Good morning Kara,
HELLY HANSEN FASTPACK JACKET
TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON
NAME: Mark Thompson
EMAIL: markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
LOCATION: Parker, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (2.10 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)
Outdoor adventures started for me at an early age, my passions have grown to include backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing. Most of my adventures presently take place in Colorado's amazing Rocky Mountains. For trail hikes, my pack typically weighs 15 lbs/7 kg (summer/fall), 25 lbs/11 kg (winter/spring) and trail speed ranges from 2.5 - 4 mph (4 - 6 km/h) depending on elevation gain. For backpack trips, my pack weighs 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) and my trail speed drops to 1.5 - 3.0 mph (2 - 5 km/h).
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND
During this phase of the test series, I was able to get out into the woods on three more trips, two backpack trips of two days each (both were in Colorado) and a four day backpack trip to Mt Rainier. The first two of the aforementioned trips added 4 more to my list of successful "14er" summits: Blanca, Elingwood, Challenger and Kit Carson. The weather for these 5 peaks was very pleasant (all things considered). Evening and summit temperatures were obviously cooler and thus made it worth the effort to have a hard shell along. Besides, nobody knows when mother nature is going to send some rain or hail (thankfully, mother nature was kind and kept the precipitation at bay).
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PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Since the Odin FastPack has consistently been outperforming my other hard-shells, I opted to take it on my attempt of Mt
Rainier. Although this may not sound out of the ordinary since this is a test series, it was for me as Mt Rainier is not simply in my backyard, so any failed or under-performing gear could cost me not only the summit, but the entire trip along with the six other people on the trip. It isn't often that I can get off of work, fly half way across the country and climb a peak with several friends!
For those who are not familiar with Mt Rainier and the conditions that this peak presents, the closest major city, Seattle, rests along the northern Pacific Ocean (thus sea level) and the relatively short drive to the trail head provides a little bit of a boost with your feet hitting the trail at a mere 4,400' (1,341 m). The summit sits proudly at 14,409' (4,392 m) and is the only fully glaciated peak in the "48 States." This leaves 10,000' (3,048 m) of gain for the mountaineer. The conditions that vary with such a huge change
in elevation are even more remarkable than the views of this massive peak from the airplane. Seattle was warm and fairly humid with temperatures in the upper 70's (25 - 27 deg C). Surprisingly, the conditions at the trailhead were fairly similar. After gaining another 1,800' (549 m) the several feet (appx 1 meter) of snow on the ground gave just a glimpse of what was to come. After an uneventful trek up to high base camp the temperatures began to plummet with the setting sun and the calm winds gave way to a less than peaceful night with 25 mph (40 kph) sustained winds with gusts to 35 mph (56 kph). Fortunately, we were not to sleep much as we left camp at 2:00am for our summit bid. The Odin had been along for the ride much of the trip, until now, and it was fine time for it to earn it's place in my pack. With the mercury hanging around 28 deg F (-2 deg C) and the winds keeping us on our toes at 25
mph (40 kph), the Odin reminded me of why I brought it!
The ascent began well before sunrise and, since we were well into crevasse territory, we roped up before even leaving camp. Having to change or adjust clothing after tying into a rope team is not only difficult and time-consuming, it presents enormous risks to the well being of teammates by causing an opportunity for them to get cold while waiting. The long, dual purpose pockets/vents enabled me to adjust my comfort level throughout the day, and kept me from being the cause of any "clothing adjustment" breaks or the like. I kept the vents approximate 75% closed until daybreak, then opening them half way, only to have to close them completely for the last 500' of gain and the entire time on the summit.
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The jacket performed perfectly throughout the adventure and I couldn't have been
happier. The weather conditions were good for Rainier standards and certainly the weather I encountered on St Mary's glacier a few months ago proved significantly more difficult. The winds were a significant factor however, and the FastPack Jacket blocked it like a champ!
This is simply an awesome jacket. Pros, Cons Comments remain the same:
- Light weight (can't emphasize this enough)
- Superb moisture dissipation
- Awesome ventilation
- Zipper backing (I have not had any additional tears in the material, but I have had to be very careful)
- European Zipper Orientation (okay, minor complaint, but for the North American male, the zipper lever is typically placed so it can be grasped with the right hand)
- Not really a "con" because I have learned to like it, but the hood isn't large enough to fit over a helmet. As
you may have noticed in the first picture of this report, I am wearing the hood inside of my helmet. I have grown to like this better as the smaller hood does not flop around in the wind (when not wearing a helmet) nearly as much as my other helmet compatible jackets.
My sincere thanks to Helly Hansen and BackpackGearTest.org for providing the opportunity to test this awesome jacket!
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.