Adidas Summer Apparel Spotlight

When most people think of Adidas, images of soccer cleats, running shoes or hip street kicks pop into their awareness. But, thanks to an excellent clothing and approach shoe offering, strong sponsorship of North American rock climbers, and the 2012 purchase of climbing shoe company 5.10, attitudes are slowly starting to change.

My first exposure to Adidas as a rock climbing company occurred during the 1991 media blitz surrounding Wolfgang Gullich’s next-level 5.14d first assent of Action Direct. In those iconic photos, Gullich, outfitted in an aqua-green tank top and matching spandex shorts, is shown leaping between shallow pockets on a grey pocketed overhang.

A few years later, Adidas athlete Beat Kammerlander was featured in magazines climbing his impressively blank and runout limestone multi-pitch projects in Switzerland. The Huber brothers were the next big sensation to showcase the three-stripe brand during a successful string of assents in Pakistan and then again while big-wall free and speed climbing in Yosemite.

Despite the exposure these European mega stars have received by the North American climbing media, Adidas has never made a lasting impact on the US climbing consciousness. However, all that has started to change thanks to a host of new young crushers benefiting from the German brand’s marketing generosity. Think Sasha DiGiulian, Kevin Jorgeson, Kai Lightner, Jon Cardwell, Nina Williams, Chelsea Rude, Mayan Smith-Gobat, Ben Rueck, Michaela Kiersch, and Brooke Raboutou, just to name a few.

Along with their long history of climber support, it is also reassuring to know that Adidas builds its clothing with 80% to 100% recycled fleece and uses an impressive amount of sustainably farmed and organic cotton. The company is also included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review, a listing of world’s leading companies in terms of economic, environmental and social criteria, and are considered best-in-class when considering overall sustainability. Adidas has also partnered with the environmental organization Parley for the Oceans, and through this collaboration, has started using materials made from recycled ocean plastic in a few models of running shoes, sandals and t-shirts.

This spring, I was lucky enough to try out four signature climbing pieces from the Adidas Terrex active-wear line. The Agravic Alpha Shield Hoodie, Multi Pants, Stockhorn Hoodie and Climb the City Shorts. I was immediately impressed by the garments’ fit, as Adidas has a non-compromising view of how their clothing should fit an athletic body. (I’m a slim 5’8” 143lbs and everything felt like it had come from the tailor). So, after product testing on Colorado’s front range and western slope, I encourage anyone in need of new outdoor clothing to give the following pieces strong consideration.

Agravic Alpha Shield Jacket – $159, 6.3oz

Wind jackets seem all the rage these days, but Adidas brings something new to the market with the Agravic Alpha Shield jacket and its strategic layer of Polartec® Alpha insulation. This warm, light, low profile and highly compressible synthetic insulation is built into the jacket’s chest and front-shoulder region. And although this built-in warmth does give the jacket a bit more bulk than a standard wind shell, the Agravic Alpha Shield easily compresses down to the size of a jumbo burrito when stuffed into one of its hand pockets, and goes unnoticed when clipped to a climbing harness with the sewn in attachment point. I found the added insulation a boon while climbing in Eldorado Canyon and stuck at hanging belays in brisk and windy conditions. The jacket also benefits from an extremely long and adjustable waist, an impeccable and adjustable helmet friendly hood, long arms with elastic wrist cuffs and a slim, athletic fit. Personally, I appreciated the long waist that did a great job staying tucked under my harness, the added insulation that made layering a bit easier, and the anatomic hood that felt like it was custom designed for my head and face.


Stockhorn Hoodie – $139, 14.7oz

When I first zipped up the Stockhorn Hoodie and pulled on the hood, I was again impressed by the Adidas “alethic fit”. The arms are long, the torso slim, the anatomic hood fits well over a bare head, under a helmet or even over a helmet. And with the zipper fully closed, the jacket sealed up to the top of my chin in a comfortable manor. To build the Stockhorn Hoodie, Adidas chose Pontetorto Technostretch fleece. This high tech fabric has a smooth, stretchy, slightly wind resistant and durable outer surface matched to a gridded, highly insulate, brushed inner. It also reassuring to know that hidden in the fleece are activated odor-killing carbon fibers that cannot be worn down or washed out. Additional features include a small zip pocket on the left shoulder, two zippered hand pockets, two internal pockets, two elastic waist closures and Lycra wrist gaskets. When out at the crags climbing moderates in cool, spring Colorado weather, I found the Stockhorn Hoodie to offer a surprising level of wind protection, while its slim, stretchy fit, long arms and low, harness-friendly waist made me forget I was wearing such a warm layer.

Climb the City Shorts – $45, 5oz.

Climb the City Shorts are Adidas’s take on a sport short that can do just about everything and look good doing it. I used these shorts while trail running, attending yoga class, rock and gym climbing, and while simply cruising around town. They are built with an 11 inch inseam and constructed with 100% recycled Climalite® fabric which I found to be incredibly breathable, fast drying and slightly stretchy. Also of note is the harness and backpack friendly elastic waist that has a built-in rubber strip that helps keep the shorts in place during active movement. Two hand pockets, one rear hip pocket and a zipper fly and snap-button closure round out this strong offering.

Multi Pants – $99, 12.3oz

One of my big struggles with technical pants is the fit, or lack there of, as even the smallest sizes are cut too baggy for my skinny athletic legs and rear end. Amazingly, the Adidas Multi Pants fit like they had been custom made. Waist adjustment was a non-issue as the pants sport both an internal draw cord and belt loops, while a zippered fly lets one easily answer the call of nature while wearing a climbing harness. The fabric is a light, durable, four-way stretch nylon and the articulated knees are built with a slightly more durable fabric that also has great stretch. When out in temps in the 60’s, I was comfortable in the shade or full sun. One feature that I quickly grew to appreciate is the Multi Pant’s low profile elastic synch ankle closures, as I found sealing up my legs on cool, breezy days was an effective way to conserve heat. Synching things tight also gave me unobstructed views of my feet, a trick that came in handy on techy Eldo face climbing. The ankle system even allowed me to hoist up the legs on hot sunny afternoons and turn them into modified capris. Finally, zippered hip pockets work reasonably well under a harness for small items and a high waist stays tucked well under a climbing harness waist belt.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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