Thursday, December 13, 2007

First round of gear tests finished

REI Alpine Lakes pants

These are hard-shell waterproof/breathable pants. They have full zips on the size and velcro on the top and bottom. The shell fabric is REI E1 elements fabric. The top half is lined with mesh. The lower half is a breathable black nylon.

I wore these pants over a poly-pro base layer and 100 weight fleece pants. The temp was consistently hovering around zero (F). When I was moving, I was very warm and found that I could vent the pants effectively. However, I was wearing snowshoes and with the side zippers pulled down to my knees (top of gaiters), snow got into the pants and landed on my fleece pants.

There was no condensation on the inside of the pants. The pants breathed well. The snow was a fine powder and did not stick to the pants. However, if I were to sit in the snow, the snow could melt against the pants and form ice.

I am happy with the pants. They are heavy (~23 oz) but they should never be carried in the pack so the weight is not so much of an issue.

SmartWool Mountaineer socks

These socks are, from what I can find, SmartWool's warmest socks. The inside of them looks much like off-white shag carpet. The sock is constructed in typical SmartWool fashion. The cushion is excellent. The sock (size L) fits well over my 8 1/2 shoe size foot with a liner underneath. It holds firm to my skin but does not constrict the blood flow to my foot. The sock goes over my calf, up to about where a boot gaiter would stop.

I was pleased with the sock throughout the weekend. It kept moisture off of my foot and pushed it out of my boot. I am slightly worried about durability, but that issue always comes up with merino wool socks. They fossilize eventually.

REI Ridgecrest mitts

These a insulated shell mittens. The insulation compresses down nicely, and the mitts pack well. The shell fabric everywhere but the palm is REI E1 elements. As stated before, this material breathes quite well. The palm is toughtec, a rubbery fabric that is tough and grippy. It is useful for opening water bottles that have been heated and subsequently cooled (creating a vacuum).

I wore the mitts with the powerstretch gloves below. The mitts did not absorb water and were warm. The draw cords on the gauntlets are nice to keep snow out. They are two-way pulls which allow a person to tighten and loosen the gauntlet with one hand (even a mittened one)

OR Celestial Gaiters

I wore hiking boots this weekend. I wore the these gaiters over the boot and over the bottom of the pants listed above. At the end of the day, there was no condensation on the inside of the pac-lite portion of the gaiters but there was frozen condensation on the inside of the pac cloth at the bottom of the gaiter. This was brushed off easily by my mittens.

The gaiters are lightweight and stuff well. I plan to use them in the summer also.

MH power stretch gloves

These a just what they say - liner gloves made of power stretch fleece. The palms have pilled slightly, but they are warm. They do not keep the wind out. However, they breath very, very well, and when I soaked my hand with water, the gloves dried out after I put them in the above mitts. I am keeping these as winter liner gloves and as summer warmth gloves.

Marmot Ion Windshirt

This is a 2007 dual color windshirt. It weighs approximately 5 oz. it stuffs down to the size of an apple. It stuffs into its chest pocket. I wore this primarily over a vest and/or a wool shirt. It cuts wind well and has a very well designed hood. I have also worn it running and it works very well at cutting wind.
I'm heading to the BWCAW from Dec. 27-31. Most of the above gear will be in my sled or pack.

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