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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blue Jeans and other oddities?

Blue jeans?  Seriously? 
OK, no question this is a  a little out of character for Cold Thistle.  But I have been riding my horse more than I have been climbing or skiing in the last 6 months so I figured why not?   Good climbing gear might well be found any where one is willing to look with an open mind.  

Just a few years ago high tech stretch fabrics changed how everyone climbed.  And those same fabrics made climbing easier.  Some times much, much easier.  Winter climbing was a sport that the newest stretch fabrics had a big impact for me.

Funny because the equestrian world  hasn't really changed a lot in the last 300+ years.  Lots of leather, wax coated cotton, wool and silk still used there.

As the weather turned this fall this year I suited up myself and a couple of my riding friends with several  versions of the Gamma line of soft shell climbing pants from Arcteryx.  All three versions are a huge hit in nasty weather on a horse.  Weight and insulation required is determined by the temperatures and moisture coming down that one chooses to ride in.  Kinda like skiing and climbing there. 

The upper layers commonly seen around our barn now are as often as not Patagonia or Arcteryx as they are Carhart or a bright yellow rain slicker.

Either way, the newest stretch fabrics are really appreciated on the lower body, just like they are in climbing.  Hard too believe for many I suspect but one might easily compare riding a horse to skiing or climbing when you look at what is required for mobility and from your garments.

So I was an eye opener to me to use a pair of Gamma ARs riding a horse on a chilly day.  Just as much an eye opener is to find the Wrangler "Advanced Comfort" jeans something that I would be willing to rock climb in.   Not Lycra by any means.  Heavier, more durable and none of the pretty colors :)  Just good old shades of blue denim with a tiny bit of Spandex added (1%).  1% doesn't sound like much.  But this time around they have the feel of a decent pair of well worn, button front, 501s and enough stretch (seriously) as to NOT get your attention on a moderately BIG move.    BTW,  denim jeans are way more retro than Lycra for the fashion conscious out there :) 

And the Wrangler version beats the retail price of another jean option, the Prana Axion by a good bit of coin.

But retro aint everything :)


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Outdoor Research's Diode Hooded Jacket...high tech insulation.

If you have been reading CT recently you'll have noted my comments on the newest label from of which is "Gold".  Seemingly... a simple re-label, but I wouldn't bet on it yet,  of the old "gold standard" for synthetic insulation, Primaloft One.

One might have wondered it the past post why I or anyone would actually care.

This is why I took the time to look up the new "Gold".

The new Diode jacket from Outdoor Research.

To really understand the Diode it pays to look here:

The original Narrona Lyngen and the newest OR Diode have much in common.   The basic idea behind both jackets was a home run with the Lyngen and should be again with the Diode.  The Diode might well be an even bigger hit.

Enough so that I went straight out and bought myself a Diode to see if my thinking was correct and if so to write about a nicely designed jacket.

So what is the deal?

OK, lets start with  a 60g PrimaLoft insulation layer.  Just about every current  climb jacket/sweater I use has a 60gram layer of PrimaLoft One or something similar...Arcteryx or Mont Bell's proprietary synthetic insulations come to mind.  Bottom line there?  The best of the best for my own use are a synthetic 60 gram insulation layer of one sort or another.

Some use a combination of materials, and insulation thickness of 40/60/80 or 100gram insulation thickness, add some body mapping and design the garment for a specific use.  There are LOTS of niche/specific uses!

The idea is to give the end user the warmest most breathable garment, with the greatest protection from a harsh environment over a wide range of conditions and the have the lightest weight garment.  That is a long sentence and quite the mouth full.  And an almost impossible design task.  A few garments push the envelope every year.  The Lyngen did.  As has another stand out, the Arcteryx Atom LT, on the light weight end of the insulation spectrum.

Mixing a synthetic insulation that works well when wet with a down insulation that isn't, is a risky endeavor.  In the case of the Diode OR used a DWR-treated down and PrimaLoft Gold insulation with a  spilt of  70% DWR-treated down and 30% PrimaLof Gold.

The down surrounds  the core of the body.  The Primaloft goes in places where it is most likely going to get wet from the environment or from your own sweat.   The areas with PrimaLoft on the Diode are hood, lower hem, cuffs and the top side of arms and shoulders.  Good call on OR's part I think.

This jacket is cut long.  Nice in a climbing jacket,   On the other end it is also cut small and TIGHTSizes in the Diode typically run really tight.  I can't wear a Large in this one and a XL is none too roomy.  I can normally wear a large and a typical XL from most of the better makers will hang on me a little.  Be sure to try this jacket on before buying or have a good return policy available to you.

I've been using a couple of garments that are 100% down that is also DWR treated.  So far so good with them.  But none have yet been out climbing in the typical swelter then freeze cycle of ice climbing.  I'll let you know the first time (when or if) I soak the down in this one and then have to suffer through the result of that.

Good inside net pockets for gloves.  Good hand warmer pockets on the out side.   Good inner and outer chest pockets for a camera or other trivia.  And a net key pocket inside the outer chest pocket.  Double slider on the main zipper to clear your harness on the bottom hem.

More high tech?  Pertex® water resistant outer shells on the Diode jacket.

Pertex® Endurance 30D in the hood, shoulders, and upper sleeves.

Pertex® Quantum, 100% nylon 22D in the jacket body.

More here on similar jackets and how I have used them:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Steck runs up the Eiger in 2:22:50.7!

Not sure how many times this week Steck climbed the Eiger but 4 may be 5!

From one of those ascents in perfect conditions...the picture reposted below!

"From the Hinterstoisser straight up, direct to the Swalow Nest."


Friday, November 13, 2015

The shell game? But in this case we are discussing insulation.

PrimaLoft One insulation has been exceptional.  But as I have pointed out in previous writings there are differences in the  other PrimaLoft insulation values of the differing products.  And a wide difference on price as well. Enough so that I typically wouldn't buy anything but PrimaLoft One.

Here are the old definitions:

The human body uses energy to keep warm PrimaLoft uses a patented microfiber structure to help the body retain warmth and conserve energy. PrimaLoft is as warm as down, compressible, breathable and offers superior water repellency so you remain dry, warm and comfortable even under the most extreme conditions. These performance qualities and technical benefits make PrimaLOft the thermal insulation of choice for outerwear and sleeping bags.
Wash/Care Instructions: Machine wash and rinse in cold water, gentle cycle. Tumble dry warm, remove promptly. Do not dry clean, bleach, iron or steam.
Please keep orders to 1/8 yd increments. Minimum order is 1/2 yd.
1/8 = 0.125
1/4 = 0.25
3/8 = 0.375
1/2 = 0.5
5/8 = 0.625
3/4 = 0.75
7/8 = 0.875

PrimaLoft One

PrimaLoft® One
Comprised of 100% specially treated polyester micro-fibers (1 denier or less). Has the highest col value per weight of all PrimaLoft insulations at 0.084. It has softest hand and is the most compressible of all PrimaLoft insulations and abosorbs 3 times less water, and is 24% warmer than the closest competitive insulation. Available in two weights: 3 oz and 5 oz.
Width: 60"  3 oz Price: $11.95/yd 5 oz Price: $16.95/yd

PrimaLoft Sport
PrimaLoft® Sport
Comprised of 100% polyester blend micro-fibers (1 denier or less) and fine fibers (>1 denier). Has increased durability and loft due to blend of both micro and fine fibers, along with a little more binder. Col value by wieght is 0.074. Gram for gram PrimaLoft Sport is warmer than any other competitive continuous filament or thin insulation. Available in two weights: 3 oz and 5 oz
Width: 60"  3 oz Price: $9.95/yd 5 oz Price: $14.95/yd

Here are the newest insulations:

Gold Insulation

The benchmark in performance of all synthetic insulations

  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation

  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Down Blend
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation USA
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco with Grip Control     

    Silver Insulation

    A high-performance insulation with the full spectrum of features to brave the elements

  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Down Blend
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Hi-Loft
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation with 4Flex
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation USA

  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Performance Fleece 
  • PrimaLoft®
    Black Insulation Eco

    Warmth, softness and lightweight comfort from post-consumer recycled materials       

  • PrimaLoft® Black Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Black Insulation Hi-Loft

  • Significant to me is:

  • Gone is the info to make realistic comparisons of insulation to weight per cost.      
  • "Primaloft GOLD is widely considered to be the industry best when it comes to synthetic insulation and the standard in terms of warmth-to-weight ratio. Previously known as PrimaLoft ONE, it is made with extremely thin individual fibers and provides insulation by capturing body heat in the countless tiny air pockets that exist between these fibers. The thinness of the fibers allows not only for more trapped air in a given amount of insulation, but also allows for relatively good compressibility.

    Primaloft SILVER Hi-Loft, seen in the Patagonia DAS Parka, is a continuous filament insulation made with fibers of differing thicknesses. Primaloft calls this their loftiest insulation. This insulation is less compressible overall, but more durable in the long run.

    Coreloft, Arc'teryx's proprietary insulation, is made of many short, thin fibers, and is used in the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody and Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody. It is very warm, but not quite as warm as PrimaLoft GOLD.

    ThermaTek, another proprietary Arc'teryx insulation, is a continuous filament insulation used in some of Arc'teryx's high end products like the Arc'teryx Fission SL, which is more like an insulated ski jacket. Arc'teryx claims it to be warmer relative to weight than Coreloft, but it isn't as compressible.

    Click to enlarge
    Exceloft is a proprietary fiber insulation used by Montbell. It uses a combination of thick and thin hollow polyester fibers. We found the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket warm for its weight. However, it is difficult to compare Exceloft's warmth directly to Primaloft GOLD because the Thermawrap uses 50g/m2 Exceloft insulation, while the Primaloft GOLD used in test models is 60g/m2.

    Thermal.Q Elite, a new proprietary insulation from Mountain Hardwear, uses a combination of thicker, longer fibers to form a framework, and short, thinner fibers to fill the gaps in between. Mountain Hardwear claims both better warmth and compressibility for this insulation. Again, it is difficult to compare its warmth directly to Primaloft 60g/m2, as the two products we tested, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor uses 100g/m2 Thermal.Q Elite. "

    Quote above is from this review:

    I also found this while looking...

    "PrimaLoft® GOLD
    PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation – the highest performing synthetic insulation available. The ultimate in warmth-to-weight available in a synthetic is coupled with incredible packability and softness that mimics goose down, all with excellent water-repellency for wet-weather protection.
    PrimaLoft® SILVER
    PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation utilizes a proprietary water repellent finish to keep you warm when wet. A comfortable loft and feel provides warmth, while super-lightweight properties allow freedom of movement for whatever your day may deliver."

    I am not in the market for a synthetic jacket but you might be.

    These are the last "real" numbers I can dig up.  When I started dissing Sport and Eco for my own climbing it seems names and info  changed or became exceptional hard to find.  I find that odd.

    PrimaLoft's own published data comparing Primaloft One, Sport and Eco below which has been deleted from their web site:

    Primaloft One: 0.92 dry / 0.90 wet, clo/oz
    Primaloft Sport: 0.79 dry /.72 wet, clo/oz
    Primaloft Eco: 0.68 dry/ 0.60 wet, clo/oz