From: Robert Hayes, 10/14/97
This stuff is EXPENSIVE, so try to get it on sale.
Both top and tights are a 70% fleece, 24% nylon, 6% lycra combination. Each piece has a zippered pocket.
The brushed lining of fleece against your skin acts with super capillary action to disperse moisture. They dry VERY fast; even while you're back is sweating against a pack, for example.
The outer nylon surface sheds snow like crazy and the stretchy lycra allows a superb second-skin like fit on the tights, with the top being a little baggier. Excellent qualities for hiking, skiing and climbing. Although Patagonia says they're wind-resistant, I don't find them extremely so and suggest a layer over them if a breeze picks up.
As for warmth I put them in the range equivalent to a 100 weight fleece, which is pretty good for a base layer.
Durability is still something I'm experimenting with. On my first outing I ripped a hole in the knee of the tights on a jagged rock. Subsequently, with no other layer, I have rock climbed in them, bushwacked through dense forest at night, and worn them around the house casually without any problems. If you plan on hard usage without another layer on I suggest you spend your money elsewhere.
If you can afford a rip during solo use, or plan to use them during the fall or winter under other garments, go for it.
If you're like me, someone who has little body fat, you may
find this base layer gives you the extra edge to stay warm
when your buddies might be wearing poly-pro or midweight
From: Jon Popowich, 10/14/97
This jacket is contructed of 3-ply ripstop nylon/gore-tex; weighs about 19 ounces anc cost CDN $495.
This is a great jacket; very lightweight, with the usual excellent workmanship I've come to expect from Patagonia. It does not have pit zips, however, I've survived without them (it's funny how once a new feature comes out, everyone thinks that the world didn't exist beforehand; sort of like how people figured ice climbing didn't exist before plastic boots!)
Anyway, it's a great jacket for ice climbing, backpacking and general mountaineering. The fabric is lightweight, so no bushwacking or chimney climbing, but other than that it covers a lot of ground at only 19 oz.
From: Jim Morrison, 02/03/98
Although called "Lightweight" at 14.5 ounces it doesn't seem light until you consider that (1) it is a fairly universal article and (2) it weighs less than the equivalent Gore-Tex jacket. The large size is big enough for me to put a down sweater under. The hood is large enough to have room left over even with a heavy wool cap. Yet the hood has an adjustment strap to keep it from falling over your eyes.
When backpacking in heavy rain I found no leaks even after considerable use. Of course, you get moisture from perspiration, but less so if you limit your insulation layer and therefore stay cooler.
Although heavier than some, the weight of the material makes it more durable and it reduces clinging. when raingear clings to clothing I find it sweats more and feels less comfortable because of the friction created.
Hiking in the Rainforests of Washington- Jim
From: Robert Hayes, 10/14/97
My favorite perk is the ability to cinch the collar tight around your neck which prevents wind from drifting in and warmth from rising out. This makes a surprisingly big difference in keeping you warm. In a strong cold wind the fleece prevents most convective heat loss, although the strips below the arm pits DO allow a draft in... and this one feature, although it allows better ventilation, makes it a little iffy in conditions where you're not moving and the wind is strong. If you are moving, then it's great and if you start to build up a sweat you can use the pit-zips and/or the 2 front pockets for ventilation. Either way I would suggest a good base layer underneath to transport moisture and to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of metal zippers on your skin.
The design is very stylish and doesn't look "outdoorsy", which makes it possible to wear it around casually. But, this doesn't detract from its usefullness in hiking and climibing situations. The arms are longer than usual to allow for almost zero retraction when reaching and the elbows are sewn as to allow maximum articulation without binding. I've climbed a few times in it and have found it to be excellent.
Finally, it's got a good water repellency due to the tight fleece but don't count on it when the rain comes down.
Overall, if you're looking for a wind barrier that you'll use when you're on the move in or out of the city, this jacket is great. In spring or fall, If you're looking for something to wear at a belay station for 1/2 hour hour while you're buddy is leading, I would suggest you bring an extra layer (I use a Patagonia puffball vest) to put over or under it. It does NOT have a tight fit (although I am pretty thin) but does have a trim fit. However there is be plenty of room underneath it for a 100 or 200 fleece. Once the temp gets up though you'll find you're using all the ventilation features. This makes it great for year round use.
From: Al Rast, 01/07/98
This Early Winters pullover (I believe made of Polartec 200) is on sale at a great price of $29.95.
It has a 12 inch zipper and a pocket that can be reached from either side. I usually keep my Olympus Stylus Epic camera in this "kangaroo pouch."
It has the "T" construction for unrestricted sleeve movement. What's more, it is made in the USA and workmanship's great.
From: John Baumeister, 03/30/98
Save one pound over the Kamchatna Bibs by special ordering these babies. All the same features that you'd expect in a technical bib but without a pound of extra weight.
You'll have to look through the dealers catalog. Find them in the "Altitude" or "SAR" section. You will not find them hanging in a store anywhere.
Difference is Gore Activent instead of GoreTex.