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I don't know how to wear a vest
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Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 10:22:57 MDT Print View

I don't own one, and I have no idea where it would fit in my backcountry adventures. I'm curious to hear about the benefits and intended uses.

Conceptually, I don't understand them. Especially, the ones really really stuffed with down. If my core is that cold, won't my arms be too? Do you use them to supplement your sleeping system for the summer season? Wear while hiking? etc

I'm really really curious, and wondering if I'm missing out on something.

For moving in moderate to cold temperatures, I'm usually fine with a windshirt over my baselayer. For cold hikes, or when stopped, the full on down puffy jacket comes out. Is there room to substitute a vest in there to lighten up the load?

Edited by Konrad1013 on 10/12/2011 10:25:57 MDT.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
summer on 10/12/2011 10:38:16 MDT Print View

For most of the summer, I find a full on puffy to be a bit much, hence the vest. they are nice for cooking and doing chores in because the sleeves don't bother you, and they complement a quilt well in a sleep system. Also, the baselayer/vest/windshirt is a lightweight combo that can handle some colder temps.

2 points for awesome thread title.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 10:40:26 MDT Print View

"I don't know how to wear a vest"

Zipper goes in front.......

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 10:41:56 MDT Print View

"Zipper goes in front......."

Now if I could only figure out which hole(s) my arms are supposed to go through.

I like this...we're making progress.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 10:43:36 MDT Print View

I like vests for the following reasons:

-I don't get cold that easily; insulation on my core is typically enough unless it's getting real cold (below freezing)
-Good for climbing in cold weather; arms are not restricted
-Good for fishing in cold weather; no sleeves to soak when handling/landing fish.
-Not going to burn your sleeves when tending fires.
-Generally, I like having my arms free for chores...less claustrophobic, no worries about tearing stuff.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 10:44:45 MDT Print View

"I like this...we're making progress."


Ozzy's right. Vests are great for hanging out in camp in cooler temps, before things get too cold. Generally, when it's a touch too cool for just a windshirt, it's not cold enough for a full-on puffy. A vest fits this niche very nicely, keeping your core warm but not overheating you, which a jacket might.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
ventilation on 10/12/2011 10:46:35 MDT Print View

when moving .... a fleece vest in colder temps ...

also a vest is a lot quicker and easier to put on for belays ...

ever notice that when putting on and off layer in the snow/rain, the sleeves often get wet? ...

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 11:14:50 MDT Print View

In cold temps your arms are cooler than your torso

thus, your torso will lose more heat per surface area

Insulation around your torso will prevent more heat loss than around your arms

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Thanks! on 10/12/2011 11:27:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the relevant info guys! Craig, awesome list of potential uses. This has definitely sparked an interest for me.

Richard Fischel
Re: ventilation on 10/12/2011 12:07:02 MDT Print View

"when moving .... a fleece vest in colder temps ..."

perfect for over a base layer when it's cold and youa re trying to stay cool, but burning lots of cals and a windshirt would be too much. this is an old cycling vest that's windstopper in the front and regular fleece in the back. it's the only windstopper garment that i take into the field.

early may at about 9,000' on rainier.  temp is around 10* f.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 12:15:34 MDT Print View

Clothing & insulation for every active sport all follow the same principle: protect the core (ie torso).

For example, surfing wetsuits have used variable combinations of neoprene thickness for decades. Typically, winter wetsuits will have either a 4/3mm chest/torso, while the arms & legs are 3/2mm. More obvious are 'spring suits'; not only do they use a 2/1 ratio, but they have both short sleeves/legs. (Or, as my non-surfing wife refers to them, 'jumpers'.)

As Jerry notes, the name of the game is to insulate your torso. Having insulated arms (as in a jacket) makes as much sense as having insulated pants. IOW, if you have a down jacket, why not down pants? The net effect is the same.

Vests provide a practically perfect layering component. First, you have your long sleeve/leggings base; then a SS shirt & short pants. Next is a lightweight fleece/wool, then perhaps a windshirt and or rain shell.

Last, but not least, is the down vest. If used in conjunction with the fleece/wool (wear the vest underneath), along with the wind/rain shell on top, you've got a great system that can take you down to freezing using Richard N's clo/activity charts.

Edited by Hobbesatronic on 10/12/2011 12:23:43 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Vests work on 10/12/2011 12:22:03 MDT Print View

There is some well known research about how you body should have approximately twice as much insulation on your core and head than your arms and legs.

If your core or head gets cold, your body reduces blood flow to your extremities and you end up with uncomfortably cold hands and feet.

And so the saying "If your feet get cold, put on a hat"

So a warm core and head is more important than warm arms and legs.

Having puffy arms and legs can be annoying when you are trying to use those arms and legs hiking or working around camp.

The more you get used to wearing a vest, the more you realize that the arms and legs are less important.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Vests on 10/12/2011 12:32:42 MDT Print View

A down vest is a great way to add a whole bunch of warmth to an insulating system.
It fills up the gaps under a parka, even an insulated one.

Most also add nice
hand warmer pockets for times you are wearing the vest on the outside.

I really like how they take up little room in a pack and I find I am less likely to leave
a vest behind when I might leave a full coat at home.

Edited by oware on 10/12/2011 12:54:53 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Vests on 10/12/2011 12:42:32 MDT Print View

"Having puffy arms and legs can be annoying when you are trying to use those arms and legs hiking or working around camp."

This cracked me up because I immediately imagined camping with the Michelin man, his arms jutting outward uselessly as he wrestles with a tent.

Anyhoo, I'll just add that a fiberfill vest makes an ideal middle layer for colder weather hiking. I prefer them to fleece because the layers slide easily without binding or bunching up. Either option seems to dry equally fast.

For keeping warm in camp or at rest stops, a down vest is very attractive--a lot of warmth for little bulk or weight.



spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
my signature item on 10/12/2011 14:56:35 MDT Print View

Less bulk on the arms, just enough warmth, armholes to let extra heat escape, high warm collar (fleece ones at least. Not so much for puffys), no worrying about sleeve length when sizing, no bothersome cuff closures, *and* they are COOL.

Well, so says me. I'm wearing one now and I'm cool, so it must be so. ;)

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 15:20:24 MDT Print View

Concerning MYOG, vests are a bunch easier to sew than jackets with sleeves.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: RE: I don't know how to wear a vest on 10/12/2011 16:15:51 MDT Print View

"Concerning MYOG, vests are a bunch easier to sew than jackets with sleeves."

That's for sure

Sewing sleeves on is difficult, at least for me. Getting them to look right and right and left to look the same.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Vests on 10/12/2011 16:29:37 MDT Print View

In warmer months, I will often bring only a vest as my insulation piece. I like the freedom for my arms and as others have said multiple times, keeping the core and head warm are the most important factors.

In winter (still not cold by most of your standards), I'll layer a down vest over a down sweater for added core warmth. Works fine for me down into the low 20s/teens and it's a lot more flexible (and cheaper to use what I already have) than just (buying and) bringing one heavier, warmer parka.

Edited by NickB on 10/12/2011 17:22:54 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Vests on 10/12/2011 16:58:10 MDT Print View

I wear a fleece (R2) as part of a winter system, adds needed warmth while on the move but still breathes well

I haven't incorporated a down vest into any 3 season use, but I can see the utility if temps aren't too cool

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Vests on 10/12/2011 17:27:06 MDT Print View

Down to 32F - I wear long sleeve base layer and maybe eVent jacket while hiking and add light synthetic vest (3 oz/yd2) around camp

Down to 20F I replace synthetic vest with down vest or synthetic vest that's twice as thick