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Lofty Fleece Layer
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Breathability and warmth on 12/05/2013 13:58:20 MST Print View

Eric wrote: "there aint no such thing as a free lunch...

as the graph from westcomb clearly shows ... by have an "active" synthetic layer you sacrifice the "warmth" of the garment

remember that if its more breathable, ie more air moving through it tends to be less warm ... after all the purpose of down and high clo synthetics is to TRAP the air ..."

'Tis all compromise. Whenever evaluating an insulation system, activity level, ambient temperature and humidity need to be considered. In that I see fleece as a cool/wet weather item as opposed to sub freezing conditions, I think the moisture-shedding properties need to be considered. If the warm air you are holding in is damp, you generally took a step forward and two back. That's where I value a fleece vs the thin 40-60g synthetic or down jackets with two much less breathable shells.

Take the fleece and trap the air with a nice breathable shell and you have something you can wear in those sneaky hypothermia prone conditions like 45F and 90% humidity. If I'm wearing fleece at 20F, it will be under a fat layer of Primaloft and the most activity I will be having is dancing on one foot with a cup of hot jo :)

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Breathability and warmth on 12/05/2013 17:46:12 MST Print View

Dale, you bring up a good point and thats why we now have the hybrid jackets so favored by climbers. The synth insulates the lower perspiration areas of the core while the fleece sides and underarms allow you to dump the more moisture saturated air your body produces! Granted these are only suitable in very cold conditions or with frequent hurry up and stop trips with short duration times.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Boundry Layer" air and insulation on 12/05/2013 19:32:57 MST Print View

Studies of insulating materials have shown that insulating fibers with more surface area PER WEIGHT have more "Boundry Layer" air. That layer is the one to two molecule layer of air that adheres to insulaton in an electrostatic fashion. Boundry layer air tends to remain in place, even with convection moving adjoining air.

That is why down, with its millions of tiny "barbs" on the plumules, is so warm. LOTS of boundry air.

And that may be why Primaloft & TNF's Thermal Ball insulation is pretty good. Thousands of tiny fibers per cubic inch. (But... will it retain its loft over repeated stuffings and wear? "Ah! There's the rub.")

Richard Fischel
"I'm not looking for cold weather use with fleece so much" on 12/05/2013 19:45:35 MST Print View

as with many, I've got my primary layering system dialed-in and built around a lightweight synthetic base layer, fleece hoodie (power stretch) and wind shirt (epic). depending on anticipated temperatures/conditions my stationary primaloft layer would be (i) 2 oz (wt hooded insulight), (ii) 4 oz (wt hooded sweater) or (iii) 6 oz ( wt belay jacket). I also have a ff volant that I find myself reaching fro with more frequency. While I’ve historically harbored a somewhat irrational fear of somehow sufficiently soaking my down jacket to the point that the insulation was severely compromised, I’ve gotten my brain around the concept that if it’s cold enough to wear 11oz of down, water exposure will be pretty well limited. I’m trying to put some general guidelines together for myself as to where the break-point would be for using/not using fleece as an insulation component. The plan is to figure out what temperature/conditions under which I ditch the hoodie and wind shirt and wear the insulight over my base layer. While the insulight alone gives the appearance of less flexibility with having the shell integrated with the insulation, the jacket is both warmer and less weight than the fleece and wind shirt combination it would replace. The insulight will fit under all three of my heavier insulating layers.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Perceptual fleece on 12/06/2013 10:42:22 MST Print View

I think a lot of UL clothing issues revolve around our perception of the role of the garment compared to what we use as street clothing, like categorizing a windshirt as a shirt or a jacket. It dawned on me that I use fleece as I would a sweater. The only difference in my expectations are that fleece is better in wet conditions and is generally lighter for the loft provided. I think that may help to understand the best use in layering.

Richard Fischel
"I use fleece as I would a sweater." on 12/06/2013 12:18:05 MST Print View

that's a great analogy and makes perfect sense. what we are referring to as a "fleece" is the technological evolution of the sweater. it wasn't too long ago that my prized oiled wool sweater was my cold weather/sailing go-to garment, alone as part of a layering system under a woolrich 60/40 with the plaid wool lining or line7 foulies. and who in the 80's and before, didn't have a ragg wool sweater as part of their outdoor kit. they were warm, brethable and provide some water resistance.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "I use fleece as I would a sweater." on 12/06/2013 14:26:55 MST Print View

I used to wear a ragg wool sweater for cross country. They were durable and warm and would stretch to your knees if wet.

The sweater thing smacked me when looking at my r1 hoodless jacket, which is just a zip cardigan. Duh.

The Brits have added wool vests to their tweed sport coats for ages, dealing with cool damp climates and no central heating. My R1 pullover is really no different.

Patagonia even markets the "better sweater" which is good town wear. It would work on the trail, but is a litlle heavy and bulky.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: "I use fleece as I would a sweater." on 12/06/2013 14:39:11 MST Print View

This thread prompted me to get a fleece layer, which has been missing from my backpacking closet. I just ordered a Paty Cap4 EW hoody and bottoms. Looking forward to trying them out, perhaps in Michigan.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: "I use fleece as I would a sweater." on 12/06/2013 16:15:19 MST Print View

"I just ordered a Paty Cap4 EW hoody and bottoms."

You're going to love this outfit. The hoody is a great layer, either next to skin or over a lightweight 3 season base layer. I used it last year next to skin on strenuous day hikes down to the high 20's-low 30's, with a Rab Boreas over it until I warmed up and for windy conditions. This year I added my Arcteryx Motus 3 season base layer underneath as my cold tolerance diminishes with the addition of another year. It is the best cold weather active layer I have ever come across. You've got a little more insulation than I, so you might be able to get away with it next to skin. Either way, I think you're going to be very pleased with your purchase.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cap 4 = Power Stretch? on 12/06/2013 17:14:49 MST Print View

I dawned on me that Capilene 4 is the same or at least very similar to Power Stretch. It's great as a summer mid layer and as a "super base layer" under rain gear and stacked up with puffy layers. It doubles as the best hiking pajamas around, although I would find it hard to justify a whole set of the stuff for dedicated sleep wear , which would be 20oz or more. It sure extends the range of a sleep system in a hurry and you get all the water-hating and breathability qualities.

It is spendy stuff. EMS has turns out some nice Power Stretch hoodies --- keep an eye out for sales.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Cap 4 = Power Stretch? on 12/06/2013 17:29:42 MST Print View

"I dawned on me that Capilene 4 is the same or at least very similar to Power Stretch. "

The Patagonia web site says the current Capilene 4 is 3.8 oz Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency

Edited by blean on 12/06/2013 17:34:24 MST.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Cap 4 = Power Stretch? on 12/06/2013 17:51:01 MST Print View

Yeah, the current Cap 4 stuff is pretty light. Pants are 5 oz and the Top is 8oz or so, you're under a lb for the pair, likely even in the largest sizes. Still I think the stuff is too warm for pants in anything but the coldest situation.

Now out here in the desert, I may consider the pants and hoody as my summer sleeping bag with a bivy ;). Actually that idea demands testing in the future. For now I'm just waiting for UPS to drop off my new cap 4 hoody (I got my R2 yesterday and am loving it).

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Cap 4 = Power Stretch? on 12/06/2013 18:32:28 MST Print View

Patagonia should sell swatch sample sets. It's hard to keep them all straight!

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cap 4 = Power Stretch? on 12/06/2013 18:57:45 MST Print View

Doug, it's very nice stuff. I've been rocking a purple women's XL version of Pat. Cap. 4 hoody. Unfortunately, it's not the latest one which uses Polygiene (silver salt ions), but the version that used Gladiodor, which will eventually wear out. Polygiene treatments are supposed to be more or less permanent for the life of the garment.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Max on 12/12/2013 17:33:56 MST Print View


Picked up one of these for $55 to my door. I have to agree with you completely on all your points. Loving this thing. Bought it with the intent to wear it in the house through these cold months, but I'm just leaving it on all the time. It's as simple as could be, very well made and very versatile! I see getting a lot of use out of this backpacking.

...and the best part, my size small comes in at 6.9oz on my scale.

One happy camper with that purchase.


Edited by f8less on 12/12/2013 17:36:21 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

That's what I'm saying! on 12/12/2013 17:39:19 MST Print View



Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Yup on 12/12/2013 20:52:15 MST Print View

Srsly! Never thought I could love such a simplistic piece of clothing so much. Sometimes the best things in life are simple. You know, like walking through nature and stuff.... Who would'a thunk it....


Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
R2 vest on 12/12/2013 21:07:11 MST Print View

How does this piece compare with using something like an R2 vest? I believe they are about the same weight.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Fleece is nice on 12/12/2013 21:30:19 MST Print View

For years I moved away from fleece because of its perceived issues -- thick/bulky, not windproof but I'm glad to say I'm back in the fold again, because it turns out it's weaknesses also make for its greatest strengths.

Last week I spent some time up in the mountains and fleece literally made my day. Besides the legendary R1/Houdini combo I had elected on a whim to take an old 200 or 300wt fleece vest I had recently rediscovered amongst my old clothes and much to my surprise it enhanced my hike quite a bit beyond what I'd expected.

It was pretty darn cold at times... a touch too cold for just the R1/Houdini, and so the fleece vest went on top. I experienced a few incredible things. Despite the vest making me a bit too warm at times and snow persistently melting on me, I never got more than a little damp from sweat, and more importantly, my back seemed to dry faster by having a greater buffer between it and the pack.

The vest never seemed to wet out either - last year when I used my Primaloft vest (which I treasure) I found it would get completely drenched at times and take a long time to dry, often freezing instead. I left my vest out in the snow on the last night of the trip out of curiosity, and much to my surprise, while it was a little bit crisp the next day, a quick shake and it was quite ready to wear again.

So I think there's something to be said for the thicker weight fleece, even though many of us have long ago abandoned it for backcountry use due to its bulk.

Oh, and Max, you know you want a Synchilla Snap-T... they are so cozy and warm...

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Choices on 12/12/2013 21:43:26 MST Print View


Don't tempt me.

My problem right now is choosing between my 230wt wool half-zip and my Patagonia half-zip. The patagonia is warmer and lighter, but the wool is odor-proof and makes a better active layer... guess it might be trip-dependent.