Owner Review - Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon Pullover
- Owner Review - Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon Pullover
Reviewer: Roger Caffin
Weight: 63 kg (139 lb)
Height: 166 cm (65")
Clothing Size: Medium
Email address: r dot [surname] at acm dot org
Home: Sydney, Australia
I started bushwalking (the Australian term) at 14, then took up rock
climbing at University with the girl who became my wife and is my walking
partner. Later on we took up ski touring and canyoning. Winter and summer,
we prefer long hard trips by ourselves: about a week in Australia, up to two
months in Europe/UK. We prefer fast and light in unfrequented trackless
country. We would be out for at least three months a year. Over the last
four years we have reduced our pack weights from 18 - 20 kg (40 - 45 lb)
each to about 12 kg (26 lb), including food, for week-long trips. I designed
and made much of our lightweight gear myself.
I am also the maintainer of the Australian aus.bushwalking FAQ web site
Manufacturer: Bozeman Mountain Works *1
Product Name: Cocoon Pullover
Year of manufacture: 2006 *2
Country of manufacture: unknown
Materials: Shell Fabric: Pertex Quantum Mini-Ripstop
Lining Fabric: Pertex Quantum Taffeta
Insulation: 68g/sq. m Polarguard Delta
Listed weight: XS: 7.7 oz (218 g)
S: 8.5 oz (241 g)
M: 8.6 oz (243 g)
L: 9.6 oz (272 g)
XL: 9.9 oz (281 g)
XXL: 10.5 oz (298 g)
Measured weight: Large: 270 g (9.6 oz)
Style: Pullover with neck zip
Colours tested: Orange & Blue exteriors, black interior
MSRP: US$190 *3
Review Date: 21-Sep-2007
*1 The Cocoons are made by Bozeman Mountain Works but are normally sold by
BackpackingLight. However, both companies belong to the same group.
*2 The Cocoons we took are from production runs prior to 2007. The version
currently available looks identical to ours but now is called a Cocoon UL 60
*3 This is the 'public' RRP; discounts are available to subscribers to
I have paraphrased the claims listed on the company web site as they seem
devoid of marketing spin and reasonably accurate.
* High collar - a seal against the elements and heat loss.
* Elastic wrist cuffs and waist hem - functional but light seals.
* Drop tail - insulation for your rear end.
* Single chest pocket - small.
* Deep front zip - adds ventilation capability and simplifies taking it on
This is a fairly simple pullover-style top, with a 340 mm (13.5 ") black zip
at the neck, a simple wrap-around high collar, a small chest pocket and
elasticised cuffs and hem. All this is visible in the picture above. The
warmth value comes from the 68 gsm Polarguard Delta synthetic insulation
inside the shell. While I am describing my bright yellow Cocoon (size
Large), some of the photos will show my wife's blue Cocoon (size Medium).
The two companies (Bozeman Mountain Works and BackpackingLight) specialise
in equipment for the ultra-light end of the market, and this top is one of
the lightest around. Of course, all things being equal, the heavier the top
the more insulation capacity you would expect - but things are never equal.
This top uses some of the lightest shell fabric available and some of the
best synthetic insulation available, but avoids having lots of 'features'.
Preamble to Field Experiences
From mid-May in 2007 my wife and I spent three months walking several trails
in France. While planning the trip we were extremely concerned about keeping
our pack weights down - you may note my age. One thing which did concern us
was the matter of warm clothing, as we had to expect some bad weather in
the three months. In the event we had a lot more bad weather than we had
expected: the season was rather rough, with very late snow and a lot of cold
wind, rain, hail and sleet.
While planning we had a choice of two warm tops: some 200-weight fleece tops
which I had made and which were quite warm, and these 'padded' Cocoon tops.
The advantage of a fleece top in general is that one can wear it without
damaging it while carrying a pack. I don't think the Polarguard Delta would
appreciate being crushed under a pack for hours of walking on end, although
I don't actually know. However, the 200-weight fleece top is not as warm as
the Cocoon, and it is heavier. What eventually decided us both in favour of
the lighter Cocoons was the realisation that we seldom wear fleece tops
while walking: in practice we only do that on ski trips in bad weather. The
trip to France was meant to be a summer trip.
I can say quite positively that the Cocoon is warm! If I was cold and wet
when I finally got into the tent in the evening, I knew that discarding my
wet shirt for a thermal top and the Cocoon would quickly bring great
happiness. I would add that some evenings were only a few degrees above
freezing when we settled down to cook dinner - like in the photo to the
right. On the other hand, I did not try wearing the Cocoon with nothing
under it: the fit of the Large on my Medium body is not that tight, and a
little draft-proofing was indicated.
Why did I choose the Large instead of the Medium? Well, one theory was that
having it slightly large would let me pop it on easily over other clothing.
In practice I rarely did that however, as it was normally stored very safely
at the bottom of my pack beside my sleeping bag. I have this paranoid
attitude towards keeping my final defence line of clothing quite dry. But
the weather was very poor for a long time, and we were quite dependent on
our final defense line of clothing. The other theory said that having the
fit too tight would not let the insulation fluff out adequately. I cannot
comment on the latter as the fit for both mine and my wife's tops were
It is hard to separate out the two issues of warmth and comfort. Obviously a
design which really doesn't fit is going to be uncomfortable, and that did
not happen. Once past that test, I have to say 'if I'm warm I'm
comfortable'! It might have been nice to have had a Cocoon with an
integrated hood, but that option only became available after we acquired
these. The only very slight negative I can think of is that the 'drop tail'
is not particularly generous - but it does manage to cover my waist when I
am sitting down. I will leave it at that.
Synthetic versus Down
This topic is a perennial: which is better? In this case the answer is, in
my opinion, definitely the synthetic, but for reasons which are not so
obvious. The padding layer is about 20 mm, but this is very hard to measure.
Any pressure on the fabric and the Polarguard layer is squeezed thinner.
However, when I am wearing it there is usually little or no pressure on the
Polarguard, so that's OK.
Could this be matched by an equivalent weight of down? If the layer was flat
on the ground I suspect the answer would be yes, but the Cocoon is not flat
on the ground when I am wearing it. I know from experience (making down
sleeping bags) that if I pack a very small quantity of down into a box
structure hanging vertical, it is likely to settle to the bottom of the box.
The top half of the box becomes nearly empty, and a poor insulator. This can
be prevented by having very small boxes - which is extremely expensive to
sew, or by stuffing the boxes much fuller - which is heavier. However, the
Polarguard Delta insulation used here comes in a batt which some structure:
it can be hung vertically and retain its shape. Other similar synthetic
insulation materials behave the same. So in this case I think the use of a
synthetic insulation works best.
Robustness - Fabric and Insulation
This was a concern, as I mentioned above in the Preamble. The fabric is so
very light... But it seemed to survive everything we did to it - although we
were careful. The elastic in the hem and cuffs seems the same as when new,
and the zip is still just fine. I admit I was occasionally concerned that
the puffy sleeves might catch in the dinner or, far worse, get toasted by
the stove, but none of that ever happened. Perhaps the cuffs are not that
prone to flapping around.
The robustness of the synthetic insulation is also a concern, and it should
be noted that the manufacturer has recommended that the Cocoon not be
stuffed into too small a volume for this reason. We took this recommendation
to heart and packed each Cocoon into a stuff sack designed and made for it:
a cylinder of about 150 mm diameter by 330 mm high. The Cocoon could have
been packed down much tighter than this, but I had enough space inside my
pack to allow the Cocoons to be packed slightly loosely. That said, I should
add that when the Cocoon was pulled out of my pack in the evening it was
usually more of a rectangular shape than a cylinder. I suspect the volume
was slightly reduced thereby.
The Cocoons look very snazzy and we did consider wearing them out to dinner
when we were stuck in a town and had to stay at a small hotel. But we
didn't: they were too hot!
Maintenance & Washing
I did not find that my Cocoon needed any maintenance on the trip. I did not
get it sweaty at all, so that meant it didn't need washing on the trip. My
wife threw both Cocoons in the washing machine on a gentle cycle when we got
home: they seemed to cope with that without any trouble at all, and they
dried quite quickly too.
I did notice that the fabric stayed fairly clean against other problems,
like bits of food being dropped on it. Food did not seem to stick very well.
I do know that typical fluorocarbon DWR treatments are not only used to make
the fabric water-resistant: they are also widely used to make the fabric
stain-resistant. This seems to have worked here.
The sundries - elasticised cuffs and hem, zip, etc, also survived the trip
very well. I have had no problems with any of them.
Very light No hood (but a model with a hood exists)
Warm Tail could be slightly longer
We both loved the Cocoons. My wife enjoys having a light pack these days
compared to the old 'heavy-weight' days, so she tolerates my enthusiasm for
ultra-light gear, albeit with considerable suspicion at times. I asked her
after the trip whether she wanted to keep using her Cocoon: her reply
sounded something like 'only out of my cold dead hands'. I think that is a
good final assessment.
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- Hi Roger,
Thanks for the review. I have just a few things, then you can put it
***3 This is the 'public' RRP; discounts are available to subscribers
Comment: I thought this was a no-no.
***The two companies (Bozeman Mountain Works and BackpackingLight)
specialise in equipment for the ultra-light end of the market
Edit: what does BackpackingLight have to do with the pullovers? They
do not both make them that I could see from the web site. Just
***I have this paranoid attitude towards keeping my final defence
line of clothing
***I should add that when the Cocoon stuff sack is pulled out of my
pack in the evening it is usually more of a rectangular shape than a
cylinder. I suspect the volume iss slightly reduced thereby.
***The Cocoons look very snazzy and we did consider wearing them out
to dinner when we were stuck in a town in FRance and had to stay at a
Is the comment directed at listing anything except the MSRP? If so (as
you probably know) Backpacking Light almost always lists two prices:
price to the general public and price to BPL members. It's more like
two MSRPs than "discounts available;" the discount isn't negotuiable
and isn't free as BPL charges an annual membership fee. I think the
most accurate way to report would be along the lines of "MSRP: $ xx US
for general public, $ yy US for BPL subscribers." I'm working on an OR
for a BPL item so I have more than an academic interest in this.
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rayestrella1"
> Hi Roger,
> ***3 This is the 'public' RRP; discounts are available to
> to BackpackingLight.
> Comment: I thought this was a no-no.
- --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "richardglyon" <rlyon@...>
> Is the comment directed at listing anything except the MSRP? If so
>(as you probably know) Backpacking Light almost always lists two
It has nothing to do with BackpackingLight. It is supposed to be
Bozeman's MSRP not the retailer. I see that they are carried by
ProLight and BPL. So I guess that it does not really have an MSRP as
the pricing is being set by the dealers not Bozeman. As such it
should really be listed as N/A, right?
That is why I could not ubderstand the reference to BPL also.
That is my take on it anyway.
- My two cents worth:
The MSRP is supposed to be the retail, not discounted price. It
wouldn't be any different than if I found a product cheaper at
WalMart than XYZ outfitters.
That said, I will probably have a problem on my FireLite stove review
too. Does Backpackinglight contract with FireLite on that or is that
just a model name they have developed? It says it is exclusive. I
also noted Coleen Porter had used them as the manufacturer in her
review of the stove. Of course, there are also FireLite spoons
available for sale many other places.
I am confused.
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rayestrella1"
> --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "richardglyon" <rlyon@>
> > Ray,
> > Is the comment directed at listing anything except the MSRP? If
> >(as you probably know) Backpacking Light almost always lists twoas
> > prices:
> Hi Roger,
> It has nothing to do with BackpackingLight. It is supposed to be
> Bozeman's MSRP not the retailer. I see that they are carried by
> ProLight and BPL. So I guess that it does not really have an MSRP
> the pricing is being set by the dealers not Bozeman. As such it
> should really be listed as N/A, right?
> That is why I could not ubderstand the reference to BPL also.
> That is my take on it anyway.