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spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 11:21:30 MST Print View

Does anyone else hate them? I feel like I have to contort myself to adjust them and sometimes I find they've opened on their own. Mostly I ignore them, although I'm told they can occasionally work as advertised. There's got to be a better way to vent less breathable jackets. Two thoughts:

A zipper that goes to the bottom hem and stops before it reaches the armpit (thus eliminating on-trail gymnastics), with a snap at the bottom to keep the hem from flapping. I've seen a couple jackets with this feature and don't know why it isn't more popular. It seems much more user friendly.

One of my older jackets has big slash pockets on the chest with mesh liners. You can't keep anything in the pockets while they're open, of course, but they do help to vent the jacket some. In the interests of saving weight (I'm guessing) most jackets now seem to have one small chest pocket only.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
Impossible on 02/28/2014 11:40:04 MST Print View

My GoreTex ProShell has those waterproof zippers on the pit zips. I can't work them with the jacket on, so I just leave them open. Most of the time. If I were out in a blizzard or hurricane, I'd zip 'em up before I put it on.

The zippers on the top of the upper arm are no piece of cake to open and close, either.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 11:41:22 MST Print View

Full front zipper is my solution. I don't use the pit zips and try to avoid them when buying a garment.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M
Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 12:04:30 MST Print View

I think the pit zips on my eVENT Packa work great. I wouldn't change anything about them, and that's rare for me to say.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"The crappiness of pit zips" on 02/28/2014 12:13:16 MST Print View

I must totally be in the minority- I won't buy a WPB jacket that doesn't have pit zips. I find them essential for venting.

I do two things that make pit zips more user friendly- one, I tie on a loop of cord about 8" long (making a 4" loop, roughly) to the zipper itself, making it much easier to manipulate the zips even with gloves on or when hands are cold and lack dexterity or the cold makes manipulating the zipper painful. I pretty much do this to all zippers on my jackets and on my snow pants. It provides a lot more leverage for zipping/unzipping, especially when zippers are stiff from cold. I did this to the zips on my Jeep's soft-top also.

Two, because pit zips work best under tension, I slip the cuff down on the arm of the side I want to zip/unzip and grab the cuff with my hand, then extend my arm upward, which tightens up the jacket allowing easy manipulation of the zips.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: "The crappiness of pit zips" on 02/28/2014 12:31:02 MST Print View

"I must totally be in the minority- I won't buy a WPB jacket that doesn't have pit zips. I find them essential for venting."
+1
Well, actually, I want something to vent in a for me usefull way and pit zips work the best of those mumbo jumbo. But, of course, I also trie to use the WP/B layer only when absolutely necessary.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Plus two on the pit zips on 02/28/2014 12:40:14 MST Print View

I'm with you- I woulndt even think about buying a WP (so-called)B jacvket without pit zips, and even have themn on a couple insulated winter jackets.

No problem with adjusting them, and frankly I don't tinker with them much: just leave them open 95% of the time, and close them up once in a while if I'm stopping for w along time and feel a chill coming on. As with all thngs temperature-relatedanticipation seems to be the key: ventilate before you get hot; close up before you get cold..

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 12:56:39 MST Print View

Yup, they are a pain, but mostly due to the choice of zipper and construction. At best I raise my arm, capturing the cuff in my palm and start the tug of war. A long pull certainly helps.

I'm very much a fan of the Outdoor Research TorsoFlo vents that go all the way to the hem. You don't need a snap. The TorsoFlo design helps to alleviate the big areas that are blocked by your pack harness. The whole front of your jacket can go out over your waist belt, allowing airflow from below as well as the sides. They should have used that system on the Helium HD model rather than more conventional out zips. They are still a tugging match.

Some jackets have vertical zippers more forward of the side seam. If they miss the pack straps they can be easier to operate. It does get busy with pockets and the front zipper.

Many light jackets eliminate the front zipper storm flap, which I think is a mistake. If you have a storm flap with snaps or Velcro tabs, you can leave the front zipper open and vent through the gaps between the fasteners. it usually doesn't look as smooth and techy as a waterproof front zip, but it works, the zipper is easier to use and lasts longer.

Or get a poncho and be a real backpacker :)

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Pit zips on 02/28/2014 13:10:33 MST Print View

If you are hiking with someone else, do the zip/unzip thing for each other.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 13:36:56 MST Print View

Yep, but my solution is different. Seems to me that what the need for pit zips really means is that you are wearing too much clothing. Take some off instead.

Yes, that does mean that sometimes we will walk in the rain without any jacket, and our shirts get wet. So? If it continues to rain and we are still warm, no problem. If it stops raining, we dry out. If we get cold, then we might put on a poncho. They are warming.

Cheers

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 13:42:59 MST Print View

As your Avatar pic so eloquently illustrates...

;>D

b willi jones
(mrjones) - F

Locale: best place in the world !?
Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 14:34:19 MST Print View

if i were to get a new jacket, pit zips would not be a feature i would be looking for. i have an older jacket that has them but have never found that i needed to use them very often, if at all.

the slightly extra weight, the fiddle factor for un-doing seem problematic for some people but i was wondering if anyone has had problems with abrasion? having a semi stiff zip and the zipper pull in an area under the arm where there is a lot of movement seems like it is asking for trouble.

Edited by mrjones on 02/28/2014 14:34:56 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 14:42:21 MST Print View

No abrasion problems here. Vents of some sort are for me a must as I use them regularly (even with just a T-shirt under it I need them and I tried other stuff like e.g. a poncho).

William F
(wkf) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 15:02:43 MST Print View

I've had jackets with and without pit zips and personally I don't miss them when hiking. I really like them while biking because the air flow s forced in there and I don't want to stop and take my jacket off/put it on all the time. When hiking I haven't found them all that effective but that's just my experience. I think a lot of it has to do with your level of sweat factor. I for one am not a big sweater and so I feel like I can get by in situations that others would get totally soaked. Also, I sometimes will use my jacket as a vapor barrier for the first few hours, or early in the morning when it is coldest, then take it off when I warm up under my quilt. For this reason I prefer no pit zips because the jacket is more comfortable to sleep in. The weight factor is nothing to be concerned about IMO. To echo what Roger C. said, in the middle of the summer I usually can put up with getting a bit wet because the average temps are higher and there is more daylight hours to dry off in the sun. In shoulder seasons I'm likely to be cold enough that I want the trapped heat that no pit zips provides.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 15:03:46 MST Print View

"As your Avatar pic so eloquently illustrates..."

Ha ha! Yeah I'll skip class when Roger is teaching layering 101.

"Awright... first you put on some neon zebra/leopard/tiger pants... and that's it... staaaaart hiking."

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"The crappiness of pit zips" on 02/28/2014 15:41:29 MST Print View

Roger states: "Seems to me that what the need for pit zips really means is that you are wearing too much clothing. Take some off instead."
----
Point taken and that works fine when the weather is warm(ish). That's not as much of an option when the weather is foul, or cold. I hike often in what we call "hypothermia weather" where it's about 40-50 degrees, rainy, and windy. Not exactly conditions you want to get wet in. I also do a lot of winter activities (hiking only being part of it) and much of the time shedding the shell isn't really an option due to either wind, precip or ambient temp.

If pit zips can allow me to continue to wear my shell, stay comfortably dry, and protect me from the elements, that sounds pretty win-win to me.

Plus, like another comment I saw above, I rarely fiddle with pit zips. Generally I can eyeball the conditions, set a gap in my pit zips, and it doesn't change for the rest of the day.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "The crappiness of pit zips" on 02/28/2014 16:30:18 MST Print View

Walking in warm summer weather with light spotty rain is one thing. 45F with 85-90% humidity and all day drizzle is another world. Hiking uphill with just base layer and shell is about as minimal as I'm going to get in that weather. It is a teeter totter between wet inside or wet outside. I don't have anything else to take off!

IMHO, even the best breathable fabrics require ventilation with cool humid active use. It's rain shell with vents, umbrella or poncho.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
Re: "The crappiness of pit zips" on 02/28/2014 16:37:43 MST Print View

"I must totally be in the minority- I won't buy a WPB jacket that doesn't have pit zips. I find them essential for venting.
I do two things that make pit zips more user friendly- one, I tie on a loop of cord about 8" long (making a 4" loop, roughly) to the zipper itself, making it much easier to manipulate the zips even with gloves on or when hands are cold and lack dexterity or the cold makes manipulating the zipper painful. I pretty much do this to all zippers on my jackets and on my snow pants. It provides a lot more leverage for zipping/unzipping, especially when zippers are stiff from cold. I did this to the zips on my Jeep's soft-top also.
Two, because pit zips work best under tension, I slip the cuff down on the arm of the side I want to zip/unzip and grab the cuff with my hand, then extend my arm upward, which tightens up the jacket allowing easy manipulation of the zips."


Same here. Literally word for word (except the Jeep soft-top).
I guess it partly comes down to your conditions (activity, output, weather, etc.).
If it's raining hard and on the edge of snowing with a good windchill factor then I can dump the most heat from my giant pit zips (I have one of those jackets with a total side zip) while still be protected from the front. Shedding and donning the jacket in those conditions does not work for me.

Edited by jakuchu on 02/28/2014 16:41:20 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: Re: The crappiness of pit zips on 02/28/2014 22:12:40 MST Print View



the torsoflo by OR IMO is the best pitzip system used

you can use it as a partial poncho, or have very deep ventilation ....

and its all back up by OR "any reason" warranty

the downside is that there is probably a slight weight penalty

;)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "The crappiness of pit zips" on 03/01/2014 02:34:24 MST Print View

Hi Dena

> that works fine when the weather is warm(ish). That's not as much of an option when
> the weather is foul, or cold. I hike often in what we call "hypothermia weather"
> where it's about 40-50 degrees, rainy, and windy. Not exactly conditions you want to
> get wet in.

Ah, but again I have to disagree. Yes, you can get very cold and wet under the conditions you describe, but that seems to happen when one is wearing a jacket almost as easily as without. What really happens when the weather is foul is that water comes in down your neck, up your arms from your wrists, and even up from the waist. Not to mention how your trousers and socks get soaked. You end up wet.

But being wet does not matter. You get even wetter when you swim or stand in a shower. What matters is how cold you get. We find that a poncho traps a nice fug inside - a very controllable fug I might add, and even though we are quite wet we are warm. And that is all that matters. OK: we keep walking to keep warm.

And that has worked for us at 2000 m in pouring rain walking in soft snow. I will admit we had cold feet: we were walking in ice water (under the snow) after all. But our silnylon ponchos kept us warm. A lot of the time we did not have our arms in the sleeves: it's often warmer to keep your arms next to your body. The poncho sleeves flapped.

Cheers