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FOR EDIT: FR--Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket--Will Rietveld

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  • Will Rietveld
    Hi Andrew. Here is my FR for editing. html version is at
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 1, 2007
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      Hi Andrew. Here is my FR for editing. html version is at http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR-Montbell%20Alpine%20Down%20Jacket-Will%20Rietveld/ Happy New Year. Will



      Field Report: Montbell Men's Alpine Light Down Jacket

      Date: January 1, 2007

      Field Report
      Amount and Type of Use-I used the Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket on a total of 10 outdoor trips totaling 21 days during the first two months of testing. The activities are summarized in the following table:



      Activity
      Number of Trips
      Number of Days

      Backpacking
      2
      8

      Day Hiking
      4
      4

      Car Camping
      2
      6

      Snowshoeing
      1
      1

      Snow Camping
      1
      2

      Totals
      10
      21



      Testing Conditions
      I used the jacket on two backpacking trips in November in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Both were in canyon country at elevations of 5000 to 6000 ft (1524 to 1829 m). Nighttime temperatures were down to freezing (32 F, 0 C), and I wore the jacket as an outer layer in camp in the mornings and evenings, and in my sleeping bag overnight to extend the bag's warmth. On the first trip I slept under a tarp, and on the second one I slept under the stars (no shelter).

      I went on several day hikes in cool weather (30 F to 45 F, -1 to 7 C), and carried the jacket in my pack so I could put it on when I needed the extra warmth. Elevations ranged from 6000 to 12,000 ft (1829 to 3658 m). In each case I wore a baselayer on the hike up, and put the Montbell jacket on when I reached the summit and wore it on the hike back down. I wore the jacket as an outer layer on the summit in 5 to 15 mph (8 to 24 kph) winds so I could test the jacket's wind resistance. On one occasion I wore the jacket as an outer layer while it was snowing so I could see how water-resistant the shell fabric is.

      My car camping trips were in remote locations in southern Utah accessed by four-wheel drive roads. We established a backcountry base camp and went on numerous day hikes from there. Temperatures on the first trip were in the 50's F (10-15 C) during the day and low 20's F (-6 to -3 C) at night. The second trip was much colder, down to 8 and 10 F (13 and -12 C) at night and in the 40's F (4-9 C) during the day. I wore the Montbell jacket mornings and evenings in camp, and in my sleeping bag at night. On these trips I mostly wore the jacket as a mid-layer.

      I took the jacket on one snowshoeing trip and wore it as an outer layer when I stopped for lunch. The elevation ranged from 10,000 to 11,000 ft (3048 to 3353 m) and temperatures were in the mid 30's F (1-2 C).



      Finally, I used the jacket on one snow camping trip where I snowshoed to an igloo that I had previously constructed and camped in the igloo overnight. Elevations ranged from 9000 to 10,000 ft (2743 to 3048 m). It snowed intermittently during the first day, snowed 12 in (30 cm) overnight, and snowed 3 in (8 cm) the second day. I wore the jacket as a mid-layer in camp in the evening and morning, and in my sleeping bag overnight. The humidity was high inside the igloo.

      Field Performance
      Following is my report on the performance of the Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket after two months of testing. I will update this information in my Long Term Report.

      1) Materials and Construction: The jacket's 30-denier Ballistic ripstop nylon shell is very soft and supple. According to Montbell, Ballistic ripstop nylon is produced by heating and stretching the nylon fibers, similar to tensilizing steel. The resulting fabric is claimed to be 1.5 times more abrasion resistant and has three times the tear strength of fabrics that are 20% heavier.

      Some jackets have a very thin and lightweight 15-denier shell, but they require constant protection to prevent snagging or tearing. Montbell could have used their 15-denier Ballistic Airlight nylon fabric (that they use on many of their sleeping bags) in this jacket to save a little weight, but the weight savings would not be that great and the durability in a jacket would not be adequate for normal use. Overall, I believe the 30-denier Ballistic nylon shell is an excellent choice, and is comparable to Pertex Quantum.

      The jacket is made in China, and the craftsmanship is superb. Small stitching is used for strength, about 13 stitches to the inch (5 stitches to the cm). All of the stitching is very straight and all of the inside seams are bound. The stuff sack is made of the shell fabric and is also very well constructed.

      The collar is lined with a perforated microfleece, which is soft and warm against the skin, much better than nylon in cold weather. The jacket has set-in sleeves and simple elastic binding on the cuffs and bottom hem. The binding on the pockets is not elasticized.

      2) Size and Fit: I normally wear a size large, and this jacket fits me perfectly. I couldn't ask for a better fit. The body has a semi-trim fit, but still has room to wear a heavy base layer or sweater under it. Sleeve length is perfect for my 34 in (86 cm) arms. The body extends down about 6 in (15 cm) below my waist. Articulation is excellent when wearing the jacket; when I raise or cross my arms, the sleeves barely move at my wrists.

      The provided stuff sack is just the right size for the jacket. I was able to pack the jacket into the stuff sack without over-compressing it or having space left.

      3) Loft: The Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket uses 800 fill-power goose down, which is currently the state-of-the-art for a high quality lightweight down jacket.

      I determined the jacket's loft by allowing it to expand on a table for 24 hours, then measuring its thickness with a horizontal yardstick and vertical rule. The double layer loft (measured at several locations) is 2.25 in (6 cm). I found the loft to be the same in all parts of the jacket, so there does not appear to be any more loft in the body compared to the sleeves. The down is also very evenly distributed, with no noticeable variation of loft in different parts of the jacket.

      The Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket uses sewn-through (non-baffled) construction with seams 4 in (10 cm) apart to hold the down in place. With this construction there is essentially no loft at the sewn-through seams. This is common construction for a mid-warmth and mid-priced jacket; high-warmth and high-priced jackets use baffled construction.

      I will measure the jacket's loft again at the end of the four-month test to determine if a lot of use and frequent stuffings affect its loft.

      4) Useful Features: The jacket's fleece lined collar is very soft and warm around my neck, much more comfortable than cold nylon. The perforated fleece does not show any signs of wear. However, Velcro readily sticks to it and can damage it.

      The front pockets do not have zippers, but they are deep and I have had no problems with things falling out of them. The drop pockets inside the jacket back up to the outside pockets, so they compete for the same space. I found all four pockets (two outside, two inside) to be very useful for holding numerous small items in camp and on the trail. However, the pockets are located low, so a backpack hipbelt covers the lower part of the pockets and reduces their volume. The openings of the pockets are above the hipbelt and are accessible.

      The "Reverso" front zipper works very smoothly. It has a single slider and there is no storm flap to get caught in the zipper.

      The elastic binding on the cuffs and hem work very effectively to seal out drafts. On me, both fit perfectly without being too tight or two loose.

      5) Performance as a Mid-Layer: The jacket is claimed to be a mid-layer by the manufacturer, but it performs equally well as a mid-layer and an outer layer (see next section). As a mid-layer, I typically wore the jacket over a baselayer then wore a hard shell jacket, soft shell jacket, or synthetic insulated jacket over it. This was my usual layering system in camp or when hiking on gentle terrain or downhill in cold weather.

      Simply put, it's unbelievable how much warmth this jacket provides from 4 oz (113 g) of down! The higher lofting ability of its 800-fill power down is readily apparent; the jacket really puffs up and provides an amazing amount of warmth for its weight.

      I am happy that the Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket does not have a hood. I feel that it is more versatile for a mid-layer jacket to be hoodless, and then I can wear various headwear with it or wear a hooded shell or insulated jacket over it. If it had a hood, there would be too many hoods to contend with.

      6) Performance as an Outer Layer: I donned the jacket over a wicking baselayer on many occasions when I needed extra warmth, and wore it for a short period and put it back in my pack or wore it for extended periods under less strenuous hiking conditions. The jacket provided instant warmth when I put it on, and was comfortable to wear over a range of temperatures. As expected, my comfort level depended on my exertion level. When hiking uphill, the jacket was too warm in most instances, unless it was very cold. However, at moderate or low exertion, the jacket was quite comfortable over a range of temperatures, especially if it was overcast or breezy.

      The jacket breathes somewhat when I am generating heat and humidity inside of it while hiking uphill. However, one tradeoff of ballistic nylon is reduction of breathability. I found that the most effective way to regulate my temperature was to open or close the front zipper while hiking.

      7) Wind and Water Resistance: The jacket's ballistic nylon shell is very wind-resistant. I wore the jacket as an outer layer on a mountain top in a 13 mph (21 kph) wind and wind chill of 26 F (-3 C) and did not feel any cold air leakage inside the jacket.

      On one occasion I wore the jacket while hiking in a snowstorm with a temperature of about 30 F (-1 C) and 5 mph (8 kph) wind. The jacket remained warm and beaded off water quite well, but eventually the snow stuck to the jacket and the fabric next to the seams was visibly wet. I weighed the jacket damp and after drying when I got home and found it absorbed 0.3 oz (8.5 g) of water, which is significant and enough to reduce the jacket's loft. Thus the jacket's fabric itself is quite water-resistant, but water readily enters through the unsealed seams and will eventually wet the jacket.

      8) Durability: I typically stuffed the jacket directly into my pack with other gear, and hiked off-trail in it and it has demonstrated so far that it is quite durable. The jacket's thin ballistic nylon shell is amazingly durable. After two months of use, the jacket has no snags or damage of any kind. That said, a jacket with a thin shell deserves some special care to avoid damage.

      9) Suitability for Ultralight Backpacking: The jacket seems to be a good balance of warmth, light weight, and durability.

      This concludes my Field Report. The Long-Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

      I would like to thank Montbell and the BackpackGearTest Group for allowing me to participate in this test.

      Will Rietveld


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Rescue
      Will, Unfortunately your report isn t in the proper format. Please use the new combined report format and re-upload. Additional information can be found in
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 3, 2007
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        Will,

        Unfortunately your report isn't in the proper format. Please use the new
        combined report format and re-upload. Additional information can be
        found in Chapter 6 of the Bylaws listed here http://tinyurl.com/y59t8w

        Thanks!
        AB

        On Mon, 2007-01-01 at 12:42 -0700, Will Rietveld wrote:
        > Hi Andrew. Here is my FR for editing. html version is at http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR-Montbell%20Alpine%20Down%20Jacket-Will%20Rietveld/ Happy New Year. Will
      • Will Rietveld
        Hi Andrew, This is my first test in the new format so sorry I didn t get it right. Unfortunately I am leaving tomorrow moring to go camping/hiking in southern
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 3, 2007
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          Hi Andrew,
          This is my first test in the new format so sorry I didn't get it right.
          Unfortunately I am leaving tomorrow moring to go camping/hiking in
          southern Utah for 6 days. I will revise it after I return January 9.
          Best, Will


          --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, Rescue <rescue@...> wrote:
          >
          > Will,
          >
          > Unfortunately your report isn't in the proper format. Please use the
          new
          > combined report format and re-upload. Additional information can be
          > found in Chapter 6 of the Bylaws listed here http://tinyurl.com/y59t8w
          >
          > Thanks!
          > AB
          >
          > On Mon, 2007-01-01 at 12:42 -0700, Will Rietveld wrote:
          > > Hi Andrew. Here is my FR for editing. html version is at
          http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR-Montbell%20Alpine%
          20Down%20Jacket-Will%20Rietveld/ Happy New Year. Will
          >
        • Shane Steinkamp
          ... So noted. If you need any help, just holler. I ve got all these willing mind slaves laying around with nothing to do... Shane
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 4, 2007
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            > Hi Andrew,
            > This is my first test in the new format so sorry I didn't get it right.
            > Unfortunately I am leaving tomorrow moring to go camping/hiking in
            > southern Utah for 6 days. I will revise it after I return January 9.
            > Best, Will

            So noted. If you need any help, just holler. I've got all these willing
            mind slaves laying around with nothing to do...

            Shane
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