A conversation with artist and outdoor activity enthusiast Joel Fuller will show you why.
Looking for warm-weather active gear? Believe it or not, wool should be your first choice - Merino wool by Smartwool that is, specifically their new Merino Sport Ultralite fabric. It’s sustainable and, well, ultralight, combining Merino and Tencel. Breathable, odour-fighting and perfect for sunny days doing pretty much anything.
Don’t take our word for it though - Don’t take our word for it though - we spoke with Joel Fuller, a photographer, filmmaker, and artist living in the Sea-to-Sky in British Columbia. An active member of the outdoor community, Joel is passionate about trail running, ski touring, and gravel / mountain biking. He tells us how he keeps active in summer - and what makes Merino wool apparel his new go-to fabric for the warm months.
Altitude Sports: What is your favourite spot to go for a run, hike or bike?
Joel Fuller: Tough question – living here in Squamish grants such incredible access to so many different spots for running, hiking, and biking. Let’s start with running. I think my favourite spots are around the Chief / Slhanay, Alice Lakes Provincial Park, and in the summer running into Elfin Lakes out-n-back for sunset.
For me, most hiking trails have melded into trail running, so when I hike, it usually involves a backpack with overnight gear. For those 1-2 night overnighters, my favourite spots are up the Squamish Valley, again Elfin Lakes, and around the Sky Pilot area accessed via the Sea-to-Sky Gondola.
For biking, Squamish is such a world class destination it’s hard to go wrong, but my go-to areas are Diamond Head & Alice Lakes, while my favourite trails include Rupert, Ditch Pig, and Highway to Hell.
Heading outdoors, what are the ‘must-haves’ in your backpack?
Depends on the adventure. For running I like to go pretty lightweight, with any run less than 15km wearing just a waist belt with some gels, bars, 500ml of water, some water purification tabs if I don’t trust the source, and my phone. Further than that, a vest with an extra layer, some sunscreen for my ginger skin, additional food, a headlamp, my InReach device, and sometimes poles.
For hiking and/or overnights, obviously camping gear, an emergency warm layer, food, hiking poles, and never forgetting a tooth brush – I can go days without a proper shower, but days without brushing my teeth is not acceptable (laughs).
What benefits do you look for in summer training gear?
In the summer, it’s very important to regulate your body temperature. Wear layers that wick away moisture, feel comfortable, are lightweight, and breathable. As someone with sensitive skin, it’s not always in my interest to run or hike without a shirt on or just a tank top, so having a t-shirt or long sleeve that I can wear in the heat that doesn’t get warm, but still protects me from the sun, is really important.
Merino wool has a natural all-season performance that helps keep me comfortable, protecting me from the heat, wicking away sweat, and creating the perfect microclimate against my skin.
A serious superpower of Merino wool is odour resistance – you can run, bike, or hike all day, and still go for a beverage with friends in the evening wearing the same shirt you spent all day sweating in. Even after many uses between washes, the garments don’t smell, which makes merino wool perfect for any multi-day adventure.
I’m looking for athletic socks – got any recommendations?
From personal experience, socks are incredibly important. Merino socks, once wet, quickly evaporate moisture, while cotton or synthetic socks trap it. I’ve been on numerous long trail runs where getting your feet wet is inevitable – crossing a creek for example, you want a sock that stays warm when wet and then dries quickly.
The quicker a sock dries, the less chance you’ll develop blisters. That being said, just cause you have Merino socks on doesn’t mean you’re all of the sudden blister-proof. It’s important to put in the time to get your feet used to new shoes or a pair of hiking boots first before blaming the socks.
When it comes to sock height, I always want a pair of socks that at least comes up higher than the cuff of the shoe, as blisters on the back of your heel are the worst. For running, hiking, or biking I like a short to mid-length cut. As for cushioning, the longer the day, the more cushioning needed, in my mind.
How does the right summer athletic gear help your performance?
When it comes to athletic performance, you want athletic gear that you trust and forget about.
I can focus on big runs and long bike rides without the worry of overheating, smelling like a waste disposal bin that’s been left outside in 30+ degree heat, and know that I look good doing it. Looks aren’t everything, but there’s a definite correlation somewhere in my mind to looking good and performing. Adventures plus gear go hand-in-hand.