Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Royal Robbins & The California Wilderness Coalition

Introduction to CWC:

Hello, Michelle the Royal Robbins Ambassador stopping by to tell you of my next adventure. April 1-3 I will be heading to the Soda Mountains/Mojave Desert Wilderness Study Area with the California Wilderness Coalition and the California Native Plant Society to conduct a rare plant survey of the area. Before I get into the trip details let me first tell you about the CWC and how Royal Robbins is affiliated with them.
The California Wilderness Coalition’s mission “The California Wilderness Coalition protects the natural landscapes that make California unique, providing clean air and water, a home to wildlife, and a place for recreation and spiritual renewal. CWC is the only organization dedicated to protecting and restoring California's wild places and native biodiversity on a statewide level. Since 1976, we have empowered local communities and conservationists to be the voice for wild California.”
Royal Robbins®, who depends on wilderness access for our customers, agrees with the mission of the CWC. This year we’ve included their cause in our philanthropy yearly plan. Our goal together is to protect our wild places and educate adults and children of the importance of these valuable wilderness areas. As the Royal Robbins Ambassador I’ve been invited to explore the Soda Mountains in the Mojave Desert with the CWC and the California Native Plant Society. For three days and two nights I will be camping in the backcountry of the Soda Mountains and Cronese Lakes Basin conducting a rare plant survey during wildflower season in the Mojave Desert proposed wilderness area.
The Soda Mountains are the largest Wilderness Study Area left in the Mojave Desert. The mountains are a scenic, horseshoe shaped range and include the terminus of the great Mojave River – at the Cronese Lakes most recently, and Silver Lake in the not too distant past. Known plants include Creosote, Barrel Cacti, Cholla Yuccas, and the Crucifixion Thorn. The southern portion of the Soda Mountains contains critical habitat for the federally and state threatened desert tortoise. Although the Soda Mountains have been a Wilderness Study Area since 1994, surprisingly little information is available about plant life in the area. Our trip seeks to survey three distinct areas within the Wilderness Study Area to find out what plants exist there. We will learn to identify plants species, collect specimens, and record our findings. We will be venturing into unstudied, wild desert. So here I go, out into the wilderness to explore and study rare plant life. The weather is warming up for us and the forecast says lows in the 50’s highs in the 90’s. Phenomenal spring camping conditions! I will check back in to blog about my adventure and share some pictures when I return. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

UPF Rating Explained

What is UPF and what are the benefits?

You may notice throughout the Royal Robbins website that many of our products are UPF rated This UPF rating varies from 20+ to 50+ and is applied to pants, shirts, sweaters and even tank tops. So what is all the hype? Why would you want to check out a UPF product versus a non-UPF rated product?

Let’s stick with the basics.

The sun warms us up, but it also emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This radiation can cause early signs of aging, sunburn, and sometimes even cancer. The best way to protect yourself from these harmful rays is to ensure you have covered your skin with clothing and sunscreen lotion.

Unrated fabric can protect you from UV rays, however, the better the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) the more protection your skin has against UV rays.

So how does a fabric protect against UV rays?

There are three ways to achieve UPF ratings. The first way (our way) is by utilizing tightly woven fabrics. The tighter the weave on the fabric the stronger the protection from UV rays. You may think that a tighter woven fabric may be heavy but that is not the case. In fact, cotton can carry an excellent UPF rating and still be light and comfortable to wear. For example our Women’s Kick Back 1x1 Rib Cotton shirt carries a rating of UPF 50+.

The second way is by a chemical wash over the fabric. This chemical can protect you from the sun, but often washes out of the fabric, leaving you exposed to harmful UV rays.

A third way to protect from UV rays is through treated yarn. Yarn can be treated with UPF protection and therefore the fabric created by the yarn will be permanently protected from UV rays. This will not wash off like a topical chemical. We use this process with our Discovery Lite Stretch Nylon fabric. You will see this form of UPF protection being used this fall in our Discovery stretch and Discovery plaid fabrics.

Decoding the Rating:

While we always recommend pairing UPF rated clothing with a sunscreen for added protection against rays, we would still like to let you in on how to decipher what piece of clothing is best for you.

Wikipedia provided this fantastic chart to understand what percentage of UV rays are blocked by UPF clothing.

Here are the UPF Ratings and Protection Categories

UPF Rating
Protection Category
 % UV radiation Blocked
UPF 15 - 24 Good 93.3 - 95.9
UPF 25 - 39 Very Good 96.0 - 97.4
UPF 40 - 49 Excellent 97.5 or more
UPF50+ Considered the Ultimate in UV Sun Protection

Wikipedia, Sun protective clothing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_protective_clothing as of Mar. 16, 2011.

With so many different skin types in the world, it is important to know how to protect yourself best. The American Association of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that a "broad spectrum" sun block with an SPF of at least 15 is applied daily to all sun exposed areas, then reapplied every two hours. *

*UCSF, School of medicine; Dermatology, http://www.dermatology.ucsf.edu/skincancer/General/prevention/Sunscreen.aspx, as of March 16, 2011

To check out what UPF items we have to offer click through the following link:

Royal Robbins Men’s UPF
Royal Robbins Women’s UPF

Another excellent more in-depth resource to read at REI’s Blog