comfortable outside because she helps people with this for a living and plays outside a lot herself. Jen, welcome to Humans Outside.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Thanks so much for having me.
Amy Bushatz: So we start all of our podcast episodes imagining ourselves and our guest’s favorite outdoor space. Were we having this conversation with you outside somewhere you love? Where are we with you today?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Today I was just during your words whisked away to the closest place that I recreate the most often I was already there today, which is the hillside single track trails are fairly close to my house and I meander onto them and see views of Anchorage and beyond. But I know that the woods and town and my home and my life are all kind of just a stone’s throw away.
Amy Bushatz: And were you on bike? Running? What were you doing today?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I was on foot. I enjoy, sometimes just the freedom of minimal gear and moving your body.
Amy Bushatz: Awesome. So we are having a walk. on Hillside Singletrack. It is a lovely, lovely day. Maybe a little, maybe a little chilly here in Alaska.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: A little 45 degree morning.
Amy Bushatz: that’s right, because you and I are recording this earlier in the fall than when people will hear this. Unfortunately, slash fortunately, maybe we’ll have snow when they hear it.
Yeah. It’s, it’s that season here, uh, fluctuating and I might say lowering temperatures, so that’s how it goes.
So, tell us, how did you become someone who likes to go outside and what is your outdoor story? How did you get out there on the singletrack? How did we get to this point?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Oh my goodness. Well, it definitely goes back to childhood where I grew up in the sort of, I’m from Canada originally, and I grew up in the Great Lakes area, a very densely populated area. And my favorite thing that I always look forward to the most every summer was going up north with my grandparents to their little off grid cabin on a lake in the woods with no electricity, and my parents didn’t even come, so it was just kind of like you know, a real break away from the day to day reality of the more densely populated place that I lived. And we would go swimming in a freezing cold spring fed lake, go on a little skiff and canoe across the lake and go fishing, and that sort of stuff. And hiking through the woods with my grandma, baking stuff, chopping wood, pumping water, all of that.
Amy Bushatz: Have to say, this is like a very, like, if Americans had a stereotype about Canada, like, you’ve just described it right then.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, and then the other thing that we would do in the summers was go to this car camping place with my parents. That was, this 20 mile sandy beach spit and there was car camping sites just over the sand dunes. So you were camping like at the beach. So I kind of fell in love with the Lake Canada version of beach life and the woodsy sort of off grid thing that definitely translated to, you know, moving west and then far north later in life. So that’s kind of where it all started. And then obviously there’s a few building blocks and chapters in between.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, yeah. And tell us about the genesis of Alpine Fit, which is, of course, what we’re talking about today, your outdoor apparel company. How did that get started and what’s the line there from, you know, chopping stuff in the woods and being very Canadian to, to owning this, uh, to owning this company and being in Anchorage, Alaska?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Oh my goodness. Okay. Well, I traveled West and saw mountains for the first time when I was like 15 and then decide I should go to school out west in Vancouver at University of British Columbia. Met somebody from Alaska and started visiting Alaska in 2004 and just fell in love with the really, no population wilderness adventures. The concept that you could go hike or paddle somewhere and literally see no other people, no homes, no properties, no anything, and you could camp pretty much anywhere was just like mind blowing to me. So I started visiting Alaska more often. boyfriend that I met, I might’ve skipped there, but anyway, Hale, my husband now, he’s from Juneau, Alaska.
I met him at UBC and, anyway, I just fell in love with Alaska. I fell in love with him, fast forward. We’re married and we do lots of outdoor wilderness adventures.
And then, we’ve planned pre kids, we planned some really epic, really long ones. And kind of on all of those trips, you’re really narrowing down what your kit of gear is that you bring and spending a lot of time wearing the same clothes while you’re on these long adventures. Like one trip was a I think a three week kayaking trip from Hoonah, Alaska to Sitka, Alaska.
And it’s like, you know, one set of clothes, plus some change a spare set of clothes for if you get wet. But you really think a lot about the features of your clothes. So that kind of is the outdoor facet of that. And then on the business side of things, my undergrad was chemistry. I, my first job out of school was working at Lululemon in their fabric, material development department.
And I got to go to Asia and fabric mills and work with the design team on technical fabric properties. Oh my gosh. There’s a couple other steps too. I moved to Ireland, had a retail store for five years that was bras and underwear with over a hundred sizes for women. So everyone, women got a custom like fit right off the shelf.
It’s a Scandinavian brand called Change that’s not available in the U S. Anyway so that fit conversation really sort of came up in my mind there. And then, moved to Alaska, worked at Skhoop the snow skirt company that’s, got their North American headquarters here, and really delved into sort of the outdoor industry, layering winter adventures and all of that sort of stuff. And then I was called back to being an entrepreneur. So Alpine Fit is bringing all of that together into like the thing I’m most passionate about.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Okay, two things that are only related because you’ve mentioned both of them, but I want to clarify for people. One, when you go on a like long adventure in the middle of nowhere and you see nobody except for the person you’re with, or a couple of people that you’re with, boy, howdy. Do you have a lot of time to think about stuff and,
And you, you might walk out of there with like some brilliant ideas or you might walk out of there with some not brilliant ideas, but you’re going to walk out of there with something and it’s going to change how you see the world. Is that your, that’s my experience.
Is that your experience?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, definitely. I mean, a whole business was born out of the mind wanderings of someone paddling along the coast of Alaska.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah yeah, yeah. I feel like when you, when that happens to you, you have to come home and then a couple days later very critically examine the thing that you brought out because, again, maybe it’s a really good idea and maybe it’s just you were
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah.
Amy Bushatz: But
Jennifer Loofbourrow: When you can clear the slate of all of the day to day, you can really kind of get into those deeper layers of thinking and brainstorming.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Super endorse doing that. I’m just saying like, don’t just walk away and sell everything. Just, you know, take
Jennifer Loofbourrow: a beat.
No, no, no. Yeah, yeah. Maybe write a mini business plan and
Amy Bushatz: Yeah.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: a friend.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. And the second thing is, cause you mentioned snow skirts and I have found that people have never heard of these. And since
we’re talking about what to wear in winter today, what is a snow skirt? Can you define it for us? I love them. Some people might know about them.
Can you describe what it is?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Okay. So a snow skirt is basically a puffy jacket for your lower half. It can layer around whatever else you’re already wearing and you can put it on and put it off, take it off without having to take your shoes or boots or whatever else other layers you’ve got on. So if you’re out on a hike and it’s your emergency layer you have in your backpack and all of a sudden something happens that you can you have to stop moving or something like that you can just literally wrap it around your waist like a towel and zip it on and then, boom, you have basically a blanket that you’re wearing around your lower half.
And they’re short lengths, medium lengths, full lengths, and they’re great for, you know, the variable sort of conditions and just how many layers you sometimes end up wearing adventuring in Alaska. Yeah, they’re fantastic and Skhoop Skhoop invented these insulated, puffy down skirts like this that I’m describing. I mean, there’s many, probably long traditions of wearing layers of insulating skirts. I just mean these specific, like, down puffy, looking like a puffy jacket version of it.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I have one that I wear that’s a mini skirt, and it is from Smartwool. I wear it to run, but I do have one of the, Skhoop also makes like a, like a vest skirt, which I love.
And so if you are in a cold climate and you’ve got like, keep your core warm, keep your butt warm concerns, man, is that awesome.
You know, the other thing about this, and maybe we can touch on this later as we talk about layering in the winter. We forget that there’s, like, a whole lot of goodness going on from the waist down that you should really keep warm. And so, and, you know, I’ve seen memes where people are like, 17 jackets, jeans, and we wonder why we’re cold, right? Because we did a real good job of, like, overdressing on the top and then, you know, didn’t dress at all on the bottom. And so that’s, that’s totally the thing.
Okay, enough digression, enough digression.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I don’t mind. I’m here for it.
Amy Bushatz: All right, so you heard in my introduction about my long arm challenge where I’ve got like the thumb holes and the wrists and the thumbs and they’re all in places that they really shouldn’t be according to that particular shirt, all right?
That’s made even worse because I have Raynaud’s, which is of course this circulatory condition that basically makes your hands, or feet, but me. It’s my hands. Really cold, and they turn yellow, and it’s uncomfortable, and annoying, but not as dangerous as it is those things, and looks weird, and freaks your friends out.
but the only way to keep it from happening is to keep your arms and wrists really warm. So long sleeves that are too short are really annoying. Okay. I think everyone has a quirk like this,
and cookie cutter sizing doesn’t necessarily address it, and it’s, I’m sure you’ve found this too. It’s not
just a me thing. So I’m wondering, give us insight as a clothing manufacturer. What’s going on there? Why don’t companies work to fit all the bodies? Like, why do I have to work so hard? Why?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: hmm. Okay, that’s great. Well, at Alpine Fit, we’re trying really hard to be a shining example of doing something a little different. But how it traditionally works in any apparel or fashion or outdoor company is they pick someone they think is their base size fit model. So I’m not saying fitness model. I’m saying fit model. So usually let’s say it’s — A body shape.
So they have an actual, real human being that they have found that is a live model that they fit their garments to in a medium ish like their base middle of the size curve size, usually based on a medium, which anymore actually isn’t the middle of the size distribution of the population.
But anyways, so let’s say it’s a medium though, for the sake of this description. So they find somebody that they believe fits their target customer, medium body shape, size, height, dimensions, everything about them. They know all of the dimensions of this person and they bring this person in to actually try on new product development styles, fit them to them.
And then once they’ve nailed that fit on that person, like one person, they scale their other sizes up and down, it’s called grading, to the other sizes. So this is how it’s, it is done, this is how it has been done, forever. And that’s why some brands fit you, and some brands don’t fit you, because, whomever that person is that they chose as their base fit model, may be very much like your body or nothing at all like your body.
So that’s why, Oh yeah, that brand never fits me. Yeah. It’s never going to fit you. You size up, size down. Those problems that don’t match with you are never going to match with you. They’re just going to get worse in different sizes.
Amy Bushatz: Is there a reason, is it an economy reason, like what is, I’m assuming there is a reason, what is the reason that they don’t have three different people of three different kinds or whatever in their,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: That’s
Amy Bushatz: Why.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Okay. If they have three different people. . Oh my gosh. I don’t even know where to begin with this. Why they don’t have three is so, so many different things. So if they have three different people, are you saying that they should take the average of those and make one set or should they make three different size sets based on those three different averages? If it’s the latter, that would work a lot better. It would just be a lot more costly and a lot more inventory. And that is the approach that we are taking.
Amy Bushatz: Right, so, the answer is, it’s it’s, a price, it’s a price thing for a big manufacturer.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: One of the answers is that. The other answer is, is that if you fit three different body shapes, if like, let’s say you average three different fits, you’d end up with this weird, in quotes, because no body is weird, but an average of different bodies, would be this other thing that maybe fits nobody well, so they’ve chosen to fit one body shape really well at the compromise of maybe it works for some peripheral people that are somewhat like that, and rather than the other challenge. So it is costly, it is risky, it is all of these other things, but that is what we’re doing.
is to have multiple fit models and then multiple size curves based off of those fits. And then also, we’re testing them and micro adjusting how the grading scales out to those extreme sizes. And then as we, we currently go extra small to double extra large, which is roughly like a 2 to a 20 or 22. Um, we should and will eventually go to, further extended X sizes, which would require an additional couple of fit models closer to that size curve center, if you get me. And then additionally, we offer free hemming, but we don’t yet offer tall. Our sleeves are pretty long. I’m curious how our sleeves work for you.
Amy Bushatz: I will volunteer to be your orangutan armed model.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: But I, I too have the problem that you described of thumb holes are never, they always like choke my thumb. Like there’s no way I’m wearing them, they’re in the middle of my wrist bone or whatever. So we made our sleeves be pretty long with cuffs that we can, you can either turn back if they’re too long, or you can, we will free, we offer free hemming on our pants, for our shirts we’ll remove the cuff, shorten the sleeve and reattach the cuff. But there’s not thumb holes for that reason that the thumb hole is rarely in the right position for most people.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Because thumbs are just, they’re, they seem to be at the same place on everyone’s hand, but as it turns out, the science doesn’t support that.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. So to recap your question, most brands fit one body shape well, and that’s why there are competing products out there. So that’s like, you know, the fleece hoodie, which is now becoming like really, you know, why are there 500 brands making a fleece hoodie? Well, if you can’t find it from brand a, maybe you can find it from brand, you know, H, that’s their fit model maybe fits your body shape better. But our whole idea with Alpine fit is, is if we’re going to make cool technology, you know, the S we have a silver fiber fabric, that’s odor resistant. We want people to see our style and find a fit within it that’s designed for their body. So.
Amy Bushatz: So how many fits do you have?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: So technically we have four, but two are based on two different averages slash two different fit models of women’s body data. And two are based off of two different averages or fits of men’s body data.
So this long sleeve shirt, that’s our silver fiber fabric is available in four different fit shapes. In women’s though, specifically, If you prefer women’s fits and shop women’s clothes, we have two as a starting point that actually is so much better than just one because the most major difference between body shapes, is the proportion of the, width of the low hip to the narrowness of the like natural waist.
And to somewhat of another extent, the bust to the waist, but it’s at the hips to the waist is the most distinguishing. So our two fits are really based on those two being distinctly different. So one that’s much more of a curved shape, or these words all have different meanings to them now. But basically, a more, a larger ratio between your waist circumference to your hip circumference. And a less significant ratio between the waist circumference and the hip circumference.
Amy Bushatz: That makes sense. When you’re describing that these clothes all being, at these other manufacturers, all being based off of this one body type, I’m having this, I’m having this flashback to that meme of, uh, Spider Man with it’s like all the Spider Men at the same spot. yeah, because I want to go meet the Mountain Hardware model. And I, is it me? Is it you? Like,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Oh yeah. Can you show us the fit model!
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I want to see this person. I want to compare our arm length. Like, I want to know, like, how did you get this right for me? Because that would be an example of a brand you’re talking about that the things fit me just right on there. And God help me, I wish Patagonia fit me really well because someone gifted me a fleece. And now it sits in my closet because I can’t get rid of it because it’s this beautiful gift that, I mean, the sleeves are up to, like, my elbows. It’s ridiculous. So.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I, I don’t want to like say anything, specifically like, you know, the Patagonia one really is something that I think about a lot because obviously they’re very, you know, the price point of Patagonia in the outdoor industry is a pretty decent, it’s still expensive, but like there’s good features at a somewhat more accessible price point than some of the super niche brands and things like that, but they’re fit is like the number one thing that I hear people complaining about with the fit. And I think what they’ve done is is they’ve tried to they’ve made it a lot more shapeless,
Amy Bushatz: Hmm.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I have huge respect for Patagonia. So I’m not specifically saying anything there, but I wonder if they have done what we talked about in that example where maybe they’ve looked at three different bodies and come up with the one shape fits most slash none. And, and then now it’s not fitting anybody because I hear people that have larger hips compared to waist or larger bust compared to waist or smaller bust compared to whatever, all these different arm lengths and things. And everyone seems to use Patagonia as the example that doesn’t them.
Amy Bushatz: So I’m not alone. That’s cool.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: A nd it’s like so many different, people have this experience specifically about that. So I’m not sure what they’ve done with their fit model. Or if, if it made it too one size fits nobody.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Okay. But I think it’s possible to talk of like, to say, okay, some brands fit me, some brands don’t without throwing anyone under, under a bus. But I appreciate your example as sort of relatable with Patagonia. Like I said, mentioned Mountain Hardware as a thing that fits as a brand that fits me really, really well. There are others that don’t don’t fit me well at all. Mamuut is one. My husband bought me a jacket as a Christmas gift back it had to go because the arms were too short, you know? And so again, with my arms, it’s just, you know, it’s just who I am. I don’t know what to say. So,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. The other thing we’ll do is is we can put on extra long cuffs on ours. We could take the cuff off and put an extra long cuff on so. We’re we’re doing what as a small Emerging relatively new brand. We are not pretending to be perfect. We are in pursuit of always a better state and always more offerings and what we can do to custom alter things to be perfect and having more offerings in the first place.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So I want to get really practical and talk about base layer, which is the thing that you guys really focus your company on, unless I’m totally misunderstanding something.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Nope, you’re good. Yep,
Amy Bushatz: So. Let’s talk first. What is a base layer? Why is it important? And how does a good base layer fit? And I’m wondering like are we looking for skin tight? Baggy? Comfy? Stuck to like a leotard? What’s up?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Not as tight as stuck to you like a leotard, and certainly not really baggy. So why not really baggy? Well, that will allow too much air that can also be cool, be moving around inside it, plus chafing. A base layer can be worn on its own, but likely to be thrown under a mid layer or rain jacket or something like that.
So if it’s too loose, you’re going to have chafing problems. Next to skin is okay, but if it’s, you want it to be just with a little bit of ease that some air can get between the fibers of the base layer and your skin and be, and get warm from your body warmth and keep it in. So just looser than form fitting.
And also if it’s pulled too tight across you, it might, just make it, you know, not trap the warm air and things like that. So it’s kind of the Goldilocks in between.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, so when we talk base layer, I have this vision of like, you know, since we’re made a, already made a joke about Canada, I’m sorry.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, go for it. I mean,
Amy Bushatz: Know guy, like guy in suspenders and like a really, like a red base layer, right? Like old timey, you know, woodchuck, woodcutter dude and red itchy base layer. Is, like, is that the correct vision here? Is, when, when we’re asking people who have no idea what a base layer is to visualize a base layer, is that what we’re talking about?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Okay, yeah, a base layer, I mean, yeah, historically, you know, base layers, thermals, long underwear, that is what we’re talking about. And they used to look like, you know, men’s base layer bottoms used to look like a pair of boxer briefs that were just like full length, or they used to be the onesie with the trapdoor back in the Wild West days.
The button up front, or the Henley shirts with the button up front, or the waffle knit, whatever. Yes, those are all base layers. The modern base layer probably now is made out of more like, active wear, stretchy, sort of, more refined looking fabrics, and the cut and seam placement and all that sort of stuff is designed to be like, worn where someone might see it. but yes, that’s, those are all under the umbrella of base layer. Yeah. Thank you.
Amy Bushatz: I’m laughing at the trap door visualization, which I had like completely forgotten about. Guys, we’re talking about like butt buttons, okay, like, and when you gotta go, you unbutton that butt. That’s as far as we’re going with that, but
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah.
Amy Bushatz: I am glad that’s not the fashion anymore. First of all, can you imagine sitting on those buttons? I’m just saying that doesn’t sound comfortable.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: walking or
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. No.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: No. Or back then, riding a horse.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, zero stars. Tell you, we got a permanent button indentation in a place you don’t want it. I’m just saying.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, So yeah, now base layer bottoms for women look more like a yoga pant or leggings or something like that. Yeah, so we’ve come a long way. But base layers encompass all of that. It’s the first layer next to your skin, you know, covering the length of your arms and legs.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, is this, would you characterize the base layer as the most essential piece of winter gear for long activities or active stuff? Like, where does it rank?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: That is such a tough one. I would say that my definition of essential, oh man, when you’re talking about your hands being warm, it does start with warming your core. When you’re talking about an essential piece of gear that actually comes on every adventure, especially in Alaska, yes. there are some things that become obviously a lot more critical in certain types of conditions, like if you’re in a sideways windstorm a rain jacket is going to be, or shelter is going to be your most important
Amy Bushatz: I mean, snacks? I don’t know. Like, if we’re making a list.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yes. Yes, exactly. Like there’s the, uh, but in terms of an essential, that’s like the most versatile for the most number of applications and how important is it as it is as the foundation of a system. It definitely is among the essentials.
Amy Bushatz: Time for a little break so I can tell you about the Humans Outside 365 Challenge. Want help building your own outdoor habit, some cool swag, and even a finisher medal? The Humans Outside 365 Challenge is a great way to get started. Get outside every day for a year with exclusive help. All you need to do is visit humansoutside.com/challenge. Don’t get left out. Go to humanoutside.com/challenge to learn more now. Okay, back to the show.
Okay. All right. All right. So, let’s walk through getting dressed for heading outside in cold winter weather.
Okay. since we’ve we’ve said that this is something that we need, all right. So we’re going to pretend for the purpose, because I know like we could just go a lot of ways with this. We could get really complicated, but we’re going to pretend for the purposes of this example that we’re doing something active, but not too active.
So we’re like, we’re moving, but maybe we’re also not moving periods of time.
We’re going on a long walk. It’s like an easy cross country ski trip. And if you’re a cross country ski nerd, we’re classic skiing guys, just to, if you need to know. Okay.
We’re at, we’re at a resort, okay, with groomed hills. maybe we’re standing in lift or like standing in lift line or sitting. Okay. So that’s, that’s what we’re doing. And, for the temperature, let’s talk. Let’s say we’re at, 20, 25 degrees.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: 25 degrees. Okay. So my brain is thinking that’s Alaska version that’s not that cold.
Amy Bushatz: It’s not that cold, but it’s like, It’s a cold,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: It’s important to layer, but we’re, but it’s different than what you’re doing at 10 or 15.
Amy Bushatz: Correct. And we will address 10 or 15 shortly. So start with, start with like that and, and the reason I picked that temperature, maybe you got to check me on this is, you know, we’re like super cold. And, you know, up here, so we, biased, super cold biased. That is cold for most people. So,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I do. I did. I have lived other places. I do remember feeling differently about that.
Amy Bushatz: okay. So let’s say it’s a cold day for normal people. Go ahead.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Okay. so specifically for that, like walking and cross country skiing for me, like the moving slowly or maybe having times where you might stand still maybe you’re like with your kids or you’re with an adventure partner that doesn’t necessarily, you’ve decided it’s an easy pace thing so you need to be prepared to be slightly active, standing still.
Got it. Okay. So definitely a base layer. So let’s talk about, I guess from the inside out or the top down. For me I would say I’m wearing a sports bra or something that’s an active bra that I’m comfortable to walk in, or cross country ski or whatever. a base layer long sleeve top.
So I would be looking for one that’s sort of the weight of your regular active wear t shirt kind of thickness, and it could be made out of a merino wool, or we have this other fabric that’s a recycled poly with silver in the fiber, so it’s an insulating base layer. Then I would definitely have a mid layer, and in the mid layer in this case, I would look for sort of a lightweight, personally I’ve, depending on the climate, I’ve moved to using either a down jacket or a synthetic version of a down puffy jacket. And unless it’s going to be wet or particularly windy, I might not need another jacket. I might not need an outer shell. You did mention like resort skiing as an additional factor on that. I probably would because on the chairlift or when you’re going down the hill, you might want a wind layer. So then a wind layer on the outside of that.
So like a ski jacket. So That’s dressing the upper body from the inside out the lower body. I would wear an active pair of underwear that you’re comfortable. The style, you know, you like to move your body in, base layer bottoms. And then those those aside from the downhill ski resort. case. If I was walking or cross country skiing, I would wear the base layer bottom and then some sort of a cross country skiing tight, which would be like a windproof exterior water repellent. That’s a little fleecy on the inside. And then I would switch that out with snow pants. If it was the resort, then I’m wearing wool socks and the footwear appropriate for the occasion. And then I’m wearing a neck gaiter and at 20, 25 not moving too fast. I’d wear a, a hat, not a headband. I’d wear, you know, a, a beanie, a lightweight marina wool hat, or a fleecy hat. And then definitely the hand wear that matches some sort of glove. If it’s a ski glove, cross country ski glove, or you know, a regular glover mitt.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, or if you’re me, an intricate system of mittens that’s triple layered with hand warmers in there that you take in and out on a whim.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yes, I, I have, I don’t have Raynauds but I have, I had a really bad hand accident that has, I have no circulation in my thumb, many years ago, so I have to really watch my hand temperature. So yes, I’ll, I’ll probably have a pack of hand warmers in my pocket or backpack, and use them if I need to or whatever, but I always have gloves, mittens, the warmer, the better.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And a quick digression on the hand warmers, guys, because I think that they’re really easy to forget about, especially if you’re from a place that’s not used to being cold or you’re visiting a place that is cold. These are little, like they’re little chemical, they can be one time use, although I discovered last winter that you can put them in a container and reuse them. Life changing. Chemical hand warmers, they’re like little, they look like a little satchel, okay? And they come in a plastic pack and you rip them open and you give them a shake to activate whatever’s going on in there. And then you expose them to air for a couple minutes, which helps them warm up. And then you put them wherever you need them. And especially since I’ve discovered that if I only use them for a little bit, I can put them in an airtight container and use them again later. I do not hesitate. So.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: That’s amazing. I didn’t know that. Would it work in a Ziploc bag too? Like a airtight bag? Or is it only like, yeah,
Amy Bushatz: Don’t see why not. Yeah.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Maybe bring one on the trail with you and put them in there when.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I am. I have started using just like a little like Tupperware kind of container that I keep in my car and I pop those in there. And then I have, you know, I try, I kind of try to keep track of if I like I put a little pen tick mark on them. If I’ve, just mark how many times I’ve used them because what you don’t want to do is be like, I can reuse this today and get out in the middle of nowhere and be like, and it’s now cold because you’ve reused it four other times that you forgot about but yeah, I reused hand warmers all winter long after hearing this. I heard it on a radio show or somebody told me this. Yeah. And, saved me all sorts of money. I’m sure it was very nice for the environment too. So good job, Amy. And, then I had them handy, huh? Pun. And, and felt better about not hesitating to use them because that really is the point of what I’m trying to say.
Keeping yourself warm is really important and can be the game changer between having a nice time outside and having a terrible time outside and wanting to go outside again and wanting to stay inside again. And I’ll tell you guys, when my hands are cold, do not sign me up for nothing. I am staying home. Having hand warmers that I’ve stuck in my pockets, they’re open, they’re ready, they’re warm, that I can take in and out of my mittens is a huge game changer for me. And so I’m just like, let’s use the tools we have, friends. This is one of them. Don’t forget.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. I mean, any more as we keep a pack of them in our first aid kit in the top of every backpack or trail running pack or whatever we have. Have you also discovered those ones that you can boil to reuse with a little popper? Yeah. They don’t, they don’t last as long. I know it’s a lot of work. But they’re completely reusable and they can be reused many, many, many, many times. They’re like a little gel pack, almost like a hot or a pack.
Amy Bushatz: Oh, okay.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: And they’re liquid, they’re liquid. And there’s a little popper thing in them and you pop it and they have a chemical reaction inside and they stay warm for, I don’t remember how long, but then you can just like boil them to remelt that liquid inside and then reuse them like endless number of times through doing that cycle.
Amy Bushatz: I feel like that would be very good if you were in sort of like a cabin situation where, yeah, where you’re not like leaving from your car to do something, you’re leaving from your house or from a cabin. We like to do holidays at some of our states, uh, Alaska State Park Dry Cabins. That sounds like a wonderful tool from a very, for a very cool day out at Eklutna Lake.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, yeah, or even just for an hour walk from your house, you know, an hour walk or run from your home that you just like, oh, I really could use hand warmers, but I don’t want to waste eight hour hand warmers
Amy Bushatz: mm hmm, yeah, that’s a great idea. I will look those up,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: So 20 to 25, I wouldn’t always bring hand warmers, unless I was worried about inclement conditions, but I understand that other people would and, yeah, but so is there another condition
Amy Bushatz: okay,
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Talk about?
Amy Bushatz: The other thing you described was a lot of layers, which I like, because now I want to know, how many more do we put on if it’s like 15 degrees colder, so now we’re looking at 5 to 10 degrees. It’s, it’s, Fahrenheit outside.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. So at that sort of temperature, there’s I mean, even at 20 to 25, there wasn’t much chance that any precipitation would be rain. but you go that much colder, you know, there’s no way that it’s rain. So it’s, it could be snow, but it’ll be very dry snow. So you probably are definitely reaching for the warmest down jacket that you have.
And then you need to think about what layers will fit well under that. So your base layer. Kind of, you make a sandwich between whatever your warmest option for an outer layer down jacket is, or most insulated jacket that you have. And then you have your, base layer underneath. So when you get to those temperatures, if you’re not going to be like working up a sweat, you might be stationary or sitting still on a chairliftThe chairlift one is different cause I really feel like. It’s different than the type of outdoor active where you would do not exposing yourself to the wind sitting on a chair hanging above a mountainside. So for just the cross country ski or the walk, I’m going base layer, mid layer would, in this case, end up being more like a, like a thicker fleece, like a, a fleece hoodie or a fleece zip up or a wool mid layer, like a thicker wool mid layer. And then that puffy down jacket on the outside.
Upper body is that, and sports bra again underneath, or regular bra, whatever you’re comfortable being active in. And of course guys, whatever. but on the lower half, again, underwear that I’m comfortable being active in, base layer bottoms. Again, they’re going to be like a stretchy active wear fabric, either Marina wool, or, you know, a different fabric that’s an insulating base layer fabric. the bottom is interesting.
There’s a whole bunch of options. Once it gets. colder like that. You could wear a fleece pant layer over that and then snow pants, or some people have insulated pants. Or you could wear your cross country skiing tights over that, and then one of those down puffy skirts that we talked about, but it’s probably three layers on the bottom too.
It’s probably a base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer, and again it’s a base layer of fleece pants. snow pants or base layer cross country skiing, fleecy windproof tights, and then a snow skirt over it. Or if you have, like, down pants or synthetic puffy pants, maybe it’s just a base layer in those. But that those pants are kind of a two in one.
Amy Bushatz: Which we call here The Pants, because I love them so much. Ha
Jennifer Loofbourrow: And then your feet you definitely want probably tall wool socks like knee height ski socks even if you’re not skiing, because that extra warmth of wool all the way to your your knees is important and then this is where toe warmers start coming in for me and especially like if you’re doing something like standing around outside in the snow, the rubbery soles of snow boots, even if they’re insulated snow boots, your feet just get so cold standing still or moving slowly.
So toe warmers and then the hot tip that you don’t always want to know about is you put the toe warmers on top of your toes, not on the bottom of your feet so that it doesn’t affect how your feet walk. And the toe warmers usually are these same satchets we were talking about that they have like a sticky side. So you stick them on top of your toes. on top of your socks before you put your foot into your boots.
Amy Bushatz: And if you have figured out, friends, how to get your foot in your boot without that toe warmer peeling off of there and bunching up, sell it. Don’t tell us. Patent that and sell it.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah Maybe you need to put like a second over sock or something. But then, yeah, neck gaiter is super important because you lose so much heat through the top of your head and your neck. So you need to like lock in the air gaps around your neck. So your jacket’s zipped all the way up and there’s a neck gaiter, or neck warmer stuffed in there. And that should be marina wool or fleece or some combination of both. and it should have the versatility to kind of bridge the gap between your neck and into your hat and up on high on your face as you’re willing for it to go. And then a warm, a warm hat. So like a wool or fleece hat. And, you know, if you’re doing the downhill skiing thing, of course we could talk about a lot more things like goggles and the helmet or whatever, you know, and a hard shell you might have with that. But
Amy Bushatz: Yeah.this is the point where we have stopped looking cute and now we just look warm and
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Marshmallow. Lean in. Full marshmallow. You’re gonna have a lot more fun.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And cause that’s the thing. Like you can have cute things. My problem with cuteness is often that I am cheap and so I will buy whatever color’s on sale. So it’s just like this. It’s not even a rainbow. It’s like a conglomerate.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah.
Amy Bushatz: Unpopular colors and that’s fine, right? So I’m, I’m a real head turner in, in the resort thing. You know, the other thing is ideally you’re going to the ski resort on a good ski day when the weather’s not terrible. But I, if their word is, the word free is associated with lift tickets.
I’m there. And so, and so, behold the number of terrible weather days I have spent at our ski resort here, Alyeska, because they do a free military ski day. And you betcha, I’m at that thing. And so it doesn’t matter if it’s negative five, I’m there. I’m in that ski lift. I’m freezing my butt off and I’m, I’m skiing. So.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. Well, the resort thing, the lower half layers makes it gets really important because your butt can freeze off if you don’t have good layering on your lower half and you might be, you know, work up a sweat on the downhill, you know, if it’s deep turns or you’re using your, your body a lot to control your speed, but then you can just, you’re, you know, you want quick drying or you want a fabric that’s warm when it’s wet.
against your body. So merino wool is warm, even if it’s wet and then synthetics like recycled polyester and things dry really quickly. So both of those can be good options. but you need to have an insulated barrier between your body and the chairlift seat when you’re sitting there. So that’s when it, you know, you could go with a down skirt or you could go with a puffy pants. Or a fleece pant between your face layers and your snow pants. Mm hmm.
Amy Bushatz: So, you know, we sort of brushed by Patagonia earlier and, and mentioned that it’s a more affordable option, which I thought was funny. And I think people listening to this will think it’s funny because anyone who’s ever bought anything from Patagonia, it’s just like, they’re still in sticker shock, but the reality is that’s the market. Right.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: It’s called Patagucci for, or it got its name as Patagucci for a reason. It’s a lot more than the, you know, very lower price point, tech top kind of thing that you can get more readily available. I, yeah, it’s a rel oh my gosh, my perspective is very relative.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So the clothing that you make with AlpineFit, it comes with a lot of guarantees and a lot of customization, but also with a higher price tag. And there’s, I know there’s a lot of, that goes into that decision, and I’m betting that you’re not charging that amount to fund your next sports car purchase. So.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: No.
Amy Bushatz: Fill us in. Okay. How do you set the price point, and what do you say when people ask why it costs so much, or perhaps complain about that.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. So it’s a tough one. It’s so, so tough. So basically there are sort of formulas out there for how to look at the cost of the raw materials and the cost of labor and, you know, the various other things that go into the actual products as produced. And a price at which it needs to retail at to exist as a product.
Amy Bushatz: Right- To pay the bills, essentially.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah, to exist. Yep. Like, if, if it’s not that price, the business should just not exist. And we’re not buying sports cars.
Amy Bushatz: They don’t really drive well here anyway, so it’s not, that’s not even the point.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: So basically the price that we’re, we try to be super transparent about our pricing too. So we had our prices actually quote much lower. So just to say it plainly, this shirt that I am wearing right now retails at $129, which is a shocking price point for a long sleeve shirt.
Amy Bushatz: And, and you’re wearing, just describe it for us, because people can’t see
Jennifer Loofbourrow: I’m wearing our Rendezvous Ridge long sleeve, which is a silver fiber containing fabric, the fabric’s made in the USA, it’s cut and sewn in the USA, made in Alaska, and fit options for body shapes, all these other features, but the price is based on just the raw materials, just the labor that goes into making it, and then, like, sort of standard application of how to price that. And then we try to adjust that down to the minimum margin that we can have it at to exist as a business and try to make the price more accessible to customers. So it used to be priced at $89. Last year in September, so September 2022, we announced and shouted it from the rooftops for like six weeks that we are going to increase prices because our prices were always based on theoretical costs. And we did a huge cost analysis and realized that we were losing money and going out of business slowly slash quickly
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, that sounds like a really fun analysis.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: So fun. Oh, good Yeah. This $89 price point that even is still expensive at that time to customers. Was the accessibility in quotes again, you know, the competitive price. I wanted it to price that to, you know, to hang with those other brands like Patagonia, somewhere between Patagonia and Arc’teryx based on the features and the design and everything. But it wasn’t based in reality of what it actually costs to produce that fabric and to make the product. And I have to price it at the price that it is for us to exist as a business.
And I could just not exist as a business. That’s also an option. I choose to put this out there to the world as an option that you have to think carefully about. It’s not going to be an impulse purchase. Like these are the types of things I actually converse with people about. This is what it does cost. This is what it should cost. Quote should cost. and that there are many examples of much cheaper active wear out there that you can. And you know, if you have something in your closet that fits the description of what I just described to go cross country skiing, don’t let not having this base layer hold you back from that.
Use what gear you have and think carefully about any purchases that you do make, especially at price points like this. but it is important to be an example of yeah. This is a product that exists with these extremely well thought out niche features with a business behind it that has, you know, great environmental practices, woman- led business, domestic manufacturing. You know, it’s hard to list all of those things without just feeling like I’m just bragging about ourselves. But what I try to say to myself is, is like, these sorts of things need to exist at these price points in the market to show that this is something that is worth pursuing and we’re supporting if you want to have these features and buy a product that’s in line with your values as well.
But I’m not telling you, you need to, you can go adventure in other competitive or different price point things, never make not wearing an Alpine fit thing be the reason why you are, you aren’t going outside.
But yeah, it’s, it’s like emotional and hard. It is expensive. It’s a think about it purchase, and if you do make that decision, we’ll repair it for free, we’ll alter it if you need hemming or all of those sorts of things, we’ll stand by it if you have a problem with it, and we offer the fit, shapes, and it’s made in USA, and, and, and, and, and, and, like, we just joined 1 percent for the Planet and Climate Neutral, certified, and all of these other wonderful things that are baked into this expensive that are this expensive cake
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I think that’s, I think it’s really important though to have this conversation because when you are talking about purchasing from a larger retailer or larger manufacturer who you did not hear on a podcast, who’s not like personally shepherding this stuff and thinking through these decisions. When you make that purchase, the price tag, and the reasons behind that are not transparent. And all you see is, wow, it’s cost so much money to go and do stuff outside.
The other side of it is listening to this conversation and seeing that there are real people behind these decisions. And like we said, they’re not just buying sports cars that there is a lot of thought that goes into this. And there are ways to buy gear that don’t, doesn’t rise to this level of what you’ve described. you know, the thought and, and whatnot that goes into it that might serve your needs. There are ways to do that. There are ways to buy used. We’ve talked about them a lot in this podcast. People can go back and listen to those episodes if they want. But that’s a decision too. And maybe that’s a decision you need to make for yourself right now. There are trade offs for that, though, and that’s kind of what I wanted to highlight.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Yeah. I think that that’s really thank you for adding that nuance to that because yeah, our product exists with these extremely niche features with this extremely lovely performance silver fiber. It exists as an option that you should choose carefully should you, you know, want to, to purchase that. I’m kind of going on a tangent there, but what you said was, was lovely. I’m a huge fan of buying secondhand things and extending the life cycle of things. Things should cost a certain amount of money. And if something is really cheap, it’s slightly suspicious, but you don’t necessarily know or not know that there’s nefarious activity at play, I’m not saying that.
Amy Bushatz: Like, let’s not assume, right?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: No, definitely don’t assume that because there are a lot of brands that are doing a lot of things very well and are able to deliver a product that you can use in that use case. It maybe has different features. But you can find things to wear at many different price points. And they shouldn’t inhibit you able to do the activity.
Ours just is this price with these very extreme niche, niche features. And should there be something that you want to pursue? We exist.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And are on my holiday gift list. Ha ha. Husband, if you’re listening to this. No, I’m just, I already told him. We already had that conversation. Okay. As a final thing, as we close out this lovely episode with you, we’d love to hear our guests’ favorite outdoor moment, something like just a time you like to think about and go back to, where you’re outside, you’re feeling great, you’re having fun, whatever a best moment looks like to you. So would you mind describing such a moment for us?
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Okay. first thing that popped to my mind was imagine being on an outer coast Island of Alaska. In a kayak, coming from wherever your last overnight camping stay was, and pulling up in a little bay, cove area, knowing that you’re approaching a very remote, natural hot spring. And that you get to come up on the shore and find out that it’s sort of stormy weather and there’s actually no other people there other than your group of four people you’re with. And you get to enjoy sitting in this sort of stone pond of natural hot water with a view out of the outer coast of Alaska and beyond with like, big waves and cloudy sky storms rolling in.
Amy Bushatz: Love it. Oh, I’m there. Okay. Jen, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about Alpine Fit, give us some tips on base layers and walk us through sizing and all sorts of things. Thanks so much for being here.
Jennifer Loofbourrow: Well, thanks for having me.
Amy Bushatz: That’s a wrap on this episode of Humans Outside. But hey, I need your help. Enjoy this show? Leave a five star rating or review or both wherever you get your podcasts. It makes me feel good, but it also helps others find the show, too. Now, go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.