LTR - Columbia Women's Peak Power Shell - Jamie D
Thanks Ray for your mad monitoring skills. See ya on another one I'm sure.
------------------------------------- Long Term Report -----------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------Nov. 1st, 2011 ----------------------------------------------
Collective Use and Field Conditions
During the final months of this test series I had the opportunity to wear the Columbia Women's Peak Power Shell on three more inclement outings bringing my total field use up to eleven.
In September I used the Peak Power Shell on a night hike along the Maricopa Trail in N. Phoenix, AZ where I was walking for about an hour in a mild thunderstorm. Conditions were very windy with light rain and a low temp of 72 F (22 C). In October I wore it twice more. Once while waiting out a ten minute downpour/lightning storm and the other while jogging in heavy to light rain for just over a half an hour. Both these outings were in the Sonoran Desert near my home in Phoenix, AZ. The elevation here is about 1,500 ft (450 m). Temperatures were in the low to mid 80's F (27-29 C).
Long Term Findings
In my Field Report I mentioned I was having trouble with the Peak Power Shell's hood. While the beak worked well to keep rain off my face, the sides of the hood felt constrictive and the back was too shallow to accommodate my ponytail. Thanks to the hike I did in September on the Maricopa Trail and the gusty winds I experienced, I now have a different outlook regarding the hood. I was walking straight into the wind on that hike and had I not been able to tighten the hood down to the degree the Peak Power Shell allows, it would have never stayed on. I'm not saying it was ever really comfortable, but if I have to choose between a little discomfort and having a totally soaked head, the choice is simple, I'm going with the head protection every time.
Along that same thread, I was having a hard time adjusting the hood to accommodate my ponytail and at the same time still protect a significant amount of my face. While I did not discover a perfect fit, I was able to monkey with the drawcords enough, the one in the back in particular, to allow the hood to be worn over my ponytail successfully. This was a big issue for me so I'm very glad it all worked out.
Another interesting discovery came about on this same hike but this one had to do with the interior pockets. Previously I had only used the exterior pockets so I made it a point to put a few things in the inner pockets this time around just to see how well they worked. I chose to carry my cell phone and car keys in one and my camera in the other. It was no surprise that these items fit easily since the pockets are very spacious. The issue of contention came when I tried to buckle the hipbelt on my daypack; it became immediately apparent that the items in my pockets were in the way. I had to either move the items higher up and sacrifice the bottom 2 inches (5 cm) of the pocket or blouse out the front of the jacket to get the belt to cinch under the stuff in my pockets. Perhaps moving the internal pockets to a slightly higher location would alleviate this. Furthermore, the addition of items in the inside pockets made the outside pockets less functional. I was still able to keep my hands tucked away and dry but there was certainly a space tradeoff.
During the two October thunderstorms I decided to try a couple of things I hadn't yet tested. Thankfully the weather cooperated on the first outing with several minutes of lightning in addition to a very strong downpour where I figured the safest option was to crouch down near a couple of low lying bushes and wait things out. I had shorts on and this seemed the best way to attempt to keep myself as dry as possible. Leaving the zipper open with the chest button done up and my arms free underneath I was able to use the Peak Power Shell as a bit of a cape to cover most of my legs and all my upper body when kneeling down. Turned with my back to the rain, this position worked well enough. I like the little chest button idea. It sometimes gets in the way when zipping the jacket up but I think it adds an extra option for using the shell that's worth this tiny inconvenience.
Finally, during the last storm I wanted to see how well the jacket would move with me and how breathable the material would be when I used it during a higher level of exertion, which is why I chose to take a job instead of hike. The shell was comfortable. It didn't ride up or rub under my arms, although I was running with my hands in my pockets off and on. My only complaint on the comfort front is the zipper cover. It's not thick enough and I found it rubbing on my chin too much. The hood was good. I didn't experience any issues with it jostling up and down. Breathability was fine in the beginning. In the first twenty minutes of the jog it was breezy and raining fairly heavily. I could actually feel air flow inside the jacket. As my body temperature heated up and the sun came out I started feeling more and more warm and sweaty. Since the precipitation had changed to very light sprinkles I unzipped the jacket fully opting to use the chest button to keep it from flopping around. That helped cool me but not entirely. By the end of the jog I was definitely a little sweaty on the inside but I attribute most of that to the perspiration naturally created by running. I think the Peak Power Shell did a good job of venting considering the outside temperature was over 80 (27 C).
Over the last few months I have done my best to use the Peak Power Shell in whatever yucky weather I could find. Most of my experiences were in short bursts of light to heavy rain and some wind, all totally typical of our desert monsoon season. In these conditions the jacket kept me completely dry inside and out, even in very hot weather. I found the shell to be comfortable to wear, even to sleep in for a short period of time. The fit was about right for my body size/shape. The sleeves drop down to just above my knuckles, the hem to about mid-hip. That worked well to provide good torso coverage even with my pack on and the bottom half bloused up a bit. While the material is somewhat stiff, it has relaxed slightly and I think over time it will get even more pliable. Unfortunately, this stiffness carried over to the packability of the jacket, which is not good. Low packability, the inadequate zipper guard and the drawcords are my only complaints. I found it hard to adjust the drawcords on the fly and as a result it took me several outings to really get a good fit in the hood. Putting that aside, the hood did provide very good coverage for my face, only slightly obstructed my peripheral vision, stayed in place very well through high winds and when properly adjusted did finally accommodate my ponytail.
Overall, I'm impressed with the Columbia Women's Peak Power Shell and although it doesn't blow dry my hair, keeping it dry in the first place is a perfectly viable substitute. I'm very much looking forward to using this jacket in other seasons and plan to post an addendum to this report in the future after it's seen a few more extended rain/snow events.
My thanks to Columbia for your cooperation with BGT and to Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to be part of this test series. It was challenging but enjoyable.
- Jamie J. DeBenedetto 2011
- Hi Jamie,
Nice conclusion to your test. I have just one edit for you.
See you over at the other site, ;-)
***In September I used the Peak Power Shell on a night hike along the Maricopa Trail in N. Phoenix, AZ
EDIT: I don't see where you have ever listed the AZ abbreviation so it needs to be spelled out again.
Or just change the first use as "Arizona (AZ)" then it is good the rest of the report
Finally, during the last storm I wanted to see how well the jacket would move with me and how breathable the material would be when I used it during a higher level of exertion, which is why I chose to take a job instead of hike.
Comment: I don't understand that sentence. "which is why I chose to take a job instead of hike" Do you mean to take it on the job?
- Thanks Ray.
To you comment, I meant "jog", which is why "job" doesn't make sense!! Doh!! Fixed and uploaded.
> Finally, during the last storm I wanted to see how well the jacket would move with me and how breathable the material would be when I used it during a higher level of exertion, which is why I chose to take a job instead of hike.
> Comment: I don't understand that sentence. "which is why I chose to take a job instead of hike" Do you mean to take it on the job?