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Steven Diogenes
(stevenn) - F
Vests? on 11/26/2013 00:45:25 MST Print View

Can anybody school me on vests? I've never worn one. Why do people like them? What situations do you use them in? Don't your arms get cold? I found a MH vest with 650 fill 85% goose down at 1 lb 2 oz for $50 I might get.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Vests on 11/26/2013 00:54:52 MST Print View

I recently scored a Feathered Friends down vest on clearance. It is used for extra warmth during the shoulder season. I may also use it for skiing. Vests weigh less then jackets and pack smaller. I sleep warm, so I am not worried about my arms.

Edited by on 11/26/2013 00:55:45 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Vests? on 11/26/2013 01:05:04 MST Print View

I like them because they are super easy to take on and off (no dealing with pulling sleeves inside and out). Good for quick rest stops.
A 1lb 2oz vest is really heavy for a vest, it's going to be super warm.
Vests are more efficient as long as you don't neglect your arms. I like a hoody with a vest over it. What temps are you planning on using it? An ultralight down hoody with that vest over it would be super warm and versatile.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Vests? on 11/26/2013 01:16:59 MST Print View

I only really like them for active use, so unless you're going to use a VBL, a down vest might not be the best idea.

For active use, i've found that with some kind of long sleeve shirt underneath (and like Justin B., i like hoodies in combo), as long as my core is warm via the vest, i can handle some relatively cold temps. Yes, my arms might get a little cold, but not too uncomfortable.

Otherwise, i would sometimes use a down vest for inactive use, as my main outer insulation is a Stoic Down Hadron jacket, which is not super warm by any means (though quite efficient at using what down it does have), and so i may throw over my down vest to add to warmth. Similar principle as the above active scenario in that sense, but not quite as pronounced. Enhanced circulation via fast movement or exertion really helps in that regard. But still, really warm core, seems to help warm the extremities also.

I'm a fan of light weight, but even more a fan of adaptability and flexibility in my systems--getting the most out of the least. Vests have their place in that, i think, but for me more as an add on rather than bare bones.

What i would think would be pretty nice is a good quality grid fleece vest with a hood.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 11/26/2013 01:18:32 MST.

Steven Diogenes
(stevenn) - F
Well on 11/26/2013 02:18:07 MST Print View

Sometimes 30F with occasional high winds, but usually closer to 40f with occasional high winds. I'm good to 55 with the Atom LT and a windbreaker. I really don't find the Atom very warm though, but I found it in the woods and it's pretty beat up so maybe the insulation is shot.

I was thinkin' Monkey Man+windbreaker+light down vest.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
hybrid jackets on 11/26/2013 02:44:57 MST Print View

I have a down vest that is really nice to take the chill off around the house or around town, but I don't think I'd wear it hiking.

I do, however, really like the hybrid jackets that have breathable fabric for the arms and sides and back plus a windproof, insulated layer over the front . Here's an example. This one is a PowerStretch fleece hoody with Quantum Pertex ripstop front with a little bit of synthetic insulation.

Marmot Variant

I wear this over a long-sleeve tech T for hiking or snow shoeing in the 20 to 30 degree range -- activities where I'm sweating a little bit and need the breathability, but a little warmth and wind protection on the torso is nice.

I've got another one that is thinner stretchy material instead of power stretch fleece with uninsulated Quantum Pertex ripstop on the front and shoulders. Haven't worn this one yet, but I think it will be fantastic when the fleece is too hot. It's like a combination running shirt/wind shirt:

Marmot Fusion

Edited by wcollings on 11/26/2013 02:53:12 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Vest on 11/30/2013 10:25:39 MST Print View

I'm a fan of vests. Obviously they're not jacket replacements in cold weather, but in environments where vests work (for me that's above freezing and up), I find they have several advantages:

(1) Vests allow me a larger range of comfort compared to sleeved jackets. Better regulation. I find I am putting them on and taking them off less often, compared to jackets. Seems I neither overheat as quickly (with the vest on) or cool down as quickly (as I would with jacket off) compared to on-and-off with jackets. I try hard to remain just a little cool while exercising, so I don't sweat out my clothes. Vests help.

I'm certain part of the reason for the better regulation is, the armpits are not insulated, so perspiration leaves more easily, and venting is efficient.

(2) Vests pack small and weigh little.

(3) Vests don't get as dirty. Instead, my shirt sleeves do. But I'd rather wash my shirt than a puffy vest or jacket.

(4) Opening the zipper of my jacket cools me down somewhat. Opening the zipper of my vest cools me down a lot. I'm more likely to leave the vest on, whereas a jacket I'd remove. I guess this is another argument for efficient regulation of vests.

Yes, arms are cooler than in a jacket. Not necessarily a bad thing, depending. Generally I sandwich a vest over a baselayer (and sometimes also a shirt,) and under a wind jacket. So up to three layers on the arms, and an additional puffy layer over the torso. Just back from the Grand Canyon (40 degrees during the day) with this combo and was very happy. Was sufficiently warm, but did not feel I was in a sweat.

For STATIC warmth (sitting around in camp) I'd much prefer a sleeved jacket, for sure.

Edited by Bolster on 11/30/2013 19:51:54 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Vests? on 11/30/2013 16:40:36 MST Print View

Why vests? There is some science behind it.

Your bodies are more sensitive to cold in the head and torso area.
There is more blood flowing in the head and torso area and so more heat/cold transfer.

Something I read stated that you should use almost twice as much insulation on your head and torso compared to arms and legs to get the most efficient use of insulation.

I find this works for me.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Vests? on 11/30/2013 17:16:07 MST Print View

Vest = my preferred first-on-last-off layer (over a silkweight capilene crew base) typically for WHILE I am exerting myself. I feel like vests vent better and are more comfortable for me. With wool liner gloves and an hat I am basically comfortable dowm into the 40's while moving with just the vest, unless it is really windy

The vest would typically go on over the Houdini, and under an and UL down jacket or other puffy as required. More or less subs for a LW wool hodie from warmish trips, and then when it is colder, or anything in the mountains I will bring the additional wool layer along.

The above said, I typically use a very light vest, but not down since the vest goes directly over my base layer while I am exerting myself. For me there is a bit of a gap in working comfort temperature between the base layer and adding the Houdini that the vest fills nicely.

This is the one I like now - about 5 oz.

Edited by millonas on 11/30/2013 17:25:21 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
application of vests on 11/30/2013 17:29:06 MST Print View

A good fleece/pile vest is a handy thing to have in cold and wet conditions. When conditions or a sub-par metabolism after 3 days out make just going faster an impractical way to stay warm in 35 degree rain, a fleece vest in addition to base layer and rain coat makes a big difference. Fleece moves moisture better than synthetic or down fills, and is more durable.

I use the fleece vest on the go, and an appropriate synthetic or down hooded jacket at rest.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
vest without collar on 11/30/2013 17:48:14 MST Print View

Depending on layers, one can sometimes build up 2-4 collars. Does anyone know of a fleece vest without a collar?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Vests? on 11/30/2013 18:04:09 MST Print View

I like vests. They add a lot of warmth for less bulk and weight. I've pared mine down to an R1 pullover zip neck and a Micro Puff full zip--- light or "help me I'm cold."

The fleece vests pair so well with wind or rain shells and are good for sleep. I carry one for summer day hikes for my CYA insulation layer. For colder weather, a light vest with a slightly thicker long sleeve base layer like a Cap 3 works well to keep a cold rain shell off your arms without turning into the Michelin Man.

Those light vests still layer up well with a puffy layer. A 100g vest with long sleeve base layer and a shell will give you most of the value of a full 100g jacket. Add a full fleece to a puffy vest and shell and you can forget jackets.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
A better vest? on 11/30/2013 18:39:46 MST Print View

It's funny, while hiking yesterday I was thinking about how inefficient vests are when hiking in terms of warmth per weight. At least a third of the insulation is on your back, virtually useless when wearing a pack. If I were to make a hiking vest, vs camping vest, it would have no insulation on the back. I guess I had too much time on my hands.

just Justin Whitson
Re: A better vest? on 11/30/2013 18:58:06 MST Print View

Not so funny H.M., i've had similar thoughts. This is one of the reasons why when i made the super easy and super breathable insulated vest, i only put insulation on the front of it.

Basically it was two light weight sleeveless shirts, with 2.5 oz Apex in between the layers in the front, sewed up at the bottom, sleeves, neck, and some up the side. It's not cold enough for me to use it, but come January, it should be.

It's **!Extremely!** breathable, the breath test shows practically no discernible resistance. A huge plus in my book when i'm carrying a wind jacket anyways. I don't know what 2.5 oz Apex is equivalent to in fleece type warmth--off the top of my head i would say it's about half way in between a 200wt and 300wt micro fleece. Might be a tad warmer.

I've also thought of cutting out an elongated half moon out of a fleece vest, for that very same reasoning as you noted previously.

I like simple, cheap, easy, and effective.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: A better vest? on 11/30/2013 19:35:56 MST Print View

I measured 2.5 oz Apex = 2.2 clo, 200 weight fleece = 1 clo, less than half

2.5 oz Apex weighs 4 oz/yd2 if you include 0.7 oz liner and outside fabric, fleece is 8.8 oz/yd2 , more than twice

So fleece is less than 1/4 as good as 2.5 Apex when you include weight and warmth

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: A better Vest?? on 11/30/2013 19:54:29 MST Print View

Interesting posts on this topic. My wish list for the perfect vest would be one made out of Therm-a-Rest(s) NeoAir XLite pads.
Such a design could offer many benefits:

1. Water proof
2. Packs small
3. Adjustable thickness
4. Floatation (pack rafting)
5. Front and back could be inflated/deflated separately (when worn with a pack)
6. Light weight.

I've suggested it to Therm-a-Rest but only got a 'ho-hum' reply. Anyone out there with the skills (and tools) to make one? I'd be happy to be the field tester :).

Edited by Steve on 11/30/2013 19:56:47 MST.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: A better vest? on 11/30/2013 19:57:40 MST Print View

Thank you for the numbers Jerry. That's more than i expected. Doesn't feel twice as much as 200 wt fleece, but maybe because it's so breathable?

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Vest mattress on 11/30/2013 20:02:55 MST Print View

> My wish list for the perfect vest would be one made out of Therm-a-Rest(s) NeoAir XLite pads.


If the vest would fasten on the sides, you could add to your list:

7. 3/4 length sleeping pad

It does seem a wasteful shame that one's mattress can't be worn as insulating clothing. And a vest is the obvious piece of clothing to make from a sleeping pad.

Edited by Bolster on 11/30/2013 20:03:29 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: A better vest? on 11/30/2013 20:14:09 MST Print View

It would have to be cold to need the vest when hiking. A thicker long sleeve base layer plus a shell and pack is good while moving. Hat and gloves improve on trail comfort a lot.

But when I stop, it's time to dig out a layer!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Vest mattress on 11/30/2013 20:27:12 MST Print View

Wear it like a crusaders cloak. You could paint your coat of arms on it :)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Great for layering on 11/30/2013 20:36:17 MST Print View

Vests are excellent for layering! In fact, one northern Illinois winter, my winter gear consisted of a wool over-shirt, a down vest, and a windbreaker, plus mittens, fingerless ragg gloves and a knit cap (toque for Canadians). Whatever the temperature or activity, the shirt, vest and windbreaker did just fine.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
No Back Insulation on 12/01/2013 04:29:27 MST Print View

@Hiking Malto,

I understand how ineffective the back insulation on a vest is while backpacking, but I find when I really need warmth is on breaks or any time my pack is not on.

I usually hike without the vest because I usually don't need the additional warmth and throw it on while not hiking.

They are especially good while sleeping when temps are colder and your not generating a lot of body heat.

It is a good point though.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
hmmmmmm on 12/01/2013 05:29:56 MST Print View


- superior ventilation ... big holes to put it simple ... think about it whats one of the places most likely to sweat thats not very breathable? ... the sleeves especially near the wrists ...

- weight efficient ... as a ratio you requires less fabric to cover more of the body with a vest, all other things being equal

- warms the core ... and it does it while allowing good ventilation

- doesnt soak up as easily ... when yr always taking on/off your layer in the rain/snow, whats the first thing that always gets damp and soaked ... the sleeves and the hem ... we cant do anything about the hem, but a vest doesnt need to worry about soaked sleeves ...

- dries quicker ... same as the above ... when youre using cold/wet weather dying techniques (hawt nalgenes, wear active till "less damp", etc ...) vests tend to dry faster because of less surface area and greater heat around the core (natural or artificial) ...

- cheap ... theres a lands end down vest for 12$ thread on gear deals right now ... want a fleece vest, buy a cheap one from lands end ... or even better take an old well used fleece and cut it up when the sleeves wear out ... just as people make shorts out of worn pants, make your own fleece vests


- less warm in the arms ... for static use its an issue especially if its cold, windy and wet

best use

- fleece .. as an active layer when its cold, or wet, or when your traveling slowly due to the terrain ... also for climbing or other activities when having the arms unencumbered might matter ...

- synth ... as a semi-active layer same as the above ... or a quick static insulation layer for quick stops ... remember because of the lack of sleeves it will get less damp than a jacket when you take it in and out around snow/rain all the time ... for long stops you probably want a full jacket

- wind vest ... for very high output activities such as running, biking, brisk uphill ascents, etc ... gives core wind protection but leaves the arms/armpits very breathable

- down ... least useful, best used as a booster layer for quick stops or a booster puffy layer


Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
vests on 12/01/2013 08:51:45 MST Print View

I recently picked up a 2nd hand PHD Minimus down vest for around half the retail price and I've fallen in love with it. It weighs 9oz and it provides me with so much core warmth!

I can't wait to throw it on for cold ski lifts and drink stops.

Buy a super cheap, heavy one and see if you get much day-to-day use from it. If you like how it works with other garments (fleece hoodies, windproof layers, merino baselayers etc) then find a lighter vest which suits you.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: No Back Insulation on 12/01/2013 10:08:32 MST Print View

The back insulation is what I really need on rest stops. You take your pack off and your toasty warm (and damp) back is really cold.

If hiking in weather cold enough to need insulation while active, I would probably have a whole other layering strategy. While vests certainly have 4-season uses, I think my main focus for hiking clothing is 3-season use. In that case I would be wearing base layer plus shell while active and adding the vest for rest stops, camp and sleep.

For an apples and apples comparison, a large R1 full zip jacket is 14.2oz and the pullover vest version is 8.0oz. The difference in bulk is noticeably different, with the uncompressed vest easily rolling up to Nalgene size. I think this is a perfect day hiking piece for summer trips, adding a breathable and water-hating layer for changes in weather and an unexpected night out. I am assuming layering with base layer and wind or rain shell.

Much of the discomfort in cold rain is having the shell in contact with your upper torso and a fleece vest cures that well. In cooler 3-season weather, a long sleeve base layer and shell is fine for my arms. I would be fine tuning the thickness of the base layer to suit anyway.

The next ratchet up from the R1 for me is a 100g puffy like a Micro Puff, which still layers under a shell or becomes a windproof layer over a fleece jacket. A shelled vest is great for chilly camp breakfast and load-up. Weight and bulk savings are as good as the fleece.

A fleece jacket plus the puffy vest, shell, cap and gloves will take on some pretty nasty weather. You would be diving for your shelter and warm bag with cruddy weather in camp, so rest stops and camp are going to be short term use of these insulation layers. They still have use for boosting your sleep system, which is right where you will be headed if the weather is wet and cold in camp.

Edited by dwambaugh on 12/01/2013 10:10:17 MST.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Vests to Jackets on 12/03/2013 17:43:19 MST Print View

Just add JRB down sleeves to intantly change a vest into a jacket... or reverse it for sleeping in the vest only and use the sleeves as foot cooking sleep socks... Currently on sale too... Recently added a size XL for bigger arms an ich longer and 2 + more inches of girth.