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2014 Bike to Work Week Recap
Written By: Patagonia


Reno Recap

By Gavin Back

The numbers are in from Patagonia’s Bike to Work Week and this was the Reno DC’s best year yet!

We had a total of 118 people riding for a total of 4,550 miles ridden. This means a total of $4,550 donated to an awesome local non-profit, the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis seeks to promote cycling and bike safety, and distributes bikes to children in the Reno area. We would like to thank the members of Kiwanis who took time to visit the Reno DC prior to Bike to Work Week and helped Casey and Eric tune our bikes. All four of you did a great job keeping us safe on the road—thank you.

Despite bragging being somewhat gauche: Ventura, you guys need to step it up!

To put the efforts of the Reno riders into perspective, consider that there are roughly four times more Patagonia employees in Ventura than Reno yet we cycled a little over three times as many miles. And distance to work is no defense, Reno riders averaged twice as many miles as Ventura, with at least two people in Reno cycling over 30 miles per day. The daily Bike Bus, organized by Brenden, provided newer cyclists a fun environment to commute with more experienced cyclists, and be shown quick, safe and attractive routes to work.

Ventura, the Reno DC B2WW committee hereby formally challenges you all to “bring it on” next year. The more you ride, the more your environment benefits, the more money your local bike non-profit receives and the less embarrassing the Cleanest Line blog posts!

Below is a video summery of our week and photos of our prize winners. We had a lot of fun between breakfasts provided by different departments, swag for riders and the 2nd Annual Fix-a-Flat race hosted by Celia Johnson and won by Chad Swanson. One of the highlights of the week was Dan Malloy’s visit to the Reno DC and the presentation of his movie, Slow is Fast. If you haven’t seen it yet, everyone here highly recommends watching it.

The week was wrapped up with a big party and a Pirate Relay Race, and in true pirate fashion there was rum, chaos and blood! The winning teams were Ashley, Eric and Adam in first place; Sarah, Jenna and Ethel in second place; and Kamil, Ray and Jaimie in third place. We were entertained by the DC’s own bluegrass band, Goathead Revival—surely a reference to the devilish thorns that are the bane of Reno cyclists.




We had a huge array of raffle prizes, too many to list the individual winners, but we would like to extend a huge thank you to all our sponsors:

Nite Rider
Reno Aces
Klean Kanteen
Juniper Ridge
Amazing Grass
Honey Stinger
Planet Bike








We had two grand prizes of bikes donated by Kiwanis and Velo Reno. To qualify, riders had to ride to work every day during bike to work week. The winner of the beautifully restored cruiser bike donated by Kiwanis was Chelsea Sauls in the repairs department, and the winner of the fantastic Giant Escape City commuter bike donated by Velo Reno was Erik Krahn in customer service. We had a fantastic turnout so competition for the bikes was high! We would like to extend a massive thank you to Kiwanis and Velo Reno for their generous help and support.




Please enjoy the video put together by Tyler...

If you want to check out more or Tyler’s images, check out his personal blog:

We look forward to next year’s event, and as Chris Miles of Goathead Revival fame said: “If you can ride all week, you can ride all summer.”




Retail Recap

By Cory Gould

Top left: Gang from Washington, DC. Middle left: Chillin’ in Toronto. Bottom left: Hands up in Ventura. Top right: Sunshine in Haleiwa. Bottom right: Doubling in Cardiff.


Another Bike to Work Week for Patagonia has come and gone, but many of us who work in the retail stores continue to enjoy our human-powered modes of transportation long after this week of celebration ends. We bike, we walk, we run, we board or blade—some of us all year round—because we crave to be outside and love the lifestyle.


Top left: The Ventura crew enjoying their rides. Top right: The crew at Santa Cruz showing off their wheels. Bottom: Santa Monica crew just chillin'.


It has been another successful year as we pulled in a total of 8,218 miles for the retail stores. As part of our commitment to community engagement and environmental activism, all those miles spent pedaling our bikes through traffic, walking the streets or rolling down the beachfront, add up to $13,618 of grant money to local cycling groups.


Top left: Santa Monica Spoke. Top right: Bike Utah. Middle left: Community Cycles Boulder. Middle right: Austin B-Cycle. Bottom: Cycle on Hawaii.


With many of the cities we work in participating in their own bike month or bike to work days, it seems as though the momentum is making a shift towards more livable communities. We need to continue to support these cycling advocacy groups in order to keep this momentum going.

We are very grateful that we work for a company that supports the development of a cycling culture within its stores and promotes the use of human-powered transportation in various ways.

A few shoutouts to Freeport for cruising to a total of 1,260 miles for the week and to SoHo, Toronto and Bowery stores for 100% participation!


Cruising to the Bowery store.

Lastly, a big thanks to the BTWW committee and all the point people who made this year great! Keep riding, keep cruising and enjoy every moment.




Ventura Recap

By Paul Hendricks


B2WW 2014 was another great one in Ventura. The bike racks were full and the parking lot had plenty of open spaces throughout the week. This year, the riders at the Ventura HQ biked 1,434 miles. Despite not beating our very collegial and gracious colleagues up in Reno, this was a 36% increase from last year, so we’ll take it.

We had a number of great events on campus that inspired more sustainable commuting and rewarded those who put some pedal power to their commute. Each day, local vendors (and the accounting department who always comes through) provided breakfast for the riders. Thanks to Patagonia Provisions, Citizen Juice, Justin’s Peanut Butter, Sambazon, and Kate’s Breads for providing great eats all week.

The B2WW Committee stepped it up a notch this year and planned great events throughout the week including beer and movies (The Road to Karakol and Fixation), a Bike Swap, a fiesta capped with taquitos and cerveza from Kona Brewing Company, a critical mass ride for fish tacos on the pier, and mimosas and baked goods (apparently we took the “B” in B2WW to mean both bike and beer). We also have to send a huge thanks to our friends at the local Trek shop who put in LONG hours tuning up all of our bikes for free.


Critical Mass Ride

It also wouldn’t be B2WW in Ventura without our child development center decorating campus and showing us all how fun it can be to ride your bike.


Bike Wash


Free Ride

While riders were stoked out with free swag for riding in all week, the big winner was our local bike advocacy group, VCCOOL, who received $1 for each mile we rode throughout the work. Thanks to VCCOOL for all the great work you do making biking more accessible and safe in the area.

A big shout out goes to our B2WW Committee for knocking it out of the park this year:

Allison Allen
Amanda Russell
Ben Galphin
Chipper Bro
Chris Kaiser
Corey Simpson
Courtney Merrit
Lane Bussa
Lindsey Kern
Marcela Riojas
Matt Dwyer
Ryan Thompson
Tracy On

And, a special shout out goes to our rock star rider, Bug, who rode 30 miles every day!

B2WW Sign


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Solutions Series, Part 5: Taking Action
Written By: Patagonia

By Annie Leonard


In my last essay, I talked about an updated vision of environmental changemaking, one that recognizes that many businesses are potential allies in the transformation to a responsible sustainable economy. Not all businesses, mind you, but a good number really do want clean energy, safe products, and decently paid workers. This time, we’ll talk about what we can all do to scale up these kinds of solutions, whether we work within a business or we use its products and services.

When I talk to all kinds of people working to make today’s companies more sustainable, often they’re focused on getting the public to change their shopping habits. If people refuse to buy toxic junk, the thinking goes, companies won’t make it anymore. The theory here is that consumers control the manufacturers and we can change business-as-usual just by shopping differently because companies are just making what people demand.

Baloney. What mom is demanding her kids’ pajamas be pre-treated with neurotoxic flame retardants? Who’s asking for sunscreen with carcinogens? Before Apple spent billions advertising iPhones, who felt the need to buy a new phone every six months? Are any of these production decisions really driven by consumer demand? The real drivers behind toxic-containing or unsustainable production are out-of-date regulations and skewed economic rules that make it cheaper and more profitable—and thus more attractive in the short term—to make unhealthy and unsustainable stuff.

Of course, to truly ensure that businesses are a source of solutions rather than pollution, we need to engage not just businesses but government legislators and regulators too. They are the ones able to change today’s rules which support unsustainable products, level the playing field and open the floodgates for sustainable innovation in businesses. In my next set of essays, I’ll share some thoughts and action ideas to make our government step up and support a responsible, healthy and fair economy, but for now, let’s get back to building solutions in businesses.

Whether you work in a business, or just use its services and products, there are many ways to help advance solutions.

Making change from within a business:

  • Walk the talk. Make sure your operations are powered by renewable energy, your buildings use green materials, your workers are paid a living wage, and the goods or services you sell are safe, sustainable, healthy and easy to upgrade, repair and recycle or compost at the end of their lives. Then look at your supply chain. Where do your raw materials come from? Are the workers and communities at the source treated fairly? If not, figure out how to change things.
  • Do your homework. It may be a challenge to figure out if your business or suppliers are on the path to sustainability. Don’t worry—there are lots of resources available to help you grade your efforts and raise the bar. The Healthy Buildings Network will help you make the best decisions about your operations and facilities. The Biz-NGO Working Group will help you find substitutes for hazardous chemicals and products. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is made up of hundreds of clothing companies working to better understand and lessen the impacts of their supply chains.
  • Join the movement for solutions. Just as in citizen movements, the voices of business advocates for sustainability are louder when joined together. Join the American Sustainable Business Council, a national partnership representing thousands of businesses whose leaders want a better future. Likewise, bow out of business associations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the American Legislative Exchange Council, that are obstructing the solutions to the climate crisis, inequality and other problems.  

Making change from outside a business:

What about the other side of the cash register? Customers can promote solutions in businesses with a carrot or a stick. Which is most effective depends largely on the businesses—some respond to carrots, others to sticks. Take the approach most likely to bring the most change.

  • The carrot: We should reward enterprises that are environmental and social leaders not only with our business but also our recognition. Whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, clothing company or any business, sending a tweet, email or letter thanking them for reducing energy use, eliminating excess packaging, replacing toxic chemicals or paying workers fairly will help the company leaders see that their policies are appreciated and good for business. Some folks who want to reinforce good corporate behavior are joining forces to amplify their impact. Check out Carrotmob, which mobilizes people to support businesses implementing something the members care about, like switching to renewable energy. Just be careful: A lot of companies announce green initiatives but don’t follow through on them. Don’t be fooled by greenwashing. (See to learn more.)
  • The stick: Sometimes companies don’t respond to polite requests, customer calls for greener products or even scientific evidence of the harm their products or operations cause. Then we have to get tough. Many activist organizations today are skilled at market campaigns that push businesses to improve practices right away, even while working for government to pass legislation requiring the change. Rainforest Action Network campaigns get companies to protect forests and use clean energy. Safe Markets is a coalition of environmental and health groups that work to shift businesses away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer ones. Corporate Accountability International campaigns to pressure corporations on a range of issues, from selling tobacco to privatizing public water systems.

Too many modern corporations see their responsibility as limited to returning the highest possible profits to their shareholders. And too many of their customers feel like there is nothing they can do to influence corporate behavior except change how we shop. Both views are short-sighted. What we need are corporate leaders who will use their resources to seek solutions to the problems plaguing the planet, and citizens who will come together to not only condemn bad-actor companies but also recognize the ones who are doing the right thing while working together to change the rules so that the most sustainable and fairer options become the new business-as-usual.

Annie Leonard is the founder of the The Story of Stuff Project and the new executive director of Greenpeace USA. She has dedicated nearly two decades of her life to investigating and reporting on environmental health and justice issues. Her podcast, The Good Stuff, features interviews with inspiring activists, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who’ve succeeded in making change.

Read the entire Solutions series:
Solutions Series, Part 1: Babies in the River
Solutions Series, Part 2: Solutions in Our Communities
Solutions Series, Part 3: Dive In
Solutions Series, Part 4: Solutions in Business
Solutions Series, Part 5: Taking Action
Solutions Series, Part 6: coming soon


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Thai Boxing
Written By: Patagonia

By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll


“Climb it for me!” he yelled as I walked out of the hospital room.

I gladly would if I could, I thought to myself, but this one might just be too hard. I can’t make any promises.

A few days earlier, after a nice enjoyable day of climbing, we were heading back to my friend Sasha’s house to cook up some grub. He was on his motorbike, I was driving his van. Life was sweet. In a split second everything changed. An old man came out from a side road and didn’t see the motorbike coming.

We had some good adventures lined up for the week, but now Sasha was going to spend the next few months without the use of his arms and left leg. Despite this huge setback it was inspiring to see his conviction to fight his way back to good health—a true warrior.

While he sat in a hospital bed, I was going back for a Thai Boxing match in which I had been knocked out the day before.

Above: Ready? Fight! Sean goes toe-to-stone with Thai Boxing. All photos: Colette McInerney

The notorious offwidth Thai Boxing in Buet, near Chamonix, looks easy enough from the ground. It’s such an obvious feature: a wide, slanting, slightly overhanging crack, too wide to jam a fist but not wide enough to get your hips in and climb it as a squeeze chimney. Offwidth climbing requires a specific arsenal of techniques and its own type of physical effort. Thai Boxing is considered to be one of the hardest offwidths in Europe.

The first time I tried it I couldn’t move my body upward no matter how hard I tried. I was slammed into the ropes, knocked to the canvas. I returned to the ground without even reaching the anchor, my ego crushed. I love these sorts of setbacks. They’re humbling; they put me right back to square one; they expand my reference point; they force me to open up, to be a beginner again. Even my climbing partner for the day and good friend, Mason Earl, who has a good bit more offwidth experience than I do—and from whom, in the past, I had already learned an awful lot about offwidth climbing—even he received a proper beating on his first go.






The route was first climbed by American offwidth specialist Craig Lueben, inventor of the Big Bro expanding chock cube for protecting wide cracks. He rated it 5.12c (French 7b+). Then it was repeated by strong British climber Stevie Haston who says he finds it harder than the bolted 8a on the same crag.

A few years later, some French locals, who thought it had never been climbed, bolted it, and a French grade up to 8b+ (5.14a) was mentioned. “I can only imagine the insane gastoning that must be going on,” Craig Lueben stated in an interview. It’s hard to speak Chinese when you don’t know any Chinese words.

In 2010, offwidth maestros Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall repeated the route on gear, and chopped the bolts bringing it back to its original grandeur. They say it might be harder than the reference route, Belly Full of Bad Berries (5.13a), in Indian Creek. Numbers are only numbers.

Eighteen-year-old French sport climber Enzo Oddo did an impressive ascent of the route in 2013, climbing it on his second go! Well, this is coming from a kid who climbed Biographie (9a+) when he was 15. But offwidth climbing is so different from sport climbing, this just shows how well rounded he is. On his first try, he quickly noticed that he wasn’t wearing the right shoes for this sort of jamming. So he lowered down, got straight back on with a different pair of shoes, and sent!

When I returned for my rematch, I was willing to learn but prepared to accept another beating. The first few attempts I didn’t feel much. I wasn’t making any progress and my whole body felt like jelly. Then I thought of my pal who was suffering in pain. He had a bad reaction to the medication and could no longer take any morphine.

What a total shit situation! In a split second it could happen to any of us. These sorts of misfortunes really make me realize how fortunate we are to be in good health, and the importance of enjoying every moment and to love life.




So I gave Thai Boxing one last try. Dodgy double fists, insecure chicken wings, and assertive knee scums slowly saw me moving upwards. There were a few moments I felt I was slipping out, but with encouragement from my good friend Mike who was belaying me, my mind stayed strong and did not let go. The impassable section of rock became a challenge to find solutions. I took my time, measuring my effort and keeping my mind open. It was a half-an-hour battle but I managed to get to the top! As I clipped the anchor I felt both nauseous and happy. What an awesome route!

I wish my friend strength, courage and a speedy and full recovery!


Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll believes he didn’t choose to climb, climbing chose him. His first expedition to Patagonia was a turning point in his life because he felt utterly connected with the forces of nature and the adventure of just being alive. Climbing teaches Sean to live life to the fullest and that he can do whatever he wants if he puts his mind to it. 

For more, check out some of our previous posts featuring Sean: Jungle JammingGreenland Vertical SailingBaffin Island and Patagonia.

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Patagonia’s Plastic Packaging – A study on the challenges of garment delivery
Written By: Patagonia

By Nellie Cohen & Elissa Loughman


Patagonia’s finished goods factories package each individual product we make in a polybag. Some of our direct customers (people who order from our catalog or have expressed disappointment in the amount of waste generated by polybags. This customer feedback inspired us to investigate ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from Patagonia’s product packaging.

Editor’s note: The tone of today’s post is a bit formal due to its origins as an internal case study. It’s a good look into the workings of our company and the challenging decisions we’re faced with as we try to balance customer satisfaction with environmental impact.

In order to evaluate how Patagonia can reduce plastic in our supply chain we conducted several tests at our Distribution Center (DC) and surveyed our customers. Through this study, we determined that polybags are critical to insuring that garments stay clean from the finished goods factory through the DC. If we eliminated the use of polybags, garments would be damaged, resulting in both financial and environmental costs. Energy, water and resources are used to make each product and we want them to be worn. A damaged product that is unwearable has a far greater environmental cost than manufacturing a polybag.

We invite you to read on to see our progress in examining this area of our distribution process and how we’re working through potential ways to lessen our impact going forward, while making sure our products reach you undamaged.

Above: A look inside the Patagonia DC in Reno, Nevada. Products are picked in the warehouse, sent to packing stations and then to outbound mail via conveyor belts. This system allows us to ship packages with the greatest efficiency, especially during busy periods like sales and holidays. All photos: Nellie Cohen



Each Patagonia product we sell is packaged in a polybag at the finished goods factory and arrives at our DC in cartons. The boxes that arrive from the factories are often broken, torn, or open upon arrival. This exposes finished products to dirt, moisture and damage.

The polybag protects the product from becoming dirty or damaged at the factory, during transit to the DC and while the product is stored, processed and packed at the DC. Additionally, the polybags keep stored products clean in the wholesale and retail environments.

It is essential for the product to remain protected in each of these supply chain steps. Currently, Patagonia does not have specific requirements for the size and type of polybags used by our finished goods factories and the polybags in use do not contain recycled content. Despite the functionality of polybags, they are perceived as waste by many customers and employees.


Shipping journeys can be perilous.


Polybags protect our products even if the box is damaged in transit.



Summary of Objectives & Results

Objective: Determine if it is possible to completely eliminate the use of polybags without incurring damage to products that would make them unsellable.

Result: Products were damaged when they were run through the shipping system in Reno without a polybag. In our experiments, about 30% of garments that went through the system without polybags were damaged beyond the point of being sellable. This indicated that it is not possible to process products in the Reno DC without polybags.


Test: We ran 40 unbagged, tied products through the Reno picking system in order to measure the damage incurred. All of the products were returns from the retail stores in pristine condition with hang tags attached. We folded and tied each of the 40 products with paper ribbon and placed the pick labels on both the product and the hang tag to determine where it was most effective.


Taking the ride.


17 of 40 products (42.5%) fell out of the tie by the time they arrived at the packing station.


12 of 40 products (30%) showed visible signs of damage and dirt by the time they reached the packing station.


We also found the placement of the pick label to be a challenge. We placed the pick labels on both the product and the hang tag to determine where it was most effective. The pick label did not stick to 12 of the 40 materials. In a real product order, the pick label cannot be placed on the hang tag because it will cover up the bar code for the product that must also be scanned in the outbound product packing process.



Objective: Determine if paper mailers are effective shipping containers in order to eliminate the use of plastic mailers.

Our current plastic mailers are made of 40% post-consumer waste (PCW) content and were down-gauged from 3.5 to 2.5 millimeters which reduced our plastic use by 30%. Our mailer bags are recyclable, but usually must be taken to specific receptacles for plastic film recycling, such as those located in grocery stores.

Result: Both brands of paper mailers we tried suffered considerable damage prior to leaving Reno. Damage included separated seams and tearing, and mailing labels peeled off several orders.


Test: In an effort to find a way to eliminate plastic in our mailing containers we selected two brands of paper mailers to test. 


Both options were 100% paper, did not contain any plastic or fiberglass inner structure, were lightweight to minimize shipping costs and would be completely recyclable in common curbside recycling systems.


We used three sizes of each brand in our tests. We documented the journey of the paper mailers through the Reno system from packing station to their exit and respective mail carriers.


We encountered problems with these bags before they left the DC.


A hole like this could soil an unbagged garment during shipping. 



Objective: Determine if it is possible for the Reno DC to remove polybags before shipping customer orders without damaging products. This will enable Patagonia to retain and recycle more plastic bags.

Result: It is possible to remove polybags before shipping customer orders, but it takes time to remove each polybag. When we extrapolated this time across an entire calendar year we estimated that it will take an additional 5,555 hours of work per year in labor to unbag every product we send.


Removing the bag and refolding the garment at the shipping station.



Objective: Survey our customers to determine if they prefer to receive products in polybags or if they prefer to receive products that aren’t packaged in polybags.

Result: Only 22% of our customers viewed our packaging as environmentally friendly, we did however, see a 14% increase in customer satisfaction when we used paper mailers and removed polybags. The general trends that emerged from both surveys were (1) our current packaging is very effective with 99% of garments arriving in perfect condition (2) people try to recycle or reuse our packaging (3) customers are unclear if the packaging is recyclable and (4) they want to recycle our packaging.





Objective: Quantify the amount of additional polybags that can be recycled if products are shipped to customers without polybags.

Result: An estimated 50,000 pounds of plastic can be retained in Reno each year. If we are able to decrease the size of our polybags (see next Objective), the quantity of plastic will decrease.





Objective: Investigate how Patagonia can reduce the amount of plastic it currently uses in packaging products.

Result: Folding products into smaller shapes would enable us to reduce the size of the polybag required for each product. Initial work shows that this can result in nearly a 50% reduction in plastic weight on a per product level.






As you can see, there are several ways we might reduce plastic waste within our system in the future. We're currently looking into the feasibility of implementing these recommendations, and we're always searching for new alternatives. We know some companies out there have found solutions that work for their unique distribution systems, all with varying sizes and complexities—prAna being a good example—and we’re also looking to learn from them. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. 

1. Continue to use polybags at the factory level. We found that polybags are an effective barrier to damage that can occur during shipping and while going through the Reno picking system. A damaged product that is unwearable has a far greater environmental cost than manufacturing a polybag.

2. Reduce the size of polybags used. Many of our products are packaged in polybags that are far larger than the product. We recommend implementing packaging and folding guidelines at the finished goods factory level that require a reduction in the size of polybags.

3. Do not use paper mailers. We found that the two types of paper mailers we tested were barely strong enough to survive the journey through the DC. We expect that they will not consistently reach customers unharmed.

4. Continue to recycle all polybags collected in the DC. Baling the polybags that are collected in Reno is key to minimizing the waste we produce.

5. Educate our customers. The survey responses inspired an unexpected recommendation which is to provide our customers with more information about how to recycle their packaging.

6. Source recycled polybags. By using recycled polybags we can reduce the amount of virgin petroleum we use in our packaging. We have started investigating the potential to source recycled polybags.

7. Increase polybag recycling at wholesale dealers. We have a tremendous opportunity to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up as waste by working with our wholesale dealers to ensure that polybags are recycled.



Nice study, but how do I recycle the polybag that protected my Patagonia fleece?

Customers who don't have curbside options for recycling polybags are welcome to do the following.

1. Mail them back to us for recycling:

Patagonia Service Center
ATTN: Common Threads Recycling Program
8550 White Fir Street
Reno, NV 89523-8939

2. Drop them off at the Patagonia Retail Store nearest you—ideally, while you're running other errands, to reduce environmental impact.

Both of these options apply to Patagonia garment recycling as well.

3. Many grocery stores take back plastic bags and the bags we use can be recycled in a grocery store recycling stream. Follow this link and enter your zip code to find a plastic bag recycling location near you.    


Thanks to everyone at the DC for accommodating us while we performed these tests. 


Nellie Cohen is Product Responsibility Analyst and Elissa Loughman is Manager of Product Responsibility for Patagonia. They work on special projects related to Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Assessment


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Stepping from Sand to Pavement – San Sebastián Surfilm Festibal 2014
Written By: Patagonia

By Tom Doidge-Harrison


Travel in all its various guises is at the heart of surfing, so it was appropriate that there was a little of it involved for most of the people—Patagonia or otherwise—at this year’s Surfilm Festibal in San Sebastián, Spain.

They say that change is good and that exploring new places nourishes the soul, but Nora, my three-year-old daughter wasn’t letting on if it did. Changing time zones with a small child is a test of a parent’s reserves of patience. From her perspective, though, once we were in country and with day time operations revolving around Patagonia’s San Sebastián surf store—a casual glance away from the acres of white sand that make up La Playa de Zuriola—she’d died and gone to bucket and spade excavation heaven. Happy child, happy parents, happy days.

[The author chats with Otto Flores after a morning surf, just out the door from Patagonia San Sebastián. Later, customers were invited to make their own handplanes with the tools in the foreground. Photo: Mat. Turries /]

City beaches are amazing things and I’ve never really gotten used to them. San Sebastián has two, although from a surfer’s perspective, only one of them really counts. It also clearly counts for the ten thousand odd people that flocked to its softly sloping sands and cooling mid-morning sea breezes each day—Ipanema without the highrise, or the close-outs for that matter. A mere glimpse of the old familiar solitude was possible, even in this metropolis.

There was a small pulse in the interval during our stay and I levered myself out of the bed at 6 a.m. in the half-light and crept to the seawall. Not a soul in the water, just a single prospector leashing up on the sand and head-high lefts running fast and crisp into the rip at the east end of the beach. One was all I needed, which was lucky because each minute brought another head to the line-up. It is odd how both extreme solitude and the opposite, found here, can make you feel a little lost. Lost in space or lost in numbers—or maybe the opposite, depending on how your day is going.


Tom_photo 1
Zuriola, looking west. Photo: Tom Doidge-Harrison


Zuriola, looking east. Photo: Mat. Turries /


Tom_photo 3
Headed home with Léa Brassy. Photo: Tom Doidge-Harrison

Something to make you feel found, though, are familiar smiling faces and one of the real pleasures of making it down to the Basque Country was, for me, in the spreading of social wings. As a Patagonia ambassador living in Ireland I sometimes feel that I operate in some form of a vacuum. So it was a joy to meet some of the other faces that peer out from the website.

Léa Brassy appeared from the fog of bodies in the arrivals hall at Biarritz airport and packed us into her perfect little camper van. Casually getting to know each other as we buzzed south for the border, we realised we had unknowingly spent a summer surfing the same waves 13 years before in what is now my hometown. Somehow it didn’t feel that surprising!

Like us, Patch Wilson descended from the north, Kepa Acero from a couple of headlands along the coast. But the real miles were put in by Otto Flores whose Caribbean homeland lies well beyond the horizon. Other key players hopped down from the Alps and a handful crossed a continent and an ocean. A warm gathering of familiar names, if less than familiar faces, mixed and expertly blended by locals Arantxa, Gaizka and Sancho in a pool of old city streets, pinchos and Atlantic ‘olitas.


Léa Brassy introduces her film Catch It. Photo: @simplevoyage


Kepa Acero. Photo: Mat. Turries /


Alain Riou, Laurent Pujol and Patch Wilson during a training session for Patagonia's PSI Vest. Photo: ©Marc Gassó


Gonz_Talking inflation
Tom Doidge-Harrison and Patagonia's global surf director Jason McCaffrey talk about the PSI Vest. Photo: ©Marc Gassó

Presentation for Patagonia's new Yulex Wetsuits that are made from plant-based materials. Photo: Mat. Turries /


With all that going on, it was sometimes easy to forget what the main event really was: surfing and the issues surrounding it, on film, in the delicious velvety cool of a gracefully aging auditorium. From soft focus, close cropped, slow motion grace, to high energy mountains of water. Arctic to Equator. Novice to expert. Indignant to indulgent. The full spectrum laid out for all comers—a veritable marathon of input, yet to be distilled.

Being no expert at or on this stream of documentary, I had to revert to instinct and braille my way through. And, amusingly, where worlds collide there is often the odd spark, not in a bad way, just gentle reminders that we were stepping from the sand to the pavement. A polite gesture from the manicured host to the salty visitor indicating that steps are for stepping on, not sitting on! And damn, these people look clean. I wish I’d remembered to get those new shoes before coming down here…


San Sebastián street view. Photo: Mat. Turries /
Crowd waits to enter the theater. Photo: ©Marc Gassó
Photo: ©Marc Gassó


Photo: ©Marc Gassó
Yulex wetsuit display inside the theater. Photo: ©Marc Gassó


Kepa Acero looks on. Photo: ©Marc Gassó


Fesitval trailer video from Surfilmfestibal


Festival recap video from NORDICSURFERSMAG.SE


Kepa Acero's film My Best Surf Session Ever was shown at the festival.


Thundercloud from onepalmMEDIA was another film shown at the festival.


That’s it. That’s why it is fun to get away. To look, listen and maybe learn. Absorb by osmosis and come away with a little more than you left home with. To be inspired, even if it is by something as simple as the wet footprints left by a surfer padding home on the still warm flagstones of a city street well after sunset.

Big thanks to Gabe and Lauren Davies and the rest of the Patagonia boys and girls for making a great event a memorable one.


Tom Doidge-Harrison lives on the western shores of Ireland, where he shares a small cottage with his family, charges barrels and shapes custom sleds for County Clare’s magical string of coldwater slabs.


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My Best Surf Session
Written By: Patagonia

By Laurel Winterborne

Cheering friends on

Head-high peaks stacked in perfect rows, warm clear water, and glassy surface conditions were not the reasons for the best surf session of my life. Sometimes it’s about more than that. If you were asked to describe your most memorable surf session, what would you say? Would you scroll through your memories of surf trips to the South Pacific, or an epic day at your home break with no one out except you and the dolphins? That’s what would have come to mind before my experience with the athletes from the High Fives Foundation.

While surfing with this crew of hilarious, inspiring, adventurous folks, I found new meaning to surfing and, more importantly, the contagious element of positivity. The High Fives Foundation is a non-profit group, based in Truckee, California, that supports the recovery of severely injured athletes and helps get them into adaptive sports. I was lucky enough to join the group on a surf trip to San Onofre, California. This is where the adventure began and my life changed. It’s a beautiful thing when something that you love and are passionate about opens your eyes a little wider and forces you to reevaluate your perspective.

[Above: Cheering on friends. All photos: Trevor Clark]

Being in the ocean, feeling the cool saltwater on your skin, the waves tumbling over your board and body, the rush of water under you, propelling you forward as you glide down the face—there’s nothing like surfing. This is where we find our flow and something magical happens. Sharing the experience and connection with this amazing crew of guys (and girl, Taylor Fiddymont) filled my soul. Their eyes lit up with excitement and the connection between the athlete, the board and the water was immediate.

Almost all of the High Fives crew had experienced some sort of traumatic injury that left them paralyzed or with little lower body strength. Most had never surfed before, but all of them were incredibly psyched. Despite their injuries they caught more waves than most of the people in the water, had the best attitude, and had more fun than anyone else. Their positivity was contagious and my experience riding waves with them was unlike any surf session I’ve ever had.


Getting ready
Getting ready. Photos: Trevor Clark 


Taylor fist bump
Taylor gets a fist bump.


Landon ready for takeoff
Landon ready for takeoff. 


Board header on entry
Just getting out is half the fun.


Imagine sitting on a 10-foot wave ski with shorebreak pounding on the beach. Your board gets flipped at least once or twice, and you take a couple board headers before getting buckled into the seat and paddling furiously past the pounding inside waves. It’s your first time surfing. In fact, you’ve never even been in the ocean. Your athleticism and survival instincts are all you have as you paddle as fast as you can to make it over a set wave that looks like it might crash right on top of you.

Once you make it through the surf, you sit, looking at your buddies next to you with huge smiles on their faces. You see some peaks lining up in the distance and turn around to paddle your ass off. As the swell rolls underneath, the surge of energy takes you in one swift motion and you feel the power of the wave connect with the board as you glide down the face. “Wooohoooo!” The adrenaline pumps and your cheeks hurt from the huge smile that’s stretching from ear to ear smile. As the wave tails off you take a deep sigh, turn and paddle back out, your friends offering high fives as you paddle by.


Roy here comes a set
Roy spots a set wave. Photos: Trevor Clark


Roy surfing
Roy draws a good line. 


Landon charging
Landon drops in. 


Taylor coming in after shredding
Taylor full of stoke. 


Sunset departure
Still time for a few more. 


What's a good surf story without some wipeouts? Video: Shreddy Times


I think back to all the frustrating surf sessions in my life where the waves were too crowded, or I missed a peeling left or fell on the perfect wave. I think about all the times I’ve heard people argue, slap the water with anger and paddle furiously around with an irritated look on their face. What excuses do we have to act so immature and irrationally? The High Fives crew got hammered by six-foot sets. They were thrown off their boards into the churning ocean. Rip currents pulled against them as they frantically paddled, yet the smiles never left their faces.

Best surf session ever.


Laurel Winterborne is a freelance writer and producer at Trevor Clark Photography, and a former Patagonia Pro Sales employee. "When I felt myself becoming too comfortable in my office chair, knowing exactly where my path would lead me in 30 years, I decided to shake it up, take a leap and see where I landed." You can read Laurel's previous posts on The Cleanest Line here.  


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Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Widge
Written By: Patagonia

By Fitz & Becca Cahall


“It’s like you’re scared to move forward—you just need something to give you a little nudge,” says Jonah Manning. “You can call it support, but, really it’s just like a little bit of a shove forward. And I’ll never forget it, because Widge was certainly that for me.”

Today we bring you the story of Widge, the ultimate adventure partner. Sometimes when that metaphorical door of adventure opens, you need someone to walk through by your side.


Listen to "Widge" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

Visit for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production.

[Graphic by Walker Cahall]


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My New Travel Companion
Written By: Patagonia

By Lydia Zamorano


I've found my favorite yoga and bodywork prop. Not only is it made of wood, but it's perfectly portable, fits into the side of any backpack or duffel bag, and takes up next to no space in a van.

It works kind of like other massage canes would (but it's not plastic, is way cheaper, and you can make it yourself), and a bit like a foam roller (but it's not foam and I lie on it instead of roll on it). I use it to apply deep pressure to sticky, stuck and tight places in my body. It's also great for supporting the spine or joints in different yoga positions, like a mini yoga block. Once the hips are quite open, it also gives just enough height to become a support for sitting meditation—placed just behind the sitting bones.

[Above: Mid-back (rhomboid) release. All photos Lydia Zamorano Collection]

It costs less than $10 to make. I just get wooden doweling, cut it to about three feet long, router the edges, sand it, and apply a good stain or clear coat if i want it to be smoother.

Lots of yoga props these days are expensive, cumbersome and contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Although people are catching on to how gross PVC is, it's still around. PVC contains all sorts of nastiness like lead and phthalates. Phthalates (sometimes added to make the plastic more flexible) are linked to liver and kidney disease. PVC is also carcinogenic to make, and hard to recycle. It pollutes air and water when disposed of, and it's double as nasty when it's incinerated and released into the air—not to mention if it sets on fire it becomes hydrochloric acid.

I'm not the first one to be pleased with the versatility and simplicity of a wooden stick for self massage. Similar tools have been used for hundreds of years in China (traditional chinese medicine uses bamboo) and Mongolia to open up the body. In ancient Mongolia, there were warriors known as the "purified bodies," who would work into their muscles (and those of their horses) with a specially shaped tool made of bone, ivory or wood called a Ka. It was like a deep-tissue massage, which is pretty much how I use the wooden dowel.

So, I love this prop. It's simple and portable and friendly. I often organize a whole home practice around it. I use it in my restorative classes. And I always pack it in my bag when we hit the road. Here's how you can integrate it into your practice as a pressurizing tool to open and rehydrate tight muscles and connective tissue.


Dowel Workshop wtih Lydia

Do: Find your trigger points and stay for 90 seconds or more. Work up to three minutes.

Don't: Use too much pressure. It immobilizes the tissue and puts the body into protective mode.

Do: Wait till you feel softening, releasing and increased liquidity (gel to liquid).

Don't: Go to the place where your jaw, diaphragm or bum muscles tighten. Approximate pressure should be like sinking hands into clay. Put a blanket over the dowel if you need to.


Opening the feet (plantar fascia). Use the dowel up the arches of the feet.


Calf and achilles release. Use the dowel from the back of the knee joint to the top of the achilles.


Hamstring opener (lean side to side). Use the dowel just in front of the sitting bones, to the base of the hamstrings. (Seven months pregnant in these images!)


Lateral leg (iliotibial) release. Use the dowel from the top of the lateral thigh to just above the knee joint.


Inner thigh (adductor) release with block and bolster. Use the dowel from the upper inner thigh to just above the knee joint. Can be done without block or bolster too.


Front of thigh (quadriceps) release with block and bolster. Use the dowel from the top of the thigh to just above the knee joint. Can be done without block or bolster too.


Bum and outer hip (gluteus) release. Use the dowel about mid sacrum and roll your legs into windshield wipers.


Erector spinae release. Place dowel on the side of the spine and roll up and down on it in sequential order.


Mid thoracic release. Place dowel at mid rib cage and open arms overhead with bent elbows.


Mid-back (rhomboid) release. Place dowel in between shoulder blade and spine. Hug your outer shoulders.


Outer upper arm (deltoid) release. Place dowel on upper arm below shoulder head. Lean the weight of your skull onto your arm.


Armpit freedom (pectoral release). Place dowel about one inch below your outer collarbone. You’ll find a tender spot that will form a depression when you lean your weight onto the dowel. Pull your elbow out to the side.


Upper neck and skull release (occipital muscles). Hold dowel with both hands and place it under the base of your skull and upper neck. Roll your head side to side gently.


Trotters 2_2 

Lydia Zamorano is a dedicated and joyous yogi from Alberta, Canada. She has been sharing yoga for the past 12 years and has over 1,200 hours of advanced teacher training. After co-owning a studio for four years, she now puts her energy into organizing workshops and retreats. Lydia and her husband, Sonnie, recently welcomed their first child into the world. Photo: Sonnie Trotter

This post originally appeared on Yoga With Lydia. For more on yoga and travel, check out Lydia's previous Cleanest Line post, "Van Yoga."  


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Why Bike to Work?
Written By: Patagonia

By Gavin Back, video by Tyler Keck

Every year, Patagonia employees actively celebrate our own version of Bike to Work Week a few weeks after the national event. The Reno distribution center has a dedicated core of riders who regularly choose to cycle to work instead of burning gas. To kick off the 2014 Bike to Work Week festivities, we have a prepared a short video to acknowledge some of those regular riders, learn a little about why we prefer to cycle and inspire more people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes. Join us.

For more inspiration, check out our recap from last year's Bike to Work Week and our previous cycling posts.

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Major Environmental Victory in Chile!
Written By: Patagonia


“Chile’s Committee of Ministers – the country’s highest administrative authority – has cancelled the environmental permits for the five-dam hydropower project, HidroAysén, effectively stopping the scheme that threatened the Baker and Pascua Rivers in Patagonia.” –Emily Jovais, International Rivers

This is an issue we've been involved with since 2007 and we couldn't be more thrilled. Check out International Rivers' blog for more on today's announcement. Congratulations to everyone who has worked hard on this victory, especially the Chilean people. The Baker and Pascua Rivers are running free!

[Above: May 19, 2011, Patagonia Headquarters, Ventura, California. In Chile and other Spanish-speaking countries they call it a cacerolazo – a stew-pot protest. Watch the video. Photo: Tim Davis]

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