Drilite Plus - hard to say whether it's a coating or laminate. ME only say "2-layer Drilite Plus fabric". However, the other jacket has definitely a laminated membrane and the end result is exactly the same.
Dave: Washing and applying DWR is fine (I've actually already done that), however this won't solve the "bald" spots where thee is only the face fabric (no inner coating or laminate). My thought was to use a thin layer of seamgrip as a new coating.
Thanks! You confirmed what I thought. I know that if you do not wash clothing with laminated membrane the dirt etc. can clog the pores and therefore decrease breathability. However, I haven't seen any definitive source (e.g. manufacturer's instructions) stating that body oils can cause the membrane to delaminate. From my little experiment it seems that this is indeed the case ... I hate when somebody tell you "wash the jacket every so often" but does not tell you the whole story why you should do that. The Gelanots membrane works on a different principle than GoreTex, therefore the dirt is not such a problem. Since it still worked well, I didn't feel any need to wash it more often.
Anyway, I will wash my "technical" stuff little more often from now on. (Actually, thinking about that, I was washing the jackets every year or so and not every two years as I originaly stated. But this is probably still not enough.)
Anyway, some suggestion how to fix the jackets? I was thinking something like SeamGrip or simillar. I do not care about breathability, but want to replace the membrane in spots where it is missing.
When washing my ME Drilite Plus jacket I realized that there is no membrane around the neck and the bottom section of the hood. It is peeling off in very small flakes. Elsewhere the membrane is intact. For those who do not know ME Drilite, the construction is 2-ply with a drop liner. I have had this jacket for four years.
Exactly the same happened to me with my old "heavy-weight" 2-ply waterproof jacket (the membrane in question is called Gelanots, but sold under many different names), after three or four years of use.
In both cases the jackets are otherwise in a very good condition As I would like to avoid this with the new jacket I am going to buy soon (probably Montane Venture), I would like to know why exactly does this happen. I read somewhere (may be on this forum?) that this may be caused by bacteria eating off the bonding between the membrane and the face fabric, but I could not find any sources confirming this. One thing - I do not wash the jackets much (evry two years or so), and I do have aggresive sweat (think corroding needles)
I have to agree with Chris. I've drank fom mountain streams in many countries and treated water only in Rockies (RMNP). [And from the link provided by Chris even that was not necessary]. In Carpathians (think Slovakia/Ukraine) I've drunk even from puddles when really thirsty (sometimes from the same ones as sheep did). Never had a problem.
OTOH I had my share of problems from untreated water. However, they all were caused by untreated water in villages (from wells), drunk by locals with no adverse effects. Two of these cases lasted just over a week, not a very pleasant experience. I particularly remember one case in Ukraine, where all four of us went down with the same symptoms.
You have to stay on marked tourist trails, unless you either: a) hire a guide, or b) you are on a climb of degree III (UIAA) or an approach to such a climb AND a member of an UIAA affiliated organisation (BMC, TAC, OEAV etc.)
Which means you can't do the highest top of Carpathians (Gerlachovsky Stit) as a walk [ok, in fact there are few places of grade II on the "standard" route up]
Walking is easy for anybody used to munros :) Also the few bits which would be grade I scrambles (if that!) in the UK are fitted with chains. You don't have to use them, though :)
Walks to do: Peaks: Rysy - the best one (the same way up and down though), Krivan I don't think Slavkovsky Stit is that interesting
Circular walks: Starý Smokovec – Hrebienok – Zamkovského chata – Téryho chata – Priecne sedlo – Zbojnícka chata – Prielom – Polský hreben – Sliezsky Dom – Starý Smokovec (Quite a long day!, well worth it. You can cut it short by going down from Zbojicka chata.) or Starý Smokovec – Hrebienok – Sliezsky Dom – Polský Hreben - Prielom – Zbojnícka chata – Starý Smokovec
Also the "yellow" route from Strbske Pleso (easy).
You can also do linear walks, as there is a light mountain ralway going along the souther flank of High Tatras.
In addition to the links already mentioned, this is also a decent site:
http://www.tatry.net/ , including some maps: http://www.tatry.net/mapy/
Food: the local speciality is "Halusky", definitely worth a try (although some people dont like it much).
Weather: check the forcasts, leave early in the morning if there is a chance of thunderstorms for that day
Tick-born encephalitis - it has became very common in central Europe in the last few years. Personally don't know anybody who contracted it though. OTOH I know several people who got the other nasty disease carried by ticks - the Lyme disease. If you don't want to go the injections route (and I don't think there is a reason to, read below) just check yourselves for ticks very carefully every evening (everywhere!). If you find any, first put a drop of iodine on them and then remove by gently wriggling them out (some peoplke use a small blob of sun cream/any fat first, and then remove the tick by circular movement with their fingertip). After you remove the tick, use more iodine to disinfect the spot. Iodine is very effective if used within the first 24 hours. Anyway, there are not many ticks climbing up the mountains :) And if this makes you feel a bit easier, I've removed hundreds of ticks in my life, and wild-camped/slept rough for many weeks in Slovakian mountains.
Language: younger people can usually speak *some* English, though you may have more success with German. Of course, Slovak, Czech or even Polish will do nicely ;)
One more thing - a very strong gale hit Tatras last November, and in some places fell down all huge areas of forest at the foot of Tatras. So don't be suprised.