Colorado's Indian Peaks, Utah canyons, The World
With the few extra pounds I carry around on my exterior, my size large fits close to my mid section. That said, the unique combination of technical fabrics has kept me warm and dry during our recent spate of wet snows here in Boulder. The durability and stretch make this an ideal colder weather climbing piece. It's worked great at 20 degrees with wind as long as I kept moving. Standing around at that temp required an additional insulation layer on top since I couldn't fit it underneath.
Those leaner than my 5'9", 200 lb. stumpy frame will find it perfect for cold weather high aerobic activity.
I was looking for a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket that would provide the ultimate protection I might need if the shit hit the fan at altitude. I took this one to the new Opas Taylor Hut between Aspen & Crested Butte for its maiden voyage. Was I impressed! It was blowing hard at 12,100' so I skied with just a thin wool layer and the Transonic. The bit of stretch and windproofness made it the perfect amount of protection while breathable enough to ski uphill with a pack. It fit over my down sweater when I was standing around at the top of the pass trying to figure out where the elusive hut might be. (several people have gotten lost and benighted trying to find this newest addition to the Braun Hut System)
It's one chest pocket is spacious but not ideal for town use where you might want more storage. Pockets add weight and bulk however so this is perfect for light/fast pursuits.
For backcountry use, I can't think of a lighter, more breathable outer layer. I'm a huge fan of Gore's Active Shell fabric for its balance of wind protection and warmth while eliminating the sauna effect.
This small package of protection is more breathable than any hardshell and it doesn't restrict a bit of movement. The fit is fairly trim to minimize bulk and move with you. Nice that it packs into it's own chest pocket.
Softshells keep getting better and better with new lighter-weight fabrics that move better than earlier iterations.
Traveling abroad with a minimum amount of clothing is ideal. Most of the nylon/quick dry shirts I find have too many flaps and conspicuous zippers...stuff. This one is clean, functional and cool. On the rare occasion that it requires washing, it's ready to wear in short order. The sun protection is a bonus.
Looking for a short that is lightweight enough for hot weather hiking and climbing but is still durable? This short is comfortable like cotton and durable with nylon. Hiked in the Utah canyons with them and they seemed perfect to me. The zip pockets kept important stuff from falling out while rapping pour-offs.
I find the fit around my head to be flawless. It does come up over my chin comfortably so it seals out the wind beautifully.
To my eye, the photo of the silver is accurate.
Here's a photo of my size large jacket stuffed. I prefer not to "over-stuff" it. It will easily compress to 2/3 of the size shown.
So sorry that I've not addressed your questions for such a long time. Let me attempt to do that now as objectively as I can.
The Rab Microlite Alpine is a vastly different animal. It has a W/B outer shell and weighs in at 21 oz. vs. 9 oz. here. The Flash sweater is intended as an outer layer for moderate days and should undoubtedly be layered under a W/B shell when skiing trees or when the wind is howling. Yes, the lightweight fabric will snag on tree branches when cruising by in the steeps. The combination of 850 minimum fill power down and lightweight, completely breathable fabric causes it's comfort range to be extremely versitile. From 65 degrees F to 20 F, I typically feel like I'm at room temp while wearing my Flash. Adding a waterproof/breathable layer to the outer fabric increases its durability (still risky in the trees) and it makes it warmer but will also narrow it's comfort range. Warmer temps will more readily cause overheating. I have both the Flash XR and the regular Flash. Probably if I lived in the Pacific NW, I'd wear my XR more. Here in Colorado, I don't even carry fleece in the backcountry anymore. This jacket with a lightweight Gore layer on top and 1-2 thin wool layers underneath is the most I've ever needed on our coldest -10 degree days. Hailing from Minnesota, these Colorado temps are admittedly pretty moderate.
For the record, the Flash XR is plenty water resistant for any wet weather I've encountered short of a downpour.
I've uploaded a photo of my Flash after 3 years of use. If I'd skied trees with it unprotected, it would have patches all over it. Having said that, I've not babied it either. It is either in my pack or thrown in the back of my car or stuffed into the tankbag of my motorbike whenever the temps are anticipated below 40.
Regarding its durability, as Yvon Chouinard so aptly put it: (paraphrasing) Having the best gear is no replacement for knowing how to use it.
Use this jacket wisely (not over-protectively!) and it will last a very, very long time. It will also become your most used jacket as it has become mine.
The waterproof overlap on the foot vent is quite sufficient to keep your bag dry. The Advanced bivy is a bit larger than the Alpine Bivy and feels a more spacious. (for a bivy!)
The Alti Mitt has been used on countless expeditions. Since the Primaloft liner can be removed, the dexterity can be increased when temps allow. When it's REALLY cold, you'll have the appropriate degree of dexterity because you'll still be able to feel your fingers!
The fitted nature of this gaiter assures that if properly fit, snow and rain will stay on the outside where it belongs. Having said that, you want to make sure that they fit snugly around your boot.
I would also suggest that you consider the Croc Gaiter for women. It has the same fitted nature but is made from more durable lower fabric and the Gore upper will breath better over the long haul.
This is my favorite cold weather glove. I wear it in my size: large and it fits very true.
The Mutant can certainly handle ski carry. There is always a concern about burred ski edges causing some damage to any pack material they come in contact with. Having said that, the 420 denier packcloth that comprise the side panels and the 100 denier lower side pockets should provide plenty of protection given a modicum of care.
Osprey's Variant 37 is very similar to the Mutant but with shovel slot on the outside and a very lightweight aluminum frame that may slightly improve the carry with that extra 15+ pounds of long levers pulling on you in the wind. Just a thought. Either way, I think you'll be very happy with how the packs carry with skis or without.
Everything said about this bag is true. Refer to my review of the microfiber version for more info.One note to help you stuff the bag into its stuff sack. Gore Windstopper is windproof. Air does not excape the bag easily when right side out. To stuff this bag and all Windstopper bags, turn it inside out for a much easier, more mitten friendly time!
OK...in truth I've never used this bag. I only wish I'd taken it to Denali when I was old enough (young enough) to enjoy it! The "-40" bag I used to climb Denali (one of Earth's coldest environs) was a shadow of this bag. That was 1980 and I didn't know about Western at that time. This bag is astoundingly thick and warm for its 3 lbs. 4 oz. By most accounts, most users of this bag will swear that it's good to -40. Certainly with a tent I would have no question about that. The shell is surprisingly water resistant. Buy the Gore version if you want the ultimate in warmth and water resistance for snow caves and igloos. The inside of the foot section is slightly burlier fabric for placement of boot liners or full boots that have frozen to your feet. (happened to me!) By the way, this is not licence to crawl into your bag with crampons in place! Want the maximum in warmth/weight/compressibility? You're looking at it.
The same fabric is used in my Alpinlite 20 degree version. I woke up in the Cirque of the Towers (having fallen asleep to bright starlight) with 3 inches of snow on my bag and 24 degree temps. Not feeling the least bit wet, I rolled over and got another hour of shuteye.
This is a parka that I wish I could wear more often. My days of expedition climbing are probably over. Having climbed Denali and Western Canadian peaks, I can only say that I wish I'd had this jacket during my most adventuresome climbs. Like all Western jackets, the Meltdown uses minimum 850 fill goose down. Most of our down tests higher, in the 900 to 950 range. The fabric is slightly heavier and water resistant than the stuff used in Western's Flight or Flash Jackets. This adds to the durability and suggests its use without a layer over top. Only the soggiest days would wet out this jacket. This begs the question: Why would you wear this jacket anywhere above 20 degrees F, anyway?
The downfilled hood tucks easily into the collar yet reappears to provide super cold weather protection. The jacket's fit is generous to accommodate layers underneath. My size large weighs 17 oz. on my postal scale yet would be my jacket of choice for another shot at Alaskan peaks or winter camping in my state of origin, Minnesota. Don't be fooled by the overall weight. It's got more than enough down to keep you toasty! It's just the good stuff!
This jacket is not what I would describe as an athletic fit. It is intended to be worn over other layers and produce ultimate protection from cold. It fits under my slightly oversized Gore-Tex jacket for "full on" weather protection since it is water resistant but not water proof.
Full cut is how I would best describe the fit. I'm male, 5'9" and 200 lbs. My large fits with room to layer underneath.
This was the first jacket I purchased from Western Mountaineering. (Yes, even us reps have to pay the stuff we get from our suppliers!)
If you prefer a functional down sweater without a hood, you've found the best in show. Again, this is not a fashion piece. It is simply the lightest, warmest, most compressible in it's class. The light fabric is not water resistant in the least. Instead it is amazingly breathable and versitile in both cold and moderate weather. Western uses only European goose down that routinely measures over 900 fill power. We guaranty 850 plus. This make the jacket feel as though you're wearing nothing at all yet for me works with a t-shirt to 10 degrees F before I put on a shell on top or a layer of wool underneath. Everything about this jacket is comfortable. The collar is just right. The cuffs are low in bulk yet keep the warmth in as expected. My Flight Jacket is well worn and about 4 years old. With care, it will last many more years in my pack and on my back.
You need to know right off the bat that I'm the sales rep in the Rockies for Western Mountaineering. I'm unabashed about extolling the virtues of Western down bags, jackets, pants and booties.
I've owned many down sweaters in the course of my work in this business. This is the best I've ever used. It's lighter, more compact, warmer and more comfortable than any other. Here is my experience: The jacket with stuff sack weighs 9oz. on my postal scale. The fit is generous with a very comfortable hood design. Don't look for fashion here. You won't find it. Instead, decide if you're looking for the lightest, most compressible, warmest down sweater on the market. If it is, you'll keep it in your pack at all times like I do, waiting for the next opportunity to put it to the test. You'll love it too!
Hi there! Tom here. I'm the Western Mountaineering rep here in the Rockies. I've been bugging Western to put some kind of sizing chart together but they're busy sewing jackets and bags. Sorry 'bout that.
The jackets run quite full. Most folks I know wear their normal size. If in between sizes, going down will usually work. I prefer to size up for comfort and ease of layering. The fabrics are so light and the down so "drapy" that sizing up will usually yield an acceptable fit.
Sorry to be so vague but without specs, that's all I can do. Next step will be to request a sizing chart once again. Let's see what happens!
This Usage Agreement (the "Agreement") governs your conduct while using various services on the web site Backcountry.com and its affiliate web sites (collectively, the "Site"). All references to "we," "us," and "our" shall mean Backcountry.com and all references to "you" and "your" shall mean the user of the Site and Site Services. This Agreement applies to various services and activities on the Site as well as to gear review and product ratings (collectively, "Site Services"). Please read this Agreement carefully.
BY ACCESSING, BROWSING, AND USING THE SITE, ANY SITE SERVICES AND OTHER SERVICES THEREIN, YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THIS AGREEMENT AND ITS TERMS. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THIS AGREEMENT OR ANY SUBSEQUENT MODIFICATION THEREOF, DO NOT ACCESS, BROWSE OR OTHERWISE USE THE SITE OR SITE SERVICES, INCLUDING THE SUBMISSION OF ANY REVIEWS OR COMMENTS.
Any comments, reviews (including gear reviews and product ratings), posts, feedback, questions, answers, notes, messages, images, video, audio, materials, documents, data, graphics, ideas, suggestions or other communications (collectively, "User Content") you submit on the Site are not private or proprietary. By submitting User Content on or through the Site, you grant, assign and transfer to Backcountry.com all of your rights, title and interest, including without limitation, all intellectual property rights and moral rights, in and to such User Content. To the extent the preceding assignment and transfer is ineffective, you hereby grant Backcountry.com an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, adapt, display, publish, archive, store, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon such User Content, in any form, media, software or technology of any kind now existing or developed in the future.
By submitting such User Content on or through the Site, you are confirming that (a) you are the sole author of the User Content and the User Content originated with you and not copied in whole or in part from any other work; (b) you have obtained all necessary permissions associated with the User Content, including without limitation permissions relating to copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity and/or rights of privacy; (c) the User Content does not contain hate speech or profanity and is not unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortuous, defamatory, vulgar, libelous, obscene, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, an invasion of another's privacy, or otherwise in violation of this Agreement; (d) that you are not a minor and have the legal right and capacity to enter into and comply with this Agreement; (e) such User Content does not and will not, in any way, violate or breach any of the terms of this Agreement; and (f) Backcountry.com shall not in any circumstances be required to pay or incur any sums to any person or entity as a result of its use or exploitation of the User Content.
With respect to your conduct on the Site or while using the Site Services, you agree not to: (a) attempt to disguise the origin of any User Content transmitted to the Site Services whether through the Site or any third party site; (b) act in any manner that negatively affects other users' ability to use the Site and Site Services; (c) impersonate any person or entity, including without limitation, a manufacturer or owner of any product, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity; (d) interfere with the Site or Site Services, or servers or networks connected to the Site or Site Services, or disobey any requirements, procedures, policies, or regulations of networks connected to the Site or Site Services; (e) upload, post, or otherwise transmit any User Content that with respect to the Site Services: (i) is not relevant to the product, service, person or entity being reviewed; (ii) you do not have a right to transmit under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships (by way of example but not limitation, inside information, proprietary and confidential information learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure agreements); (iii) contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment; or (iv) is unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation.
User Content does not reflect the views of Backcountry.com, and Backcountry.com does not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, integrity, quality or reliability of any User Content, nor does Backcountry.com endorse or support any opinions expressed in any User Content. In no event shall Backcountry.com have or be construed to have any responsibility or liability for or in connection with any User Content, Any gear reviews and/or product ratings submitted on the Site, if displayed, are displayed for entertainment and informational purposes only. Under no circumstances will Backcountry.com be liable in any way for any User Content, including but not limited to, any errors or omissions in any User Content, or for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any User Content posted, emailed or otherwise transmitted via the Site or Site Services.
If Backcountry.com determines, in our sole and absolute discretion, that you or any User Content you submit violates this Agreement, we reserve the right, at any time, without notice and without limiting any and all other rights Backcountry.com may have under this Agreement, to: (a) refuse to allow you to submit further User Content; (b) remove and delete your User Content; (c) revoke your registration and right to use the User Content Submission Features; and (d) use any technological, legal, operational or other means available to enforce the terms of this Agreement, including, without limitation, blocking specific IP addresses or deactivating your registration, access to the Site and Site Services using your e-mail address, and your user name and password. Without limiting the foregoing, once User Content is submitted to the Site, Backcountry.com may take any or no action with respect to such User Content, including without limitation, deleting, editing, modifying, rejecting, or refusing to post such User Content, but is under no obligation to offer you the opportunity to edit, delete or otherwise modify User Content once it has been submitted. Backcountry.com shall have no duty to attribute authorship of User Content to you and shall not be obligated to enforce any form of attribution by third parties.
If, despite the foregoing assignment and transfer of rights in the User Content, it is determined that you retain moral rights (including the rights of attribution or integrity) in the User Content, you hereby declare that: (a) you do not require that any personally identifying information be used in connection with the User Content or any derivative works of or upgrades or updates thereto; (b) you have no objection to the publication, use, modification, deletion and exploitation of the User Content by Backcountry.com or its licensees, successors or assigns; (c) you forever waive and agree not to claim or assert any entitlement to any and all moral rights of an author in any of the User Content; and (d) you forever release Backcountry.com, and its licensees, successors and assigns from any claims that you could otherwise assert against Backcountry.com by virtue of any such moral rights.
You are prohibited from violating the security of any system or network compromising the Site or the Site Services, including but not limited to the following: (a) unauthorized access to or use of data, systems, or networks, including any attempt to probe, scan or test the vulnerability of the Site or Site Services or to breach security or authentication measures; (b) unauthorized monitoring of data or traffic on the Site or of the Site Services; (c) interference with the Site or Site Services including without limitation, any type of flooding technique or deliberate attempt to overload the system such as denial or service attacks; (d) forging of a message header or any part of a message header; or (e) using manual or electronic means to avoid any use or access limitation placed on this Site or the Site Services. Such violations may result in criminal or civil liability.
Backcountry.com reserves the right to report any activity or persons that Backcountry.com suspects has violated any law or regulation to appropriate law enforcement officials, regulators, or other appropriate third parties (including the disclosure of appropriate subscriber information). Backcountry.com may also cooperate with appropriate law enforcement agencies to assist in the investigation and prosecution of any illegal conduct. Indirect or attempted violations of this Agreement and actual or attempted violations thereof by a third party on behalf of any user shall be considered violations of this Agreement by such user.
BACKCOUNTRY.COM DOES NOT ENDORSE THE USER CONTENT, IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE USER CONTENT AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY TO ANY PERSON OR ENTITY (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, PERSONS WHO MAY USE OR RELY ON SUCH USER CONTENT) FOR ANY LOSS, DAMAGE (WHETHER ACTUAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR OTHERWISE), INJURY, CLAIM, LIABILITY OR OTHER CAUSE OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER BASED UPON OR RESULTING FROM ANY USER CONTENT PROVIDED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.