Overall, this jacket is very well insulated with a relatively low profile. It stays warm in extended severe conditions, even with little or no additional layering. I have two minor gripes, however:
(1) The hook and loop closures on the cuffs are misaligned causing them to abrade both your bare wrist and the fabric of the sleeve. Mine has worn a minor hole in the cuff from the flap. Seems like a poor design.
(2) The rain visor on the hood does not hold its shape. After wearing the hood off for an extended period of time the visor is crumpled or bent or otherwise not positioned well to serve its purpose. It eventually works out, but I don't like having to fiddle with my visor for ten minutes before I am comfortable in heavy snow or rain.
There is not a ton of warmth in these gloves, although they meet some of the other requirements you indicate. The softshell material is very thin and provides little insulation. It is lined with fleece, but extremely thin. I think the only real warmth comes from any heat-generating movement you are undertaking while wearing them, and that may fit your bill, so long as you are pretty active in them. Sitting still in cold weather will leave your hands cold though.
They are definitely tight-fitting and the stretch fabric gives a a lot of movement and dexterity to your fingers/palms. I have no experience with them in rain, but they are specified as water resistant. The leather palms are very supple and provide great grip, if not insulation.
I would opt for a shell mitt that has its own insulation, and then add a warm liner. With this one, you are basically left with only the softshell plus a 200-weight liner. Take a look at http://www.backcountry.com/outdoorgear/Marmot-Expedition-Mitt/MAR0324M.html and pair it with a very warm wool of fleece liner. Buy it from Backcountry and you can always return it if it doesn't work for you.
It is 550-fill down, which is a moderately well-insulating down, probably a blend of goose and duck. The fill rating is a measure of insulation effectiveness per weight, so the higher the fill power the greater the insulation at the same weight of down. If you wanted warmer with a similar weight jacket, get a fill that has a higher rating.
This is actually pretty inexpensive compared with other brands. TNF, MHW, Patagonia, etc., would all be close to twice this much, but the down would be a higher rating and the overall construction higher-quality.
If you are planning to get on the surrounding glaciers, I would opt for something with more shielding and a much darker lens. These are polarized but the lens is not overly dark and they lack shields around the eyes.
Regardless of the size of your sleeping bag, I recommend compressing it in its own sack. Your bag will fit fine then. Also, look for a pack whose sleeping bag compartment membrane is either adjustable, openable, or removable. Otherwise, you risk wasting a lot of space and having an unstable bag.
One issue this design has is high-profile walls that will fight the wind. It has a good pole-design to create solid stability, but in high winds it will at least get loud and shake. The fly design aids this substantially, particularly if you pitch it facing or tailing the wind. My experience with Marmot is that, regardless of the shaking and noise, it will not fold in normal winds.
If you are looking for a tent that you will pitch in consistently high winds, I would recommend something with lower profile walls and better curves, but that will sacrifice interior space and comfort.
There are several links to manuals, etc., here: http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Product.aspx?top=1830&prod=3453&cat=1854&viewAll=False. Also, MHW is very helpful in their customer service if you have issues with anything.
I have the 1999 model, but it look identical. I am sure they have updated materials and features, but I really love this tent. It is roomy enough to legitimately fit three large people, plus quite a bit of gear (not packs, obviously). It is pretty lightweight for its size and features, and for the price, you can't beat it.
The vestibule is a little bit awkward in shape, making it seem a lot smaller than it is, and the fly is hard to unzip from inside the tent without draining its content on you, but these are very minor concerns, IMO. The only major issue I have had with it is its lateral strength in wind. Make sure you pitch the tent either facing or tailing the predominant wind or the sides can come down on you in the night. The tent stays up and nothing breaks, but a firm 30 MPH wind at the side panel will fold it in.
I have had mine for 10 years, using it almost exclusively on all my group treks at high elevations (over 11k), in rainy weather, snow, and warm climes. I think it is very versatile, light, and for the price a great deal.
I have owned my Mountain Light since 1995, and have used it more than just about any other piece of outdoor clothing. It is my favorite jacket, notwithstanding its age and feature obsolescence these days. It is completely watertight, durable, and time-tested.
That said, and apart from my sentimental attachment, it has its limitations. One big one is that it is a bit heavy in today's world of ultralight shell design, but that is due in part to its extra mesh lining double zipper for zip-in linings, and reinforced wear areas.
Mine has duct tape and seam sealer repairing tears, burn holes, etc., and it still holds up in terrible weather.
I have zipped in a Pumori with no issues at all, but I prefer not to use the zip in feature.
I hate the feel of plastic when I eat. It isn't rigid, feels greasy after the first bite, and never seems clean. It also lacks that metallic tingle on your tongue that reminds you that you are outdoors.
As far a sporks go, this one is my favorite so far. Its tines are long enough to grab most food easily, and the spoon itself is thin enough to easily scoop without pushing. The depth of the spoon is shallow, allowing for better clearance of your lips. (I know this sounds absurd to analyze the features of a spork, but trust me, it is easy to eat with this thing. When you have lips chapped from a week in the sun and thin air and are sick of rehydrated food, every little joy helps.)
I really like socks, and have several favorite pairs, but this one is pretty special, especially for the price. It reminds me a lot of the XSock Air Force 1, but less than half the price, and seemingly more durable. It is very low-profile, adding padding/insulation only in the high wear areas. Although it is not left-right anatomically specific, it has a lot of great variation to support the ankle, arch, heel, etc. I like to wear it with everything from running shoes to light hiking boots that don't need a lot of protection from lace binding. Keep in mind I am a fan of light-weight socks, even for cooler temps, but this sock is a winner at this price.
I love the crew version of this sock, but the ones I got wear close to knee-high. This is a great weight for light backpacking, but if you are looking for something even more streamlined, check out the Lorpen Tri-Layer Light Hiker Crew Sock.
I like this beanie. I have a hard time with itchy skin when wearing wool hats, and the inside fleece lining helps significantly. AT the same time, the edge is still exposed and itches a bit. I like the fit--you can wear it in many different configurations, from all the way down covering the entire ear, to perched on top, while still maintaining rigidity and a secure fit. I have a somewhat small head, and it fits great.
I bought these for my wife. She loves them, although the color doesn't work with an overly broad range of outfits.
I got these for around $25, and for that price, they are serviceable. I use them for cool weather biking when I want a very light pair of glasses, polarization, and enough venting to prevent fog when I am huffing and puffing. These have all of that. The optics are terrible, but what do you expect from a cheap plastic lens. I actually really like the color and shade level.
They are pretty small. I have a small face, and they hug me pretty tight, but that is fine for what I use them for.
I really liked the look of this jacket. I loved the colors. But I couldn't find any size that fit well at all. I am a pretty standard large in most other jackets, but I was swimming in this large. The Medium fit much better in the torso, but the sleeves were just slightly short. It is too bad I couldn't get the right fit, because I loved the pitzips.
I really like SmartWool, but for a dollar more I would go with the SmartWool Adrenaline or another sock with a little more design to it. I personally like socks that are designed with variable thickness throughout the anatomy of the foot to insulated and pad where necessary without excess bulk. This sock feels like an old standard hiking sock, with no such advanced design. That said, it is top quality for what it is, and very comfortable. I just find myself wearing it with casual shoes more than in boots and on treks. One complaint I have is the heel elasticity. After a few days on the trail, the sock stretches in the heel to the point where the heel seam starts creeping up the Achilles. This is minor and easily fixed with a quick rinse and dry, but, again, I prefer a more technically designed sock for this price tag.
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