Tag Archives: outdoor clothing reviews

Review: L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

May 15, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

Insulated Jacket
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket
$159, 13 oz. (men’s medium regular)
Sizes: men’s regular S-XXL, men’s tall M-XXl, women’s misses XXS-XL, petite XS-XL
llbean.com

Someday, outdoor enthusiasts of a certain age may reflect back on the dark ages of the early 21st century by saying, “Remember when an insulated jacket was something you only wore when you weren’t moving?” Well, given the growing profusion of jackets with breathable insulation, those “ancient” shells that are essentially half a sleeping bag with sleeves are already obsolete. I wore the most affordable piece of active insulation I’ve yet seen, Bean’s PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket, at times on wet, chilly, windy days trekking the Dusky Track and Kepler Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park in early March, and in camp on cool evenings and mornings (days were quite warm) on a five-day, family-backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border in late March. It’s as versatile as some pricier competitors and will fit more people than other jackets in this category. Continue reading →

Review: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Touring Pants

February 20, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Touring Pants

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Touring Pants

Winter Pants
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Touring Pants
$299, 1 lb. 11 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s and women’s XS-XL
blackdiamondequipment.com

Finding one pair of pants for all of your backcountry skiing or riding, snowshoeing, and climbing adventures in the mountains, from the frigid days of early winter to corn skiing on sun-blasted slopes in April, is a tall order. But Black Diamond’s Dawn Patrol Touring Pants demonstrated that kind of range for me while backcountry skiing in the Idaho mountains on days ranging from 3° F, to the 20s with falling snow, and the 40s under a thermonuclear sun. Continue reading →

Review: Outdoor Research Superlayer Jacket

January 22, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Outdoor Research Superlayer Jacket

Outdoor Research Superlayer Jacket

Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Superlayer Jacket
$225, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
outdoorresearch.com

What would you think if I told you that I went for a backcountry ski tour that involved climbing uphill for an hour, sweating enough to get both my base layer top and my hat wet, then skied for a while along rolling terrain, and finally turned around and descended fast to my car—all without making any layering change? That was just my first outing wearing OR’s new Superlayer Jacket. Over the course of several winter days field-testing it, in temperatures ranging from the low single digits to the 30s Fahrenheit, I found it so remarkably breathable that it often never left my body. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

January 21, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

Winter Shell
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell
$349, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
blackdiamondequipment.com

We expect more of jackets made for our winter outdoor pursuits because we spend more time in them than in a rain shell in summer (which may not even come out of your pack). Most of all, it has to fend off a wide range of nasty weather while breathing well enough that you don’t wind up creating a nasty storm of sweat on the inside. Black Diamond’s new Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell did just that for me over numerous days of skiing the backcountry of Idaho’s Boise Mountains, in temperatures ranging from single digits with a below-zero wind chill through the high 30s, in falling snow, light rain mixed with wet snow, wind, and just plain calm, sub-freezing air. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

January 6, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

Fleece Jacket
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket
$170, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
thenorthface.com

Given all the modern choices in outdoor apparel for the backcountry, is the classic fleece jacket obsolete? Not hardly. An insulating layer that’s highly breathable remains indispensable when you’re active in cold temperatures; I always have some kind of fleece layer when out backcountry skiing, cross-country ski touring, hiking, or snowshoeing in winter or any time of year in temps in the 30s or colder. The good news is that advancements in fabrics have transformed your father’s fleece into a more versatile outer or middle layer—like The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket. Wearing it quite a lot while cross-country skiing on a four-day, December yurt trip in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, and as a middle layer while resort skiing as well as around town, I found it impressively warm, comfortable, and functional. Continue reading →

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