- Dec 13, 2016 at 6:26 am #3440229Rob PBPL Member
I have some down sleeves made by Luke’s Ultralite…they are just sleeves with shock cord that attaches both sleeves together. This goes behind your neck.
I’m sure you could find a cheap fleece, cut off the sleeves and attach shock cord to the top of the sleeves like the Luke’s Ultralight down sleeves. I think it would be pretty simple.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:27 am #3440230
Well, exactly. I hardly use a fleece to hike in. And if I use it, it’s below … perhaps 25 – 20 °F. My windshirt adds a tiny bit of warmth and that’s all I need.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:35 am #3440232
We are confusing two things here in the recent posts. Down/Puffy/similar clothing is put on the same level as fleece – and reduced to insulation.
Richard Nisley explained it in detail in his longer post, which is the difference in breathability (and better isolation) due to the different fabrics needed for the shell. The discussion was about the “breathable” group (active insulation, fleece+windshirt) – not the best isolators.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:44 am #3440233
So is fleece insulation or not ? And for what you can use it ?Dec 13, 2016 at 6:47 am #3440234
Of course it is, but there are different levels. What I mean is this distinction: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/polartec-alpha/#post-3439497
I think it makes sense to not confuse it in this context.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:51 am #3440235
At least for me, there is no confusion.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:55 am #3440237
I was not referring to your post – I just wanted to remember it as it seemed the discussion drifts away from topic.Dec 13, 2016 at 6:59 am #3440238kevperro .BPL Member
@kevperroLocale: Washington State
“I have some down sleeves made by Luke’s Ultralite…they are just sleeves with shock cord that attaches both sleeves together. This goes behind your neck.”
I’d never have the patience to put that on. I think a rain jacket with a mesh liner would solve my issue. But it would no longer be a BPL darling at that point.Dec 13, 2016 at 7:02 am #3440239
Kev–arm warmers are fairly popular among cyclists. I have two pair from smartwool, fairly lightweight, that are awesome. a few companies make synthetic versions; not sure if I have seen a polartec-type fleece, but you could try that route. just cutting off sleeves would only work if you have a cord system to keep them up, and then it would bunch in your upper arms…don’t recommend that.Dec 13, 2016 at 7:22 am #3440244
So much good info and reasonable debate, but do you have to say I’m lazy because I’m not an extreme adventure athlete? Every thread it seems to come out. We can all enjoy the outdoors, and push our own limits, learning from others without judgement. Right?Dec 13, 2016 at 8:03 am #3440249
i bet im fatter and lazier than u !!!
but the fact does remain that “hiking” is the least demanding clothing wise for most outdoor sports …. Literally anything will work especially in more moderate temps
now im sure folks pushing for the trail records are true athletes …. And hiking in say -40F is more challenging than say in mild temps
but if u read what folks use here and other hiking forums …. Some of the stuff they get away with they wouldnt be able to with other sports
everyone can enjoy the outdoors … But there are some folks who are pushing the limits of human endeavors whether its on a wall face, going down a slope, in some hostlie environment …. Etc ….
and for those folks their clothing is essential as it may mean the difference of success and failure … Or life and death
at the end of the day hiking, especially on trails, is just walking around …
;)Dec 13, 2016 at 8:17 am #3440251
As to what “fleece is”
its WOOL replacement …. That is anything you use old school wool (not fancy merino) for you could now use a fleece
thats what it was originally developed for by malden mills in conjunction with patagucci 30+ years ago …. And this holds true even today
if a few decades you would have used a wool sweater on a climb (look up old climbing vids on youtube) … The you would have worn fleece the exact same way until fairly recently
now climbers seem to use micropoofayz and active insulations for the same purpose …. But not exactly the same way
;)Dec 13, 2016 at 8:58 am #3440254
I’ll take this back to the original post. True, I’m usually just walking around, but the thread intrigues me because I’m gearing up a little for winter (hopefully snow) camping with some scouts this season. Eric…they can and will wear anything and can endure a lot. Last time I slept in the snow I was also young and poor – now I can afford not to suffer so much. To finish the scenario, I’m talking San Gorgonio/Jacinto or maybe the So. Sierra – hiking and/or snow shoeing then settling down for long evening/nights in camp. Temps could be in the teens, with wind and maybe weather.
I don’t get much chance to pre-test my gear for conditions like this. So-Cal these last many years has few storms and even at 5-6k elev it’s not that cold or wet for long. I’m headed for 8-10K and need both active and resting gear. This is what I have to chose from currently…
Vintage polypro, some lightweight cap, and lighweight merino for a base layer
R1 hoody or various other fleeces for active mid-layer. Only the R1 and my heaviest (Burton) fleece are hoodies. One of the fleeces is a North Face Flux Power Stretch 1/4 zip, which is lighter than the R1 and seems to provide some wind resistance. I’ve used TNF fleece as camp clothes for typical so-cal treks. Here, I’m looking for something to hike in with a loaded pack and sometimes going uphill.
I have a Houdini windshirt I mostly use for travel. This fleece/windshirt combo has been my method for awhile, but this is where the active intrigued me after reading this thread. I will say I’m leaning towards keeping the fleece separate for the ability to dry faster. Long ago I hiked in cooler weather with a Patagonia Zephyr jacket that was warm and dried fast, but it was slippery to a fault with a pack on.
For in-camp, I also have some choices acquired over the years (read “vintage”), including a Patagonia Fireball Jacket and an REI Primaloft vest/jacket combo and another REI down vest. I’m adding a Montbell Anorak just bought here on BPL to the collection and expect that will be my go-to for in-camp insulation.
For my shell I also have choices, from an ancient TNF Kitchatna 3-layer coat, TNF Paclite Dryzzle or a Patagonia Alpine Houdini – the last being my every day carry when rain is even possible – usually when I travel, not so much at home.
I’m not convinced the R1 hoody (active) and Montbell anorak (in-camp) are sufficient for the long cold nights in the mountains in winter (even in SoCal). Since this doesn’t stray too far from the original topic, maybe this isn’t too much of an ask. Should I beef up my active mid-layer, maybe consider an Active 3A or similar in place of the R1? Is this anything like the old Patagonia Zephyr jackets? Or should I just take more insulation for in-camp, like a 7oz vest or one of the synthetic insulated jackets that weigh 2x or 3x the Monbell in place of that new Anorak?
I really appreciate the info from all perspectives. Thanks in advance for any advice.
-Bob (Slbear)Dec 13, 2016 at 9:18 am #3440257
I guess I can see the micropoof while climbing, but I don’t think it translates to backpacking due to the constant compression on the shoulders and maybe the back. Same for any down or synthetic equivalent – no? I would think fleece or wool would be better, but assuming you will get moist, fleece probably wins if it dries faster.Dec 13, 2016 at 10:18 am #3440263
yea and no
personally i think fleece is better better for hiking
but plenty of folks hike/snowshoe/ etc … just fine in a micro poofay in colder temps especially if they run cold … Atom jackets are especially popular up here in the winter
Yes yiu might get some conpression under the straps and on the back … But many packs arent brethable so they are a vapour barrier anyways … Also many packs have foam on the back and straps
the real advantage of a micropoofay + windshirt over fleece is the reduction of FAFF … See my previous post on the steps … If the wind is blowing this is not insignificant
try doing the steps i outlined last page with winter gloves on …. Especially with these UL windshirts with small zippers (not to mention ULers who take off zipper pulls) … The reduction in FAFF is substatial even if you are hiking (snow shoeing) in cold windy conditions
another not too apparent advatntage until you use it in the winter is that it sheds snow much better …. Fleece luuvs sticky snow
of course fleece has a durability, quick drying and brethability advantage
for hiking anything reasonable with sufficient insulation will work
as long as one isnt stupide about it … Its not usually a matter of life and death (particularly if you carry the nornal overnght gear) …. But a matter of “comfort”
for yr situation i would simply pick up a synth micropoofay and use it on top of the windshell when needed …
perhaps even a micro poofay vest as that would be much more “brethable” …. And the sleeves are the first to get wet and hardest to dry anyways
;)Dec 13, 2016 at 11:45 am #3440280Richard NisleyBPL Member
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Active insulators allow you to efficiently sweat (cool) without lasting detriment to your insulation. Kris did an EXCELLENT job explaining this by contrasting Army vs SOF winter operation philosophy.
The vast majority of manufactures don’t tell you the CFM of their products; this applies to both windshirts (aka soft shells and aka active insulation).
A garment like the new Rab Alpha Direct active insulation is an on/off garment, using your classification system, because the shell is only ~2 CFM. An active insulation like the PCU Level 3A or Patagonia Nano Air are not on/off garments. They have shells that pass up to 35x more internal moisture (35-70 CFM).
You can do a simple test just using your mouth to determine the approximate fabric air permeability and then compare it to a paper coffee filter to determine the approximate CFM. See one of my old posts on this topic.
Garments with less than 10 CFM are not efficient active insulators nor are those with more than 70 CFM. Garments, or garment systems, with -35CFM fabric and woven polyester are TRUE active insulators that have extremely wide comfort rangesDec 13, 2016 at 1:07 pm #3440299Richard NisleyBPL Member
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
You are an expert in this topic and so when you said, “So is fleece insulation or not ? And for what you can use it ?” it gave me pause. Fleece base layer fabrics (Power Dry and Power Shield) are engineered to primarily wick and disperse moisture from the skin and secondarily insulate. The wicking function is achieved by Lycra to insure contact with the skin and a bicomponent weave to wick and then disperse moisture across the surface layer for rapid evaporation. This garment has the lowest clo/oz of any fleece garment but, is a requirement for a modern cold weather system clothing system. All of the other fabrics in the Polartec 300 product portfolio are designed primarily as active insulation.Dec 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm #3440303
@richard295, thanks for the information. My concern was that the windshirt + fleece is an on/off combination as you either have “a lot of blocking” or “almost no blocking” (with fleece) – however, if comparing it to the active insulation, the actual comfort range is still wider of course.
I just read about a new version of the nano air today: https://gearjunkie.com/review-patagonia-nano-air-light-hoody – might be interesting to try it.
Although I prefer the Windshirt + Fleece combination, I am still very unsure what the most comfortable combination would be for winter skitouring at night (which has in my case a higher met rate) than hiking – comparable to fast uphill hiking.
I have to agree with one factor mentioned earlier btw. the fleece surface is not optimal in snow in my opinion, as the snow keeps sticking on it and then melts.Dec 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm #3440310
And a question for me to understand all this: Patagonia FullRange is comparable to Polartec Alpha – the difference in the discussed jackets is basically that Rab uses a much lower CFM shell than Patagonia. So essentially they are targetting different temperature ranges?
Something interesting: I just wanted to compare the CFMs of my gear, “blowing through” a Rab Vapour Rise Lite Tour Jacket with Pertex Equilibrium (which seems to have a CFM of 10) and a 2010 Patagonia Houdini (I found numbers of 5CFM as well as 35CFM) – only to realize the Rab Jacket is more breathable, that’s interesting.
I also found CFM numbers for Pertex Equilibrium (Rab Alpine) of 111 – very confused, I thought that depends mostly on the shell material?Dec 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm #3440315
first, I guess you meant Powerstretch and not Powershield ? :)
And second, of course certain ‘fleece’ fabrics are more then just insulation. e.g, I have baselayers made from Powerdry and Powerstretch. But if you say the word fleece to most, they will see it as insulation.Dec 13, 2016 at 3:37 pm #3440321
you might want to look at the Patagonia Nano Air stuff for active insulation. i have the Light Hoody and love it for moderate to intense activity 40F>low teens. it is 40g fullrange, 70 CFM (from what i read on BPL), compared to 60g for the regular Nano Air, 40 CFM. the light is perfect for me, though you may want a little more warmth if you run colder or are moving slower. for <10F (or a bit warmer and moving slower), my Arcteryx Proton AR is amazing. Amazing. much more breathable than the popular Atom AR, while only giving up a little insulation (ideal for me; the atom is too warm). there is also a LT version of the Proton that is 65g instead of the full 90g coreloft continuous in the AR. not sure about the CFM of these jackets. i bring either of these on every trip into the mountains, plus a windshirt, merino base, and sometimes a fleece (200 power dry, r3, or power stretch pro) for camp. if you are looking for down option warmer than the Ex Light, check out the Rab Continuum Hoodie (also have a non hooded version). it is my go to emergency layer for anything above low teens (always in the pack/vest/whatever) and preferred down piece in camp.
Alpha and fullrange are both active insulation, but i find it hard to compare them. my 40g fullrange feels about as lofty as my 80g alpha, and is similar warmth from what i can tell when using them (fullrange is in a more breathable jacket, but under a windshirt they feel about as warm). this is support by ‘Patagonia Nano Air™ Genre Review’ that Richard Nisley wrote and made available to BPLers (thanks Richard, super helpful) which says fullrange has about double the clo value as alpha (.56 v .28 i think). i find this to be fairly consistent across the few pieces of each i have. i also have a 90g coreloft continuous, which is supposed to be a little under 3 times the clo of alpha. my body is not that scientific, but it is much warmer; i wouldn’t dispute those values. so yes, Rab uses less breathable materials, but the difference in clo values should be noted (again, thanks Richard).Dec 13, 2016 at 3:46 pm #3440325
Thank’s Jared – I’m right now a bit confused regarding CFM values when I started comparing my stuff. There are entries rating Pertex Equilibrium at 10 CFM, whereas others tested it for 111.
When I search the internet for the Patagonia Nano Air I mostly get 40 CFM – while Richard stated it is 70 CFM.
As written above I compared my 2010 Houdini with a simple breathability test to a Rab VR Lite Tour (Pertex Equilibrium) and the Equilibrium was more breathable – although it should have a lower CFM value..Dec 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm #3440326KrisBPL Member
You’re welcome. I’m glad you found in interesting. Here is a concurrence with a dash of dissent.
PCU Level 3 and ECWCS Insulation Amounts
I’m surprised to learn that it’s only 12.7% It felt closer to 50% to me. There’s an exhibit at a museum in Ottawa (There’s a city that does winter well!) that illustrates how racoon fingers are better than humans at determining size. I’ll blame my poor judgement on anatomical limitations.
You should consider working at Natick. It seems right up your alley.
PCU Level 3 and Level 3A Insulation Drying Time
Makes sense but doesn’t that assume Alpha has the same properties as Thermal Pro? I don’t think it’s accurate to say that 3A is just a fleece with windshirts bonded to it.
Level 3, Level 3A, Level 4, and Level 5 Semantics
Yes, this is highly significant. I had heard that Natick was going to cut out some of the levels because the feedback was that there was too much similarity. When 3A came out, I thought Natick was combining 3 with 5 but I was wrong because they still issue everything. 4 is just a less robust version of 5, and 5 can’t do anything that 6 doesn’t do even better. Since we’re just about guaranteed to be carrying 6, why bother packing 5? 5 gets used more often for garrison use.
PCU Level 4 or Level 5
I don’t think 5 is EPIC. I’m a little out of my lane here and wouldn’t be shocked to learn that I’m wrong but I think only 4 and 7 are EPIC. I have two Level 5 jackets. I have a Patagonia issued with the Block 1 iteration back in 2006. I don’t remember seeing any EPIC tags on our clothing back then. My other Level 5 is a Beyond (maybe that’s Block 2 but I’ve lost track of which gear belongs to which iteration) and it doesn’t feel like any of my EPIC gear. The Beyond feels like thin neoprene or maybe thick Prana Stretch Zions. I know my Level 7 from Wild Things is EPIC because it had the tags. I’m less clear on my Level 4s. I had a Patagonia Level 4 that I’ve lost track of (probably had to turn it back in to the Group Issue Point) that I don’t think was EPIC just based on when I got it. I had a Beyond (Bora, I think) that I gave to a friend because Beyond cuts their clothing for the alien in Close Encounters (but to be fair, Beyond is excellent about shortening the sleeves if asked), and I think that jacket had an EPIC tag. I also have a Propper Level 4, which is probably EPIC but I don’t really remember.
Eric did a good job of explaining the benefit of 3A compared to 3. It essentially comes down to less doffing and donning. As the naming suggests, 3 and 3A are meant to serve the same function. 3A can certainly be used with an outer shell just like 3, but there is less need to do so. If I can only pack one jacket, it’s an easy choice.
I think you should just get a 3A. If the guys for whom the PCU was designed and have the most experience with it have decided that 3A is the best layer, doesn’t the scientist in you think that warrants investigation? If you end up agreeing with me, you’ll have a better jacket than you are currently using. If you disagree, then you’re out less than $110 and your scientific curiosity will have been sated. On the other hand, if you regard me as an unverified source, that seems quite sensible. There’s probably no way for you to check if I actually have a Green Beret or not. Treating me as just another anonymous internet voice would be the proper decision.Dec 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm #3440328
The Arc Protons have a 30 CFM face fabric and a 90 CFM liner.
And where can it be found that the CLO of Coreloft Continuous is only a third of that op Alpha ?Dec 13, 2016 at 4:19 pm #3440329
regarding the Nano Air (60g fullrange, vest, jacket, hoody), it is 40 CFM, whereas the Nano Air Light (40g fullrange, anorak only) is 70 CFM. not sure if the fabric is different.
pertex equilibrium is a tricky beast. I have two Rab jackets that use the same equilibrium fabric according to their website and customer service, but they feel a little different (could just be me) and definitely have a different sized ripstop grid pattern. one of the jackets is from fall ’15, the other from fall ’16, so maybe all equilibrium fabrics got a smaller pattern, but it is strange. then i have a pertex equilibrium LT windshirt…no information on CFM (but i do love it).
thanks for the Proton CFM, saved me some trouble. and pardon the confusion about clo values, coreloft continuous has a HIGHER clo than alpha. i said ‘just under 3 times,’ so nearly 3x higher clo. i cannot remember the exact values, though i think alpha was .28 (i have seen claims of .32-.37 but hard to belive), and coreloft continuous i have seen numbers from .8-.87.
if you want to see the chart you can search for the paper i mentioned earlier by Richard on BPL. cannot remember where on the forums it is, sorry.
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