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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.