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Colinhoglund


Mar 31, 2012, 8:45 PM
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Alpine layering.
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I've been experimenting with a few different layering combos lately after reading several blog posts, reading Mark Twight and observing how several guides i know dress.

I'm still on the fence on wether the light softshell (think patagonia simple guide hoody) and hard face fleece combo, or the lightweight synthetic jacket as midlayer/shell is the better cold weather climbing set up.

The first has more durability, and has the flexibility of being able to remove the softshell in warmer conditions utilizing the excellent breathability of the hardface fleece. However, the synthetic jacket as midlayer is lighter and splits the difference in breathability meaning you just leave it on, which means less dressing and more climbingTongue.

So in short, which is better the durability/flexibility/breathability of the softshell hardface combo. Or the light weight/leave it be qualities of the light synthetic jacket.

I assume I'll get many "it depends comments" but I want to see what the community uses and get a discussion going.


qwert


Apr 3, 2012, 12:50 PM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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Am i reading this correctly?

you are suggesting/ you have read to leave the synthetic jacket on while climbing/moving?

Either i misunderstand synthetic jacket (after all the word itself just means jacket not made from natural fibers), or you will soon be so wet from sweat that no jacket will keep you warm if you stop.

qwert


zealotnoob


Apr 3, 2012, 1:05 PM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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There are so many variables to consider, it's impossible to have this discussion without talking about a specific team on a specific objective.

Regardless, check out the Cold Thistle blog.

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/

Dane writes endlessly on the topic.


(This post was edited by zealotnoob on Apr 3, 2012, 1:08 PM)


Colinhoglund


Apr 3, 2012, 2:29 PM
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Re: [zealotnoob] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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Yea I'm aware of Coldthistle.
Key word, COLD. I should have been more specific.
Think -20c or -4f for Ice alpine and Back country skiing. I have skinned an uptrack wearing a down sweater over a baselayer and not been sweaty or over heated in cold windy conditions. The kicker is, that I was still warm enough standing around preparing for the down hill run, then even did the downhill run in the same set of layers. After that experience, I came across Dane's blog and surprise, surprise! He's recommending the same.

Now, the point is I'm interested in seeing who else has tried using a light puffy jacket as an active layer in cold conditions. Dane, specifically mentions the Arcteryx atom lt, but I believe the light down and synthetic jackets from many companies fill this gap. Especially if the use breathable fabrics and sewnthrew construction.


rtwilli4


Apr 3, 2012, 3:03 PM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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There are synthetic fill jackets that are designed as resting pieces and there are synthetic fill jackets that are designed as active pieces. The Rab Generator Stretch Jacket is a good example of the latter. http://vimeo.com/36011790

There are plenty of jackets out there that would fit the bill. I personally don't spend a lot of time climbing in temperatures that cold, but I know that with any clothing system, the only way to find out if it works for you is to try it.

One advantage of the synthetic jacket over a fleece is that it is more wind and water resistant, so it can be worn alone and even used as a belay jacket on cold multi-pitch rock climbs or chilly cragging days.

An advantage of the hardfaced fleece is that if you get the right one, you can wear it next to your skin as a stand alone piece on cold rock pitches or as a base layer when you are in super cold temps.

Softshells are personal preference. I say if you're spending money on a soft shell, get one w/ a windproof membrane (the Simple Guide is not windproof). If you have a membrane though, and then add your shell on top, you'll probably over heat. So you're back to the Simple Guide. Ask yourself if you want to spend that much money on something that might not be all that useful.

All of this stuff is expensive enough that you need to be able to use it for more than one thing. Think about what you might use each piece for, and how often it will actually come out of the closet.


daneburns


Apr 3, 2012, 5:06 PM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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Colinhoglund wrote:
but I believe the light down and synthetic jackets from many companies fill this gap. Especially if the use breathable fabrics and sewnthrew construction.


I don't for my own use. And I own and have used (still using and testing) most of the 60g layers from the major and not so major players.

When you add that kind of insulation and you are working (at least for me anyway) you need them to breath. Few (but there are others) have the side vents that the Arcteryx Atom light uses which allows enough breathability in these garments.

It is a good system in the right conditions. But there are other choices now. I haven't spent my normal time out this winter. But I have spent a couple of weeks ice climbing in Canada and for once did not use my Atom Ls at all. Working on the reviews currently. But bottom line is the newest neoshell soft shell materials have me rethinking how I dress in winter right now.

Good example? I use the Patagonia Nano Puff a lot. But is no where near as versital as a Atom Lt. It is mentioned above previous. And the comment is spot on...all of this stuff is temp and use dependant. Along with what the user can tolerate physically. On Cold Thistle I am generally talking about cold weather alpine climbing or ice cragging. Don't read any more into than that is my suggestion.

I do some back country skiing as well. And I almost NEVER take an Atom Lt there. But almost always take a Nano Puff.

And I would seldom if ever use a Neoshell soft shell skiing in the BC or the lifts. But for cold weather climbing pants and jacket of Neoshell rocks.


qwert


Apr 4, 2012, 10:15 AM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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Colinhoglund wrote:
Yea I'm aware of Coldthistle.
Key word, COLD. I should have been more specific.
Think -20c or -4f for Ice alpine and Back country skiing. I have skinned an uptrack wearing a down sweater over a baselayer and not been sweaty or over heated in cold windy conditions. The kicker is, that I was still warm enough standing around preparing for the down hill run, then even did the downhill run in the same set of layers. After that experience, I came across Dane's blog and surprise, surprise! He's recommending the same.
If we are not talking about winds that strong that the added wind from going downhill wouldnt change anything, i cant imagine that such a setup would work for me. I have skinned uphill at -20° in a T-shirt, and i still did sweat (fun fact: The layer of warm air around you is rather thin, so the sweat will condensate and freeze at the tips of your arm hairs, thus covering your arms in an ice "glove")
It wasnt very windy though…

so the whole thing probably depends very much on personal sweat levels and on how fast you move.

My personal "system":
Undershirt (only if its really cold. If its really really cold, that can already be a rather thick fleece or whool thing)
thin, thigh fitting fleece
softshell (no membrane! Putting a membrane in a softshell makes it utterly useless)
Synthetic and/or hardshell (both, if its really really cold, or windy, or i need the hardshell anyways (eg dripping wet waterfall, though then the synthetic only comes out at the belays, and i also have successfully climbed in running water without a hardshell) and only either one if its either rather warm, but wet (hardshell) or dry but cold (synthetic))

qwert


rtwilli4


Apr 4, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Re: [qwert] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Putting a membrane in a softshell makes it utterly useless

qwert

I don't agree with that at all. Certainly all types of shells have their place, including a windproof softshell. Even with a membrane, it will breath much better than a hardshell. The seams aren't taped, the zippers aren't DWR and don't have storm flaps, and the face fabric is light and breathable.

The softshell that I climb in is light, contains an air permeable (but still windproof) membrane over 70% of the jacket, breathes exceptionally well. I wear it on the approach, climbing the crux pitches and while sitting at the belay, getting blasted by cold wind.

I do agree though that some of the softshells on the market with no membrane are great as well. It all depends on the intended use.

This takes us back to the one thing that most of us tend to agree on: PERSONAL PREFERANCE! You just have to go ou tand try different products. Our bodies all work in very differeny ways. We should be thankful that there are so many different products out there for us to choose from.


jjanowia


Apr 4, 2012, 11:22 AM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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Thoughts:

Only you know how hot you run. I, for one, need more static (sittin' around camp or belays) insulation than anyone else I climb with. I also prefer fewer layers than all those folks when moving, both for warmth and breathability. I would think that unless you're an old man who can't stay warm easily, the synthetic midlayer is not gonna breathe well enough.


What's the climbing like? Steady simul-climbing? Or hard high - exertion pitches followed by periods of rest. The system that works well for steady progress is not the same as works for hard pitched climbing followed by rests at belays. I realize most alpine will involve a little of both, but this should be considered.


My vote is for extremely breathable thermal layers (e.g. R1 hoody or NWAlpine hoody) in lieu of the thin puffy synthetic, and a softshell on top for use while moving.


daneburns


Apr 4, 2012, 12:00 PM
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Re: [jjanowia] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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"My vote is for extremely breathable thermal layers (e.g. R1 hoody or NWAlpine hoody) in lieu of the thin puffy synthetic, and a softshell on top for use while moving. "

Again not sure folks are getting it. The R1 or BS Hoody are excellent base/mid layers. Until just recently no modern soft shell out there that would breath as well and offer the warmth of a Atom Lt. Dachstein sweater does though.

Not counting the big drop in weight using a synthetic instead of a soft shell as the outer layer.

Here is the original article

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2010/11/winter-layers.html


Colinhoglund


Apr 4, 2012, 2:02 PM
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Re: [rtwilli4] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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rtwilli4 wrote:
In reply to:
Putting a membrane in a softshell makes it utterly useless

qwert

I don't agree with that at all. Certainly all types of shells have their place, including a windproof softshell. Even with a membrane, it will breath much better than a hardshell. The seams aren't taped, the zippers aren't DWR and don't have storm flaps, and the face fabric is light and breathable.

The softshell that I climb in is light, contains an air permeable (but still windproof) membrane over 70% of the jacket, breathes exceptionally well. I wear it on the approach, climbing the crux pitches and while sitting at the belay, getting blasted by cold wind.

I do agree though that some of the softshells on the market with no membrane are great as well. It all depends on the intended use.

This takes us back to the one thing that most of us tend to agree on: PERSONAL PREFERANCE! You just have to go ou tand try different products. Our bodies all work in very differeny ways. We should be thankful that there are so many different products out there for us to choose from.

I'm not quite sure why this thread has become so argumentative. My whole point is for the community to share what has worked for them. For example, I have both a membrane and a membraneless softshell, and both have there own uses.

I have my own system pretty dialled, but I'm interested in continuing to modify it as new materials/usage of those materials changes. As Dane said "bottom line is the newest neoshell soft shell materials have me rethinking how I dress in winter right now." I'm always willing to try new systems.


rtwilli4


Apr 4, 2012, 2:15 PM
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Re: [Colinhoglund] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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It's only like that because we are on the internet. I don't think anyone is taking things personally and hopefully we are all learning a bit. I know I am. We all have our own way of doing things and the fact that we are a bit defensive just shows that we've each put enough time and effort into our personal systems to get it right - we believe it them.

I would find it hard to give any more insight into what I do because a (relatively) low elevation bivy followed by a full day alpine rock climb in early or late season is about the most extreme weather I'll encounter. I live in the UK now so that might all change but I'm not all that qualified to talk about layering systems for snow and ice. Most of my experience in that sort of environment could be called back country skiing at best.

What I can tell you is this:

I work for a company called Jack Wolfskin (major player in the European market, but not necessarily marketed toward climbers). Their technical insulation, like everyone else's, is trending toward light, synthetic filled insulation with water resistant and wind resistant outer. Some have hard-faced fleece panels for active use and some are resting pieces.

Air Permeable membranes are also being used, both in hard shells and soft shells. They even have a PU coating that they claim to be Air Permeable. I've not yet cared to test that claim.

Light, breathable, synthetic - this is (once again) the direction that companies are taking. This time they are doing it with a new generation of technology.


bearbreeder


Apr 5, 2012, 1:24 AM
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ive been using a 19$ old navy puffy Wink

no doubt i gonna die ...Shocked




rtwilli4


Apr 5, 2012, 2:11 AM
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bearbreeder wrote:
ive been using a 19$ old navy puffy Wink

no doubt i gonna die ...Shocked

Nice. I bet my Ł80 synthetic puffy (no I don't pay for clothing from JW) is probably not 6 times warmer than your $19 Old Navy puffy.


Colinhoglund


Apr 5, 2012, 8:18 AM
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Re: [rtwilli4] Alpine layering. [In reply to]
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rtwilli4 wrote:
bearbreeder wrote:
ive been using a 19$ old navy puffy Wink

no doubt i gonna die ...Shocked

Nice. I bet my Ł80 synthetic puffy (no I don't pay for clothing from JW) is probably not 6 times warmer than your $19 Old Navy puffy.

I'd venture to say the same. Price ≠ warmth and quality exclusively. I have an $80 MEC pullover that I believe fills a niche no other Jacket does, similar ones from other companies are over $200.


qwert


Apr 5, 2012, 12:33 PM
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rtwilli4 wrote:
What I can tell you is this:

I work for a company called Jack Wolfskin (major player in the European market, but not necessarily marketed toward climbers). …
Crazy
Aaaaaaaand you are out!

Don't take it personal, but working for Jack Wolfskin disqualifies you for any serious talk about climbing, alpine, or even serious outdoor clothing. Their crap is meant for surviving tough days of shopping all day in light rain, but not for anything outside of a larger city!

And since i probably started with the "membraned softshells are useless":
I simply havent (yet?!) seen any "softshell" with a membrane that still is a softshell (breathes well, still has some insulation, doesnt hinder my movement…). A membrane softshell is just a really shitty hardshell (as in: Its not 100% waterproof).

I have a fairly expensive mammut "softshell" (only one tiny step up from JW…) and i havent yet found any real use for it (apart from using it to save my good stuff some abuse - i got it for free - and to wear it when i should walk around with a DAV logo).

qwert


rtwilli4


Apr 5, 2012, 4:12 PM
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qwert wrote:
rtwilli4 wrote:
What I can tell you is this:

I work for a company called Jack Wolfskin (major player in the European market, but not necessarily marketed toward climbers). …
Crazy
Aaaaaaaand you are out!

Don't take it personal, but working for Jack Wolfskin disqualifies you for any serious talk about climbing, alpine, or even serious outdoor clothing. Their crap is meant for surviving tough days of shopping all day in light rain, but not for anything outside of a larger city!

And since i probably started with the "membraned softshells are useless":
I simply havent (yet?!) seen any "softshell" with a membrane that still is a softshell (breathes well, still has some insulation, doesnt hinder my movement…). A membrane softshell is just a really shitty hardshell (as in: Its not 100% waterproof).

I have a fairly expensive mammut "softshell" (only one tiny step up from JW…) and i havent yet found any real use for it (apart from using it to save my good stuff some abuse - i got it for free - and to wear it when i should walk around with a DAV logo).

qwert

I don't think it disqualifies me at all. If I had delusions about the company then yea, but the fact that I know exactly where we stand in the REAL outdoor market means that I have a lot to add to the discussion. I follow the industry, and know what's out there.

I work for them because they are a hugely successful company and it was a good opportunity for me, not because I like the apparel. When I started working for them, I figured their stuff was going to be middle of the road, boring, and that I'd probably not even use my yearly allowance of gear. If fact, I had never heard of the company before I got the interview.

I have been pleasantly surprised though, and have found that their flagship stuff performs very well. I have a few pieces of clothing that have rendered my beloved Patagonia and Mountain Hardware items nearly useless.

I realize that they don't compare to the top companies out there, but the stuff is a bit better than "shopping" clothing, as you've called it. If anything, their major downfalls are their corny name and attempt to control the "average person" market. It takes away from what could have been a descent outdoor apparel company.

I am not taking it personally, but I do think that some of their stuff warrants a second look. Would I buy their kit if I didn't work there? Probably not. But that doesn't mean that it's not quality stuff.

I can see how you might be disgusted by the company though, living in Germany and all. The branding and paws and everything drive me a bit crazy, and the UK line is pretty low key compared to what I've seen in Germany.

Either way, they take care of me and keep me happy. It's an excellent company to work for, and I have no problem defending them. I can also be realistic about exactly what they make how it works.

I won't continue the softshell discussion with you at the risk of you just dismissing everything I say as nonsense because of the company I work for. We can just agree to disagree.


daneburns


Apr 7, 2012, 7:52 PM
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Just to add to the discussion. I now have here what I think is all the "soft" Neoshell garments currently available.

I had totally given up on any soft shells for climbing. These garments and a few others sewn from the newest batch of Polartec fabrics have changed or at least swayed that opinion.

Working on a more complete review at the moment.


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