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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Peak Performance BlackLight Synthetic Puffy?

Sking into Zermatt.  Last day of the tour.  Clothing is sorted!

For those reading the  blog long term it is obvious I get pretty excited about my light weight synthetic puffs.  I own a bunch of them from different manufactures and at least attempt to use them all.  Arcteryx, Mountain Equipment, Mont Bell, Patagonia are some of my favorites.

But I am ever seldom happy for long.  The more you use the best gear available, the more it becomes clear on how to better it fro your own use.

The caveat?  What I like and use may not be any thing you would ever want to use.  So buyer beware of my required detailing.  More often than not the gear I really like gets discontinued after only one season.  written off generally as being "too technical", "too esoteric and too small of user base."

Yep, the best gear IMO, has too small of customer base.  So it gets axed from the catalog.  My though on that is most people buy 8Km parkas to boulder in.  Having no clue what actually should or could be used to better effect.

But I digress.  The buying public in general is uneducated, simple and sadly ignorant of what the best designs are capable of.  An in turn what they might be capable of if they bothered to get on the clue bus.  Clothing to technical climbing gear or snow sports....same rule applies.

One of the coolest things about Chamonix is that almost every worth while product for my passions can be found here on the store shelves or as prototype samples being used by some of the best in the world.  Not all and in fact more than a few have yet to make it to North America...or the USA specifically.   Let me make my first introduction then:

PP sez:
"We made this versatile jacket to fulfill two very important needs when you're climbing and ski touring in remote mountain terrain: insulation underneath your shell and a very packable insulation layer that you can also use as a first layer. We've used windproof and super lightweight Pertex Quantum® shell fabric, breathable ThermoCool® insulation and side panels with built in elastic for maximum mobility and protection both under and over your shell jacket."

      Wind protection





      • 100% Polyamide


    • Pertex Quantum® shell
    • ThermoCool® padding
    • Padding weight:80gm/m2
    • Regular fit
    • Printed logos at chest and back of neck
    • Fleece lined collar
    • One zippered chest pocket which also works as stowaway pocket
    • One spacious stretch mesh inner pocket
    • Side panels in Polartec® Powerstretch® for stretch and comfort
    • Longer in back than front
    • Articulated sleeves for freedom of movement
    • Elastic cuffs in Polartec® Powerstretch® for comfort
    • Elastic hem for a comfortable fit
Ya, well?   As some might guessed or read here I seldom pay retail for anything.  Part of that is because I am frugal, a Scot, and know the margins from working in the industry.  Part of it is, because I work at the reviews and don't think I should pay retail.  Most of the Industry least grudgingly agree most of the time.
Seldom do I think any thing is worth the full retail asking price.  In the case of this puffy and a few other Peak Performance garments...I do and did pay full Chamonix retail!  Not just for me but a layered set based on this mid layer for Tracy as well.  Basically blew my travel budget in one store here.  which tells me something.  And it is all good things.
But there is a good story here.  Bare with me or ignore it and just buy the damn thing if you can find one.  Peak Performance is not yet imported into the USA.
Tracy joined me for a week this trip and we skied the Vallee Blanc.  Great fun.  She also came over with just one under weight ski bag.  On her bon voyage, last minute and a bottle of champagne later we decided in a panic that she could take a 2nd duffel home with her.  And any thing I wouldn't be using for the next month.  Spring conditions then.....then.. which demanded I send home all but a heavy and a lwt insulation piece.  The newest Peak Performance synthetic stayed as did the Mont Bell Mirage.
Patagonia, Peak Performance, Sherpa, Arcteryz and likely some thing else I can't name off hand all went home in Tracy's new duffel.  Along with a bunch of things that I should have kept for the nuclear winter/monsoon happening here now!
Bottom line?
Love the stripped, no nonsense design on this jacket.  Just two chest pockets.  One in and one out.  Elastic sides, 80g fill weight and no hood!  Nice high collar.   A dbl slider zipper!  And a Pertex shell.  Articulated cut and cuffs.  Thumb holes on a nicely finished soft stretchy cuff.  Detailing through out is most impressive.  It is the only insulation I have used climbing on the cold sides of the Midi and Tacul here.  And all the insulation I used on a cold and windy Haute Route.  Most importantly is has been all I have needed and then some.  The Arteryx Atom LT and Atom SV are good as are the others or I wouldn't have brought them..  For me, this one is better the majority of the time than either.  

Lovin life with skis on my back, 'pons on my feet, and snugged up with PP BlackLight Puffy! 
Interesting my Swedish friends..where Peak Performance is made,,,laughed at the name brand.  Saying it was active wear not serious mtneering clothing.  Turns out 70% of the Swedish market is active wear.  Internationally 70% of Peak Performance's sales are mountaineering clothing and 30% active wear.  Go figure!   Honestly I am just  trying to sort out how I can swing another one of these jackets to take home as a spare!  It is that good even if it does only come in one, bright blue, color!
The bright blue looks good to me!  This one really does rock for my own use!!  YMMV, but my guess is, "too technical" to be a great seller.  And it will be gone from the catalog in less than a full season.  Which is why I want two.  Doesn't help that Peak Performance is not yet available n the USA.  That I am told will change for next year at least for Colorado.
Women's specific versions are available.  The rest of my Peak Performance story will come out eventually :)


Anonymous said...

Dane - what are those blazing orange pants? I've had trouble finding a pair of pants like for touring. Ski pants are usually too baggy for my likes, and mountaineering pants seem to have weird fit issues or not enough venting options. Recommendations?

Dane said...

Arcteryx Alpha SL pant. Really like them a lot. Perfect touring shells but not too durable and expensive. I paid retail for them from Glad I had them. I'll eventually write up everything I used on this trip. And tell you why I brought it along.

Unknown said...

Nice find. Wish it had a hood. I have loved my peak performance hydrogen hooded jacket which they...yep...DISCONTINUED. It's primaloft ONE, OK hood, great collar, great fit, minimum features and weighs less than 12oz. Wish it had those stretch panels on the one you found. Acquired it from which does stock a good selection of PP gear. Best lightweight synthetic I've used. The lightweight face fabric has a fair bit of hole repairs at this point but still going strong. Curious why you chose the Alpha SL over the knifeblade pant (sneak preview of up coming gear post, pretty please)?

Dane said...

I think the hood thing for added insulation to use skiing is WAY, WAY over rated.

SL is lighter, you can change in and out of on the fly (but never did) and a better ski pant/easier to use/vent for me.

Lastly is is a way better tayloered fit for me than the Knifeblade..which I like but it aint a ski touring pant IMO. It is a decent ski pant on the lifts. I was tempted however when packing and did take them to Cham...but never did use them for anything.

I either wanted warmer pants or lighter weight pants for skiing or climbing this year. Knifeblade was right inbetween. Different season and might have warn them most days...may be.

Matt said...

Hi Dane,

What are your thoughts on hood vs no hood for hiking/approaches/ ski touring etc(basically non climbing stuff)?

That said, with which layers do you like having hoods, and which do you avoid?

Dane said...

Hoods? For climbing I really want a hood on everything. For skiing I only want a hood on my mid weight for BC that I use as an outer piece (Piton Hoody or R1) and my shell. I use hats and hand bands skiing and no helmets so I like a "clean head" to help control the heat. Climbing? Generally a winter thing for me now and likely freezing my ass off so more hoods mo better. Just personal perference.

I really like the Piton jacket with no hood. Used that a lot as well but failed to mention it. I had one with and one with out in Cham and used them both a lot.