Standards Watch: Standards Are Important (But Not Enough)
Mar 19, 2021 at 9:00 am #3705413
Companion forum thread to: Standards Watch: Standards Are Important (But Not Enough)
Rex Sanders illustrates how difficult it can be to make accurate product comparisons based on manufacturer-provided data.Mar 21, 2021 at 5:21 am #3705615James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Rex, Boy, reading this gave me sympathy pains. I agree. Even good standards make no sense when used by people intentionally out to “push the boundaries.” Thanks!Mar 21, 2021 at 6:33 am #3705618Nicholas CouisBPL Member
@nichocoMar 21, 2021 at 8:29 am #3705622Stephen CSpectator
I went through the exact same exercise as this. I was trying to find a way to cut two items of clothing down to one. (Save weight and room). Just couldn’t make it work.
I tried the OR Ascendant Hoody, Pertex microlight stretch outer with Polartech Alpha direct insulation. Nice piece of clothing, pretty light, can worn over a base layer, under a puffy or a hardshell.
But, I found that a fleece (Rab Alpha flash) made our of polartech Alpha direct paired with a Rab Borealis (light, very stretchy, good wind resistantance) was better suited for, well, everything. The combo of the Flash+Borealis comes out about 200g heavier but this combo is much more versatile. Also the combo is warmer due to more Alpha. I have found that for me, I use a wind shell more than anything else in my pack. With the Ascendant, I didn’t have the option of baselayer+wind shell. Actually found myself still packing a wind shell after trying the Ascendant.
So I am ok with the small weigh penalty of the two pieces vs the active insulation of the Ascendant. Just way more versatile in my opinion. I still have the Ascendant, I use it ice climbing when the forecast is for wind and overcast. I love it for that.Mar 21, 2021 at 9:05 am #3705628Brett PeughBPL Member
I use my OR Ascendant for around town, walking and when I know it is going to be damp, windy and cold. Otherwise I break it up to the Senchi Designs Alpha hoody and a Patagonia Houdini which pair really well and become a two piece Ascendant.Mar 21, 2021 at 10:49 am #3705642Scott ChandlerBPL Member
@blueklisterLocale: Reno area
Perhaps these garments aren’t aimed at lightweight or ultralight backpackers, but mountaineers or skiers. A single garment you could pull on at a belay stance, or just after you’ve reached a ridge and are removing skins. Standards would be nice, but we still don’t have a standard in cross country ski bindings, much less garments or sleeping bags. For us, layering will always be superior, but we also have the luxury of fine tuning our layers while we’re out there.Mar 21, 2021 at 9:44 pm #3705703Bryan BihlmaierBPL Member
@bryanbLocale: Wasatch Mountains
Thank you for the research and starting this discussion.
Since you wrote this, OR has come out with the Helium Wind Hoodie wind jacket. You might want to update your table above using that instead of the overweight and thicker Ferrosi jacket.
I personally am still debating whether I want to try an active insulation jacket or, as you have suggested, stick with my current more versatile fleece-plus-wind jacket system.
One additional advantage of the fleece-plus-wind jacket system is you can bring a different weight fleece depending on conditions, cheaper than buying different active insulation jackets (if you can even find much range in insulation values for them).Mar 22, 2021 at 8:26 am #3705742StumphgesBPL Member
“Active Insulation” used to be called “Softshell”
Today, I think we can break down integrated (as compared to seperable layer) active insulation garments into three categories:
1. Hydrophobic synthetic fill sandwiched between two highly air-permeable and (hopefully) highly breathable wind-resistant fabrics.
2. Wind-resistant and (hopefully) highly breathable wind-resistant face fabric (nylon or polyester taffeta originally) with hydrophilic wicking fleece or wicking tricot attached at the seams. This is the “original softshell” concept and apart from convenience of having both layers in one garment was meant to provide decent protection against moisture, including rain. Early examples include Buffalo Systems, which were reputed to be effective protection against cold rain, provided you kept moving and generating heat.
3. Wind-resistant and breathable face fabric (maybe stretch-woven, maybe highly air-permeable) sewn to non-wicking fleece-like inner layer. Arcteryx Proton FL is an example. This is a non-wicking softshell, a new category, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a step backward.
Well, I guess you could say that the multi-layer analogs to the above are:
2. Windshirt + wicking fleece/baselayer like R1 or capilene thermal weight.
3. Windshirt + non-wicking fleeceMar 22, 2021 at 3:04 pm #3705799
Can stare at numbers for hours and still miss something obvious:
For Montbell, you could pair the Tachyon wind shell with the U.L. Thermawrap active insulation and come in 4.8 ounces (135 grams) lighter than using their Climaplus fleece! A little crazy making.
@blueklister The Arc’teryx Proton LT hoody got BPL’s “Highly Recommended” award. See the review for Ryan and Andrew’s recommended use conditions. And they compared it directly to three other “active insulation” jackets. I recommend reading the whole review for more context.
@stumphges Interesting breakdown of categories. Helps some with selection, but marketing spin still makes it challenging.
Especially in the almost complete absence of useful standardized quantitative measurements. Which would assist, but not solve all selection problems.
And fleece + wind jacket still has one less layer than the integrated garments, with all that implies for flexibility and MVTR.
Obviously, integrated garments under whatever name have a market. Too bad the industry makes their advantages and differences nearly impossible to understand.
— RexMar 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm #3705811Michael BBPL Member
Companies seem to make a gamble with their marketing; on one hand, a bunch of useful technical information may lead buyers with a tendency to prioritize such things to purchase their product. However, it may also lead some potential buyers away from buying the product, since that is what they will be focused on. I think marketing folks hope that by leaving a bit of vagueness in the description, they will attract a larger group of people to actually buy and try, knowing that of the folks who try the product and not find it satisfactory, are not likely to return it, more often than not. That is my guess.Mar 22, 2021 at 6:44 pm #3705833StumphgesBPL Member
Rex, it’s clear the consumer needs independent data: CFM, MVTR, R, dry time to add to the limited numbers supplied by manufacturers (weight, denier (a rough proxy for durability data)).Mar 22, 2021 at 6:53 pm #3705835
For this article, the following image licensed from The Noun Project didn’t make the cut. Too bad :-)
— RexMar 22, 2021 at 10:41 pm #3705886Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Hi Rex, and others
Opinions from a known and experienced cynic (me): there are two major rat-holes in so-called ‘outdoors’ gear: Jackets and shoes.
In both cases the company marketing departments are really trying to convince the average street customer that they are buying something really upmarket and technical. The stuff does not have to be either of these really, but it has to look good, be affordable, and sound great.
In short, we are talking about street fashion, especially with jackets of all sorts. The big mistake so many people make is in thinking that the stuff will really work as advertised.
I think I should repeat some cartoons I have shown before as they illustrate what I am saying:
You can’t really blame the companies: they are just trying to make a living by selling what is really fashion clothing but with a trendy outdoors appeal. (Well, you can blame them, but you will get nowhere.)
By way of comparison: there are thousands of jackets of all sorts on the market, with all sorts of claims for protection from the weather, but all (ALL) of them either leak or build up condensation inside, or quickly fail in the field. On the other hand, there are very few ponchos on the market, even though they do work much better. But ponchos look daggy. Who would wear one on the street?
CheersMar 25, 2021 at 8:17 am #3706193Stephen SeeberBPL Member
For those of you are do not speak Australian:Mar 25, 2021 at 10:00 am #3706210Chris RBPL Member
Similar to a dingleberry or clingon in origin
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