Midway through the third lap of the day, a 1,500-foot climb from the valley floor to the aspen-laiden saddle, I stopped for a snack.
This otherwise forgetful moment is flagged in my brain, because I looked down and realized that I was comfortably dry, despite steady snowfall all day.
For those uninitiated to backcountry touring, this may sound like an odd thing to care about. For those familiar with typically sweaty slogs up skin tracks, this may help inform your next ski-touring upgrade.
I was wearing my standard bibs and long underwear bottom, but for a full week I swapped out my top layers for new ones from Voormi, made from wool and natural fibers.
In addition, and somewhat skeptically, I left my hard-shell jacket at home and instead toured with a soft shell with a waterproof finish: the Voormi Men’s Inversion Jacket.
I was curious to see if this system would sufficiently keep the moisture off while letting my body breathe better on steep climbs. It worked better than nearly all synthetics I’ve used, allowing me to ski both uphill and down without changing layers. It also made transitions faster and kept my pack lighter, two additional bonuses. On a colder or windy day this strategy might not work, but for our 20-degree tour, it was perfect.
Voormi is a relatively new brand based in Pagosa Spring, Colorado. Founded by a father and son combo, the brand now has nearly twenty employees and is growing quickly, largely due to its superior materials and innovative products.
All of Voormi’s products are natural-fiber based and designed for a rugged lifestyle. They manufacture exclusively from their own proprietary fabrics and do all of it in the U.S. (most of the major brands source their wool from abroad).
The brand's first – and biggest – innovation is precision blending. In short, this means they have precise control of how they mix wool and other natural fibers. This allows Voormi to position soft fibers next-to-skin, blend these with moisture-wicking wool and add abrasion-resistant fibers on the outer surface of a garment.
To do this, synthetic fibers are mixed with natural fibers during the knitting or weaving process, allowing three-dimensional control of where each yarn ends up in the finished product. Previous techniques add wool to synthetics at the yarn level, sacrificing any control of the fiber design.
My baselayer, their award-winning River Shirt, has a micron wool construction that features an inner layer of wicking yarns designed to pull moisture off the body. It's incredibly light – roughly half the weight than most other merino fabrics on the market.
My thermal mid-layer High-E Hoody was thicker and reinforced with a mix of outer-facing nylon fibers. Topped with a water-repellent coating, this design boasts great breathability while still offering additional durability.
My thick outer layer, the Inversion Jacket, was a patented design that integrates a weatherproofing membrane into the core of the fabric during the knitting process. The result is pretty surprising – 4-way stretch with amazing water resistance.
Voormi's products retain the advantages of most wool products, like a natural ability to resist bacteria growth and reduce odor, and better thermal regulation. When these fundamentals combine with an improved weaving processes, something special happens. These products are truly the future of wool.
All photos by Andy Cochrane
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