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FR - Obermeyer Kestral Jacket - Brett Haydin

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  • Brett Haydin
    Kathy, Hope you are having a great winter! I have my FR ready for you to edit. Too bad the snow is falling right now... 48 inches in Silverton? I know where
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2013
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      Kathy, Hope you are having a great winter! I have my FR ready for you to edit. Too bad the snow is falling right now... 48 inches in Silverton? I know where I want to go! You can find the HTML at http://tinyurl.com/a8tzyre. Hopefully I have made the edits easy for you... Cheers!

      Field
      Report

      Field ConditionsSince receiving the Kestral jacket, I have been on
      three backpacking trips, all of them in Colorado. I have also used the jacket
      while snowboarding on four different occasions; one of which involved
      backcountry snowboarding. The jacket has accompanied me on three day hikes, as
      well as frequently in town. My first trip
      was an overnight to Jasper Lake with a small group of friends in the Indian
      Peaks Wilderness of Colorado. This hike was a round trip of 8.9 mi (14.3 km) to
      a lake at 10,814 ft (3,296 m). The temperature was near 45 F (7 C) during the
      day and down to 20 F (-7 C) overnight. I had pretty clear skies the whole time,
      but there was a little snow along the trail at times; it has been a dry winter
      so far. I wore the jacket on and off during the hike up, with a base layer and
      fleece vest underneath. My second trip
      was an overnight hike to summit Shawnee Peak in the Lost Creek Wilderness in
      Colorado. This 13 mi (21 km) hike, round trip, took me to the top of the 11,917
      ft (3,632 m) peak where I camped at 10,660 ft (3,250 m). Elevation gain was a
      little over 3,000 ft (900 m). I experienced strong winds, some good snowfall of
      6 in (15, cm) and temperatures between 10 and 40 F (-12 and 4 C). I wore the
      jacket over a base layer, another shirt and occasionally a fleece jacket. I
      also used a neck gaiter and a fleece cap.

      My final trip
      was a leisurely 2 night trip along the first segment of the Colorado Trail.
      This hike ended up being 13.3 mi (21.4 km) along some easier terrain than the
      other trips, but still saw some elevation. I camped at between 6,500 and 7,000
      ft (1,980 and 2,130 m) along the way. I had fantastic weather for January in
      the mountains; a high of 55 F (13 C) and overnight lows near 30 F (-1 C). I saw
      mostly sunshine with some clouds. Frankly, I used the jacket sparingly during
      this hike as my 40 lb (18 kg) pack contributed to me sweating too much to wear
      the jacket along the hike. It was a welcome treat when I sat down to rest,
      however! In the image to the right, I put the jacket back on while I was taking
      a short rest along the trail.Along with the
      backpacking, I wore the Kestral while snowboarding at Winter Park resort in
      Colorado on three trips so far this year. I also went backcountry snowboarding
      at Berthoud Pass (near Winter Park). There was a bit of light snow falling on
      and off throughout the day, with a temperature of around 30 F (-1 C). I wore a
      base layer and a heavy shirt under the jacket and was plenty warm. I have also
      been on four other day hikes, three in Colorado under similar conditions to my
      backpacking trips, but also one in Wisconsin while visiting during the holidays.
      On this hike, we ran into a little rain, although the temperature was about 45
      F (7 C).

      ObservationsI am not at all surprised by the exceptional
      quality of this jacket so far. Our weather in Colorado has been quite mild,
      with the exception of a couple of nasty cold spells, -5 F (-21 C). There has
      been far too little precipitation, although I have done well timing a few of my
      trips to get the most exposure. While hiking, I find that a midweight or
      expedition-weight base layer and a fleece vest is just about the perfect
      combination with this jacket. When hiking in anything over 35 F (2 C), the
      jacket came off in decent, precipitation-free weather. I did use some heavier
      layers in some of the coldest weather, but that was actually when I was in town.
      Opening up the chest and the pit zips really makes a difference in regulating my
      body heat.There are a
      couple of added features that I wasn't sure would translate well for
      backpacking, but frankly have been handy. The soft cloth in the zippered chest
      pocket has been handy for wiping off my sunglasses when I get too warm. I
      suppose it could double as a handkerchief in a pinch for runny noses, but I
      didn't need to turn to that! Similarly, the lined pocket for electronics did a
      great job of keeping my iPhone dry, even when sweating while hiking some steep
      terrain. I do like to store snacks in the internal pockets in the winter to
      keep them from freezing. So far, the jacket has kept them warm enough to not
      break any teeth <grin>!

      Under a heavy pack, this jacket is as
      comfortable as any other than I have worn. The fabric is soft and smooth and
      there are no odd seams to cause any chaffing under the straps. I have full
      range of motion while moving; hiking and snowboarding.

      I really came
      to appreciate this jacket while hiking Shawnee Peak, however. Even with strong
      wind gusts and bitterly cold temperatures, my body stayed quite comfortable. I
      started the trail with mild temperatures and only moderate snow on the trails,
      as the image to the left shows. Even though the collar of the jacket rides
      high, I did find that I liked to have a neck gaiter to help cover parts of my
      face in the wind. Once the snow started to fall I also got a taste of how well
      the jacket keeps the precipitation out as well. The Kestral easily sheds snow
      and I remained dry throughout the hike, well except for perspiration! In the
      mild, drizzling rain I experienced, the jacket kept me dry as well. At first,
      the water beads fell off the jacket quickly, but over time the shell seem to
      hold a little bit of the water (it just looked wet), but I never felt the water
      come through the jacket at all. I love that the
      hood is removable for a couple of reasons. On some of my day hikes, I knew that
      the weather would be mild, so leaving the hood at home saved some weight that I
      just didn't need to carry. I also like the flexibility while wearing the jacket
      in town. After hitting the slopes in Winter Park, I could remove the hood, wear
      a beanie and hit the apres ski in style! Taking the jood on and off is really
      easy. However, on a couple of occasions, the hook and loop tabs have come
      disconnected. It did not impact the performance at all. I really like how
      easy to operate the zippers are. I have struggled with zippers on other jackets
      from time to time, but these are superb.I was a bit nervous that I may have gotten a jacket
      that was a little too big for me; my size is right on the edge between a L and
      an XL. While I am not swimming in the jacket, I do wonder if I could have gone
      down a size since I haven't needed to add multiple, bulky layers. I have a
      nice, down jacket that I have been taking along that seems to be getting
      neglected! The jacket has
      been quite durable. Hiking winter trails in Colorado can be tricky. Because
      the summer trail disappears and reappears, it is easy to get off track and have
      to bushwack through all sorts of shrubs. Despite this, the jacket has no tears
      or other obvious signs of wear. There cuffs are starting to look a little dirty
      now, so I will likely test out the manufactures recommended instructions for
      washing the jacket. Despite the lack of laundering so far, the jacket does not
      seem to be retaining any odors either.

      SummaryI have been thoroughly impressed with the Obermeyer
      Kestral Jacket so far. I have a hut trip coming up in a couple of weeks, and
      with snow falling high up in the mountains, the roughest conditions are yet to
      come. Pros: Excellent construction, warm, and superior
      protection from the elements. Well-placed pockets as well.Cons: none so far.This concludes my Field Report. I would like to
      thank Obermeyer for their generosity as
      well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
      Please check back in about two months to see how the Kestral
      performs!



      Brett Haydin

      ---------------------------------------------------

      "Teamwork: It's amazing how much
      can be accomplished when no one
      cares who gets the credit."



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