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FR Montane Flux - David Wilkes

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  • david wilkes
    This has got to be the most disappointing testing period I have yet to experience, not because of the products but for other reasons. First a delay in testing
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 20, 2014
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      This has got to be the most disappointing testing period I have yet to experience, not because of the products but for other reasons. First a delay in testing because I needed to get a different size (my fault), then my “water proof” camera turns out not to be (ouch, now I need a new camera) followed by me getting quite a nasty stomach bug. Then my phone, acting as my temporary camera, destroys two SD cards (pictures unrecoverable). Add to that record low temps that exceed what I would consider safe given my equipment and the conditions (not enough snow to rely on an adequate snow shelter) and the result is one very frustrated tester. Adding salt to the wound is that the only concern I have about this jacket is durability, but feel I have not gotten enough usage to really evaluate that. I will do my best to make up for this during the LTR phase.
      Below you will find the text of my FR and you will find the HTML in the testing folder at: http://tinyurl.com/oyfwn94
       
       
      During the time of the field testing my area got very strange weather. Very little snow and extreme temperatures ranging from record (or near record) lows to abnormal highs. For example after a period of record low temperatures making outings dangerous I finally managed an overnight trip up in the Washington Cascades and the temperatures never got below freezing. Go figure.
       
      Usage:
      1 overnight snowshoeing trip – Washington Cascades (5500’/1700 m)
      7 days of Nordic Skiing (Ski Patrol) – White Pass Washington
      1 day of Nordic Skiing (for fun) – White Pass Washington
      1 day hike – Bear Canyon, Eastern foothills, Washington Cascades
      1 day hike – Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Wa (with a side trip to a winery)
      5 day family (holiday) trip to Cancun Mexico
       
      As mentioned in the Initial Report I originally ordered the wrong size, so I contacted the distributer and had no trouble sending mine back for a replacement, and the replacement fit very well.
       
      I would like to say that this jacket is warm and comfortable. As such, in addition to the above use, it has become my everyday jacket, and by that I mean I have worn it just about every day since receiving it (with the obvious exception of during my trip to Mexico). In the morning it is the jacket I reach for. Being warm and comfortable while not bulky, makes it ideal for going out to sweep snow and/or scrape ice off of my truck. And since it takes most of my drive to work before my truck warms up, a warm comfortable jacket makes the drive a noticeably more comfortable.
       
      As I mentioned in the first paragraph, during my one overnight outing so far the temperatures hovered just a little above freezing the entire trip. I departed the trailhead late in the morning, went a short way along the trail before turning to climb a steep hill (about 50-60 deg slope) up to a peek that looked promising. I was hoping for some nice views but the tree cover was too dense for that. Soon after leaving my vehicle I had to remove the Flux jacket due to becoming overheated. After setting up camp I was damp (mostly from the effort of the climb, but also due to high humidity) and started getting cold so I put on the Flux jacket which I wore until I went to bed. For my Ski Patrol duties I mostly carried the jacket in my pack or left it in the Yurt. The jacket is far too warm for Nordic Skiing. However my duties result in frequent stops and periods of inactivity. This is where the jacket comes in handy. It compresses small enough to fit in my larger patrol pack (it is too large to fit in my lumbar pack) so that is where I keep it while I am skiing, ready for use when I need it.
       
      One feature of the jacket is that it stuffs into one of its own pockets and can be used as a pillow. This is nice but there are two problems with this. First is the material. The material in the pocket is the same as on the outside of the jacket, as such it is very slick. The second is that the shape is a bit odd, kind of a trapezoid shape. These combine make its use as a pillow poor at best. For example, during my trip to Mexico I brought the jacket as I figured it would come in handy (3 flights and 2 very long layovers). My daughter used it as a blanket during one of the layovers and I tried to use it as a pillow during the longer flight home (I was rather sick at the time with some sort of stomach bug), but its shape and slick surface made that impossible. Between the shape and slippery surface, no matter what I tried I could not it to work. Ok, so that is kind of a petty complaint, but I have not found any significant problems with this product.
       
      I have one other concern that I hope will be unfounded. Since receiving the jacket I have found a number of loose threads. When I discover them I make it a point of not pulling on them but wait until I can use a lighter to trim them. Having a few stray threads is not necessarily a problem but since I keep finding new ones I worry about the durability. This may be nothing but it is something I will be paying close attention to during the rest of the testing.
       
      The insulated hood of this jacket is very well made. While it does not allow as much head movement as a separate piece, the rear drawstring tightens the hood around my head so that it fits like a hat and does turn at least part of the way without blocking my view. I really like that detail. The hood also contains a stiffing wire in the brim. That has worked well when it is snowing to keep the snow out of my face and eyes.
       
      As I said above the jacket is very warm and very comfortable. I can’t stress that enough. The pockets are very large and well situated so that they are accessible even when wearing a backpack. The insulated pockets mean that I can actually use the hand warmer pockets to warm my hands without losing a bunch of heat from inside the jacket. Also, since I have a bad habit of forgetting to close the zippers on my pockets I don’t have to worry about that with this jacket. The flip side to this is that aside from the main front zipper there is no way to ventilate the jacket so when I start to overheat my only option is to remove it.
       
      I would like to conclude this Field Report with a visual. Imagine if you will a Nordic Ski Patroller. It is the end of a day spent shoveling snow and skiing all of the trails. He is tired and damp from perspiration, and trying to finish the afternoon sweep of the trails. The final stretch is directly into a strong wind with snow stinging his face and snow bombs dropping from the tree with uncanny accuracy. Upon arriving at the parking lot he strips off his snow encrusted patrol jacket and puts on the Flux jacket with an audible sigh. It feels good to be warm and comfortable again.
       
    • ftroop94
      David, May apologies for the delay in editing your report.I have a few edits, then feel free to upload...and delete the test file! See you on the LTR!!!
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 3, 2014
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        David,

        May apologies for the delay in editing your report.I have a few edits, then feel free to upload...and delete the test file!  See you on the LTR!!!

        ~Steve

        >>1

        day hike – Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Wa

        EDIT: Yakima, Washington  (to be consistent with your earlier locations

         

        >> I departed the trailhead late in the morning, went a short way along the trail before turning to climb a steep hill (about 50-60 deg slope) up to a peek that looked promising.

        EDIT:  (about a 50-60 degree slope)

         

        >>. These combine make its use as a pillow poor at best.

        EDIT: These combine to make…

         

        >>. Between the shape and slippery surface, no matter what I tried I could not it to work.

        EDIT:  , no matter what I tried I could not make it work.

         

        >> Ok, so that is kind of a petty complaint, but I have not found any significant problems with this product.

        EDIT:  Okay, so that…

         

        >> The hood also contains a stiffing wire in the brim

        Edit:  a stiffening wire??? 

         

         

      • david wilkes
        Edits made, new file uploaded, original deleted from test folder. Thanks for catching my mistakes. See you for the LTR. Dave ... day hike – Cowiche Canyon,
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 16, 2014
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          Edits made, new file uploaded, original deleted from test folder.
          Thanks for catching my mistakes. See you for the LTR.

          Dave


          From: "ftroop94@..." <ftroop94@...>
          To: backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, March 3, 2014 10:23 AM
          Subject: [backpackgeartesters] EDIT: FR Montane Flux - David Wilkes

           
          David,

          May apologies for the delay in editing your report.I have a few edits, then feel free to upload...and delete the test file!  See you on the LTR!!!

          ~Steve

          >>1 day hike – Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Wa
          EDIT: Yakima, Washington  (to be consistent with your earlier locations
           
          >> I departed the trailhead late in the morning, went a short way along the trail before turning to climb a steep hill (about 50-60 deg slope) up to a peek that looked promising.
          EDIT:  (about a 50-60 degree slope)
           
          >>. These combine make its use as a pillow poor at best.
          EDIT: These combine to make…
           
          >>. Between the shape and slippery surface, no matter what I tried I could not it to work.
          EDIT:  , no matter what I tried I could not make it work.
           
          >> Ok, so that is kind of a petty complaint, but I have not found any significant problems with this product.

          EDIT:  Okay, so that…
           
          >> The hood also contains a stiffing wire in the brim
          Edit:  a stiffening wire??? 
           
           


        • david wilkes
          Here is my very late LTR. You will find the HTML in the test folder at http://tinyurl.com/o4sy2w7 Thanks in advance for any edits and/or comments. Dave 7 days
          Message 4 of 6 , May 5 7:10 PM
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            Here is my very late LTR. You will find the HTML in the test folder at http://tinyurl.com/o4sy2w7

            Thanks in advance for any edits and/or comments.

            Dave

            7 days of Nordic Skiing (Ski Patrol) – White Pass Washington
            1 overnight snowshoeing trip – Washington Cascades (5500’/1700 m)

            For most of the two months since the previous report I continued to wear this jacket almost daily as my primary cold weather jacket. This would be normal for me when testing a product like this but even if I were not testing this jacket I would have been wearing it. This has continued to be the first jacket I reach for.

            This jacket has been especially nice on days I patrol. Not for patrolling, it is far too warm for that, but after a hard day of patrolling when I am damp and tired it is so nice to put on this warm comfortable jacket.

            I did a second overnight snowshoe trip since the last report. This time I did a full day of skiing (Nordic Ski Patrol) and then after sweep and a beverage with some friends I headed out to an area I had scouted out earlier in the day to set up camp. As a test I wore the Montane jacket for the short trek to my camp. As expected I was overheating very soon after starting out and had to remove it. However after arriving at my camp spot the first thing I did was drop my pack and put on the Montane jacket. It was snowing lightly, there was a light breeze and I was still a bit damp from the day’s skiing, so the comfortable warm layer was just what I needed. I removed the jacket before getting into my sleeping bag and stuffed the jacket into my stuff sack to use as a pillow.

            I noted in the previous report that I had found some stray threads and was concerned about the durability and/or construction of the jacket. This has turned out to be unfounded. I have not had any more trouble with loose threads and the jacket is showing no signs of wear or any other problems.

            So what is my final take on this jacket? Well, I have to say the jacket is what it is. By that I mean it is very good for what it is intended, a belay jacket. As a warm layer when I am inactive or at least not very active I really love it. It is very warm for its weight and bulk and it is extremely comfortable. As an example of its comfort I realize that normally when I anticipate a long drive I will remove my outer layer and rely on the vehicle heater, but I noticed one day about an hour into a long drive that I was still wearing the jacket and had no reason to remove it. When I am active it is a different story, the jacket is just too warm for any sort of activity in the conditions I normally encounter.  However since it is light and packs small I have no problem with packing it for use when I stop. As mentioned previously the jacket has no venting options. What would move this jacket from great to just about perfect for me would be the addition of venting options such as pit zips and to have mesh on the inside of one of the Napoleon pockets.

            As the spring arrives and temperatures warm up I am finding I am wearing this jacket less and less. However I do not intend to put it away with my other winter clothing as I fully intend to get more use out of it during the spring and even summer for trips into the higher elevations, for cool evenings during family camping trips, and look forward to wearing it on the summit of Mt Adams in a few months.

          • ftroop94
            David, LTR looks good to me, go ahead and upload to the site and delete the test file! ~Steve
            Message 5 of 6 , May 7 6:13 PM
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              David,

              LTR looks good to me, go ahead and upload to the site and delete the test file!

              ~Steve
            • david wilkes
              Done, thanks! Dave ... Done, thanks! Dave From: ftroop94@gmail.com To: backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
              Message 6 of 6 , May 7 8:29 PM
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                Done, thanks!

                Dave



                From: "ftroop94@..." <ftroop94@...>
                To: backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 6:13 PM
                Subject: [backpackgeartesters] EDIT: LTR Montane Flux - David Wilkes

                 
                David,

                LTR looks good to me, go ahead and upload to the site and delete the test file!

                ~Steve


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