Inexpensive Waterproof Jackets. Do they exist?

With winter around the corner, many customers are asking great questions about our high end waterproof jackets.   People often ask “Why are Gore-Tex Jackets so expensive?”  or “Is this $250 waterproof jacket the same as this $99 water resistant jacket?” Although these are not simple questions we do have a simple guideline.  The cost of our weather resistant or weather-proof jackets is directly related to the jackets ability to keep you warm and dry in a variety of conditions.  The more severe the conditions, the more expensive the jacket will get.

Most of the jackets we carry rely on various layers of  material to keep you warm and dry.  Here’s a breakdown of the different layers that make up most of our weatherproof jackets.

1. Outer Layer – The outer layer of your jacket is the part that you can see and feel.  This layer can be many different materials, but the goal is to be durable and stylish.  Some jackets, like Arc’teryx, are incredible durable and hard to the hand.  Other jackets like Patagonia are durable, yet soft to the hand.  Believe it or not, the outer layer is not what makes the garment waterproof.

2. DWR – When it rains on a waterproof jacket, you will notice small beads of water.  This is because your jacket is coated with DWR or Durable Water Repellency.  DWR is a coating that is added at the factory to make the fabric water-resistant.  Over time the DWR can wear off so some jacket manufacturers recommend re-treating your jacket with a spray.  Here is an interesting article on DWR at wikipedia.

3. Membrane – The membrane is what makes your jacket waterproof.  The membrane can’t be seen because it sits inside the layers of your jacket.  Gore-Tex is a popular membrane that is designed to make the garment windproof and waterproof.  Gore-Tex is micro-porus, meaning each pore is 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water.  Since each Gore-Tex pore is way smaller than water,  the water can not pass thru the membrane.  Gore-Tex is an excellent membrane, but it is expensive.  You will see that our most expensive and weatherproof jackets have a Gore-Tex membrane.

4. Insulation – The insulation layer adds warmth to your jacket.  We offer jackets with many different types of insulation, depending on your level of activity and need for warmth.  If you need a jacket to sleep in while camping on a snowy mountain, we would suggest down since it will keep you warm with little to no movement.  If you are looking for a lighter weight jacket we might recommend a jacket with synthetic insulation.

Hopefully this article helps explain why some jackets that we carry are more expensive than others.



Finally, Converse Chuck Taylors

Part of what makes our job exciting is that we get to bring in new brands and new technology to our store.  We were the first in the area to carry Hot Chillys, Under Armour, Herschel Bags, Barbour Outerwear, Down gloves, waterproof iPhnoe cases, mismatched socks for men, etc.  We like to believe that we are trendsetters.  However, on some occasions, rare occasions, we follow the trend (especially if our customers ask for something).

Now let’s talk sneakers…  Can you think of the most iconic sneaker of all time?  Yup, the converse Chuck Taylor.  After almost 100 years the Converse All Star is one of the best looking sneakers on the market.  Originally seen on the basketball court, this canvas sneaker is worn by rock and roll stars, rebels, businessmen and people that work at The Berkshire General Store.  We recently added the line to our sneaker department and hope to carry the brand for the next 100 years.


Columbia Omni-Heat = Major Warmth

A few years ago we were invited to Columbia headquarters to view their new line of spring apparel and footwear.  It was a cold day and one of the Columbia Reps gave us a jacket off the rack to wear.  Shocked at how warm it was we started to ask questions…  The jacket was a Columbia Omni-Heat Jacket lined with little silver dots.  The dots are Columbia’s thermal reflective technology designed to reflect the warmth from your skin back to your body.  These little dots are truly amazing and the jacket is incredibly warm.  The visit to Columbia was so that we could view their spring line, but we ended up increasing our orders for Columbia Winter Omni-Heat Jackets.

Years later Columbia expanded the Omni-Heat line to include fleece, long underwear, hats and gloves; all with Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology.  Naturally we carry it all.  Customers that purchase Omni-Heat products often return and rave about how warm the gloves were or how incredible the fleece was.  We believe it’s one of our best lines in the store so we encourage our Customers to try the Omni-Heat technology themselves.

To show you how great Columbia Omni-heat jackets are, we decided to give one away!  Stop into the store tomorrow, or Monday and try on a Columbia Omni-Heat Jacket.  We’ll enter your name in for a chance to win a free jacket.  All you need to do is try on the jacket.  The winner will be announced on this blog on Tuesday, October 9th 2012.


UPDATE – 10/9/2012- Congrats Jenn of Bloomfield NJ – You are the winner!

Jetty – good stuff, good company, good clothing

Jetty - Apparel for good timesOn a recent trip to the Jersey Shore we noticed Jetty stickers at every turn.  On signs, bikes, counter tops and even on a police car.  Soon we noticed that people were wearing the Jetty logo. Jetty t-shirts, Jetty sweat shirts, Jetty flannels, Jetty everything. We needed to know – what is this Jetty brand anyway?

It turns out that they are a pretty cool company.  For one, they design and print all their own apparel right here in New Jersey.  They even do some eco-friendly water based screen printing. Aside from making great stuff, we found out that they are involved in their community and support tons of local charities.  You can read more about their company and their causes here.  Oh, they also make some really cool clothes too.

Summer Camp Essentials

With only a few days of school left, it’s time to prepare for summer camp.  We’ve selected a few must have items for campers of all ages.

Keen Newport H2 Sandal
Keen Kids Newport SandalThe Keen Newport H2 Sandal can handle just about anything.  This sandal features an elastic cord lacing system with an adjustable hook and loop strap.  What does this mean to you?  It means that little kids can put them on and take them off by themselves.  Winner.   The Newport H2’s feature a grippy, non marking outsole and quick drying webbing for kids that are in and out of the water.  Another great feature is that all Keen’s are machine washable.  They come in great colors too.

BugsAway Bandana
Bugs Away BandanaKids will love this bandana.  not only does it look cool, but it actually keeps the bugs away.  According to Exofficio, their  invisible and odorless active ingredient is tightly bonded to the fabric fibers, and lasts the expected lifetime of the garment (70 washes). It repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges (no-see-ums).  Now your children can swat volleyballs instead of mosquito’s.


Soffe Shorts
Kids Soffe ShortsIt’s safe to say that the Soffe Short is our most popular camp item of all time.  The shorts are inexpensive, come in a ton of colors and are light-weight and comfortable.  Boys prefer the darker colors while girls wear them all.  Lately, we’ve seen huge interest in the new styles like the neon mesh shorts, teeny shorts, tye dye shorts and zebra shorts. Write your child’s name on the waistband or they will probably disappear!


Good Kids Socks
Adidas Kids SocksWe hear it all the time from parents, “please show me the most inexpensive socks you have for kids.”  We understand.  Who wants to break the bank on kids socks?  The get dirty and wear out so quickly, right?  Some parents tell us that they throw them away after a few wearings.  This year we suggest you try Adidas kids socks.  A 3-pack is less than 10 bucks and the quality of the socks are 10x better.  These socks feature ClimaLite to wick moisture away from your kids feet, keeping them odor and blister free.  They contain a drop of spandex to keep them in place on the foot and prevent twisting.  They’re stain resistant too so they’ll to look good all season.  Most importantly, they will be more comfortable on your kids feet.

Under Armour Sleeveless T’s
Under Armour Kids TeesIt’s going to be a hot summer.  When the kids are away from the pool, they’ll love the Under Armour Sleeveless T.  No sleeves = full range of motion, which is ideal for most sports.  These t’s are light-weight and fit loose, plus they feature the Under Armour logo on the front.  Kids love that logo.  Under Armour makes this t-shirt in lots of colors, and many coordinate with the shorts, sweatshirts and everything else from UA.


The Best Father’s Day Gifts

With Father’s Day a week away, we put together a small list of items for every type of dad.

The Outdoor Dad
Columbia Bug Shield JacketOne thing that all Outdoor Dads despise is the mosquito.  This has been a particularly wet spring, and the bugs are out in full force.  The Columbia Bug Shield Mesh Jacket features insect blocking technology to keep the mosquito’s, flees, ticks and other pesty insects away.  It’s ultralight and quite comfortable to wear in the forest, on the trail or even at the grill.


Gadget Loving Dad
Herschel Pop Quiz BackpacksIf your Dad loves gadgets, he probably needs a place to put them, or a nice bag to carry them in.  Check out the Herschel Pop-Quiz backpack.  From the outside it looks like a regular backpack, but it’s what’s inside that counts.  Inside the main compartment you will find a fleece lined sleeve for your laptop or iPad. This fleece sleeve is knit in 2 inches above the bottom of the backpack.  Why are we mentioning this?  Well if you drop this backpack, your computer should be safe since it’s not only cushioned but 2 inches above the bottom of the bag.  The inside of the bag has two main compartments, and the outside has 2 separate zipper closure pockets with spots to keep your pens, wallet and other gadgets.  Lastly, it has a neat fleece lined sunglasses compartment on the top of the bag.

Super Cool Dad
SkullCandy Hesh 2 Paul Frank HeadphonesIf Dad is super cool he probably listens to lots of music.  Our pick for the music loving Dad is the SkullCandy Hesh 2 over-ear headphones.  The Hesh 2 deliverers killer bass, natural vocals and precision highs.  The ear pillows are made of soft leather for a great fit and improved acoustics.  The cable is detachable for mobility and it comes with a satin travel bag so you can stash and store it. The Hesh 2 comes in some great designs too.  Pictured here is the Hesh 2 Paul Frank.

The Coach Dad
NIKE Pro Combat GearThis was a tough category since we specialize in athletic apparel.  In the end we pick the Nike Pro Combat line for the Coach Dad.  Nike Pro Combat apparel can be worn as alone or as a base layer under a uniform.  (The underwear should probably not be worn alone)  The entire line is lightweight and features and athletic cut so it won’t restrict motion or get in the way under a uniform. Nike Dri-FIT fabric keeps you dry and comfortable by wicking sweat away from your skin and to the fabric’s surface to evaporate. Nike adds the perfect amount of Spandex to the fabric for better range of motion and an athletic fit.  Aside from these benefits, the Pro Combat Line includes t-shirts, pullovers, long-sleeve shirts, shorts, pants, underwear & more.  The colors are great too.

The Dapper Dad
Penfield Lockwood JacketIf the Dad on your list is very stylish, he will love the Penfield Lockwood Jacket.  Penfield was established in Hudson, Massachusetts in 1975 and is known for making the highest quality jackets, fleece and outerwear.  Penfield jackets are designed to stand up to the New England climate with fashion, function and durability incorporated into every design.  This waterproof field jacket is made of Hudson Wax cloth, that like dad, only looks better with age.  The material wicks moisture too making it an ideal 3 season jacket.  The Lockwood has lots of pockets and an adjustable hen cinch to ensure the perfect fit.

The Workout Dad
Inov-8 F Lite 195 SneakersIf your Dad loves to hit the gym, odds are that he knows about Inov-8 sneakers.  These lightweight sneakers feature a low profile cushioned midsole that’s perfect for weight lifting and transitioning to a natural running style.  Outside the gym Inov-8 sneakers are designed for hard pack trails and tarmac surfaces.  The lacing system eliminates internal movement, taking full advantage of your body’s power.  We carry two styles with different heel to toe differentials.  Inov-8 sneakers fit true to size.

The Dad Who Has Everything
Last on our list is the Dad who has it all.  What do you get such a Dad?  We suggest a Berkshire General Store gift card.  He can use it for any item in our store, or maybe he’ll give it to you:)



10 Years Ago……

10 years ago a group Nike employees learned that Stanford athletes were training barefoot on the golf course.  At this time they set out to develop a sneaker that felt natural and weightless, just like bare feet.  The studied a group of men and women with pressure measuring insoles taped to their feet and used high speed cameras to analyze each foot in motion.  After 8 years of study the Nike Engineers gained an understanding of the bare foot’s natural landing angle, pressure and toe position.  Nike took this knowledge and built a line of unconventional running shoes from the inside out.

Now this sneaker is very different than a conventional sneaker.  It has less padding, less of a differential between your heel and toe box, and it’s very flexible.  They’re incredibly comfortable, but most suggest that you gradually break your foot into the sneaker.  Yes, you need to break your foot in, not the sneaker in.  See our article on natural running.  The Nike Free (according to Wikipedia) “allows the muscles in the foot to gain strength by providing less constriction, runners are advised to gradually break into the shoe rather than immediately running long distances…”

Ok, some details on the shoe.  It’s incredible light at  8 ounces.  The outsole (bottom) of the sneaker features flexible groves for natural motion and flexibility.  You can actually twist the outsole.  Additionally, the shoe features an inner-sleve for a glove like fit.  Lastly, there is a 7mm heel to toe differential.  Bottom line is you have to try it on!

Are you an Ironman (or Ironwoman)?

An Ironman Triathlon is a series of long-distance races consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break.  If you think this is amazing, we do too.

Timex Ironman WatchTimex Ironman Watches have been used for more than 25 years by Ironman athletes.  They’re durable, easy to read and have a great memory recall feature.  For this article we chose the Timex 30-Lap Ironman watch.  We chose this watch because it has a cool feature that keeps 30 laps in memory and allows you to recall and review each lap.  How’s that for a training watch!  Oh, and it’s comfortable to wear too.  The 30 lap watches range from $40-$50 depending on size and color.  The watch pictured is about 40 bucks.

Wigwam, the performance sock company, is proud to have been the official sock of Ironman for the last 18 years.  According to our friends at Wigwam, more participants, finishers and champions have snapped the finish line tape wearing Wigwam socks.  All Wigwam Ironman socks are guaranteed to last at least 2-years. This year, Wigwam has brought back the ever-so-famous ULTIMAX technology to their socks. ULTIMAX is a patented moisture management system that effectively and efficiently moves moisture up and out of the sock away from your foot. This is key for every athlete. If your feet are comfortable, dry and blister free, it will make a difference in the outcome of a race. If not, Wigwam will refund your money!  The socks are less than $8 and totally worth trying.



Wigwam ironman Socks

A shirt that makes you feel cold….really

Is this possible?  Can this shirt make you feel cooler in direct sunlight?  We say YES.  The new Coldback series from Under Armour incorporates technology to block the heat of the sun, so you feel cooler and more comfortable.

Here’s how it works:  Most shirts, especially dark ones, heat up and become totally uncomfortable in the direct sun.  Under Armour’s new Coldback technology makes dark colors feel like light colors by reflecting IR and heat waves.  The lighter colors work the same way.  The fabric is stretchy for improved mobility AND it dries very quickly making this a great training shirt for those sunny days.


Wayne Hills or Wayne Valley?

We’d like to know – Hills or Valley?  Cast your vote below.  The school with the most votes will qualify all students & teachers of the winning school to a special, in-store giveaway.  The giveaway will be announced on the last day of school – June 20, 2012.

Wayne Hills High School
Mascot: Patriot
2010 Enrollment: 1351 Students
School Motto: “Rock Solid Tradition”
School Colors: Maroon & White
Principal: Dr. Scot Beckerman

Wayne Valley High School
Nickname: Indians
2010 Enrollment: 1494
School Motto: “The Tribe With Pride”
School Colors: Blue & White
Principal: Robert V. Reis

Cast your vote, Wayne Valley or Wayne Hills?

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