I primarily hike around trails and bike on paths in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.
I was using this as a base layer on this day, but took my shell off to take this picture.
The DrimeClime vest offers near total wind proofness (3-5 CFM per the Marmot technical manual versus less than 2 CFM for Windstopper fabrics) in a 6 ounce, highly breathable, and very packable vest.This is a fairly basic and functional vest. It has a chest pocket, (2) hand warmer pockets, and a elastic drawcord.
The fit is athletic. I'm 5'10" 185 lbs and the large fits me very well. There is room for a base layer underneath, but that is about it.This item is all about versatility. It works great for bicycling and hiking in warmer temperatures where wind resistance is more important than insulation. It alsoworks very well with heavier fleeces that have no wind protection. I plan on pairing mine with my TNF Denali fleece to keep the wind out. I bought the cardinal/fire red and am happy with the vibrant colors.
The Sharp Point is a great jacket. It is part of the M1 soft shell group from Marmot which is their warmest soft shell. Plus features are the Windstopper fabric used, pit zips, and reinforced shoulders and elbows. There is a zip pocket on the inside of the jacket that is great for sunglasses or a hat and hand warmer pockets. The 28" length for medium which is a good length.
The fit is a cross between athletic and regular. I'm 5'10" 185 lbs and wear a large. There is room for a 100 weight fleece underneath, but not much beyond that. My jacket is black and I like the look of it. It is functional enough to wear on the trail, but nice enough to wear to work too. The material on the inside of the sleeves will rub on layers you wear underneath. That is the only minor complaint I have with the jacket.
I recently received the Marmot Madison off SAC and couldn't be any happier. The Madison is a MemBrain jacket with 20,000mm waterproofness, 25,000 gr/m/24 hours breathability, and 0 CFM windproofness per their technical manual.
It has pack pockets to suit outdoors use, but the pockets are functional enough to also warm your hands without looking awkward when wearing it for day to day use. It has an outside pocket that is large enough to fit sunglasses and also a pocket on the inside the jacket that can nicely store your hat. The hood fits well and is adjustable and removable. It has pitzips and an excellent thermal R liner. Other Marmot layering pieces can zip into it as well. I've found my Approach softshell also zips in if I wanted a lighter inner layer.
I'm 5'10 185 lbs and the large fits me perfectly. The length is very nice coming a couple inches below my waste (30" length for medium). I choose the color black so the jacket should also look nice enough for work. It is heavy enough to keep me warm in a midwestern winter, but not so warm as to cause me to be hot.
I was looking for a light softshell for use in mild conditions and came across the Marmot Approach. It falls into the M3 category of soft shells and is made of double weave material. The intended use of the jacket is for highly aerobic activities.I found the fit of the jacket to be true to size with an athletic fit. The jacket is wind resistant and water resistant, but will not totally stop either. It is very light. I wouldn't recommend wearing in the middle of winter in cold climates, but should work very well for more moderate conditions.I found mine in the fire red color at a local retailer for 40% off. I'm 5'10 185 lbs and a large fits me well. It has the added benefit of being able to be zipped into my Marmot Madison hard shell. There are (2) hand warmer pockets and (1) pocket on one of the sleeves.
I was given the Octans fleece for my birthday and have enjoyed wearing it so far. I have the sapphire color and it is a really nice blue. This is an excellent layering piece and is nice for wearing around the house or for casual use too.
The fit is athletic and runs small. I normally wear a L, but my Octans is a XL I'd describe the fleece weight as being approximately the same as a Polartec 200.
I originally was not looking for a Denali fleece, but I found a gray one yesterday on a clearance rack for $50 off and decided to try it on. Once I tried it on and saw all the features and the comfortable fit I decided to pick it up.
The fit is nearly perfect for everyday use. I'm 5'10" 185lbs and a large fits me well. I'd describe the fit as regular. It is not an athletic fit.
Pros: It is very warm. There are abrasion patches in wear areas to help the fleece last a long time. The inside material is incredibly soft and comfortable. There are lots of features! The two hand pockets are nice and comfortable. There are two chest pockets -- one for a media device and a larger one that works great for sunglasses or a hat. It has pit zips. It also has a hood although that could be a plus or minus depending upon how you are looking at it.
Cons: It is heavy at almost twice the weight of a MH Monkey Man (although with more features). It is not water proof and you'll find the wind goes right through it.
I haven't tried this out as a piece of technical gear yet. I think it could work nicely with a light wind blocking layer underneath. I think it's great for wearing around town although it is by no means a replacement for your winter coat.
I found the Zeus jacket recently at a local retailer for 30% off and decided to pick it up. It is very warm and weights just 15 ounces. So far I've been comfortable in static conditions at temperatures around 20F with just this jacket and a t-shirt. The jacket works great for both casual use as well as hiking. The DWR will keep fog and low amounts of moisture out, but using a shell would be necessary if there's any real amount of precipitation.
The finish on the jacket is more of a matte type of finish so you won't appear shiny or with a trash bag type of look. I'm 5'10" 185 lbs and chose the large so I'd have room to layer underneath if I chose to. Similar body types could fit into a medium if a tighter fit is desired.
The Mountain Hardwear power stretch glove is a great hiking glove in mild conditions. I wear these from the start when conditions are near freezing or switch to them when hiking in colder conditions once I've gotten too warm for my heavier gloves. I really like the fit. Your fingers can still perform tasks like taking pictures while wearing the gloves.
Potential cons are a) the gloves are fairly thin so while they are great for hiking they are not good for static warmth unless the temperature is fairly warm, b) durability may be a concern, velcro will damage the gloves and c) because of the smooth surface on your fingers these gloves are likely too slick to be used for driving.
This is a fantastic hiking hat. I'd recommend wearing it if temperatures are below 30F or slightly warmer if you are hiking where there is a very strong wind. The hat is very warm and will isolate you from the wind. I usually find that it becomes too warm and end up removing it or replacing it with a lighter hat when going on longer hikes.
Some reviewers complain about a cone head look to the hat. Judge for yourself the extent of the cone in the picture. I think it is present, but fairly minor and it doesn't bother me.
I never owned a pair of the old paramount peak convertible pants so I can't speak to changes that were made, but I love the 2010 version. The fit is great. I'm 5'10" 185 lbs and the medium regular fits me perfectly. I like the placement of the pockets and have found the pants to be durable. I'd highly recommend them.
I really like the Marmot Shadows hat. The microfleece lining and wool material will keep you warm, it is nice and light at just 2 ounces, and looks nice as well. I wear this hat for every day use and for hiking when the wind is reasonable.
I use the Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon when it is extremely cold or the wind is howling, but the Shadows is my go to hat for primary use.
I went on a 2 hr 20 min hike on an ice and snow covered trail today and didn't slip at all. Yesterday I went on a shorter hike on similar terrain without any traction gear and slipped on 4 or 5 occasions. Bottom line, the MICROspikes allowed me to go from watching every step I took to just enjoying the hiking experience.
I can't speak to the long term durability of the product, but they fit great so far. They didn't move on my feet at all and the stainless steel spikes held their shape perfectly despite walking at times on concrete and rock.