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Westcomb Focus LT Hoody Review
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody Review on 01/22/2013 19:49:51 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Westcomb Focus LT Hoody Review

Robert Burke
(coastiebob) - MLife

Locale: Wishing I was Backpacking
So close yet so far ...... on 01/23/2013 10:07:19 MST Print View


Great review. Thanks! The jacket that was almost meant to be.

Bob Burke

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Great Review on 01/23/2013 10:47:30 MST Print View

Now THIS is the detailed sort of review that impresses me about BPL. Some don't live up to the standard, granted, but in general BPL reviews are outstanding.

So if the Focus LT isn't quite living up to the hype just yet what IS the current state of the art in UL rain jackets? Is it still the ID eVENT jacket?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Westcomb Focus on 01/23/2013 10:59:10 MST Print View

#3 zips on full-zip jackets are a pet peeve. Under ideal conditions and use they last, but I don't think that's a realistic expectation for backcountry gear.

(jpovs) - F - M

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: Westcomb Focus LT Hoody Review on 01/23/2013 12:18:48 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/27/2014 22:30:02 MDT.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
bit harsh on 01/23/2013 12:33:29 MST Print View

ok its 60 grams over, we get the point, dont go on and on about it, how much do YOU weigh and how much does your overnight hiking kit weigh? and you have an majorissue with 60 grams? sometimes i'd rather have the extra 60 grams, for a stronger product than obsess at having 60 grams less. westcomb addressed the issue and have updated their weights. like your life isnt going to end because of an extra 60 grams. shame about the cuff, but westcomb usually replace the garment when theres a failure of it, they ahve a good warranty, did you approach them about the cuff failure at all? if so what was tehir response? dont throw the baby out with the bath water over 60 grams and a cuff, there are far more dodgy brand ds and garments out there.
i'm getting a focus shortly and i'll see how it goes for me, i'm spending ten days on a trip in it. but i'm not going to cry ov 60 grams and a broken cuff, i'll talk to westcomb if my cuff is a problem and go from there. otherwise i'll enjoy what otherwise seems to be a pretty good jacket for teh weight.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Great Review on 01/23/2013 12:44:18 MST Print View

Hi Dean,
I'd recommend checking out the Rab Pulse/Kinetic jackets. I have a Kinetic and like quite a bit - still need to put it through the wringer, but initial results - the pertex shield+ fabric is fairly breathable and quite durable, maybe not as breathable as 3 layer eVent, but not bad for a 2.5 layer fabric and the chest pockets are mesh backed and well placed to function as vents when needed. Probably makes sense to size up depending on your intended layering strategy - the shoulders are a bit snug compared to the outdoor gear fit I'm used to - it's perfectly acceptable for my 3 usual season insulation layers (Stoic Hadron, Rab Xenon), but not enough room for my Rab Infinity down jacket. Weight is 231g/8.14oz for my men's medium (going with the Pulse would save you an extra oz or so, although the Kinetic is the more functional design), and it sells for about $100 less than this Westcomb.



Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
alternatives on 01/23/2013 13:02:40 MST Print View

Would be:

- Rab Demand pullover
- OMM Cypher smock

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: re: Westcomb Focus on 01/23/2013 13:21:16 MST Print View

I've been experimenting with #3 zippers on synthetic vest, gaiters, and on pyramid tent

So far, they are working fine, but if they failed, no big deal since they're MYOG

The jurie's still out, but I'm leaning toward #3 zippers, but maybe on an expensive product that I want to last a long time, #5 would be better

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: bit harsh on 01/23/2013 13:21:51 MST Print View

Wayne, this is BacpackingLIGHT...

And BTW, - deceptive advertising is always bad

(jpovs) - F - M

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: alternatives on 01/23/2013 13:29:20 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/27/2014 22:29:28 MDT.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: alternatives on 01/23/2013 13:49:30 MST Print View

Why do you need full front zip?

I'd take a 3 layer e-vent jacket over a paclite, a cuben or any 2.5 layer any day - less clammy and more durable.

(jpovs) - F - M

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: Re: Re: alternatives on 01/23/2013 14:05:18 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/27/2014 22:28:57 MDT.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: Re: Re: alternatives on 01/23/2013 14:31:30 MST Print View

Josh, i definitely hear ya! That's why i have both pullovers and full-zips in both wind jackets and rain jackets. I prefer Full-zips for everyday use, but pullovers for Hiking, because you don't get any "waist-belt and zipper grinding" and the weight savings i can somewhat "transfer" to a less clammy 3 layer membrane, that IMO does more for keeping a nice climate inside the jacket than a full-zip 2.5 layer membrane.

But if i where to own only 1 rain jacket, i'd definitely get a full-zip also.


wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
Re: Re: bit harsh on 01/23/2013 15:12:10 MST Print View

westcomb said they had changed the design, it may be they neglected to update their website when the design change and the weight went up , it may not be deliberate
ok 60 grams overweight is an issue but the point was made in the first sentence. i think we're intellegent enough to understand the implications of that as it perteins to lightweightbapckpacking but there comes a point where it is just overkill to go on about an issue...
i've read far more good things about swetcomb than bad things i wouldnt be so quick to tar them with a brush about being deceptive.
they've been given no right of reply over the whole review at all.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: Re: bit harsh on 01/23/2013 15:22:34 MST Print View

Or it may very well be deliberate...who knows...but like every other "light outdoor gear maker", there's money in being lighter. That's what we have BPL for. To stop marketing BS.

Edit: BTW, the repeating of the weight differential by Ryan Jordan had IMO a nice touch of humor/sarcasm - i thought it was pretty funny, because i know how geeky i can get about light backpacking

Edited by prse on 01/23/2013 15:29:21 MST.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
weight mis match on 01/23/2013 15:33:06 MST Print View

well the design change definitely altered the weight a bit if not entirely. so i'd give westcomb the benefit of the doubt , they should have right of reply, they dont sepcialise in ultralight gear. so it may have just been thenm not payhing as much attention to the weight of their garments as specialist ultralight brands do. a lot of brands and people wouldnt think much of 60 grams. westcomb dont have bad reputation, they have good warranties on tehir gear so i wouldnt be so harsh on them, when it could well be an oversight. again they arent a specialist ultralight gear maker but they are being put under the ultralight spotlight. something that tehy probably arent that used to.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
60 grams on 01/23/2013 15:37:05 MST Print View

Sixty grams is a big deal when when you are dealing with an audience that will buy a $200 jacket and sell it at a loss (even though it's perfectly good) in order to spend another $280 on a newer, shinier model that supposedly saves 60 grams.

This is BPL after all....

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Just to be clear on 01/23/2013 15:37:27 MST Print View

this could very well be a nice jacket!

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
60grams on 01/23/2013 15:42:45 MST Print View

Thanks for the review Ryan, you just saved me a bucket of cash.

I have been using a 310g Montane Quickfire Event jacket for about 4 years and was thinking of upgrading to the Westcomb offering, now that I know there is only a 50g difference I won't bother.



Edited by stephenm on 01/23/2013 16:00:58 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: weight mis match on 01/23/2013 15:44:10 MST Print View

Well, if this jacket wasn't aimed at geeky gram-weenies, then Westcomb shouldn't care about this thread at all..

Edited by prse on 01/23/2013 15:47:19 MST.

Andrew Manies

Locale: SF Bay Area
Shift LT alternative? on 01/23/2013 17:45:21 MST Print View

Not to jump on the bandwagon, but I had similar concerns about the Focus and opted to get the Shift LT instead. Yes, it's 11 oz (medium), but has better construction all-around and I'm guessing comparable breathability. Since it's another 2 oz more than the Focus, though, I'm sure there are plenty of Gore ActiveShell or proprietary membrane jackets in its higher weight category. I just love the fit of the Shift and its minimal feature set. Worth considering, anyway.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: weight mis match on 01/23/2013 19:01:45 MST Print View

Great review! For $300, I expect the actual weight to be much closer to stated. Hard to believe this was an oversight by Westcomb.


Andy Jarman

Locale: Edge of the World
Time for a State of the Market Report on Waterproof Shells? on 01/23/2013 19:19:50 MST Print View

I'd like to know where this one stands in the market;

4.7ounce, full zip, breathable, custom made to fit you, $225, and from a great bunch of people who like to look after their customers.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Focus LT on 01/23/2013 19:38:20 MST Print View

"they've been given no right of reply over the whole review at all."
Ryan was clearly talking to them about the weight issue and most likely they knew about the review. And regardless, the review is negative because of black and white issues (grommets, wrist issues and weight). It's not a negative review based on subjective criteria.

I own a Westcomb jacket and it's been great (bought it right from the factory). The fit is awesome and I really like how the Focus LT has the same long cut too - unlike most rain jackets that pour rain down your backside when you bend over. I would buy a 9oz rain jacket, even though the 7oz claimed weight was one of the main things that distinguished this jacket from the mass of light rain coats out there. I would like to see the grommets and wrist issue fixed though.

Edited by dandydan on 05/20/2013 17:50:07 MDT.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
westcomb right of reply on 01/23/2013 19:45:38 MST Print View

i flicked westcomb an email and they know nothing about the review at all .
all they know is ryans faecbook message about the weight issue initially but not this review.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody Review on 01/23/2013 20:50:16 MST Print View

Length is a bigee for me also. Wouldn't know this is a long jacket, but for Dan's post. Usually when I read rain jacket reviews, I just have to sigh and hope I might run across one to try on and see how long it is. A long jacket can be excused another ounce - the extra material has to weigh more.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Shift LT alternative? on 01/23/2013 22:55:20 MST Print View

Another alternative to keep an eye on this spring is the Haglofs Gram Comp Pull which, like the Focus LT, was promised at around 190 grams in size large. It's not a full zip like the focus, but its a 3 layer shell instead of 2.5.

Another Haglofs piece I'm eagerly awaiting as a possible wind shell/emergency rain coat is the Gram Comp WS Hood. It's made from a 2.5 layer windstopper fabric that is waterproof (however the seams aren't taped - hence my intended use as an emergency shell). This one's listed at only 135 grams. I picked up a Gore running wear jacket to try out the fabric for similar purposes. It's only 3.1oz in size large. Full zip and an integrated stuff sack, but no hood.

Interested to see where the WPB Cuben jacket market goes too.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Westcomb Focus LT Review -- Replies to Reader Posts on 01/24/2013 09:15:47 MST Print View

@Dean Fellabaum - current state of the art? In the 9 oz range, there hasn't been much that bests the ID eVENT in terms of breathability and durability. I have two of those original jackets and they are still going strong. They've both seen a lot of use as they've shuffled around to family members and friends! As for pullovers, Patagonia had the 7.6 oz Specter eight years ago (2.5L). That's another one I use regularly that's still around in my closet and I grab it often. I think the Haglofs Ozo P/O from a few years ago had a far better hood (in fact, one of the best on the market), and I haven't seen any other hood I liked better. I'd like to think there is something very exciting lying in a corner somewhere, but it's hard to get excited about such a utilitarian piece - so my expectations perhaps are higher than others. As others have said, check out Rab, Montane, Haglofs, and OMM - these (and Westcomb for that matter) are companies to watch in this niche.

@Dave Chenault - I agree re: #3 zips (especially waterproof ones). It does require regular cleaning, lubricating, and maintenance. Most people don't do this, but if you do, I think a #3 is manageable even in dirty conditions. The main problem with #3's in my experience has been wrenching on the zipper hard enough to start breaking teeth as the jacket ages. This doesn't seem to be an issue with #5's.

@Samuel Farrington: Length - yes, that was an oversight that I left out of my review, my bad. This is one area where the ID eVENT suffers - it's short. The Westcomb Focus LT seems to be about three inches longer, which is great for backpackers. We need a little extra length. Climbers (ID targets this market in particular) tend to want short jackets so they can put the jacket on over a harness and it doesn't interfere with access to the harness.

To all: please be careful about accusing Westcomb for having "motives" to do this or that. Time and again, production samples come out heavier (or in some scary cases, lighter -- ack! what'd the factory forget?!) than prototypes and it's pretty normal. That doesn't mean there is an insidious CMO behind the PR helm trying to be deceptive.

The jacket didn't get a low rating because of weight. Please read that review rating carefully. Durability issues aside, it's a solid jacket with a great fit and nice aesthetics. If this is a systemic material failure, then I'm sure Westcomb will address it and fix for the next version, and they'll certainly honor a warranty on it. This is a company that values integrity in the marketplace, and my experiences with their people have been positive. Their design guys will take my jacket and study in more detail the wrist cuff and grommet issues and undoubtedly work to improve the jacket for v2.0.

There's lots of great reviews about this jacket out there (most of them are based on specs, though!). Don't write it off forever. And if you have one, that's great, just be careful with the cuffs and know that you're backed by a company that honors a solid warranty.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
first impressions on 01/24/2013 13:31:28 MST Print View

I"ve just rceived my focus
for its weight i think its pretty good, its got the the most robust hood brim i've seen on a jacket of this weight. more robust than your average ultralight jackets.
i've got an OR helium 2 and the brim is a fair bit stiffer than that.
time will tell if i have cuff issues, i've had a bit of a tug at the cuff and it holds ok for me for now...
love the fit. i got a large, i'm 5 11 160 lb but i have a long upper body, long neck and big head and usually have to go a size up to get hoods to fit me, and the focus fits me with room to spare which is what i wanted..
Im in new zealand and its summer, so i may not get much use from it for a while but if the weather turns i'll be out there in it putting the jacket to use.

Edited by waynowski on 01/24/2013 13:38:17 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
good on 01/24/2013 16:04:05 MST Print View

feedback Ryan.

Edited by prse on 01/24/2013 16:05:18 MST.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
pocket has no zipper garage on 01/24/2013 21:31:40 MST Print View

theres a small gap left at the top of the zipper when it's closed, so an entry point for water, and its a mesh backed pocket.
i've had this issue on another jacket so i did what i did with that one that resolved the issue
I added a small amount of clear silion sealant gel into the gap to minimise the gap.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
no zip garage on 01/24/2013 22:09:17 MST Print View

My zipper goes flush and doesn't leak at all. I was concerned about the lack of a garage as well, but I like not having it, when the zipper works. When the zip doesn't go flush, a garage is nice.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: no zip garage on 01/25/2013 00:30:53 MST Print View

my experience is the same as ryan's. I have had no leaking issue, even when I was being hit pretty hard by wind blown rain.


Tanner M
Re: re: Westcomb Focus on 01/25/2013 03:08:37 MST Print View

Does a Marmot Driclime Ether have #3 zipper? It has a small zipper. I was.. de-clothed by wind. It was quite gusty, but the zipper separated up to my chin. Luckily, my arms were in the sleeves and the jacket didn't disappear.

I was able to separate the rest of the zipper and then set things right. No permanent damage that I can tell.

I don't count this as a 'failure' of the jacket. I count this as a thing that can happen with light zippers. I have used light zippers for insulation pieces. For outer bits, though, I also think a stronger zipper can be a better thing. Depends on where you are using it, I guess. (really, depends on what you expect conditions to be)

Dave Chenault:
#3 zips on full-zip jackets are a pet peeve. Under ideal conditions and use they last, but I don't think that's a realistic expectation for backcountry gear.

Edited by Tan68 on 01/25/2013 03:37:45 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: 60 grams on 01/25/2013 10:56:03 MST Print View

Sixty grams is a big deal when when you are dealing with an audience that will buy a $200 jacket and sell it at a loss (even though it's perfectly good) in order to spend another $280 on a newer, shinier model that supposedly saves 60 grams.

This is BPL after all....

oh SNAP !!!


Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Re: 60 grams on 01/26/2013 09:35:17 MST Print View

We are!

Ryan, I can't thank you enough for this review. It was written with absolute perfection in my eyes. I really appreciated the photography. I have seen noone else capture what you can capture in an image when it comes to gear.

And yes highlighting the 60 grams and how it does or does not differentiate the jacket from others is extremely important to me.

Great work, keep it coming.


James Schifferns
(schifferj) - M
Focus LT on 02/14/2013 09:07:33 MST Print View

I read this entire review and several others prior to purchasing this garment in a size large. I can compare it to another similar garment that I purchase five, six or more years ago. That garment is a North Face flight series and the membrane is, I believe, a North Face proprietary material they call Hivent DL. That garment was welded together and there is very little if any stitching. It weighs 6.2 oz on my non MIST certified scale. My Westcomb weighs 9.2 oz. the North Face uses a similar approach in that there is a printed pattern directly on the membrane which I believe makes it a 2.5 layer garment

Why did I purchase the Westcomb despite the disparaging review on this site? Because I wanted to get my hands on the latest greatest version of Event. I've worn this new coat now on a daily basis for about a month in all kinds of weather conditions from near zero temps to mid 40's. humidity has varied also from very high to very dry. I've had it out in sleet, snow, mist, fog and rain. It vents like no other rainwear I have ever worn. In any of those conditions with a wool shirt and/or a fleece it will get a bit damp inside but will dry out quickly when I lessen my efforts slightly I.e. start the downhill portion of my training hikes. The only other garment I own that even approaches it for venting is an REI event garment the Shuksan. The NFC garment never dries once it loads with moisture.

My experience with "breathable" waterproof garments is that they all work well when you don't need them. I first started wearing Gortex in the mid 70's so I think I have a little experience along those lines. I have NEVER had a garment that vents as well as this Westcomb garment and I think that was a point made by the reviewer. I will gladly except the extra few ounces of weight as a trade off for something that works as well as this garment, and yes, I know this is an Ultralite forum and I'm a relative new comer to this site and the world of ultralite.

Thanks for the review BTW, it was very, very informative.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
extremely breathable. no evidence of membrane degradation on 02/14/2013 14:18:48 MST Print View

after a couple of day walks, in wind with no rain, wearing the Focus jacket with a day pack on,
i've found the breathability great.. left it on for a while despite sweating in it to see what happened,
found no buildup of sweat in the jacket, minimal moisture down the back, despite having a pack pressed against my back,... works well as a windshirt...
i estimate teh wind was at least gale force on one of those days, i found the jacket was cold in the wind, colder than my heavier event jacket. the event dvl has been rated as 20 to thirty percent more breathable than three layer event... so if it's letting more air through, that may be why it feels colder.. i found i needed more layering underneath to stay as warm as i normally am in my heavier event jacket.
there are a couple of small patches of the white event aterproof membrane around the waist on the inside that have gone transparent. they are a fraction of an inch across in some places there are transparent lines around the waist on the inside which coincide with the thicker ripstop thread.
i thought the membrane may have rubbed off,
to test i held the outside of the jacket opposite where the patches were over a tap nozzle and turned the tap on to get some water pressure on the fabric to see if the water got through, but none did

i did a test and compressed a patch of the fabric between my fingernails . one on each side of the fabric and the membrane went transparent so it was the same colour at the face fabric on the inside of teh jacket, no sign of any membrane coming off..
on the backpacking light review, ryan jordan claimed the membrane had rubbed off in one area but it may not be the case if it was the same as my scenario.
it would seem under a certain amount of pressure for some reason the membrane turns transparent. no sign of it loosing its waterproofness. , i cant tell from such a small patch if the breathability is affected.
the clear patches at th touch feel the same as the rest of the event membrane, so there is definitely still a membrane attached to the face fabric still. no sign of delamination. with time i would expect high wear areas like where my pack hip belt goes and possibly shoulder straps from my pack go to turn larger areas of the membrane transparent
at present theres no sign of transparency where the shoulder straps are.

wayne clark
(waynowski) - MLife
backpacker magazine have made the focus their editors choice for best alround ultralight jacket on 03/10/2013 00:16:25 MST Print View

in their 2013 gear review edtition,
yeah i know, it's over 200gm and thats not everyones idea of an ultralight jacket, but backpacker are the ones who called it an ultralight. Anyway they liked the design performance and functionality...

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Cheap here on 06/23/2013 12:40:07 MDT Print View

I was searching online for a sale and found this place. Don't know if they are legit. I posted this in the Deals section but though I might try here with some Westcomb fans.

If anybody orders one don't get the large in blue, that's the one I want.