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INITIAL REPORT: Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket (late)

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  • Curt and Rene
    A few days late, but here it is. Thanks for the patience and the diligence, Dennis!! ... Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket - Initial Report - November 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2003
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      A few days late, but here it is. Thanks for the patience and the
      diligence, Dennis!!

      Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket
      - Initial Report -

      November 2003

      Below you will find:
      1. Integral Designs Weights and Specifications
      2. Integral Designs Initial Observations
      3. Testing Plan and Location
      4. Contact and Background Information


      1. Integral Designs Weights and Specifications

      Year of Manufacture: 2003
      Color: Blue
      Size: XXL

      According to my digital scale (0.1 ounce / 1 gram accuracy), the
      results I measured are:

      · Weight of Silnylon Stuff Sack: 0.6oz (17gm)
      · Weight of Jacket without Hood: 25.9oz (732gm)
      · Weight of Hood: 3.5oz (101gm)
      · Weight of Jacket with Hood: 29.4oz (833gm)

      · Loft of Jacket at Chest: 1 7/8in to 2 1/8in (4.8cm to 5.4cm)

      2. Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket Initial Observations

      The Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket is a synthetic insulation cold
      weather jacket made for mountain environments where cold weather is
      encountered, but light pack weight is desired. Shelled and lined in
      Pertex ripstop nylon and filled with Primaloft Sport insulation, the
      Dolomitti represents the current cutting edge in materials for this
      type of jacket. The product I received appears identical to the
      jackets featured on the Integral Designs website. Included in the
      package was the Dolomitti jacket, the optional zip-on hood, a
      silnylon stuff sack, and a current Integral Designs catalog. Here
      are my initial impressions and observations:

      The Dolomitti Jacket does not have a lot of extra features, which in
      my opinion is a good thing. This keeps things simple and focuses on
      function above all else. Standard on the jacket are a two-way main
      zipper, two zip-closure hand warmer pockets, and one internal
      pocket. The two-way zipper is ideal, and makes this a wonderful
      candidate for a belay jacket. Being able to zip up from the bottom
      allows easy access when wearing a climbing harness, and quick venting
      when needed. The hand warmer pockets are good for storage with their
      zip closures, and certainly are buried deep enough in the insulation
      to keep hands warm, but I have found them to be a bit small.
      Granted, I have larger hands than most people, but it's a tighter fit
      than I would prefer, and limits their use to small things. I would
      be hard pressed to stuff a fleece cap and mittens with overmitts in
      the pockets, which are items I'd like to keep handy when not actively
      being used. The internal pocket is pretty basic - just a standard
      fabric pocket for securing important items or re-warming gloves or
      frozen water bottles. I haven't yet checked to make sure all of my
      water containers will fit in this pocket, but will definitely find
      out for future reports.

      The hood is surely a stand out feature, primarily due to its size.
      This is one huge hood. I have a big head, and I'm swimming in this
      hood. This is a definite asset in my opinion. This allows wearing
      of baseball caps, stocking caps, or helmets while staying warm. I
      lose the majority of my body heat through my head and neck, so a big
      warm hood is more than welcome. It does not have multiple
      adjustments, however, and in early testing on cold nights, the hood
      is proving difficult to see out of. In a cold camp or low-activity
      situation, this hood should be fine. In more intense situations
      where the weather warrants a hood, but sure vision is required, it
      could prove less ideal. Field testing will surely reveal the full
      usefulness of the hood. It does zip on and off quite easily, and
      leaving the 3.5ozs (101gms) at home on spring and fall trips will be

      The silnylon stuff sack fits the entire jacket and hood, even in size
      XXL, without unnecessary crushing of the insulation and without extra
      space. Long and narrow, it resembles the shape of most sleeping bag
      stuff sacks, but quite a bit thinner.

      The materials used in the Dolomitti are quite impressive. Using
      Primaloft Sport insulation and Pertex ultralight ripstop nylon shell
      and lining, the Dolomitti utilizes the current standards for top
      quality materials. The Primaloft is 5.0 oz/sq/yd (170 gm/sq/m),
      which is about as thick as any commercial jackets available.
      Integral Designs claims the loft is equivalent to 3 layers of 200-
      weight Polartec. It has a much more silky feel to it than other
      synthetic insulations I have used, including the various Polarguards,
      Lite Loft, Microloft, and others. It also feels much finer, which I
      believe allows it to conform to my body better, much like down. The
      Pertex shell and lining are incredibly lightweight, which offers the
      Primaloft the opportunity to reach its full loft potential. This is
      a great marriage of materials. Because both are lighter and more
      fragile than many similar materials, durability is a real concern.
      This is something I will watch closely during testing.

      Fit and Cut

      The Dolomitti is a jacket, not a parka. Backcountry enthusiasts
      looking for an insulation piece to cover their butts should look
      elsewhere for a cold weather insulator. The Dolomitti is a waist
      length jacket built for mobility and light weight. As someone who
      spends time in weather cold enough that insulation is sometimes worn
      during activity, I appreciate the design of the Dolomitti. There is
      a shockcord drawstring waist that can be cinched up tight to seal out
      cold drafts, and the wrist cuffs are long and tight, making it
      unlikely cold will sneak in that way. In fact, if anything, the
      cuffs are too tight. They are nice when reaching up for something
      because they keep the arms from slipping down, but they are awfully
      snug, and make reading a watch or pushing up the sleeves a bit nearly
      impossible. Field use will determine whether or not this is a
      potentially frustrating feature of the Dolomitti.

      The sizing is accurate for what I expect an XXL to be. It's
      certainly not baggy, and layering much underneath would be
      constricting, but wearing a simple synthetic t-shirt underneath
      provides a comfortable fit without feeling too cavernous or
      restrictive. I wear an XXL in almost every brand of outdoor clothing
      I own, and Integral Designs' sizing appears to fall in line with
      accepted industry standards. I do prefer tall sizes when available,
      which they rarely are, but the Dolomitti fits me just fine in both
      the arms and torso. I'm quite pleased with this, as cold wrists and
      navels are not much fun when there's nothing but snow and ice to keep
      me company.

      Initial High Points
      · Highest quality materials and construction
      · Good fit and feel
      · One of the biggest and warmest hoods I've worn

      Initial Concerns
      · Durability of shell fabric
      · Longevity of insulation loft
      · Functionality of hood when vision is required

      3. Testing Plan and Location

      The vast majority of my usage of the Dolomitti Jacket will be in the
      Central and North Cascades. Weather is quite changeable in this
      range, especially in the fall and winter, and many opportunities to
      use the Dolomitti Jacket will be available. This test should run into
      the heart of the Cascade ski season, and I will use the Dolomitti in
      the Cascades a couple of times a week during this period. I will also
      have a couple of chances to test the jacket in colder, drier
      conditions, as I usually make one or two backpacking trips to the
      Central Washington Steppe during the winter. Single digit
      temperatures and crisp air are common on that side of the Cascades,
      which would present a nice contrast to Seattle's stormy and wet fall
      and winter.

      Western Washington is probably the most appropriate place in the
      nation, excepting parts of Alaska, perhaps, for synthetic outer
      insulation. Constant drizzle, wet snow, and good old-fashioned rain
      conspire to create the perfect recipe for hypothermia. In fact, I
      recently learned that Washington has the most deaths by hypothermia
      in the nation! This was interesting to find out, as I grew up in
      Minnesota where -20F temperatures were no big deal. The +20F
      temperatures with moist air that are common here have an entirely
      different kind of chill, however, so this statistic isn't all too
      surprising. The fear of wet down is a real concern here, not an
      unlikely worst-case scenario as it is in many parts of the country
      during winter. Synthetic makes sense in this climate, and this
      product appears to have been made with the Pacific Northwest in mind.

      I'll be testing the Integral Designs' Dolomitti jacket with a focus
      on the following questions:

      1) Does it keep me warm? This is the bottom line, really. In
      conditions ranging from bitterly cold and dry to near freezing and
      rainy, can the Dolomitti keep the chills at bay?

      2) Does it fit? My measurements are almost exactly the dimensions
      that Integral Designs indicates for their XXL size. Does this
      transfer to the real world person? Is it comfortable when moving
      around and raising arms and bending over, or is it just good for
      standing around?

      3) Is it durable? With normal use, including exposure to foul weather
      and stuffing in the provided stuff sack, does the jacket lose loft?
      Is the loss significant? Does the loss of loft, if any, affect the
      warmth of the jacket over time?

      4) Are the features functional and necessary? Are the pockets
      useable? Is the hood made for use with a beanie, baseball cap, or
      climbing helmet on? Is the zipper useable with mittens on? Does the
      jacket have too many unnecessary features that just add weight?

      5) Perhaps most importantly, does it do a relatively decent job of
      insulating in moist conditions? I wouldn't expect any jacket to be
      comfortable in a saturated state, but the ability to stay reasonably
      warm during drizzle and wet snow is a claim that insulation makes
      over down. Is it true? Is it enough to warrant the weight difference
      between synthetic and down? Ultimately, is it safe to rely on a
      jacket like this in wet backcountry conditions?

      4. Contact and Background Information:
      Review by Curt Peterson:
      Age: 32
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'3" (1.91 m)
      Weight: 270 (122 kg)

      I live in Seattle and do the vast majority of my outdoor activities
      in Washington State. During the summer I try to head to the
      backcountry at least every other week, averaging 3 to 5 multi-day
      trips in July and August. In the fall and early winter, I usually do
      a couple day hikes a month and probably one overnight per month. In
      the winter, I ski 1 to 2 days per week, and backpack in the Central
      Washington steppe 1 to 2 times over the season. Spring and early
      summer I usually climb, most often on the Cascade volcanoes. I
      usually go to the coast in Olympic National Park at least once a
      year, and try to summit at least one big volcano a year, so the range
      of locations that I test gear is pretty broad. I also do a 3-mile
      walk each day with my dog, no matter what the conditions are, and I
      often evaluate gear during that time.

      I played football in college, and have been pretty active my entire
      life. I have been camping and backpacking as long as I can remember.
      First in Utah as a child, in Minnesota until I finished college, and
      here in Washington ever since. I served on the Product Test Committee
      for Seattle's biggest outdoor gear retailer for a two-year term in
      the mid-90s, then guided backpacking tours with my wife in Olympic
      National Park for a few summers. I've been interested in the most
      recent shift to lightweight thinking for the past few years and
      really enjoy checking out new ideas and approaches to backpacking.
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