>The thing this thread really highlights is the disconnect between the main thrust of outdoor product lines and what hikers really need. The retailing centers around winter jackets, heavy soft shells, waterproof hard shells (GoreTex, Neoshell, yadda yadda). The reality is that all of that stuff is way too hot to wear while actually hiking or cross country skiing or snow shoeing or trail running.
I feel like I disagree. There are a lot of great pieces for hikers and backpackers. But hikers and backpackers are not the only market - urban, resort ski, climbing, are likely very large money makers. It would be really great to see a demographic breakdown in sales.
As an ice climber, heavy soft shells and waterproof hard shells are really our bread and butter. Activity levels switch between working very hard and working very little and these pieces are very close to ideal. And we are often in contact with a lot of water, liquid, frozen or melting. Not every item a brand sells has to work for backpackers, but it is fortunate for a brand when an item conceived for one use translates well to another.
The Houdini, for instance, was a climbing jacket that got adopted by (and evolved for) trail running, and now the new climbing Houdini (the Alpine Houdini) more closely matches a climber's wishlist. It was fortunate for us as backpackers that it worked well for us, but now it has diverged.
> One thing that saddens me a little, with these new polyester substitutes for a nice old-style nylon windshirt, is that the polyesters build up a more powerful stink, and do it more quickly.
One thing to consider is that polyester absorbs very little water by weight. It dries very quickly. Nylon on the other hand, absorbs quite a lot of water by weight. If you face changing and challenging weather conditions, you might prefer polyester at expense of others' olfactory senses.