Powershield Pro is, in real-world use, waterproof. It tests better than a lot of low end ($100ish) waterproof rain jackets, for what that's worth. Certainly snow proof - which is when you'll likely be using a fleece-lined softshell anyway. For more bomber protection, I recommend the Arc'Teryx Venta MX. This shell will breathe better than the Venta, but block significantly more wind than the Gamma MX.
I really dig the Venta MX for skiing - probably my favorite jacket for the use. It's basically waterproof, totally windproof, and layers well (while being warm enough on its own below 30� for me). The bit of stretch is nice, the articulated cut keeps the jacket out of your way, and pitzips help the jacket breathe. At the resort or skinning in the backcountry, this is my shell.
I haven't seen the Mammut jacket here, but I have used both the Venta MX and Northwall/Knifeblade. The first, and most obvious thing, to note here is the DWR technology has gotten much better since then, which gives a significantly better "first line of defense" than the jackets of old. I've found these jackets to work just as well as a hardshell in the conditions you specifically mentioned - eventually, the fabric does wet out, and this issue is compounded by the heavier weight of the jacket (thus more fabric to absorb more water).
What you mention, though, is what keeps me from taking even these high tech supershells on long alpine routes. They're absolutely ideal for one-day activities, or when you'll have an extended period of time to air them out, etc. but do struggle with day-in-day out abuse that hardshells live through for days (though, I'll admit, I think that's also due to a typical hardshell weighing less than half what these shells do). The fabrics are getting better--take the Arc'Teryx Gamma MX, which switched to a proprietary from Power Shield for this very reason--but they're not there yet, in my opinion.
Polartec Power Shield Pro is essentially waterproof. I think you'd compare this jacket directly to the Patagonia Northwall Jacket ($450, Powershield Pro + R2 lining) and Arc'Teryx Venta MX ($450, Gore Windstopper seam-taped + microfleece lining).
These are all shells blending traditional hardshell protection with softshell characteristics - stretch, better breathability, and warmth.
Use the Live Chat feature - sometimes they have an answer, sometimes not. You almost certainly won't get an official reply here.
This is the classic picket that all your friends wish they had. The standard is 2' 3' is cumbersome and not needed, unless you plan to saw them in half for 1.5' pickets.
I'm about the same height as you and the Nitro just barely fits me (it's great, but another inch and I'd have a different pack). I have a smaller torso, so you should be okay.
Here's my take on a few of the things you mentioned.
The Marmot is an extra $100. Is it worth it you?
Looking at the EN ratings, Marmot's 30º rating is pretty good. Perhaps, before the EN standard, they were using less fill in this bag so it was more of a 40º bag. On paper, it looks good.
I'll go out on a limb and say the Marmot will compress more. Mostly because down compresses better than synthetics. But with 600 fill down, I don't think these bags will be vastly different in their compressibility. What you will notice, though, is the Wasatch will wear down from compression much faster than the Marmot synthetics are not as resilient as down, so it will wear faster.
I've never liked liners. Instead, wear the layers that you already have packed. Especially if you have good puffy garments. Liners, in my experience, are more hype and placebo than actual warmth.
If you're looking to save the $100, and especially if you don't camp too often in warm weather, the North Face isn't a bad bag. Overall, it's a solid bag, and a great value at its price. The Marmot is likely a better bag, but not $100 better.
Phil and Kevin made good points about a 40º bag, but ultimately, your situations may be different from theirs. Where you go affects what you should take. 40º bags have their place, but, as they say, you may be better off with a 30º bag after all.
Chat with them online or on the phone. BackCountry.com has no official price match policy, but I've find that more often than not they will match prices.
Thermarest says an average of 20 for a size medium. It's definitely not strenuous, and those 20 breaths are conservative I'd saynot the gasping-for-breath variety.
If you're willing to pony up the $150 for this pad, you won't be disappointed! No, it doesn't include a stuff sack ($15) or a repair kit ($10), but it's just as good as everyone says. Packs up smaller than a nalgene and it's incredibly lightweight. Best pad I've ever slept on, bar none. Negotiate with your wallet NOW.
Alps doesn't list the weight on their website. They're definitely not lightweightthey'll put up well with abusemore towards the heavier side of the spectrum I'd say. The material is water resistant, but I wouldn't want them to sit inside a wet pack for an extended period of time. There's no roll-top closure either, though you're getting some compression from the top end for some protection.
Pick what size you want, and BackCountry will provide you that size in an unknown color.
The compression sack has compression straps, allowing you to squeeze the bags (and its contents) considerably smaller.
The included stuff sack is 7.5x13 inches.
Hi, I hope these answers are helpful.
1. Yes, you can wrap it around the pack and buckle the hip belt that way if you'd like.
2. I have a 28" waist and have probably another inch or two on the medium if I had to. There's PLENTY of room to expand too I'm not sure but I'd guess the medium could fit a waist size bigger than 34". My advice is to go with the medium if the torso size is a better fit; the belt should be accommodating, and if not you always have BackCountry's great return policy.
First of all, this is a great daypack. It's no wonder it won BackPacker's "Most Comfortable Daypack of 2010." The reACTIV suspension system is super comfortable, giving the pack a "hardly there" feeling; in fact, the only time I feel this pack is when I stop to think about it. One inner pocket and the outer compression system mean you're going to have to do your own organizing, but the outer compression "pocket" is handy for things to grab on the go and without ever needing to open up a zipper.
The green is a muted kelly green. It's a lighter color that is bright-ish without being obnoxious great balance by the black diamond crew.
In summary, this isn't the lightest or most organized daypack, but its elegance is in its simplicitythere's not anything extra that you won't be usingand it's super comfortable. If you're looking for features in a daypack, this one isn't for you, but if you're after simplicity and comfort look no further than the Black Diamond Nitro.
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