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FR - MontBell Plasma 1000 Jacket - Mark Thompson

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  • Mark Thompson
    Hi Gail and All, For your editing pleasure: http://tinyurl.com/lgc3tqy and below. Climb On! Mark MONTBELL PLASMA 1000 JACKET TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON FR
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2014
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      Hi Gail and All,
      For your editing pleasure: http://tinyurl.com/lgc3tqy
      and below.
      Climb On!

      February 04, 2014
      NAME: Mark Thompson
      EMAIL: markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
      AGE: 49
      LOCATION: Parker, Colorado, USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 6' 0" (2.10 m)
      WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)
      Outdoor adventures started for me at an early age, my passions have grown to include backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing.  Most of my adventures presently take place in Colorado's amazing Rocky Mountains.  For trail hikes, my pack typically weighs 15 lbs/7 kg (summer/fall), 25 lbs/11 kg (winter/spring) and trail speed ranges from 2.5 - 4 mph (4 - 6 km/h) depending on elevation gain.  For backpack trips, my pack weighs 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) and my trail speed drops to 1.5 - 3.0 mph (2 - 5 km/h).

      Since the Plasma 1000 Jacket gracefully floated across my threshold, I have had the opportunity to test this fine piece on three hikes and a week at our family cabin, high in the mountains.  Regrettably, the arrival of this jacket coincided with the need to address some medical issues which has restricted my outdoor pursuits, so recovery hikes and snowshoes have been filling the schedule with backpacking on the docket during the next two months!

      Snowshoe, December 2013
      Rocky Mountain National Park, Fall River Road (closed to cars in the winter)
      Distance traveled: 5 miles (8  km)
      Temperature: 18 deg F (-8 deg C)
      Total Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet (305 m)
      Weather:  Overcast with winds at 15 mph (24 kmph)
      Skies were overcast and winds mild
      The hike/snowshoe was an out and back, with a fair amount of elevation gain.  The terrain was mild given the fact that we were on a dirt road, other than the sections where the road was washed out by the recent flooding.

      Rocky Mountain National Park
      Loch Valle Trail
      Distance traveled: 2 miles (3.2 km)
      Temperature: 14 deg F (-10 deg C)
      The skies were clear to the east, and appeared clear all around from lower elevations.  However, when I reached the trail head, conditions were much different.  The wind was blowing at 20 mph (32 kmph) sustained with gusts to 35 mph (56 kmph).  I ended up cutting this hike short due to the excessive winds and improper head and eye protection.

      Roosevelt National Forest, Allenspark, CO
      St Vrain Mountain Trail
      Total Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
      Total Elevation Gain: 600 feet (183 m)
      Weather: Overcast with winds 25 to 40 mph (40 to 64 kmph)
      Temperatures: 12 to 14 deg F (-11 to -10 deg C)
      Skies were clear to the east, but the high winds caused a lot of snow to be picked up and present the illusion of an approaching storm.

      As mentioned, I have tested the Plasma 1000 on three hikes/snowshoe trips as well as throughout a full week in the mountains where the elevation was above 8,300 ft (2,530 m) with temperatures consistently below freezing.  These experiences revealed:

      - While actively hiking and/or snowshoeing, I consistently found, regardless of the weather, that I overheated and had to remove the jacket and replace with a garment that provided either less insulation or less wind protection.  The picture below was taken relatively early into my trip on Fall River Road during which the ambient temperature was 18 deg F (-8 deg C).  In this picture, I had already completely unzipped the jacket and shortly after this picture was taken, I did remove it and put on a soft-shell.


      - After stopping for a rest or lunch, I did have trouble maintaining a comfortable temperature.  Clearly, the ambient temperature and wind had a significant impact, but it seemed that the jacket is so light that it didn't provide a sufficient level of insulation for the winter mountain temperatures encountered during this phase of the test.

      - While hanging around my family cabin with some physical exertion, I found the wind protection and amount of insulation to be very comfortable.

      One of the characteristics of the Plasma 1000 that initially caused me some concern was the shell material and the perception that it would not provide a sufficient level of durability.  I am pleased to state that I have found that my initial concerns were unfounded.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the material's resistance to snagging from trees and other common hazards.

      Despite having to remove the jacket due to overheating on my more strenuous activities, I have really enjoyed how compact the jacket becomes when having to stow it in my pack.  My snowshoe trip on Fall River Road, was fairly soon after surgery and I was unable to carry a pack on my back so I opted for a waist (or fanny) pack.  The Plasma 1000 easily fit inside the small pack!

      The Plasma 1000 is a super light piece that has presented me with some challenges in terms of finding the "right" weather or season.  My personal experiences so far have been limited to cold winter conditions where I found the jacket has been too hot for higher levels of exertion and too cool when I am sedentary.  I did find it to be just right for mild levels of exertion.

      - super light weight
      - great wind resistance
      - awesome packability

      - nothing against the jacket, just need to find some milder weather for use after hiking or super cold weather for wearing while hiking

      A special thanks to MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for putting together a test on such a fine piece of gear!
      Your continued testing strategy for the Long-Term Report period.
      This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      Copyright 2014.  All rights reserved.
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