Dec 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm #1297094
Thought I'd post a few initial impressions with some pics of the Westcomb Focus LT hoody. It's made with eVent DVL fabric. I haven't had a chance to get it out and test how comfortable/breathable it is, so these are just initial impressions on build, fit and such.
I bought a large, which I usually buy in such jackets so I can layer under if I need to. It fits well, loose enough to layer a light puffy (like a WM Flash jacket) under, but not 'billowing' in any way at all. I'm 5'8", and back of the jacket completely covers my butt, the sleeves, if I let them hang down freely, pretty much go to the tip of my middle finger (so it covers my hands). Compared to the RAB Demand (large), it's a touch longer, and the sleeves are a tad longer as well. Perhaps a smidgen, even.
It's a full zip jacket instead of an anorak style. It has one napoleon pocket. Construction seems very high quality, as you'd expect from Westcomb. It's got the best hood I've had on a jacket yet – besting even the RAB Demand hood, which I like a lot, and the Haglofs Ozo hood. It has a stiffened brim, but no wire in it like the RAB. Just using the single adjustment pull in the back closes it down wonderfully for wearing without a helmet or hat. It's the first hood that doesn't take lots of adjustment to get it to not hang over my eyes. Love this hood.
Okay, some pics.
Front, zipped (duh…)
The sleeves have thin velcro closure instead of elastic
Single adjustment pull on back of hood
Can't really see it from the inside-out pic, but there isn't a bottom cinch cord on the jacket, just some elastic at the back-bottom of the jacket (not all the way around the bottom, just the back).
All in all a nice piece of kit. Can't wait to try it out on a hike. Maybe even a bike ride.Dec 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm #1935740
Thanks Douglas for your write-up. This jacket has been on my "radar" since reading about it earlier this year. I've been a fan of eVent since purchasing an Integral Designs Thru-Hiker jacket many years ago.
What are your thoughts on the the elasticized waist with no draw-cord? Does it seal well enough?
I'm also very curious as to what your Large jacket weighs.
Please keep us posted on the performance.Dec 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm #1935742
Very nice Doug. This jackets been on my radar but I've decided to eek another year out of my delaming Marmot for fiscal reasons. Hopefully everyone gives eVent DVL nothing but glowing reviews and I can swing one at some point. Maybe I just need to accidentally dry my Marmot Essence to close to the fire.Dec 16, 2012 at 6:46 am #1935771
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Nice review Doug,
Like Dan this is my radar also, but I really like the features on my 11oz Montane Quickfire event jacket (pockets, vents and wired hood)Dec 16, 2012 at 6:54 am #1935772
–Dec 16, 2012 at 7:02 am #1935773
can you post some action photos of the hood….it looks similar to deadbird design…
MDec 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm #1935840
Unfortunately, I have no one here to take pics of me wearing the jacket. I won't be able to field test it any time soon as well. Hopefully early in the new year.Dec 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm #1935841
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Does your camera have timer function?
Maybe you're just shy?Dec 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm #1936726
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I picked up a Focus LT Hoody at The Down Works. My size "M" weights 9oz. I am 5'10"@160lb. and I find the fit perfect for me… not too much extra space when just wearing a base, is just right amount for a 100wt fleece or a light puffy. Like a number of ultralight jackets there is not a draw cord at the bottom, but rather elastic gather on the back size of the jacket. It seems to be adequate, though I prefer a cord. The on thing I will miss from my other eVENT jacket is the liner (e.g. 3 layer -vs- 2.5) because the 3-layer is much more comfortable against bare skin. The hood is excellent, though I am not sure I favor it over the last Rab jacket I had. I can't do a direct comparison because I sold the rain this summer when it I decided it wasn't fitting anymore.
We are forecast to have rain for the next several days and I will be able to get out some this weekend, so hopefully I will be able to give some sense of performance in the field shortly.
–MarkDec 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm #1936782
Interesting to see that the production version of the jacket is coming in at 9 ounces. Kind of dissappointed to hear that. Their website has been updated to reflect this as well. Really not much lighter than my 3 layer active shell jacket which has more features and is undoubtedly more durable.
Hoping to hear some great news about eVent DVL breathability.Dec 20, 2012 at 5:34 am #1936841
@nathan – indeed – it was pegged as 7oz IIRC….9oz is in the ball park of many other UL jacketsDec 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm #1937135
Earlier I saw the weight listed at 7.66oz. I just went back to the westcomb web site and It appears they have updated the weight since I last looked. its now 8.93oz. The weight of the various components of the jacket as not always the same weight. manufacturing tolerances will cause some parts to be lighter and others to be heavier. Also the origninal prototype may have had some design flaws. Correcting those flaws may have added weight. Hopefully westcomb can improve it over time to get it back to 7oz.Dec 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm #1937726
That's too bad it's up to 9oz. That puts in the same range as a lot of other nice coats.Dec 24, 2012 at 10:19 am #1937948
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Since getting my new Westcomb Focus LT Hoody the weather has been very cooperative, meaning plenty of rain and wind at fairly mild temps 45-55F. So far, this is my favorite rain shell. So long as the temperature is below 50-55F I can be happy even though it doesn't have pit zips. If it's not raining or just light sprinkles still prefer a wind shirt thanks to better breathability and nicer fabric hand, but the DVL eVENT performance was impressive.
I was able to wear the Focus LT in 50-55F temps with a 20lb pack walking 3-3.5mph on level ground without accumulating sweat except under the shoulder straps which happens even when I am just wearing a base layer. There was a slightly perceivable raise of humidity inside the jacket, but it wasn't significantly more noticeable then when I am wearing my Houdini wind shirt. I could walk any amount of time on relatively flat terrain and stay dry. I couldn't do this with jackets I have previously owned which used various forms of Gore-Tex or Marmot's Strata membrane.
On a long uphill push or when trail running I can generate more moisture that the jacket could move. This isn't surprising because nothing but base layers or very air permeable stretch woven soft shells actually move enough moisture when I am moving fast or working hard, not even an unlined wind shirt. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that the Focus has performed better than any other WP/B shell I have even used. An example of overwhelming the jacket was a section of trail which gains 1k ft in less than 1 mile. I did this section at around 3.3mph with light rain, modest wind. I was wearing supplex hiking pants, Montbell PacLite rain pants, Patagonia Featherweight Crew Shirt, and the Focus LT. For the first 10 minutes up the uphill push I didn't notice significant moisture accumulation inside the jacket. At around the 10 minute mark (a bit more than 1/2 way up this push) I could feel my chest and forearms start to get damp. At the ridge I felt a bit damp all over. Since I was not around home I wasn't able to actually measure how much moisture accumulated in my base. My take away is for short pushes the Focus / eVENT DVL can vent / buffer whatever I generate, but that for modest too long slogs I need to drop my pace or be prepared to get damp from my own moisture.
The next section of that hike was relatively flat. I noticed that after 10-15 minutes walking at 3mph pace that the sense of dampness was gone. This really pleased me, because it suggests that even when I push beyond the jackets ability to vent moisture, when I slow my activity level I can dry out while wearing the shell, even if it is raining. In the future I see myself wearing a rain jacket more than I have in recent years.
As mentioned above, while the workmanship, design, and fit is excellent, it is minimalist. It's a great rain shell, but the lack of draw cord, no inside pockets, etc makes it less than ideal as an four season shell. Specially I wouldn't use it for snow sports, but then again, I haven't used a membrane shell in the winter for years, favoring shells which have no membrane to impede venting moisture when I don't need to keep liquid water out.
So while I was disappointed that the jacket was not the expected 7oz, 9oz with good performance makes it a keeper. More than a keeper, I have just added it to my perfect for me gear list.Dec 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm #1937985
Thanks for the thorough review. Looks like I'll be passing this one over. Oh well. It'll be interesting to see what Haglofs brings us this spring – hopefully they'll do a little better than westcomb in going from prototype to production.Dec 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm #1938010
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
DeletedDec 28, 2012 at 1:02 am #1938750
–Dec 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #1938828
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
Mark thanks for the great review. Our recent heavy rains have indeed been excellent for testing. Excited about the material. Have you considered adding modest length pit zips with lightweight zippers to help vent during high exertion?
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