Reviewing my kit, thoughts and questions
- what do you take with you when?Depends on weather, time of year & length of trip. Day walk on Monday - took TNF Zephyrus smock and no other insulation. When it gets a bit cooler I'll take a 100 weight fleece as well as a synthetic insulation top. For an overnighter I'll take the 100 weight fleece + a down jacket (Montane Anti-freeze in summer, PHD Yukon smock in winter). Base layer varies according to season. In Autumn / Winter I'll probably be wearing a Paramo top as well, so additional insulation there.
- What do you wear when?Kind of answered that one above.
- Anyone prefer fleece over synthetic insulation?Nope - apart from my 100 weight fleece I don't take any fleece garments out, though I have plenty of fleeces for pub / casual wear
- Vests or jackets?Nearly always jackets, but I'm the Human Iceberg.
- What weight of fleece compares with weights of merino?Don't wear fleece. Wear microweight and midweight merino; any colder and I'll wear a Powerstretch baselayer.
Fleece vs synthetic insulation quite easy really. One is very good for active wear and the other for carried emergency/non active insulation. Don't think they really overlap very much.
Don't think I'd plan to carry a fleece on a day walk now. Actually wouldn't take anything warm right now. In a little bit maybe a synthetic vest, and then when properly cold some thicker synthetic jacket. Obviously more camping
What I've got much the most experience with is mid weight merino base/windshirt /waterproof for warmer months and then Paramo style (or even Buffalo earlier on) with ~powerstretch underneath. But thats really just the same a light base layer/100 weight fleece!
(which now I've got base layers & a 100 weight fleece which fits I'll probably try too )
Although I have played around a bit. Tried a light powerdry top over a t shirt a few times this spring and that worked fine too. Even went as far as sticking an R2 fleece under my Paramo at one stage. That was a tiny bit insane....
Might well carry a fleece for a multi day thing where you might need a little extra insulation on colder days/ (esp if camping) early starts in the mornings etc. If doing that though you'd want a very simple thing, more like ~200g. Maybe even a vest.
cambia LS, RonHills or shorts, Montane Litespeed and Montane Prism if overnight
cambia LS, Ron Hills or Rab VR trews, Paramo Velez or 100weight fleece/Atomic DTcombo+Montane Antifreeze for the nights
Blizzard bag for me when it matters. Perhaps a more efficient bail out than a bunch of top level layers. Certainly packs neatly (until used, which is hopefully never of course!).
Although to be honest a fair few of the places in England where I go it'd be hard to spend terribly long waiting for rescue/very easy to bail in extremis.
(this doesn't apply to high things in Scotland )
Yep a tent gives you a massive safety margin; and on a busy hill you don't need as much in reserve as on a remote one - I just wouldn't want the mountain rescue to think I was a twerp if they ever had to rescue me and, contrary to the impression given on tv, they don't appear out of the sky 2 minutes after you stub your toe, they often don't start looking till the next day. There's a frost tonight in the glens up here - you'd be very cold in just a survival bag. Unless you are in a marshalled race or the like, it's probably good practice to return from any trip with some clothes unworn and some food uneaten.
By the way, Adidas Swoops are the business.
They're £30 if you hunt about - really excellent value. Smashing grip and traction - better than any inov-8 I've had except the mudclaws, lovely snug secure fit, nice and low, drain very well. Possibly deeper lugs than the crosslites, and a less scary achilles tab. The midsole on my mudclaws is giving up, and I'm buggered if I'm giving Inov-8 anymore money, even though they replaced some broken Flyrocs with some Roclites (after 5 weeks and 2 phone calls) and agreed that the Flyrocs had a design fault, which is why they're no longer made. "Sorry its taken so long", the Inov-8 guy said, "I've got a big pile of returns here to get though". Then he went on holiday.
To be fair the blizzard bags are meant to have a non trivial quantity of insulation in them. (8 togs says their website which is a fair bit.). Wouldn't trust a straight survival bag either.
Think its probably more into Autumn up in Scotland now too! Down here its dropped back to summer weather for a last few days. Not at all cold in the mornings.
I generally run cool, and the following kit goes out with me most trips.
I wear a base layer, synthetic in summer and merino in the cooler months. I have several weights, and choose which one depending on the expected temperature.
Over that a Rab vapour rise jacket, no mid layer.
Took out a 100 weight fleece last winter as well, cos it was perishing, but otherwise dont use fleece.
I take a Rab generator smock as an extra layer, and a blizzard bag for emergencies.
I suffer from cold hands so always carry a selection of gloves, which I may use in combination, depending on the temp.
I'd say that anyone wearing Paramo, or vapour rise/powershield for that matter, is basically wearing a mid layer when walking Its just built in. For that matter the same goes for anyone wearing powerstretch as a base layer.
As mentioned I did use a light one when walking this spring, and actually did once (in relatively mild weather) go out in t shirt/100ish weight fleece/thickish stretch woven (1/2 a fleece warmth?). But I was with a group and building in some extra warmth for all the waiting around expected. Took the fleece off on the way back as then smaller group not stopping.
But the moisture transfer of it all did cope very nicely when I was pelting up hill at the start of the day wearing it all.
(I did have my PL vest around too.).
By the way, Adidas Swoops are the business.
Happy users I know in my O-club think so, but they're utterly wrong for my particular feet
I like New Balance RX Terrain (in 2E width) though.
Well you might run very warm but a bit could be down to the sort of thing you're wearing there too. Both the event soft shell and the Choktoi have membranes built into them. So basically waterproofs with all of breathability issues associated with those.
So really don't replace fleece/windshirt combination sensibly. I agree thats what a 'softshell' should do, and more or less what the VR stuff, Paramo, powershield etc do do. Not the membrane ones though.
Was slightly amazed to see the TGO soft shell jacket review this month - about 90% of the jackets in there were single layer, stretch wovens. ie soft shell as originall conceived way back (oh and a VR Lite winning it but thats very similar performance/concept wise.). Amazing compared to the very mixed up reviews you get used to seeing! Are we finally starting to make progress here?
the event soft shell
What the hell was that all about? Take a waterproof fabric but "forget" to tape the seams so it's not actually waterproof, and is about 1% more breathable and lightweight than a proper eVent waterproof due to the ever so slightly larger area of exposed micrpores and the weight of the tape.
Completely bonkers idea driven by marketing AFAICT.
I think other people have said this but I am moving to not using my powerstretch top in summer, over my thin merino baselayer, but keeping a synthetic jacket, montbell or heavier depending, for emergencies, stops, evening in camp. The synthetic provides more warmth for the weight. In autumn/ winter/spring the powerstretch is worn nearly all the time over my base layer. And more and more insulation pieces as needed. So apart from powerstretch jacket and tights/trousers I do not use fleeces.
I always have a windshirt, some sort of hat and gloves and event water proof, (Furtech in winter, hats plural, gloves quadruple), and Kamelaieka waterproof trousers, (furtech in deep winter). If not camping but remote, a blizzard jacket.
It’s not all hill walking and Kendal mint cake
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