By the Numbers: Rethinking Fleece
Jul 15, 2021 at 6:09 pm #3722043
(Alpine Pandani have silicon dioxide razor blade leaves, like pampas grass)
You should try the Central Australia spinifex grass. Utterly deadly stuff. Goes through gaiters without pausing.
CheersJul 16, 2021 at 9:28 am #3722081Ian HBPL Member
Made another rookie error on the Larapinta. When I stop for a break and drop my pack, I like to lie horizontal, and can snooze rapidly with hat covering face to keep the sun off. Very relaxing and amuses friends when I start snoring after 30 seconds.
Turns out the Northern Territory flora is sharp enough to go straight through my trusty PFG shirt, so my mates pulled about 40 burrs/thorns out of my back.
Made sure to sit on a rock for any subsequent rest breaks :)Jul 16, 2021 at 4:13 pm #3722136
Some of the rocks on the McDonald Ranges (Larapinta) are glassy quartz/something, and they will slash you open just as easily.
Somewhere around here the rocks slashed both the side of my jogger and a bit of my gaiter.
CheersJul 21, 2021 at 9:39 am #3722649Steven McAllisterBPL Member
@brooklynkayakLocale: Arizona, US
As many have stated, I find the combination of fleece and a windshirt a very good combination in damp cool climates.
You can hike all day in sprinkles/spray and feel comfortable. The fleece and windshirt layers will dry quick.
That is not so true with puffy jackets which tend to get soggy and retain more of the moisture for longer periods of time.Jul 21, 2021 at 10:51 am #3722667Ian HBPL Member
Roger, that looks like the bit of the Larapinta where one of our group twisted an ankle, joining the 2 knees and 1 wrist needing medical attention, from a group of 8 or 9 50-somethings!
Ironically, us oldies all did 100km or so of ‘highlights’ (some sections were closed after fires) and the only medevac was the 20 yr old guide who got severe gastro.
Another advantage of fleece is that rocks usually won’t cut it, and spinifex or Richea will go straight through, not leaving a hole for down to fall out. The trouble with needles like spinifex is they’ll go through a Kevlar butcher’s glove (or a steel mesh butcher’s glove, for that matter) so you can’t really protect your legs. Glad I’ve never sat on one.Jul 21, 2021 at 5:24 pm #3722714
Yes, Larapinta Trail, end to end. No problems: walked carefully (in our 50s).
Spinifex: yeah, it penetrates. You only sit on it once. :)
CheersSep 2, 2021 at 6:53 am #3726504
What wind shirt would be considered most effective and functional worn over the Alpha Direct 90? And is the weight of the BD Alpine Start too much? I’m considering having the Macpac Nitro with BD Alpine Start as my go suit, given the BDAS’s specs, however the weight is concerning. Would I be able to wear the BDAS the majority of the time (so as not to carry it) in this scenario in cooler colder months? Or should I look instead for a different breathable wind shirt that’s lighter (EE 7D?)? Thanks!Sep 2, 2021 at 8:21 am #3726506
I suggest you read my two latest articles which will answer your question. The BDAS is not water proof. Air perm is too high for my taste. Its MVTR is excellent. I have not tested a Copperfield windshirt and no specs are published by EE. The Visp specs published by EE suggest that would be an excellent choice although I expect 7D might be less durable than a heavier fabric. I have not yet tested the Visp.Sep 2, 2021 at 2:20 pm #3726517
Stephen your input is much appreciated. I’ll go back and check out your articles. Often being in the Blue Ridge Mtns here around Asheville my needs may vary a bit from yours. Current setup is to carry a rain shell and a wind shirt (which is what I’m sourcing now). It’s humid here. I thought I had read you like the BDAS, or at least the CFM (40?) and MVTR, but I’ve read a lot and may have that confused with someone else. Thanks again!Sep 2, 2021 at 2:51 pm #3726518
I used to hike extensively in Blue Ridge National Park, before moving to Colorado. I have to admit, I don’t miss the humidity. However, the lushness of the forests there are a striking change from the arid mountains I now enjoy. In any case, I urge you to read my two latest articles because they deal in detail with the importance of MVTR and also, the ineffectiveness of elevated garment air permeability for the elimination of vapor from sweat. As you will see, selecting the proper rain layer will allow you to eliminate the wind layer while achieving equal or better moisture removal. That is not to say you will be comfortable in a summer rain in any garment while hiking at an elevated MET level, but you will obtain the best moisture removal under the widest range of conditions.Sep 2, 2021 at 6:38 pm #3726529StumphgesBPL Member
Steve, I think you’ll find that, hiking, the combination of Nitro (Alpha 90) plus windshirt (any windshirt, really) will be too warm unless it’s calm and <30F or windy and <50F, or thereabouts. Of course, you can separate the two and achieve comfort in a far greater range of temps. I’ve hiked OK in 60F with Alpha 90 with nothing on it, and managed with fully zipped down windshirt over the top with 20+ winds at those temps. But unless it’s quite cold, I think you’ll end up carrying the Alpine Start quite a bit. The Alpine Start is my favorite windshirt and I wear it for nearly every day hike spring, winter, fall (unless winds are consistently 20+ mph). But unless you really need its durability, it is probably too heavy compared to much lighter shirts (2-3 ounces) if it will be riding in your pack much of the time. I rarely take mine backpacking unless I’ll be spending lots of time off trail.Sep 2, 2021 at 6:48 pm #3726530
Stephen, very interesting with some contrarian take-always! It’s great pursuing objectivity over confirmation bias :)
Still, net/net, you didn’t seem to hate the BD Alpine Start (but yeah, I understand now that the permeable price lacks advantages). Great reads. Grateful for the work you put into this and the value yield to layman like myself. So, excluding rain shells, if you hiked in Appalachian mtns in temp 20-60F in a Macpac Nitro, what wind shirts (recon high MVTR & relatively low air perm) would you prefer? Or if not brand/model, then what CFM? Seems 35 is no longer the “goldilocks” number, huh? Thanks. I’ve got some Alpha Direct 90 in the pipe and will likely (maybe?) return the new BD Alpine Start. PS – if you ever want another hike in the thick mountain Laurel popping out at balds in Pisgah ping me ;)Sep 2, 2021 at 7:17 pm #3726533
I’ll add I like the logic that lines up with your science. We’re simply not walking fast enough for CFM to even register in the equation, so the primary component is the MVTR. Much appreciated.Sep 2, 2021 at 7:24 pm #3726534
Stumphges – really appreciate the feedback. That’s exactly what I’m aiming for – hike in the Nitro 30 – 60* with a wind shirt ready to deploy. So if it’s mostly in/on the pack, lighter is better (may keep the BDAS for day hikes but focus here for me is overnights). I do like the feel of the thin soft-shell. Now I just need to narrow down my wind shirt – with consideration or the new data MVTR matters more then CFM.Sep 2, 2021 at 8:16 pm #3726536
Steve, you summed up the issue with air permeability in one sentence! I agree with Stumphges. On my summer hikes here, with the sun shining, I tend to be in shorts and short sleeves above mid 50’s. I produce enough heat just from hiking up the mountains and trotting down. When the wind is blowing, I will wear either a Rab Flash or Shakedry shell depending on temperature. I won’t wear both unless the temperature is below 40 and the wind is really blowing. The combination of the two, with a very light short sleeve base shirt, will take me down to 30F. As Stumphges pointed out, the ability to separate the two layers gives a lot of flexibility. I have no interest in a windshirt for my use. I get better performance with a light rain shell with very high MVTR, full front zip and pit zips than any windshirts I have tried. I am very happy with my Montbell Shakedry shell with after market pit zips. Another good choice is the EE Visp (which I have not tested yet) or, if you want a separate wind shell, the OR Helium wind hoody has MVTR almost at good as the BDAS, much better HH, and lower air permeability and lower weight ( you can look up the weight for both).Sep 3, 2021 at 5:54 am #3726545
Thank you for the thorough follow-up. I’ll research these products (side not – I thought shakedry had a high CFM, again I’ll do my homework). Is your MB the “Peak”. How do you feel about the Versalite?
Hard to justify when my current shell (heavy, 11 oz) Arcteryx Zeta SL is in perfect condition (w/o pit zips). Wonder what the CFM and MVTR are for the Zeta (Gore paclite plus I think). Maybe cut some pit zips and run with it for a bit. Seems gore’s trying to get shakedry more “durable”. I am squeezing down over grown trail with rhododendron and mountain Laurel at times – some concern for shakedry’s outer design. And of course the pack.
I do appreciate your position on using the rain shell for a wind shirt. Honestly I’ve been hesitant to only carry a mostly waterproof shell around here. It can really rain. Don’t want to be stupid light. But nor do I want to be stupid. An 11 oz rain shell plus a wind shirt is not the ultimate solution.Sep 3, 2021 at 9:38 am #3726553
Gore-Tex Paclite Plus (on my Zeta SL) utilizes a 2-layer unlined construction. Any idea what the MVTR and CFM are? I can’t find it and posed the question to ArcTeryx but have not recd a reply yet. Maybe having pit zips added would be a short term solution. Thanks!Sep 3, 2021 at 2:16 pm #3726565
Hi Steve: Paclite Plus performance, like all Goretex fabrics is greatly impacted by the denier weight of the face fabric. I have measured MVTR for PacLite from 1500 to just below 2000. By comparison, Gore Pro with 40D face fabric is 2800. I think best performance is achieved over 3000 on the scale of my test. All Gore fabrics that I have tested are air impermeable. I consider a garment to be impermeable at <5 cfm/ft2 (a limit set by Patagonia). In reality, it is usually lower than I can measure and I can measure down to around .5 cfm/ft2 on my instrumentation. To make it even less suitable, there are no pit zips. Today, I descended about 3 miles in steady light rain. Temp varied from 50F to nearly 60F as I descended. Pit zips were open and I was comfortable in my Shakedry jacket. Its MVTR is around 3400 and the pit zips were open. Winds were calm. I was comfortable and dry in my Shakedry jacket. I am confident I would have been pretty sweaty in a Paclite under the circumstances, especially without pit zips.Sep 3, 2021 at 4:16 pm #3726584
Stephen, thanks. I kinda expected that. Funny, you’re decent, made me wonder if you’re cursed or blessed, always calculating garment performance on every hike ;)
Your shakedry, w after market pit zips, comes in at $325. What do you like between the Versalite and Visp (both at $200, w pit zips). Hope to leave you alone soon :). Thanks!Sep 3, 2021 at 5:22 pm #3726604
Steve–Yes, kind of expensive, but, worth it to me given the amount of use I get out of it. It is a real shame they don’t make it with pit zips. I used the Versalite jacket for a couple of years and retired it when I got the Shakedry jacket. Using Shakedry resulted in a substantial increase in weather conditions I could hike in without adjusting layers, as compared to the Versalite. All that difference is because of the big jump in MVTR. Of course, I don’t have to worry about DWR issues with the Shakedry. I don’t have to worry about abrasion on vegetation where I hike–I am on trails or above tree line. I do have to worry about abrasion on rocks, and am careful in this regard. For my purposes, the MVTR of Versalite is simply not high enough. Visp might be a great solution. I simply have not tested one. I hope to receive one shortly to test and, if it does well, it should be a good solution. However, at 7 denier, will it hold up better than Shakedry? I don’t know and perhaps someone with experience using a Visp can chime in. Andrew Marshall did a review of Visp. You can see what he said. https://backpackinglight.com/enlightened-equipment-visp-rain-jacket-review/Sep 3, 2021 at 9:00 pm #3726622
Thanks Stephen, there are always trade-offs. Having just invested heavily in a new shelter, bag, pack, pad, etc to get light, and having a good although heavy ArcT shell, it’s hard to justify the $325 (yet). Given the MVTR of the Visp compared to the Versalite I’m leaning that way (now anyway). I did read the BPL Visp review, and also Philip Werner’s at Section Hiker – where his wetted out quickly (errr). But I really appreciate your comprehensive contact and you taking the time for my personal decisions. Thanks for that. Whatever I acquire, if my experience is relevant to your research I’ll fill you in. At some point you just have to make a decision, roll with it and see how it does in the field. At times I do have some narrow, overgrown trails so with a 7D jacket maybe I’ll take my 3 oz fauxdini in those cases for a temp protective layer. I look forward to reading more of your work. Good hiking. SteveOct 25, 2021 at 1:50 pm #3730528Steve (VT)Spectator
Rethinking carrying an extra base layer. Carrying an extra base layer bottom for emergency (or planned) winter overnight weighs 6.2 oz (Smartwool 150). I am currently ordering some custom down pants. I can request any amount of down. Pants are approx. 1 square yard. I am thinking better to add an ounce of down (adds 2 CLO at 2 CLO/oz/yd2) rather than carry my extra 6.2 oz merino pants (0.85 CLO/oz/yd2 or about 0.53 CLO). The down is 4 x warmer at 1/6th the weight. However, I also realize the down may not fit as snugly at ankles and waist and thus allow more air flow. Feedback appreciated on this — thanks in advance.Oct 25, 2021 at 2:30 pm #3730531
We have only ever carried one base layer set.
We don’t find our legs get all that cold when we are in bed.
If I had to choose – difficult. Could the down bottom be TOO warm sometimes?
CheersOct 25, 2021 at 2:48 pm #3730533Steve (VT)Spectator
Thanks. Clarification: I have a verio 3/4 bag (insulation at legs only rated to 25F) and would use with very warm down parka. Anticipated weather is 0-5F at night. Looking for getting through night with some sleep — not comfort.Oct 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm #3730536Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
4x warmer at 1/6 the weight – exactly!
use down to stay warm
have a base layer to absorb body oils and protect the down. Probably more comfortable against skin. It seems like discussions about which fleece provides how much warm is sort of misdirected.
I think I’d use a full size quilt or bag at 0 – 5 F
I also have a little synthetic insulation. twice the weight of down for the same weight. But it stays warmer if wet. Sort of a survival item.
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