Testing gets Extreme In San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Ahh summer! Time to sit back and relax at the beach or have a cold beer while barbequing.
That is the case for most, but not for the endless winter seeking Oakley Field Testing team. For us it is time to find snow with the task of testing fit,function and performance of the Oakley Fall 2013 Technical outerwear. The destination, San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina, home of Cerro Catedral, a world class ski resort and a mountaineering paradise.
We arrived to sunny blue skis, amazing snow, and great terrain both on and off piste. Day one worked out just as planned, lots of runs, hikes, and straight-up shredding. All the qualifications for making sure outerwear works in the environment it is made for. Day 2 however was a different story. It was outerwear testing at the next level. Half of the team, including Oakley pro Skier, Seth Morrison stayed at the resort while the rest went on an overnight backcountry mission to an area known as the Frey.
Those who stayed at the resort, including myself, woke up from their beds and started the day looking at the trees thinking ‘man it looks a little windy out there’. Sure enough, once on the mountain and above treeline, the winds were in excess of 50 or 60k, making for some scary swinging chairlift rides and a quick close of the resort for the day. This did not stop us from testing however, as we continued to hit the lower lifts as they progressively closed down the mountain. The winds did hinder the fun of riding, but there is nothing like strong cold winds to know what your gear can handle.
The next evening, when the crew arrived back from their overnight stay in the backcountry, we learned that we didn’t have it quite as bad as we thought. We learned that, Seth Morrison , was ski mountaineering in over 110k winds in just a baselayer and the new Oakley BiOzone softshell (and for those of you wondering, yes they had a anemometer to measure the wind). It is very impressive to see an athlete of that caliber testing the product himself and making sure it works to his standards.
The rest of the week produced more blue skies, with high winds and fresh snow, equaling quick on mountain hikes to areas with closed lifts and fresh wind pocketed powder stashes. The term ‘earning your turns’ came into play often as we synched our hoods down and battled the elements.
After all the gear was used and abused we locked ourselves in a room for a group discussion covering all the feedback from each tester and athletes. This is where the magic happened, as everyone unloaded his or her passion for the product and key feedback for technical development. Real world testing would not work without the effort put forth from Oakley’s design team and proper implementation of their testers input. The fall 2013 Tech outerwear is a perfect example of Oakleys drive to never stop improving.