Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Field Testing Air Permeable Waterproof-Breathable Fabric Technologies – Part 2: Are There Detectable Differences Under Real World Backpacking Conditions?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re wet again and fleece. on 10/28/2011 14:07:51 MDT Print View

Everything you are wearing is wet. Continuous rain, even as you pitch your tent/shelter/tarp.
You set up your tent, and crawl inside. Your sleeping bag/quilt is dry, because you have used a drybag inside a packliner. You cook your meal inside your shelter. You can't cook outside, as the rain and 50mph wind would cause a slight inconvenience. The steam from your cooking adds to the 100% humidity. All your wet clothing adds to the moist mix in your tent.
You wake in the morning, dry and warm inside a cold sauna.
Try to get your bag/quilt packed away without touching the wet tent walls. Pack up your gear, trying to shake at least 5 pints of the water out of your tent. Squash everything into your pack.
Pitch the next night and do it again.
Lovely. )

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Hybrid rain jackets? on 10/28/2011 14:34:19 MDT Print View

I ran across an REI Airflyte eVent jacket yesterday that is designed for runners. I would call it a hybrid design as is has mesh/stretch underarm vents-- the pockets can vent too. Surprisingly, it weighs about the same as my Patagonia Rain Shadow jacket that has a hood (13.4oz vs. 13.6).

Anyone have experience or comments? I'm liking the ventilation, at least on paper.
I wonder if it is a practical hiking design with those panels? It seems that it would be good for day hikes and light rain. I can get by without a hood, although I would add one to the "perfect" design.

REI Airflyte jacket

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
more wet on 10/28/2011 15:27:26 MDT Print View

Okay, assume you will get wet under your rain shell. You stop hiking and there you stand, it is 45F and you are tired and wet and starting to get chilled. Assuming that it isn't pouring, you get a dry layer out of your pack.... but UL principles lean to not carrying spares, or mid layers that might be base-layer substitutes. Oops! Many UL gear lists would have something like a Thermawrap or a light down sweater for insulation, with no spare base layer. I don't like that idea.

This is one of those scenarios where I think light fleece or other stretchy synthetic mid-layers are great. Power Stretch is my favorite, but there are tons of options, from basic 100w fleece to R1, Capilene 2/3/4 and so on. If I have stopped and find my base layer beyond redemption and I am cold, peeling and using my mid-layer for a long stop or camp would be my plan. The base layer might dry if I can get it under cover and a breeze, or a little warmth off a fire if possible. If it isn't soaked it will dry from my body heat-- if I don't get too cold trying to do that. Having a second base layer might be in the works too.


1. IMO there are two ways to get somewhat less damp at the end of the day ... spare base layers ... or using body heat and hawt nalgene to push the moisture out (which requires extra fuel and over calculating yr insulation) ... or both ... neither is "UL" ... base layers need to be as thin and form fitting as possible to facilitate drying and wicking ...

2. fleece is the "best" for wet conditions despite all the hype about synthetic insulation ... it breathes well, has a fuzzy interior that "feels" less damp, and dries very quickly ... synthetic insulation has 2 nylon shells that need to dry out as well as the primaloft in the middle ... it also collapses more than fleece in truly wet conditions, it works for stops and in camp, but you should be careful not to get it truly soaked ... i wont even talk about down as we know that in 50% humidity 900 fill aint 900 fill, never mind 100% humidity

3. as mentioned its when yr stopped when you truly have to worry ... most people can generate enough heat or even too much with a base/light fleece/rainshell on the move ... but stop, and i dont care if yr warm wet or cold wet ... itll all become cold wet very quickly if you cant get under shelter and get more insulation on you ... or a fire

4. the trick IMO is wearing as little as you can on the move and the quickest drying things you can find ... that way theres less moisture in the system from the body, and less things to get soaked ... and dont stop for any real length of time till the end of the day ... if you do find yrself stopping often such as on more technical ground, have a light fleece underneath and control yr exertion levels

one thing i disagree with is using a windshirt here in light rain here .. unless you know it wont last very long, yr windshirt will get soaked and then the layers underneath ... much of the time in the PNW drizzle lasts for days on end ... better to put on a rain shell, wear little under it and use the zippers for temp control ... a good synth base will actually dry to just damp if yr moving as the body heat will push out some moisture with good ventilation

at the end of the day just remember that its all about the big 3 ... not the BPL ones ... but what they taught you in school ... fire (warmth including insulating clothing and hawt nalgenes), shelter (get the hell outta the rain), and food (including water, burn those calories) ...

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re: Re: Wet again and fleece on 10/28/2011 15:48:21 MDT Print View

Here in Scotland most hiking is in open country and as well as often wet it's also often very windy so it's not just rain you have to deal with but rain blasted horizontally at you by the wind. And, as Mike says, this can last for days or even weeks, even in summer. A showerproof garment, however good the DWR, just means you'll get soaked to the skin pretty quickly. You'll be cold too with that wind whipping away any residual heat. A waterproof shell and fast drying insulation is essential. Feeling warm and damp from sweat is much safer than getting cold and wet through rain, as well as much more comfortable. Of course insulation is needed for any rest stops and in camp.

In the coldest weather - roughly from when it starts to cool down in October to whenever it starts to warm up in April - I wear a merino wool base layer and a Paramo jacket and carry a synthetic insulated top big enough to don over the Paramo when I stop. I also carry a thin fleece as additional camp wear and to wear between the merino and Paramo if it's really cold. During the warmer months - when it can be just as wet and almost as windy as winter - I wear a membrane shell as I find Paramo too warm then plus a merino base layer and carry a thin fleece for warmwear, with a down jacket or vest for tent use in May and September when it can still be frosty if the sky is clear.



As Dale suggests tents need to be good, as they may have to stand up to very strong winds and torrential rain. High humidity means condensation is very likely and in storms you can't usually leave the door or any vents open. So double-skin tents are preferred by most people, though good single-skin ones can work if you choose the right design and know what you're doing.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Airflyte no hood? on 10/28/2011 15:58:09 MDT Print View

Scary! From your willingness to go without I presume your area doesn't have proper heavy, strongly wind driven rain :) In which case the basic design could work quite well.
(No US distribution I'm aware of, but this: http://koppdaniel.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/preview-haglofs-intense-2012-2/ does seem a rather better implementation of this sort of idea.).

If risking wind driven rain something with extra long pit zips/side vents or some such seems rather saner.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Wet again and fleece on 10/28/2011 17:31:46 MDT Print View

Fleece got back into my 3 season list for the very same reasons you all mention AND when I realised (as obvious as it may be) that it can also be lightweight and not particularly bulky. I use a tight fitting top which actually looks more like a shirt and can work both over a base layer or as a base layer itself. It weights the same as a typical polyester base layer (187 gr. in a M) and fits nicely in a 5 layer scheme (base, fleece, windshirt, high loft insulation and waterproof shell) which can work for virtually any 3 season conditions. The nice thing is just that: the fleece does not take the place of any other layer, it's one more layer with a precise function distinctive from the others and a wide number of possible combinations with the other layers to meet the conditions. Using fleece does not negate UL.
Interesting thread drift. The lightweight phylosophy is all about synergies anyway.

Edited by inaki on 10/28/2011 17:38:45 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: more wet on 10/28/2011 19:19:48 MDT Print View

"the trick IMO is wearing as little as you can on the move and the quickest drying things you can find"

and if the "as little as you can wear" (base layer plus jacket) doesn't keep you warm, walk faster until you're warm

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: more wet on 10/28/2011 19:47:53 MDT Print View

...except you have to stop eventually.

Anyone ever use a Packa as a rain garment and could comment on whether it works well with respect to moving body moisture out?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Airflyte no hood? on 10/28/2011 20:41:38 MDT Print View

Martin pointed out, "Scary! From your willingness to go without I presume your area doesn't have proper heavy, strongly wind driven rain :) In which case the basic design could work quite well."

In my mind, I was assuming the long hours of cold/humid/drizzle/wet brush in heavy forest rather than wind-driven downpours above treeline. There are times when a little wind would be welcome! I am thinking more of day hikes, and the possibility of a drier, more comfortable trip extends my hiking season quite a bit.

With few exceptions, heavy downpours are temporary affairs in the PNW. We have pretty good warnings on storms that bring in major precip--- and I'm staying home :) If there is the possibility of heavy weather, I have the standard rain parka with hood.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Wet again and fleece on 10/28/2011 20:53:24 MDT Print View

"Interesting thread drift. The lightweight phylosophy is all about synergies anyway."

Well put. Once you have the data, you can act on it and make improvements. I like being warm and dry, I'm just funny that way ;)

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
wet insulation on 10/29/2011 01:30:08 MDT Print View

Interesting thread drift.
Did anybody have used Paramo fleece and synth insulation (Summit Hoodie, Torres Jacket) in wet conditions? Were they better than conventional fleece? (The same question for Climashield Apex).

Edited by joarr on 10/29/2011 01:30:47 MDT.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Re: Re wet again and fleece. on 10/29/2011 01:34:39 MDT Print View

Mike said:
"Everything you are wearing is wet. Continuous rain, even as you pitch your tent/shelter/tarp.
You set up your tent, and crawl inside. Your sleeping bag/quilt is dry, because you have used a drybag inside a packliner. You cook your meal inside your shelter. You can't cook outside, as the rain and 50mph wind would cause a slight inconvenience. The steam from your cooking adds to the 100% humidity. All your wet clothing adds to the moist mix in your tent.
You wake in the morning, dry and warm inside a cold sauna.
Try to get your bag/quilt packed away without touching the wet tent walls. Pack up your gear, trying to shake at least 5 pints of the water out of your tent. Squash everything into your pack.
Pitch the next night and do it again.
Lovely. )"

You've described New Zealand conditions very well too.

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: Tasmania (down under downunder)
ha ha on 10/29/2011 01:50:30 MDT Print View

yer, sounds familiar. I use a tarp for a few months each year but mostly due to heavy packs (and needing to fit 12 people somewhere for meals) I keep reading stories on here of the light weights and imagining that i might try one by choice for private walks. Sometimes its easy to forget what freezing, continuous, wind blown rain is like from my house on the coast ; )

Tenting, all ive found that works is to try to keep the wet stuff taken in to a minimum. Wear very little walking, suffer putting that wet stuff back on in the morning. A quick rinse in hot water (socks) makes this part bearable. All the other little tricks mentioned help but not much seems to help a rain shell. I use event and the pace needs to be dead slow to stop perspiration in the hills, temperature drops in the evening so a system for getting dry (without getting everything in a tent wet) asap, once stopped, is vital.

Windshirts sound like a good option but they would be mostly gaffa tape soon enough.

Edited by bankse on 10/29/2011 01:56:32 MDT.

John Pasmore
(jpasmore)

Locale: NYC
Wet Insulation | Staying Dry on 10/29/2011 07:16:02 MDT Print View

Foul weather gear in sailing is generally too heavy for "hiking" but that's my next test. My Marmot shell was no match for a November squall during a boat delivery -- wet through is an understatement. 100% waterproof clothing and just vent where you can -- I would much rather deal with a little condensation than a lot of rain.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wet Insulation | Staying Dry on 10/29/2011 08:20:30 MDT Print View

I remember talk of breathable membranes and salt water being a bad mix, but was never able to take it beyond urban myth.

There is a lot of light PU-coated stuff out there and it is relatively inexpensive too, like Red Ledge, Sierra Designs, Helly Hansen, and house brands like Campmor.

Edited by dwambaugh on 10/29/2011 08:33:23 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
there must be an easier way. on 10/30/2011 08:05:06 MDT Print View

I actually purchased a membership finally so I could read this article. I think I am going down the same line as a few of the other posters as to why pay the hundreds of dollars for a jacket that will only last maybe 5 years for marginally better performance? And since I am one off those tall people my options are even more limited. I guess just find something lightweight that is more durable than DriDucks on sale, waterproof the heck out of it, lean over once in awhile and pull the zipper down to vent from the front.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
the easier way on 10/30/2011 10:15:18 MDT Print View

David U, as I commented earlier in this thread I tested a Packa against a G-tex and PU shell this spring. Even with the baggy fit and monster pit zips I found the Packa retained substantially more moisture than the other two (hiking fastish in cool, humid weather). Neither of the WPB garments (Haglofs Ozo, Marmot Essence) had pit zips. The tops of my shoulders down to my elbows got soaked from the inside in a way I've never had happen with a WPB coat. Folks who hike slower and perspire less might not find this to be the case. My conclusion was for me, the Packa and comparable rainwear is pretty useless.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
field testing wp jackets on 10/30/2011 10:44:00 MDT Print View

Many years ago I bought an early iteration or REI's three-ply event jacket. It was on sale for next to nothing but I could only get an extra large. I usually wear a medium. Even when I would nordic ski in the thing it didn't really wet out from inside--remembering that this is in cold snowy conditions and I would leave some front zip open. The point being: I feel that the bagginess resulted in less sweating out from inside. There was also a loss of heat retention. Maybe if you want to reduce interior wetness, size way up and pay the price in warmth loss and looks.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: the easier way on 10/30/2011 11:04:50 MDT Print View

@David C - thanks for the input. Most helpful.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
stoic on 10/30/2011 11:33:18 MDT Print View

im absolutely amazed that no one has commended that the stoic vaporshell tested to the top of the pack ... there was quite a bit of controversy on the forums when it came out about its breathability ... looks like it might be quite breathable ... sure it weights 14 oz ...

but they are $90 on sale right now if yr sized large and above ... i need a medium unfortunately

when yr paying $90 (or $129 regular price) vs. the same or better performance vs some of these $300+ shells ... you have to really ask yourself what are you really getting ... ive hear backcountry has a great warranty so it cant be that ... hmmm

i think its quite eye opening at what price a good WPB shell with the same performance of "top brands" can sell for once you take out a lot of the marketing and "brand premium"