Sunday, April 13, 2008

ID gaiters are what they say they are; also, new shell?

The ID gaiters came in the mail on Saturday. Delivery time was about four days. That shouldn't be too bad from Oregon.

Anywho, I have yet to use them, but here are my initial thoughts:

First, the gaiters are what they say they are - short, no frills and ultralight. If put them on and adjusted the drawcord for my boots and running shoes. I can't slide the gaiter up too far - My calf muscles are too large. But they don't need to be pulled up very far. When I put them on and extend my foot out, I

Second, I believe I need to seal the seams - I'm not too happy about this, and I wish someone, anyone, would make seam tape commercially available. This means I'm sealing the front vertical and rear vertical seams. Also, I'm sealing the hem at the bottom and top.

Third, the chafe patch is an excellent idea - This makes it so you shouldn't be able to kill your gaiters just by walking in them. The patch does not appear to be waterproof, but it looks like a thicker cordura with something like a canvas front.

Fourth, the tags are huge and will be cut off - there is one in the inside top of each gaiter and three on the outside of the right gaiter.

Fifth, the gaiters save weight by covering only what they need to - the entry/top of your shoe. This was appreciated.

I haven't had a chance to test breathability, but they are eVent. They should work fine with my low-cut socks.
On another note, my Marmot PreCip rain jacket is dying, slowly. It's wetting out in two large patches with some other minor spots (most notably, on the cuffs and edges of the hood). The large parts are in the back of the hood and on the top of the right shoulder.

I'm trying to breath some life into it (no pun intended). I've hit it with Nikwax tech wash and then Direct-TX spray. It worked OK. I'm going to try and wash it with Direct-TX wash-in. If that doesn't work, I'm going to get a new shell. Yuck. This will be the first piece of gear I've that I'll have to retire because of wear and tear.

I got the jacket as a birthday gift a few years ago, probably my sophomore year of college. My mother didn't know what I wanted, so we went to the local REI (Roseville) and I perused the clearance rack. I saw the jacket, a men's large and a great bright snot-yellow color. It's been through a lot and I have loved every minute of it.

I can generally make sweat condense in it if I'm working hard - running or hiking in warmer weather. But I've been happy with it. If I can't get some more DWR on it and make it stick, it's not worth pumping the cash into more Nikwax products. I'll get another shell.

If I do get a new shell, I'm looking to upgrade. I want lighter and more breathable. This puts me in the realms of eVent and Gore-Tex Paclite. I have been impressed with both fabrics. My OR gaiters are PacLite and the ID gaiters and MLD mitts are eVent. My boots are eVent, too.

I'm looking at Arc'Teryx shells, specifically the Beta SL. It comes in at ~11 oz and as stated on the dead bird's site, it does not have features non-climbers don't need (i.e. don't need helmets or harnesses). If only I can get it at a cheaper cost. I'd like to pick it up for about $150. Backcountry has them on sale for about $200.

RAB eVent shells are also up there in the running, but they tend to be heavier at 16 oz or more. ID makes two eVent jackets with hoods, but I'd like more than one pocket.

GoLite's line of shells uses one of two fabrics - PacLite or Alchemy. As always, their gear is stripped-down to its bare essentials. Especially their Virga, which is probably out of the running for reasons listed below.

eVent worries me for one reason - it is an air-permeable fabric. While it may vent better than anything else (or claim to), it is not entirely wind-proof. Gore-Tex fabrics are. This may be a sticking point, if not for cost alone. (REI is coming out with a line of eVent shells soon, also).

Some requirements, in order of importance:
  1. Must, must, must have a quality hood. What does this mean?
    1. This hood must be functional. I need to be able to cinch it down to keep wind-driven rain and snow out. Sorry GoLite, your Virga is probably not for me.
    2. Also, I don't need the hood to be sized for wearing a helmet underneath.
  2. Must be able to layer over baselayer, thin long-sleeve fleece and puffy jacket (either TNF Nupste or Montbell Thermawrap). This is mostly for hiking on fringe seasons or use in winter in the wind.
  3. Two front pockets, please.
  4. Pit zips are preferred.
    1. I've never met a shell I couldn't make condensation form inside of. But this is a function of breathabililty. Backpacker gave EC '08 awards to two pit zip-less shells.
  5. Lightweight.
    1. It must be under a pound, and the closer to 10 oz, the better.
    2. Obviously, this is a battle of functions vs. weight. My Precip is listed at ~15 oz, but it does all of the above. I'm trying to cut about 0.25 lbs from this area.
So what's in the running? Currently, the Arc'Teryx Beta SL, MH Quark. GoLite Phantasm are up there. Why?

The Dead Bird is designed without features hikers don't need. It also uses PacLite. The Quark is very, very light and has the features I need. However, I have no experience with its fabrics (Conduit or Incite). The Phantasm is also light and has features I need. It is also the cheapest of these three.

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