Synthetic Puff Jackets...

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by ROCK6, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Scout

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    So, I'm looking to upgrade my backpacking insulation layer, and due to the humidity and rainy conditions this spring back home, I'm looking into synthetic puff jackets. I acknowledge this is a pretty niche item for most and the higher end Puffs are pretty expensive to save a few ounces...which is a big consideration. Criteria are performance, weight, compression, and price. I have a higher loft down jacket, but really trying to focus on synthetic insulation due to the high humidity and often wetter conditions.

    Spring and Fall temps really aren't bad. It could be 70 with clouds and thundershowers during the day, but the evening is where we feel it when it drops into the 40's. I know, I know, that isn't "cold", but I'll be damned if the humidity doesn't make it feel colder and we have to strip out of our wet clothing to dry and warm up...hence this lighter "puff" or insulation. Keeping the weight down to 8-9oz is a bonus as is compression.

    The top two I'm looking at are the new Patagonia Micro Puff jacket with their new "PlumaFill" insulation and Enlightened Equipment's Torrid APEX with 2.0 Climashield insulation fill.

    From what I can see, Patagonia's insulation provides slightly better performance and better compression, but almost twice the price. The Torrid APEX jacket is slightly lighter (about an ounce for the same size/no hood). I do like the fact that I can get the APEX in Coyote and other custom colors and from what I read, it's cut slightly larger for layering. I know that can be an issue as you want a tighter fit for this type of puff-insulation layer.

    So, anybody have experience with either the Micro Puff or Enlightened Equipment's Torrid APEX puff-insulation layers (or other options)?

    ROCK6
    [​IMG]
     
  2. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  3. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Bushclass I

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    My hangup with puffers is fit and wanting a hood. There is no way I could buy one online. That cuts out lots of options. Dang broad shoulders.
     
  4. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Scout

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    I have a similar issue with shoulders. Most of the Patagonia stuff is made for stick-figure models:D While I can wear their large, it has zero room for more than a T-shirt. The EE Torrid has a more generous cut. I get that some of the technical clothing does require a more snug fit, but snug and constrictive are often pretty close...

    ROCK6
     
  5. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I hear that. I can be anything from a medium to a XXL depending on the brand, and even then if I buy the same item a few years apart there is no assurance their country of manufacture has not changed and the sizing will be the same. Shoes and boots are the worst, I never buy them online. Even in a store I’ve tried three pairs of the same style and size and found one pair fits better than the other two. Got to love the new global economy (not).
     
  6. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Scholarly Woodsman Supporter

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    That's why I love Patagonia! I need an XL for the length, but a medium for the waist/chest size. With Patagonia's fit, I can get the larger sizes I need without being swallowed.

    That being said, I'm too cheap to actually buy it most of the time. I only get it on super end of season clearance and the second hand market.
     
  7. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Supporter

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    An option I have that works well from LL Bean. I love it since it works well over a layer or two easily. I can fit my rain layer over it too.

    That said, Patagonia AND Mountain Hardwear have served friends of mine well.
     
  8. TrespassersWilliam

    TrespassersWilliam Supporter Supporter

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    You can sometimes find Eddie Bauer puffer vests at a reasonable markdown. They offer tall sizes. They also still have a return policy like LLBean used to offer.
     
  9. Morrow7x

    Morrow7x Supporter Supporter

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    Yeah, I bought a hooded jacket a couple years ago at 40% off, in season... (?!). They had made an effort to make a line of higher performance outerwear to be competitive with Patagonia, etc . I think their long-time selection of mostly 'outdoor-style' casual wear caused them to be all but forgotten by backpackers. I know I only went in by accident- my daughter was looking for a toiletry bag for a Grand Canyon kayak trip. Maybe worth a fresh look...
     
  10. ra2bach

    ra2bach Supporter Supporter

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    the Eddie Bauer First Ascent stuff is phenomenal value. it's probably not as light weight as some of the boutique brands but is very well made from excellent materials.

    I got my son an 850 DownTek (water resistant down) jacket with Pertex shell that he has rode hard and hung up wet, that still looks and works like new. I have an XL Tall, hooded, with the tags still on that I bought figuring I would lose weight and fit into it but that hasn't happened yet :oops: If I can't fit in by September, I'll sell it here with the tags still on...
     
  11. Gruntinhusaybah

    Gruntinhusaybah Fallbrook Forge Hobbyist Supporter Bushclass I

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    Give enlightened equipment a shot, if you're unsure about fit just call or emial them, they've always been very responsive to communications with me.

    I took a risk and ordered a montbell puff jacket that was on clearance, their size guide was spot on and it fits great.

    Nunatak also makes a good looking syn jacket.
     
  12. manitoulinbound

    manitoulinbound Apple Fritter Lover Supporter

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    Have you looked into The North Face line of goodies? You can usually get their gear stupid cheap used, never understood why but I don't care, I just keep scooping up the deals. New prices are great too imo.
     
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  13. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Scout

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    Yeah, from my correspondence with them, they assured me their Torrid is cut bigger than the Patagonia. One thing that I keep boing back and forth over is breathability. The higher (800+) loft downs really seem to offer a wider spectrum of comfort for me. The treated down is nice for less severe weather, but my only fear is getting really soaked during some of the spring trips we've down. I don't mind sacrificing a little compression and insulation performance doesn't have to be top tier, but I do want to keep weight at a minimum. Thanks for all the feedback and recommendation...

    ROCK6
     
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  14. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    Apex is good stuff. Good warmth to weight ratio, one of the best syns to resist loss of loft to compression, resists moisture well, reasonably priced

    I would at least peruse Nunatak's site- their Apex jacket is very customizable- sizes, hoods, pockets, fabrics, weight of insulation, etc. Not cheap, but a really nice jacket.

    That said, I also have a EE hooded vest (same basic construction as the jacket), if the 2.1 Apex is warm enough for your needs, the quality is top notch (also a fair bit cheaper)
     
  15. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    The new Micropuff gets a very bad wrap over at BPL and it is horrendously expensive for not much real warmth apparently
     
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  16. ra2bach

    ra2bach Supporter Supporter

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    interesting. what's the verdict on the Nano Air?..
     
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  17. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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  18. Watcher of the Woods

    Watcher of the Woods Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I had had a mountain hardwear thermostatic for going on 5 years and it's still alive and serving me well. Check on eBay/sales online and you can find this $200 jacket for $50-$100. Well worth the money!
     
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  19. koreamarine

    koreamarine Tracker

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    Recommend a field jacket liner if you're on a budget.

    For a few dollars more you can get the Wiggy's liner jacket which is worth the price.
    My issue with such items as outer layers is that they tend to get holes in them from sparks popping out of a fire.

    I am looking for some nyco cloth such as used in the old field jacket to make into a single layer outer shell under which I can layer the above and other layers.
     
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  20. xRangerx

    xRangerx Woods wandering bird nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    I know I am late to the party, but check out the Kuiu kenai jackets in their outlet. Heavily discounted now and breathes well. Hooded and hoodless versions available.
     
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  21. Ninety0ne

    Ninety0ne Tracker

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    Outdoor research and Arc’teryx are both designed in the wettest part of North America. Everyone knows The dead bird, but if you havnt looked at OR, give em a shot
     
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  22. perrymk

    perrymk Supporter Supporter

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  23. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    ^ I have the hooded vest version of that, well made and warm for the weight :)
     
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  24. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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    Here's just one man's opinion:

    If you aren't likely to encounter temps below the 40's, I wouldn't spend a lot on an insulated piece and I certainly wouldn't be buying any Patagucci unless you buy at well over 50% off. It's worth noting that any fill that's NOT continuous fiber (Climashield) - no matter what they choose to label it - is pretty much the same so there's no benefit in paying for a label.

    As just one example, I bought a Cabela's branded pullover (comparable to the Nano-Puff) with 60g Primaloft insulation for less than $30 on sale. It's held up perfectly after three or four years of steady use as a hunting layer and a casual wear piece. Same goes for another 60g Primaloft jacket branded by REI that cost about $50 on sale. In other words, Primaloft is Primaloft (which is "casual" insulation at best) and it isn't going to perform differently/better because of the label.

    Lastly, nothing that weighs 8-9 oz is likely to be warm below 40 degrees anyway unless it's a very high quality down-filled product (Western Mountaineering, Montbell, Feathered Friends, etc). I say that because I have the thermostat of a polar bear and nothing I've owned in that weight range worked below 40 deg as a stand alone piece.
     
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  25. WildMedGuru

    WildMedGuru Scout

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    Someone mentioned Ebay
    - I literally scored a new with tags 850 down MH parka on there for under $100 / luckily I think the seller had no clue as to the value / this seller mostly sold clothing, but had like 700 clothing items for sale in their store / I'll admit I just got lucky

    -I've also picked up a thin puffer style Patagonia jacket in used, but "new enough to me" condition for $35 and a Marmot precip shell for $25

    Sometimes people are just selling for spare cash or yard sale prices.... that's when the best deals are found.

    Just browse constantly, watch for reliable sellers and return policies and happy garage shopping on line for cheap gear!!
     
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  26. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    Primaloft comes in a couple of flavors, but regardless it does have a limited lifespan, it’s ever so slightly warmer (clo)/weight than
    Climashield, but Climashield has a much better lifespan, certainly not infinite, but pretty darn good

    agreed that a 8-9 oz insulating syn piece is going to be in the 35-45 degree range for inactivity, quality down will be slightly warmer

    of course you can boost these temps with some smart layering

    my 10 oz Apex pullover with base layer, mid-layer (mid weight hooded fleece) and a windshirt @ ~ 15 degrees, glassing for a couple of hours
    [​IMG]
     
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  27. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Scout

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    It's all pretty relative, and highly dependent on the user's metabolism and activity level. It's not so much about simply being warm, but controlling your thermoregulation. I can extend a trekking break by cooling down slower with a lighter puff jacket. Plus, they'll maintain your body temp when you first get started in a cold morning. Even with my aging metabolism, I'm a hot-hiker and heat up quickly, but I also know I want to avoid cooling down too fast. I would agree that many would not find these types of "active insulation" pieces very comfortable for cold weather, static activities, but many of these lighter pieces of insulation rely on more heat generated by the user through high exertion activities. Since you're not wearing them constantly, their weight is important since you're carrying it more than wearing it.

    ROCK6
     
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  28. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    Definitely go for hooded version.

    I have a cheap one that I paid something like $35 several years ago on a clearance sale and it's been excellent. It's exceptionally warm and light weight. One of my best purchases!

    It has one or two tiny burn holes in it now but a little crazy glue should fix that.

    The embers don't discriminate!
     
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  29. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    Man-made fill varies greatly. Some is solid. Some has a single hole (think macaroni), increasing trapped air - "loft" - for a given weight. Some has multiple holes. Diameter of fibers varies greatly. Some is silicon=treated, slowing matting down of the fill - increasing service life. Some has fibers with mixed-sizes and characteristics. Some has heat-crimped "permanent wave," increasing loft for weight, and some does not.

    Trouble is, it is very hard to find objective, measured comparisons. Try to find actual user evaluations., like those, now outdated as to specific garments, in Twight's Extreme Alpinism, Climbing Light, Fast, and High, (1999).

    New stuff comes out every year and it's always "much better" than last year's.:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
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  30. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    How true!

    The manufacturers admit that even wood smoke reduces the water-repellency of "durable"( that is, not durable) water repellent treatment. And that is more true now than it was as the new "green" "DWP" chemicals are even less robust.

    Remember when the biggest kid in class was "Tiny"? "Durable Water Repellent."
     
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  31. j_mcrane

    j_mcrane Tracker

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    Costco has 700 fill generic down jackets for 49 bucks Canadian. Anyone ever used one from there? I’m thinking about picking one up.
     
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  32. tonyg

    tonyg Tracker

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    A lot of good info in this post. Thanks guys.

    I was looking at getting the torrid. Now I've good to think a couple things over and look at other options.
     
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  33. onidah

    onidah Tracker

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    I'm super happy with a climashield jacket that I picked up recently for $92.99 plus $9.99 shipping (nearly half of what the EE torrid costs) from the following website:

    https://www.varusteleka.com/en/product/sarma-tst-l3-loft-jacket/53679

    I was searching for an insulated jacket to take to Philmont this summer. I was considering the EE Torrid, but it wasn't going to fit my long arms, according to the size chart they provide. The Sarma TST L3 comes in regular and long lengths - think military sizing. I'll be pairing it with an Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket.

    Here is a youtube video of a guy showing the details of the jacket (). It's not in English, but it shows the features nicely.

    I'm also a fan of the Wiggy's liner jackets, but the Sarma TST L3 comes with a much better collar system, a cinch at the waist, and doesn't have the goofy and ridiculously long sleeve cuffs that the Wiggy's liner jackets do.

    While you are at the Varusteleka website, check out their Skrama knife (https://www.varusteleka.com/en/product/terava-skrama-carbon-steel/30189). I've had my eyes on one of those for a few years.

    Onidah
     
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  34. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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  35. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    "Climashield Apex 67 g/m2 insulation." If you don't know what this means, you don't know what it is. Not a "belay jacket."

    I THINK it is a bargain price for a highly rated brand of insulation that is little known on our side of the Big Pond - two brands that I can find. More brands in Europe use Climashield Apex - all actually made in China, which is fine with most if quality is there.

    You might review the reviews and note those from employees.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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  36. Oldguy59

    Oldguy59 Scout

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    I have a Cabelas permaloft pull over that works well as a mid layer and it packs into its own pocket. Also check out the web site Steepandcheap.com.
     
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  37. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    Some polyester batting looses loft more slowly as a result of compression. Climashield Apex is one of those by all accounts. Primaloft is a brand, not a filling. There are a number of Primaloft fillings. Primaloft "Silver" is reportedly more durable and "gold" initially lofter.
     
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  38. Keithturkjr

    Keithturkjr Scout

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    This is kinda besides the point but what I've found nice this winter is polartec grid fleeces like power stretch. The other thing I've really liked is under armor omni-storm hoodies.
    Those things have a really wide margin of comfort which is nice for camping backpacking.
    I've been wearing them at work.
    Its good at work cause I don't have to adjust my layers much,...which kinda why they'd be good for backpacking.
    Its not quite as light as something like climasheild apex, but if its not in the backpack while hiking I don't feel that the weight matters quite as much.

    It's all up to y'all though...
     
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  39. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Hmmm ? PowerStretch shouldn't or isn't usually a grid construction, apart from that I do agree but the garments do different jobs in different ways.
    A garment using hi-loft fibre insulation uses the shell to hold air in place and this wind resistant layer means the shelled garment can be warmer for a given weight and the new shelled fleece garments using Polartec Alpha are blurring the lines there.
    For active insulation fleece still rules but when static it would still be a shelled puffer in my experience.
    Even when old a synthetic insulated garment with only half the loft of new is still windproof and still provides some insulation
     
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  40. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Funny you should say that because one of the reasons I buy Patagonia is that in their Regular fitting they are one of the few brands with shoulder wide enough to fit me combined with sleeves long enough for my long arms. Patagonias slim fits are too slim tho My go-to UL insulation piece is the Nanopuff bivvy pullover and in XXL I can get a LW fleece layer under it plus winter base layer. If I need any warmer it's my old DAS parka in XL or the L-7 and my US army size is XL-Long
    Feedback over at BPL is that the new Micropuff insulation is having some severe degradation problems and a very, very short working life
    I just sold my old Patagonia Puffball vest and after all my usage and several washes it still had 90% of its new loft so I'd say stick with Polargard insulation APEX as it is now known and try and find a garment with 100GSM [ +/- a few grams either way] filling as that really is the sweet spot for APEX in my opinion
     
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  41. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    "So I'd say stick with Polarguard insulation[,] [Climashield] APEX as it is now known[,] and try and find a garment with 100GSM [ +/- a few grams either way] filling as that really is the sweet spot for APEX in my opinion."

    ???

    There were various "Polarguard" insulations, such as "3D" and "Delta," and are various "Climashield" insulations, "Apex" being one of them.

    Celanese made "Polarguard" but sold out years ago to Western Nonwovens, which changed the name of some of the "continuous fiber" insulation to "Climashield." Western Nonwovens went bankrupt in 2008 and HarVest Consumer Insulation bought them out of the bankruptcy. HarVest Consumer Insulation focused on the "Climashield" line of insulations. "Polarguard" stopped being a brand used in new products in 2007.

    Company Overview
    "HarVest Consumer Insulation, Inc. manufactures insulation products for the military, outdoor recreation, and hospitality markets. Its products are used in jackets, pants, gloves, and footwear, as well as tactical and military applications. The company was incorporated in 2008 and is based in Clinton, Tennessee. HarVest Consumer Insulation, Inc. is a former subsidiary of Western Nonwovens, Inc." [Nope. Separate company bought business line out of bankruptcy of Western Nonwovens, a totally separate company.]

    At least some Climashield Apex is made in the USA.
     
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  42. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    not sure what 100gsm works out too, but for a three season insulated jacket- the 2.5 Apex is near perfect; at ~ 10 oz for a jacket (w/ hood) you can't do much better- mine is an inferno and have even used it into hunting season

    [​IMG]
     
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  43. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    100GSM is 3.6ounce near as damn it, I find 2.5 just a tad cool but it has a lot to do with local conditions, in a drier climate 85GSM / 2.5ounce would be enough perhaps
    Tahawk while the name has changed many times the underlying technology remains the same and there is no practical difference in the various versions after a year or so, the 3-D stuff is warmer to start with but approaches the linear version quickly enough.
    The practical lifespan of Polargard was measured in decades, I retired my Point5 in ~1995/96? when it finally fell apart but I bought it in either Ambleside in the Lakes district or Glencoe Scotland in 1977
    I bought the Patagonia Puffball system because it was a better system not because the Point5 wasn't warm; I simply preferred the pullover style for comforts sake. The Puffball didn't have the longevity of the Point5 simply because of the UL shell fabrics and close constant contact with fires and stoves
     
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  44. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I'll probably end up splurging for a 3.6 for hunting season; they also sell a 5.0- that would be crazy warm :)
     
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  45. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Yes Patagonia DAS / L-7 warm
     
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  46. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    "Apex" is also a line of varied North Face garments. One North Face "Apex 2-5" uses PrimaLoft insulation - very different from Climashield Apex or Polarguard "3D" or "Delta." One North Face Apex jacket is insulated with polyester fleece rather than batting. So communication can be challenging.
     
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  47. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Indeed; which is why I use the capitalisation when talking about the actual fibre
     
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  48. onidah

    onidah Tracker

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    67 g/m2 of Climashield Apex is what Enlightened Equipment is using in their Torrid Apex (one of the two jackets the original poster was/is considering). EE lists theirs as 65 gsm but also note that Climashield Apex weights may vary +/- 10% due to production variances, which might explain the ~3% difference in the weights listed between the two companies. The Sarma TST L3 fits what the original poster was/is looking for in terms of synthetic, performance, weight, compression, price, and color (coyote). They are also sewn in Estonia (not China as other brands from Europe). Maybe I misread the original post, but I thought he was looking for a backpacking jacket, not a "belay jacket".

    Onidah
     
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  49. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    I am wrong about the P* PowerStretch, I just saw that is is now available in a grid pattern fabric, although I don't personally see the point.
     
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  50. TAHAWK

    TAHAWK Guide

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    Goog points. i was thinking it depends what he is doing while on a backpacking trip. My issues were when i stopped working hard and got cold.
     
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