LTR- Obermeyer - Kestral Jacket - Brett Haydin
I was having a hard time getting this uploaded tonight. It seems that my folder was somehow hidden. Weird! Anyway, here is the LTR for your red pen's pleasure. What a great jacket!
The HTML is at http://tinyurl.com/OberBretter . The text version follows.
Long Term Report
Taking some turns in the trees while at Uncle Bud's Hut
Over the past two months, I have been on two more backpacking trips in Colorado. I have also used the jacket snowboarding on several more occasions as well as three more day hikes. The temperatures in Denver have been a bit up and down, but much of it up; over 60 F (16 C). Combined, by total use has put me at 7 nights (12 days) backpacking, 7 snowboarding outings, and 6 separate day hikes, some of which included snowshoeing. I have worn the jacket at least another 20 days during the test.
My first trip was a two-night hut trip near Leadville, Colorado. We skinned/snowshoed 6 mi (10 km) to Uncle Bud's Hut and spent the second day backcountry snowboarding, leaving by the same route on the third day. Temperatures were anywhere from 5 to 30 F (-15 to -1 C) and we had a mix of sunshine and snow with some moderate to heavy winds. While snowshoeing, I was able to enjoy wearing just base layer underneath the jacket, with the jacket open as well as the pit zips. When I was snowboarding, I wore a fleece vest as well as a base layer and I was comfortable.
My final trip was a short overnight up towards Pikes Peak via the standard Barr Trail. I enjoyed staying at the Barr Camp the last trip I took, but this time I slept indoors at their backcountry lodge rather than outside in a tent. I saved weight and got fresh pancakes in the morning as well! The weather was snowy, and temperatures hovered around 20 F (-4 C). Barr Camp is approximately 6.5 mi (10.5 km) from the trail head in Manitou Springs. Elevation gain is 3,800 ft (1,160 m), and the camp elevation is 10,200 feet (3,109 meters).
I am a big fan of this jacket after four months of use. The jacket has performed just as well as it did during the first half of the test. I love that the stretch fabric allows me to twist and turn while snowboarding in the backcountry. As a frequent traveler in the mountains in the winter, I appreciate that this jacket can handle a multitude of duties. This is a great jacket on the slopes, but equally great while mountaineering and hiking in the backcountry. While warm, the Kestral does an incredible job of allow moisture to escape. I could tell that I was really sweating at times, but even when I stopped to hydrate, eat or catch my breath, the insulation kept me from getting the chills.
Even in heavy snow, the Kestral keeps a smile on my face
I have come to appreciate the many features in this jacket. I carry along ski goggles when I hike high up in the mountains. The goggle pocket was actually really nice on my trip up to Pikes Peak. While the snow was heavy at times, I was overheating too much and just had to take my goggles off. It was great to be able to stash them close by because when the winds picked up I just reached in and put them back on. Having the goggle wipes close-by was a great feature as well. I've decided that the best use for me with the pocket on the left arm is for my handkerchief. it makes it accessible and yet it won't mix with anything else in my other pockets.
I did manage to wash my jacket per the manufacturer's directions. Waterproofing wasn't an issue so I used Dreft as suggested since I had some handy in the house. I will say that line drying the jacket did take some time. I washed it in the morning and when I went to bed the jacket was still damp in places. I decided to turn the jacket inside out and by the morning the jacket was dry. In the end, the jacket looked good as new and all the zippers worked just fine.
I could only find one minor issue with the jacket in all of my time using it. The armpit zippers have a tendency to get caught on the mesh fabric when I am zipping them back up. This doesn't happen each time, rather it happens only once every five-or-so times. It is a drag since when I am trying to zip them up it is because I am a little chilly. The only way to get the zipper unstuck is to stop and take the jacket off, or ask my hiking buddies to help me.
This is by far the best winter jacket I have used, ever. It is durable, warm, and yet can be used in a good range of winter weather activities. I plan to keep this jacket as my go-to jacket in the winters from here on out. While springtime has started, a number of my upcoming trips are likely to still see snow or subfreezing temperatures. I intend to keep this one handy for a few more months just in case.
Pros: Excellent construction, warm, and superior protection from the elements. The Kestral has well-placed pockets, useful features and the stretch fabric is excellent for active uses.
Cons: Pit zips occasionally stick to the mesh.
This concludes my 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.