A couple of months ago I started a project that has grown into a much bigger gorilla than anything I have done before on the blog.
A month ago I made my intentions public to do a side by side comparison of the newest high tech shells/jackets that I find most appropriate to my style of climbing...which is generally cold, not wet.
Once the blog readers got interested in that post, so did a few of the clothing companies. And even more gear showed up at my door.
This all started because I have been so impressed with the Neoshell Apoc by Westcomb that was given to me as a writer's sample. The Apoc was free so I figure if it is good as I think it is, no problem doing side by side tests against all comers. The first side by side was with a Marmot Hyper jacket. Those reviews were posted to the blog earlier in the year.
But with so many hard shell, soft shell, stretchy jackets available today I had to do more. Polartec is the culprit here producing all sorts of fabrics that make some amazing garments to climb in. Think Shoeller on steroids when you think Polartec. Not sure if I hate them or love them yet but I know they are costing me and the rest of those involved some serious coin. More on that in a minute.
I don't want to spoil all the fun for the field test so I'll just give you some high lights. First there will be three of us using all the jackets over a 4 day period. We'll be carrying at least 3 jackets a piece and we'll rotate over the trip so everyone gets into every jacket. Hopefully this will include some decent climbing and at least one good day's walk. But I am still not sure just how many jackets we will be taking.
Besides myself, Doug Klewin, well known for the 1st complete of the North Buttress of Mt Hunter will be giving all the gear a once over. As will long time UK alpine climber and Chamonix resident Lee Clark. Both better climbers than I and maybe even more critical of gear. Our comparisons and opinions of like gear should be really interesting.
There are a number of things we'll be field testing on just this one trip that I will eventually write up as well, crampons, ice tools, helmets, new gloves, sleeping pads, packs, boots, approach shoes, and more clothing among them. But that will have to wait for now.
The jackets I have currently for the field tests and reviews are:
Outdoor Research's AXIOM jacket cut from a stretch water proof breathable version of *Gore-Tex’s Active Shell* 13.7oz Large
Westcomb's APOC jacket cut from Polartec's stretch waterproof breathable *NeoShell* 17.4oz XL
Marmot's HYPER jacket cut from stretch waterproof breathable technology, *MemBrain® Strata 100% Nylon Stretch* 13.4oz XL
Patagonia's KNIFEBLADE pullover made with *Polartec Power Shield Pro* 20.8 XL
Eddie Bauer's FRONTPOINT jacket that is now discontinued, a hybrid of hard shell and soft shell technology. 17.8oz Large
Mountain Hardware's DRYSTEIN jacket cut from their stretch, water proof, breathable *Dry Q Elite* 18.7 oz XL
Arc'teryx VENTA HOODY in *Gore Wind Stopper* 22.9 oz XL
Arcteryx SQUAMISH pullover •Gossamera™—100% Nylon ripstop fabric with water repellant coating
Arcteryx SQUAMISH pullover in use
A few more may yet show up before we take off. If they do we'll give them a fair shake as well. Interesting to me when I explained what I was planning and what I wanted to test, several manufactures wanted me to test garments I didn't think suitable to judged side by side with the original core group. I took all comers any way and added a few of my own (at my expense) because I think it will make a better side by side comparison.
I am likely more interested in the results of our little field test than you are! Other weight comparisons can be made here: