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Ultralight dream clothing, what would you buy
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Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
can't pass on that one.. on 09/02/2013 09:22:49 MDT Print View

"of come on are you wearing NOTHING during the day at all?

yr wearing some kind of base layer ... whether a t-shirt, button up shirt, cap1, merino, etc .."

Nope, nothing...besides the chest hair i've grown being badass...

Se ya! ;-)

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
durable on 09/02/2013 09:23:41 MDT Print View

" if you want "durable" get something thats 3 layer ..."

Oh NO ! Not the tin man jacket I hope ! That's 3 layer it says ....

OK, statistically (somewhat) more reliable fabrics with "fewer" failures ?
Goretex Pro ? E-Vent ? Brands /models ?
What would you buy right now from the 2013 / 14 clothing line if you intended to make your outer shell an expensive and hopefully long term investment.
As a hiker this is where I want to throw the most money. I see the North Cascades in my future because that's where I'm from and that's where I want to hike, but the gear should hopefully work in other situations (within reason).

It is frustrating reading about ten year old fabric technologies in the various hiking books which were last updated in 2003.....

EDIT : thanks for the link to the Squamish, looks very good and perhaps tougher that the Ghost Whisperer. And it's named after a Washington State tribe too ...

Edited by Diablo-V on 09/02/2013 09:35:35 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: durable on 09/02/2013 09:33:32 MDT Print View

What would you buy right now from the 2013 / 14 clothing line if you intended to make your outer shell an expensive and hopefully long term investment.

anything made by Outdoor Research ... not because i believe they are any more "reliable" ... but because they have one of the BEST warranties in the business ... a dog can eat your jacket and theyll take care of you

there are 3 types of "reliable/durable"

1. it has the features you want that prevent "failure" due to condtions ... ie the hood is shaped well so it doesnt "leak", the zippers are really waterproof or have storm flaps .... this depends on what you will do ... for example many UL rain jackets skimp on these features, but thats OK for their intended conditions ... you arent going to be in the middle of a storm on K2 with one of those

2. the fabric doesnt fail in the field ... either through abrasion or DWR failure ... generally 3 layer are more durable in that regard, and the importance of skills in that you reapply your DWR regularly ... also have a backup plan IF your jacket does fail in the field

3. long term durability ... delamination ... its that simple this is the killer of every jacket out there ... it happened to every brand no matter how cheap or expensive ... what matters at this point is the WARRANTY

rain jackets IMO are things you go through, eventually if you wear them enough, especially around town all the time in the PNW in the rain ... theres a good chance theyll fail eventually ...

personally i wouldnt call any a long term "investment" if you use it often enough ... except for OR or other brands with a no questions asked warranty where theyll just send u a new one every time


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: durable on 09/02/2013 09:45:06 MDT Print View

The technology (Gore-Tex) has been around for almost 40 years. If you are hiking all day in cold rain (e.g., under 40F) you are going to end up being cold and wet. The interior gets soaked from sweat, then water starts coming in from the outside. eVent is more breatable than Gore-Tex. Most eVent jackets do not have zip pits, but I noticed the new REI jacket does, it is not a light jacket though.

My zPacks poncho vents, thus breathes, better than any rain jacket I have ever worn. It is smaller than the typical poncho, so it is not problematic as the typical poncho in wind and cross country work. It is not perfect. There is no perfect rain gear, as I have been dealing with this delimma for nearly 50 years.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
warranty on 09/02/2013 09:57:32 MDT Print View

" because they have one of the BEST warranties in the business "

won't do me any good if I'm in a sleet storm and hypothermic, as at that time i would be thinking of what blunt object to use on the store salesman who hyped up the warranty and got me to buy the jacket ... but seriously, Craftsman power tools - best warranty - but you WILL end up using the warranty because they are junk.

Good points you bring up -if being that all other qualities equal, the warranty wins - THAT I can understand.
My uses: I won't use for daily wear - I live in the lightning capitol of the world here in Central FL and if I'm getting heavy rain that means I'm running as fast as i can to get away from a possible lightning strike. I have a Columbia rain jacket for that, no good for the hills. So my hiking shell is for that only - hiking/camping.

I won't be wearing a rock helmet or climbing harness, snow shoes, or skis. Just a ULA Catalyst pack and maybe a camera chest pack. I hope this clarifies a little better.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
poncho on 09/02/2013 10:10:39 MDT Print View

Nick I have not altogether decided against a cuben fiber poncho yet.
But coming down the trail you must sound like a bunch of chipmunks fighting over a giant bag of Cheetos huh ?
I like the idea of sweat and breathability being a non-issue with ponchos.
I can see where the wind shirt would complement it in the cold.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: warranty on 09/02/2013 10:21:01 MDT Print View

make sure it FITS then

OR helium if it does .. unless yr bushwhacking or climbing ... itll be fine for the rain most people here deal with, and it weights 6 oz

if yr going to hike in all day rain then id get something with 3 layer goretex pro with full length rain zips ...or event ... again from OR or some other manufacturer with a great, unlimited, no questions asked warranty ...

OR is not "junk" its used and tested by many alpinist around the world and they are a major brand name

the problem is that unlike some companies like dead bird (whose "lifetime" warranty on harnesses is only for 200 days) or TNF with their marketing budgets ... they dont spend as much time self promoting themselves or sponsoring the "coolest" athletes

what many people dont realize is that the "brand name" is irrelevant in quality outdoor gear except for the WARRANTY ...

all these jackets have been in the gnarliest places, all of them have been used by "top" athletes, all of them have products for gnarly/UL/whatever conditions, all of em have their screaming rabid fanbois in the intrawebs

the only real difference is in the fit of the particular product, the price they charge, and the WARRANTY

if youre spending $$$$$ ... that company should take care of you ... not argue about whether its covered or having to wait weeks

for example you can read about it here ...

if you are every unhappy with an OR product for ANY reason at all after ANY length of time ... theyll simply exchange or refund you the purchase


Edited by bearbreeder on 09/02/2013 10:23:18 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: dream layers on 09/02/2013 10:23:04 MDT Print View

Rain gear:
GoLite poncho or if want a jacket, walk into Outdoor Research and buy one of the jackets with the Torsoflo side zippers. There are several models to suit your weight and budget needs. I went with the older Panorama model made with Pertex (the current model is OR's Ventia fabric). I'm of a mind to concentrate on ventilation features with whatever light 2.5 layer fabric du jour. As others said, DWR mainenance is key, with careful laundering, re-treatment and ultimately, a lifetime warranty.

IMHO, there's no free lunch on rain gear. Light stuff is either weak on breathability and venting options and/or durability. You can get more functional jackets, but it's no effort to have the weight double or even triple. I have conceded to heavier jackets for my PNW all day drizzle conditions: SUL options just don't cut it. I think a poncho makes a great summer CYA rain gear choice and you get emergency shelter and oack cover in the bargain with a 7oz load and $60 outlay.

I'm a big fan of wind shirts and have the previous Houdini model. I don't know what to suggest with Patagonia's recent fabric change on the Houdini. Montane is my first thought, and size up one size.

I use wicking polyester base layers. Patagonia is easy, and I've used REI, TNF, GoLite, Nike and others. I like the meshy-ier weaves vs the smoother silkier ones. I crank it up to cap2/3 to suit the season. I have an REI light Power Dry top that is great for cool weather base layer with a rain or wind shell. News to me, Power Dry comes in several weights.

Botton down shirts don't work for me when hiking hard. Great for travel, but just soggy when I'm going uphill. I verified this yesterday on a day hike with a 2000' gain in 2 miles and low 80's. I wished for a wicking shirt soon enough. Wind shirts will fill that gap well.

R1 (Power Dry) or Power Stretch for mid layers.

Use vests for warmer weather CYA layering to save weight and bulk.

Pants: REI Sahara zip offs, and to my surprise, Columbia Silver Ridge zip offs and shorts. The Silver Ridge fabric is comfortable and dries fast. Ex Officio Nio Amphi shorts are good too.

For cool damp weather, light soft shell pants are great. For all day rain, silk weight polyester long johns with 2.5 layer rain pants. I see rain pants as pretty much sacrificial garments as they tend to get trashed more than tops. Marmot Precip or the equivalent will keep you dry enough and balance weigh/cost/durability.

Shoes du jour are Patagonia Drifter AC. They have stiff rock resistant soles with great traction, good padding, and they breathe. Best for low volume feet I think.

For puffy insulation, I like 90/100g jackets like the Patagonia Micro Puff or First Ascent Igniter for colder westher. I do carry a Revelcloud vest for my summer day hiking CYA layer, but I prefer a Patagonia R1 with a windshirt vs a thin puffy like a Nanopuff or Thermawrap. That combo leaves all kinds of variations for those 45-50f days with sporadic rain and little sun.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: OR warranty on 09/02/2013 10:30:37 MDT Print View

OR really walks the talk on their warranty. I sent something in for replacement recently and it was quick and hassle-free.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Poncho/Groundheets on 09/02/2013 10:45:54 MDT Print View

The poncho groundsheet thing has never made sense to me. I'd love to have a SUL Cuben poncho, but I would never throw it down in the rocks and mud and sleep on it.

Ponchos can be great rain gear. They need to be properly cut to cover your pack and a simple waist belt of light cord with a toggle will tame the loose ends. They look bad, but if you can get overcthe fashion issues, they make a lot of sense for UL use: you get well ventilated rain gear with coverage to the knees, a pack cover that keeps the whole pack dry, and excellent emergency shelter as well.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
helium on 09/02/2013 11:00:03 MDT Print View

I looked at the OR helium, rave reviews on the site I visited, not expensive either.
Synthetics are out of the question for me as far as NTS wicking layers.
I'm a merino kind of guy, that much I know.
The only reason I like the Exofficio shirt is because its light, breathes, sun and bug proof, and has pockets ... OK that was six reasons ... but light merino long sleeve would be my next choice. Merino just wont hold up to pack straps etc very well.
Keep it coming .. thanks.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: helium on 09/02/2013 11:58:26 MDT Print View

I would like to hear first hand feedback on the Helium. What I get fron OR's description is that it is not waterproof enough for all day drizzle and better for summer/occasional rain--- a slightly more waterproof windshirt?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: helium on 09/02/2013 12:11:49 MDT Print View

Hi Dale,

I have the original Helium but only used it light showers and it was fine, I don't think its breathable enough to be used in lieu of a windhshirt though.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: helium on 09/02/2013 12:19:51 MDT Print View

That too was my impression from the specs-- not a windshirt and a short duration rain jacket. It sounds okay for the Sierra or the like, but not for 3-season use in the Cascades and Olympics.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: helium on 09/02/2013 12:28:50 MDT Print View

ive used the original in all day PNW drizzle fine ... as you know there no way yr going to keep totally dry regardless if yr active for hours in such conditions ...

now if yr going out for days on end in non-stop heavy rain ... nothing short of a full ledged rain jacket will be sufficient IMO ... and youll stll get damp regardless

which is what gets me ... when people talk about "waterproofness" and "breathability" they are really talking about occasional storms, thundershowers, climbing ice where theres some drip, shorter duration trips ...

anyone who has been out in non-stop PNW rain where there no letup for days, the trails are total bogs, theres no dry wood in sight, there no sun at all, humidity is near 100% forever ... knows that there is NO such think as "keeping dry" or "breathable" ... once the DWR gets so saturated, it aint breathing, period ... once you become a steaming pile inside yr overwhelmed rain jacket due to dampness, it doesnt matter

at that point you just want to keep WARM ... and get things less damp, ie quick "drying"


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: poncho on 09/02/2013 12:34:11 MDT Print View

After looking at the weights on the Cuben poncho, I would just but the GoLite if not using it as a ground sheet (which I wouldn't).

The MLD version is listed at 4.6oz and $165. The GoLite is 7oz and $60. The zpack double groundsheet model is 6.1 oz and $170.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: Re: helium on 09/02/2013 12:44:43 MDT Print View

Its definitely only a summer piece for me and normally only bring it on overnights if the forecast is good, if out for more than 1 night or if rain is the forecast I will pack an event jacket (weighs about 3oz more)

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Helium II on 09/02/2013 13:12:23 MDT Print View

I just picked one up for $80 for trailrunning/fastpacking but have yet to use it.
Given the majority of the rest of the contenders in this weight range are twice the price, I'm satisfied. For the High Sierra and 4 season Southern California trail running, it seems like it will fit the bill fine. It's only a few ounces heavier than my Houdini, which wets out incredibly quickly in rain or rubbing wet vegetation.
If I were expecting days and days of rain, I'd carry my heavier GTX shell instead.
As to breathability while running, it's not a concern to me. Nothing stays dry inside while running or working hard. And as Eric said, maintaining warmth is the primary concern.


"Aside from the excellent face fabric and poor hood design, the rest of the Heliums are as identical as they are unremarkable. This last is a good thing. The waterproof front zip functioned well, and the single front pocket, elastic cuffs, and drawcord waist do their job quietly and well. The fit is good, trim but not too trim, with room for a light puffy coat and plenty of sleeve length for active pursuits. Even with a sub-par hood, the Heliums are an excellent value. With a better hood, they’d be at the top of the PU heap.

Overall: Solid, bargain rain coats characterized by excellent face fabrics and mediocre hood designs."


Good enough for me.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Un-button the buttons? on 09/02/2013 14:43:42 MDT Print View

Re; "Botton down shirts don't work for me when hiking hard. Great for travel, but just soggy when I'm going uphill." Have you tried unbuttoning all the buttons on a full-button shirt, then opening both sides all the way out?

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Ultralight dream clothing, what would you buy on 09/02/2013 16:04:23 MDT Print View

So the question are 1) if you wanted the best gear to cover wind and rain, light and durable, what would you buy ?

I don't think there is one perfect piece of rain gear. Durability, waterproofness and breathability are often at odds within a particular jacket. In other words, I don't think you will find any garment that scores a five star rating in all three categories, regardless of price or weight (which are another two important categories).

You might consider buying a variety of gear and matching your trip to your gear. The Northwest climate is rather dry in the summer. There are rainshadows. We get stretches of good, dry (and predictably dry) weather in the summer. In the other seasons, we get really long stretches of bad weather. The weather to the east tends to be drier, but gets more thunder and lightning. In other words, you will probably bring different gear on a three day trip to the Teanaway in August versus a week long trip to Olympic Coast in November. Likewise, I would bring a different jacket if I was hiking on the PCT versus a bushwhacking extravaganza.

As far as particular gear is concerned, I would read the "State of the Market Reports" on Rain gear. Here is a link to the State of the Market Reports:
(just search for "rain").

2) If you think it is wrong to try to deal with wind and rain with a single article of outerwear, please explain, and tell me what you would do instead.

A windshirt is redundant. The only reason people bring them is because they tend to more breathable than a rain jacket. This means that they provide for a far more comfortable range of conditions for which a puffy jacket is too much, and a T-Shirt is too little. Whether you want to bring a wind shirt depends a lot on how much discomfort you are willing to endure. You need to provide for the extremes; you need to be prepared for heavy wind and rain. But dealing with the in between weather is not essential.

Fleece breathes really well but is heavy for its weight. When day hiking, I bring fleece on every trip, every condition, rain, wind, sleet or snow. For backpacking, I count every ounce and bring a synthetic puffy. It won't perform as well as fleece if it if is under a rain jacket while under heavy exertion. However, when I've encountered those situations, it has only been for relatively brief periods (a few hours, not all day). In other words, I've never had to travel miles and miles in a hurry while under relentless rain (I've hunkered down or the rain stopped). In that situation, a poncho would be better than a rain jacket. As it is, it performs just fine under those conditions. The jacket loses some warmth, but not as much as down does. I think a synthetic puffy is a great compromise between fleece and down. Of course, if the treated down works well, then it could replace the synthetic puffy.