In late May and early June of this year, I was working on a film project up at Staunton State Park, belaying and climbing around 9,000 feet in the Front Range of the Rockies. Here, at the tail end of the spring season, it was still damn cold in the shade, which was ample at the fittingly named The Dungeon, a north-facing cave/overhanging face. Like I had all spring, I made sure I had the Foehn Robson Hoody with me as a belay puffy—I’ve fallen in love with this light, compressible, stylish black hoody over the past few months of testing. The problem, however, is, so has everyone who sees me wearing it—folks keep wanting to “borrow” it then somehow forget to return it until prodded. Now I either keep it on my person or buried in my pack, where it’s safe.
Foehn is a new company, started by a husband-and-wife climber duo, Ingrid and Anthony, with a focus on high-end climbing-specific clothes. Their line is small still, but one to keep an eye on as they expand. For the Robson, by way of features you get 800 fill responsibly sourced down, DWR treatment, 2-way matte-face stretch fabric made in Japan (the stylish black fabric that’s so tempting to my climbing partners), seven laser-cut venting holes in each armpit, a deep kangaroo-pouch-style waist pocket with a zipper on either end, big helmet-compatible hood with beefy drawstrings, a side-entry zip, drawcord cinch at the waist, and elastic wrist cuffs. Basically, all the alpine accoutrements.
I’ve tested the Robson at all elevations and in all sorts of spring conditions, and it has without fail kept me warm—remarkably so for such an airy-feeling jacket that takes up so little space (it packs down about football size). The Robson was bomber against epic Boulder Canyon spring winds, sleet, and graupel (don’t ask why I was out climbing that day); killer, as mentioned above, when coupled with a midlayer for extended belays in the shade at alpine sport crags; perfect for sealing in heat while layering for cold approaches or on brisk mornings; and sleek and streamlined for wear about town—a cut above, really, if you don’t want to look like just another duct-tape-on-the-elbows crag-rat hobo. (In Boulder, Colorado, there are perhaps a few too many of us…).
The jacket wears soft and light, with fluent mobility while approaching and climbing—it’s roomy and stretchy to facilitate climbing action. At first, I was befuddled by the on/off till I got the hang of the side (vs. the typical front) zipper, which comes up to the right armpit. This is to say, once I remembered to unzip this when taking the Robson off, the jacket slid off fairly easily, pull-over style, though it does take a bit of dexterity to access the zipper—do your yoga! The big plus with this design is that not having the front zip allows you to have the deep kangaroo pouch, which was perhaps my favorite feature, letting me warm my hands between pitches by clasping and rubbing them together in the big pocket, which was way more effective than using individual pockets. Major kudos for this design tweak. Meanwhile, the hood and waist snugged up great, and the wrist cuffs did a solid job of keeping precip out and warmth in. This is a bullet little puffy and has held up extremely well during the past four months of testing—it’s well worth the money.
But back to Staunton. Late in the week on our film project, I ran into a couple of friends, one of whom hadn’t brought any outer layers and was shivering belaying in the shade. I loaned him the Robson, and then he headed down the hill to climb. A few minutes later we heard some commotion—my friend had decked from the third bolt on a route when his foothold blew. Shaken up and a bit bruised, he was basically OK, but his psyche was gone and his climbing day was over.
“Hey, man, glad to hear you’re OK,” I said as they packed up to head out. I looked him over from head to toe, and saw him gleefully still wearing the Robson. “Now, uh, can I have my jacket back?”