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LTR: MontBell Trail Action Parka - Jamie D.

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  • chcoa
    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/LTR-MontBell%20Trail%20Action%20Parka%20-%20Jamie%20D/
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 5, 2014
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      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/LTR-MontBell%20Trail%20Action%20Parka%20-%20Jamie%20D/

      Really enjoyed this test.  Thanks for your edits.



      ------------------------------------- Long Term Report ---------------------------------------------

      ---------------------------------------June 6th, 2014 ----------------------------------------------

       

      Collective Use and Field Conditions

       

      Unlike the rest of the USA, the lower regions of Arizona where I live had a very mild winter and even more tepid spring. Regrettably, this resulted in only a few more favorably cold opportunities to wear the MontBell Trail Action Parka, and only one of those was related to hiking.  Collectively, over the course of the entire test period, I’ve worn it on six day hikes, one weekend fishing trip (both listed in my Field Report) and for at least forty-one short segments of time while hiking, resulting in at least thirteen hours of field use.  Less spectacularly but possibly noteworthy is the many hours of around town time I spent in the Parka over the winter months. That was nearly daily use from end of December 2013 through March 2014.  My test conditions ranged from a low of 33F / 0.5C up to a high of 55F / 13C.  The last hike where I wore the jacket for a short time was in the McDowell Mountain Preserve in North Scottsdale, Arizona.  This is a Sonoran Desert area that sits at roughly 2,700ft / 820m.

      Long Term Conclusions

       

      One of MontBell’s bullet points for this hoodie is, “The Trail Action Parka provides great breathability and exceptional freedom of movement”.  The free movement comment I wholeheartedly agree with.  It’s by far the most comfortable jacket I own regardless of what I’ve done while wearing it or whether or not I’ve had a few other layers on underneath.  Used beneath a daypack was no different.  I never felt restricted or had problems with fabric bunching or ride-up from the bottom hem or the sleeves.

      Accurately accessing the breathability claim is much more difficult I’m afraid.  At this point I’d have to say the MFG’s claim is unconfirmed.  Since the idea of breathable fabric involves wicking moisture vapor away from the user’s body I would have needed to wear the Trail Action Parka in situations where my activity level caused me to sweat so that I could see how well the garment handled that.  The good news is most of my hikes involved enough action to work up a fair amount of perspiration. The bad news is this is usually the point at which I took the hoodie off so I wouldn’t get too hot.  This, unfortunately, leaves me waffling in my opinion of whether or not the jacket’s fabric could have handled sustained exposure to my sweat.  Given how slowly it dries after laundering I have my misgivings but to be fair I can’t really say one way or the other right now.  Perhaps after further testing I can offer a more accurate conclusion in a future addendum.

       

      My least favorite aspect of the MontBell Trail Action Parka is the, what I consider to be, crazy long drying time, especially considering the fabric’s fleece composition.  In my Field Report I mentioned that I would see if the drying time improved with warmer temperatures but then while I was popping the jacket into the washer to get it properly wet for the test it occurred to me that even if it does, as predicted, dry faster so what?  I won’t exactly be wearing this parka on a warm spring day anyway so what good is it if it dries quickly above 90F/ 32C?  I think we can all agree the answer is no good at all!  All that to say, no duh, my test showed it does dry a few hours faster in warmer conditions but that knowledge really isn’t at all helpful if I’m wearing the jacket on a 40F / 4.5C day and I’m soaked by a freak rain storm or unexpected fall in a creek. If there are any improvements to be made and MontBell is serious about the Parka being legit competition for old school fleece and other similar fabrics, I think this issue must be resolved.      

      On a more positive note there was another surprising characteristic I discovered about the ClimaPlus Stretch Fleece fabric that was so glorious, so monumental, so life changing dog hikers everywhere have cause to celebrate.  Cue the fireworks….dog hair does not stick to this fabric!!  Mind blowing right?  I know this may sound trivial to those of you who don’t hike with a four-legged fur-buddy but for those of us who do, it’s so refreshing to own a piece of gear that doesn’t look like a Bigfoot suit after one doggie hug. I assume the reason for this clothing miracle is the low static buildup on the jersey side of the ClimaPlus.  In all seriousness, this is really a bonus for anyone who finds static electricity abundantly coursing from a jacket into your hair or sleeping bag or favorite hiking partner an annoyance.  I realize it’s not Nobel Prize worthy but it’s darn helpful in my opinion!

       

      Final Thoughts

       

      I’m sold!  The MontBell Trail Action Parka easily nailed the two most important qualities I’m looking for in a light jacket:  warmth and comfortable function.  The addition of a stretch component to the already super soft and warm fleece material is genius.  I think it raises the bar for comfortable outwear and I can’t even imagine going back to the pre-stretch hoodie world.  As far as performance, the Parka worked well for me down to near freezing temps with only a few other light layers underneath.  When wet, its performance dropped significantly, however.  Prospective buyers need to be aware of that so you can plan accordingly. 

      Two aspects really stood out about this garment: the hood and the low static qualities of the ClimaPlus Stretch Fleece.  Conversely, I was underwhelmed with the long drying time of the fabric and with the chin guard’s inadequate zipper protection.  

       

      I will definitely be using this product again and again just as soon as cooler temperatures return to my neck of the desert.  My thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and MontBell for giving me the opportunity to be part of this test series. 

       

      Jamie J. DeBenedetto –  2014


    • jerry adams
      Nice report, nice parka, weird that it doesn t dry better   couple edits:     had a very mild winter and even more tepid spring   tepid means only
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 6, 2014
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        Nice report, nice parka, weird that it doesn't dry better
         
        couple edits:
         
         
        "had a very mild winter and even more tepid spring"
         
        "tepid" means "only slightly warm".  Logically, it seems like you need a word that means "only slightly cool".  "tepid"... "more less warm"...  just sort of makes my head ache trying to make logical sense of that.  On the other hand, you've made your point so I guess it's fine.  Look at it and modify it, or leave as is, as you think best.
         
        I will have "more tepid" going through my head the rest of the day...
         
         
        "My thanks to Backpackgeartest.org" 
         
        BackpackGearTest.org


        On Thursday, June 5, 2014 9:26 PM, "jdeben@... [backpackgeartesters]" <backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


         


        ------------------------------------- Long Term Report ---------------------------------------------
        ---------------------------------------June 6th, 2014 ----------------------------------------------
         
        Collective Use and Field Conditions
         
        Unlike the rest of the USA, the lower regions of Arizona where I live had a very mild winter and even more tepid spring. Regrettably, this resulted in only a few more favorably cold opportunities to wear the MontBell Trail Action Parka, and only one of those was related to hiking.  Collectively, over the course of the entire test period, I’ve worn it on six day hikes, one weekend fishing trip (both listed in my Field Report) and for at least forty-one short segments of time while hiking, resulting in at least thirteen hours of field use.  Less spectacularly but possibly noteworthy is the many hours of around town time I spent in the Parka over the winter months. That was nearly daily use from end of December 2013 through March 2014.  My test conditions ranged from a low of 33F / 0.5C up to a high of 55F / 13C.  The last hike where I wore the jacket for a short time was in the McDowell Mountain Preserve in North Scottsdale, Arizona.  This is a Sonoran Desert area that sits at roughly 2,700ft / 820m.

        Long Term Conclusions
         
        One of MontBell’s bullet points for this hoodie is, “The Trail Action Parka provides great breathability and exceptional freedom of movement”.  The free movement comment I wholeheartedly agree with.  It’s by far the most comfortable jacket I own regardless of what I’ve done while wearing it or whether or not I’ve had a few other layers on underneath.  Used beneath a daypack was no different.  I never felt restricted or had problems with fabric bunching or ride-up from the bottom hem or the sleeves.

        Accurately accessing the breathability claim is much more difficult I’m afraid.  At this point I’d have to say the MFG’s claim is unconfirmed.  Since the idea of breathable fabric involves wicking moisture vapor away from the user’s body I would have needed to wear the Trail Action Parka in situations where my activity level caused me to sweat so that I could see how well the garment handled that.  The good news is most of my hikes involved enough action to work up a fair amount of perspiration. The bad news is this is usually the point at which I took the hoodie off so I wouldn’t get too hot.  This, unfortunately, leaves me waffling in my opinion of whether or not the jacket’s fabric could have handled sustained exposure to my sweat.  Given how slowly it dries after laundering I have my misgivings but to be fair I can’t really say one way or the other right now.  Perhaps after further testing I can offer a more accurate conclusion in a future addendum.
         
        My least favorite aspect of the MontBell Trail Action Parka is the, what I consider to be, crazy long drying time, especially considering the fabric’s fleece composition.  In my Field Report I mentioned that I would see if the drying time improved with warmer temperatures but then while I was popping the jacket into the washer to get it properly wet for the test it occurred to me that even if it does, as predicted, dry faster so what?  I won’t exactly be wearing this parka on a warm spring day anyway so what good is it if it dries quickly above 90F/ 32C?  I think we can all agree the answer is no good at all!  All that to say, no duh, my test showed it does dry a few hours faster in warmer conditions but that knowledge really isn’t at all helpful if I’m wearing the jacket on a 40F / 4.5C day and I’m soaked by a freak rain storm or unexpected fall in a creek. If there are any improvements to be made and MontBell is serious about the Parka being legit competition for old school fleece and other similar fabrics, I think this issue must be resolved.      

        On a more positive note there was another surprising characteristic I discovered about the ClimaPlus Stretch Fleece fabric that was so glorious, so monumental, so life changing dog hikers everywhere have cause to celebrate.  Cue the fireworks….dog hair does not stick to this fabric!!  Mind blowing right?  I know this may sound trivial to those of you who don’t hike with a four-legged fur-buddy but for those of us who do, it’s so refreshing to own a piece of gear that doesn’t look like a Bigfoot suit after one doggie hug. I assume the reason for this clothing miracle is the low static buildup on the jersey side of the ClimaPlus.  In all seriousness, this is really a bonus for anyone who finds static electricity abundantly coursing from a jacket into your hair or sleeping bag or favorite hiking partner an annoyance.  I realize it’s not Nobel Prize worthy but it’s darn helpful in my opinion!
         
        Final Thoughts
         
        I’m sold!  The MontBell Trail Action Parka easily nailed the two most important qualities I’m looking for in a light jacket:  warmth and comfortable function.  The addition of a stretch component to the already super soft and warm fleece material is genius.  I think it raises the bar for comfortable outwear and I can’t even imagine going back to the pre-stretch hoodie world.  As far as performance, the Parka worked well for me down to near freezing temps with only a few other light layers underneath.  When wet, its performance dropped significantly, however.  Prospective buyers need to be aware of that so you can plan accordingly. 

        Two aspects really stood out about this garment: the hood and the low static qualities of the ClimaPlus Stretch Fleece.  Conversely, I was underwhelmed with the long drying time of the fabric and with the chin guard’s inadequate zipper protection.  
         
        I will definitely be using this product again and again just as soon as cooler temperatures return to my neck of the desert.  My thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and MontBell for giving me the opportunity to be part of this test series. 
         
        Jamie J. DeBenedetto –  2014



      • chcoa
        Thanks Jerry. I ll get it uploaded today. I was using tepid as moderate or lukewarm but no biggie. If it sounds weird I don t want that so I changed it. See
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 9, 2014
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          Thanks Jerry.  I'll get it uploaded today.  I was using tepid as moderate or lukewarm but no biggie.  If it sounds weird I don't want that so I changed it.

          See ya on the next one.

          Jamie D
        • jerry adams
           tepid is fine, just look at it again and do what you think best, no biggie like you said On Monday, June 9, 2014 1:46 PM, jdeben@hotmail.com
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 9, 2014
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             tepid is fine, just look at it again and do what you think best, no biggie like you said


            On Monday, June 9, 2014 1:46 PM, "jdeben@... [backpackgeartesters]" <backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


             
            Thanks Jerry.  I'll get it uploaded today.  I was using tepid as moderate or lukewarm but no biggie.  If it sounds weird I don't want that so I changed it.

            See ya on the next one.

            Jamie D


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