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ApparelCamping Gear Reviews

Best jacket for Men for camping

WinterHiker

When the mercury plummets and the land turns white, nothing keeps you warm like a coat of down.

The North Face Summit Jacket

It really doesn’t matter when the mercury dives. Whether you’re under the full glare of a midwinter sun or shivering through a Fourth of July night high in the Rockies, one thing is on your mind: staying warm. Trouble is, your insulation must fit into a crowded pack. So how do you maximize warmth while minimizing the weight on your back? Enter the goose, whose feathers are more precious than gold in cold conditions.

Generations of savvy backcountry adventurers have relied on down jackets because they insulate superbly with little bulk and weight. High-quality goose down is so light and fluffy that a single ounce fills 600 or more cubic inches (about three gallon-size milk jugs) under laboratory conditions. Add a nylon shell, a few zippers, and several yards of stitching, and you have a jacket that insulates with incredible efficiency, but still compresses to half the size of a football.

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ApparelCamping Gear ReviewsTechnology

Noggin Skull Cap Reviews

snowboard

Trail-tested headgear will protect your melon from every kind of weather imaginable.

When I say I’m a man of many hats, I don’t mean that I’m some multi talented, jack-of-all-trades renaissance guy. Just ask my friends, and coworkers-they’ll happily recite numerous examples to my wide-ranging incompetence.

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Apparel

GoLite Wisp Wind Shirt SPOTLITE REVIEW

VX
8.9tech score

Backpacking Background

I started bushwalking at 14, then took up rock climbing at University with the girl who became my wife & is my walking partner. Later on, we took up ski touring & canyoning. Winter & summer, we prefer long hard trips by ourselves: about a week in Australia, up to two months in Europe/UK. We prefer fast & light in the unfrequented trackless country. We would be out for at least three months a year. Over the last four years, we have reduced our pack weights from 18 – 20 kg (40 – 45 lb) each to about 12 kg (26 lb), including food, for week-long trips. I designed & made much of our lightweight g.ear myself.

Product Information

  • Picture courtesy of GoLite
    Country of manufacture: China
    Year of manufacture: 2007
    Product Name: Wisp Wind Shirt
    Manufacturer: GoLite
    colors tested: Orange & Blue
    Materials: 22-denier ripstop polyester taffeta with DWR on the outside
    Style: Pullover with short neck zip
    Measured weight: Medium: 80 g (2.8 oz)
    Listed weight: 70 g (3 oz) *

* The GoLite website gives 3 oz weight for an undefined size on the main page, but in a side, box says the Wisp weighs 2.5 oz. Converting 70 g gives 2.47 oz. However, see Measured Weight. Caveat Emptor.

Product Details  – Specifications and Features

I have reproduced some of the claims listed on the company web site here. Not all the claims seem strictly correct.

  • Ultra-lite, windproof, water repellent shirt
    #3 coil ten in/25 cm front zipper
    Elasticized cuffs & hem
    Internal security pocket
    Self-stowing
    Stuff to smaller than an energy bar
    Dyed-to-match zipper
    Product description

This is a relatively straightforward pullover-style top, with a 280 mm (11 “) zip at the neck (with matching color), a simple wrap-around high collar, & elasticised cuffs & hem. All this is visible in the picture above. There is a small zipped pocket set into the seam near the hem on the right side which GoLite refers to as a security pocket, & the Wisp can be stuffed into this pocket (‘self-stowing’). There is a little ring of tape inside the pocket which GoLite says can be used to hang the packed shirt from a carabiner: this seems a silly idea to me. However, the loop did make a good secure key holder for when I pulled my h&kerchief out of the pocket. Otherwise, there are very few characteristics apart from the ultra-light weight & the fabric.

Cold wind, but not raining
The company describes the fabric as ‘a 22 denier polyester taffeta with DWR, WispHP™ is ultra-lite, highly breathable, wind-resistant, water-repellent, & extremely packable’. I would add that the colors are bright & shiny. I agree that the fabric is very airy, but the other claims need examination.

Preamble to Field Experiences

From mid-May, in 2007 my wife & I spent three months walking several trails in France. While planning the trip we were extremely concerned about keeping our pack weights down – you may note my age. We usually wear shirts or smocks made of Taslan fabric which I make myself, but these can, of course, get wet & dirty. They function only moderately well as ‘wind’ shirts: the Taslan does breathe quite well. For a start, I wanted something a little more wind-resistant which could go over the Taslan to shed the wind. I was also expecting to get something which could be worn instead of the Taslan when we were in a town where we could use a self-serve laundry to wash all our clothes. On the other h& whatever it was had to be very light as it was a bit ‘optional’: I could breathe without it. A saving grace was that it did not have to be as high as the Taslan fabric as it would not be taken into any scrub. I contacted GoLite about these requirements, & they were kind enough to donate two GoLite Wisp shirts for myself & my wife for the three-month trip. I got the orange one, & my wife got the blue one. Other colors are available.

Field Experiences

What was unexpected about the three months in France was the sheer amount of wet weather we encountered. It turned out to be an awful spring & summer. However, that did give lots of gear testing opportunities.

DWR

The first & most prominent finding was that the DWR treatment on the Wisp fabric is not very good against any sustained rain. Well, it is only a DWR (not a coating), & the material is extremely light after all, but this meant that the Wisp was not a lot of use against the bad weather we encountered. I usually wore my Sil nylon poncho instead – especially as it was clipped to the tops of my pack & could be pulled over my shoulders in a few seconds while I continued walking. In very light cold misty, windy weather the Wisp was able to stay relatively dry while I was walking, but we had little of that.

Breath-ability

Once the weather warmed up & dried out, I found wearing the Wisp over my Taslan smock was too hot. The fabric is not a plastic bag, but it certainly does trap a lot of air inside. I also found that the fabric did not breathe well enough for me to wear just the Wisp with nothing underneath while I was exercising. I quickly got too sweaty. It wasn’t that the fabric stuck to my skin – it didn’t, but just that I suddenly got hot. The inside face of the fabric looks ‘cir’ or lightly glazed: this is a heat treatment which flattens the threads a bit to increase the wind-resistance. Well, the stuff is very wind-resistant, but this means it does not move very well, despite the claim. But this is fair: you can’t have everything at once!

Keeping warm during lunch at Jungfraujoch
Wind-shedding & warmth

I did try using the Wisp over my Taslan during meal-stops & in the evening in the tent. It worked very well at meal stops, which were often taken in some scenic position. The trouble is ‘scenic’ often means ‘exposed,’ or open to a cold wind. I found it very easy just to grab the Wisp & pull it over my head: far simpler & faster than putting a thermal top on under my Taslan smock. The difference it made was very quickly noticed. Also the minimal volume it packed into meant it was straightforward to keep my Wisp near the top of my pack for fast access. (I can’t have everything I need at the top of my pack!) So for this application, the Wisp performed well.

I also used the Wisp some evenings in the tent while preparing dinner, to just boost my warmth a little. I had a thermal top & a synthetic duvet (a Cocoon) I could put on, but sometimes these were more than I needed. It was so easy to slip the Wisp on over my Taslan top for a while. This was normally done sitting down, & here I noticed that the tail of the Wisp was only just long enough. An extra inch in height at the back would have been nice. Granted, a Large size might have provided this, but I am normally a Medium, & the GoLite Medium was otherwise the right size for me.

The only other substantial change in design I can think of would be to add a hood. GoLite does have a related jacket (the ‘Ether’) with a hood, but it also has a full-length front zip & is advertised as being 4 ounces: this is noticeably heavier. A hood could be joined to this design for almost negligible additional weight by replacing the high collar. I think the zip length is already adequate. That said, the high collar did work moderately well when I did the zip up all the way. Doing so did not annoy the underside of my chin either.

Other uses

Well, one of the purposes I took the Wisp was to serve as an alternate top. We did get to do any laundromat washing in the three months – double in fact. (OK, that’s not a lot for three months!) On each moment, I wore the GoLite Wisp top with some GoLite Whims as trousers. This worked just fine. But far more ‘entertaining’ were the times when my wife & I were forced to stay in a small hotel in a town & were able to wear up in our GoLite Wisp tops. I have to say that we seemed reasonably well-dressed as a result! & this for just 80 grams each.

Maintenance

I did not find that my Wisp needed any support on the trip. I did not get it very sweaty, so that meant it didn’t need washing (until we got home!), but the very light fabric seemed to h&le anything I threw at it. I admit I had some uncertainties before we left, but this stuff is a lot tougher than I had been expecting.

I did remark that the fabric stayed relatively clean against other difficulties, like bits of lunch being separated from it. Food did not seem to stick very well. I do know that typical fluorocarbon DWR methods are not only used to secure the fabric water-resistant: they are also widely used to make the material stain-resistant. This seems to have worked here.

The sundries – elasticised cuffs & hem, zip, etc., also survived the trip very well. I have had no problems with any of them.

Summary

Likes Dislikes
Very light No hood
Windproof DWR not very useful
Somewhat Tough Tail could be slightly longer

 

 

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