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Smamitman  
#1 נשלח : יום רביעי 12 אפריל 2006 16:07:46(UTC)
Smamitman


דירוג: שביליסט מתחיל

קבוצות: חבר
הצטרף: 12/04/2006(UTC)
הודעות: 24

So G'day from Adam at Smamit at Down Town Rosh Pina, Being a bit of a Bugger I'll be writing in English.
Heres a link to understanding how rain were works.
A good explanaion about different types of waterproof fabrics and their use in rain gear
Rainwear, FAQ from Oz

From Australia

and a bit more from the UK
Rainwear UK
So Here it is
   Introduction



Rainwear has proven to be a hot topic for discussion and dissension. There is a lot of myth in this area, and fair bit of ignorant bigotry as well (I paid $xxx for this jacket: it has got to be better than the cheaper ones!). We will start at the beginning with what you really need from a jacket, and then review the underlying theory of how a jacket works (did you think you could skip this?). With a better understanding of what is going on, we will then discuss all the technical bits and current state of the art.



We will try to give some idea of what is on the market. This is where things get a little rough: many people have very strong views that brand X is good and brand Y is terrible, but putting that in print can be a little risky. Added to that, models come and go, so this may not be 100% up to date. We have summarised some of the discussions from the news group, but if any manufacturers or distributors wish to provide more information (to set the record straight?) it will at least be considered. Finally, we will look at some designs and materials, including a bit of a look at what is happening in both advanced fabric design and overseas gear designs. You will be surprised at the possibilities.




Contents



What do you really need?


The theory underlying waterproof materials


Breathability in Australia conditions


Durable Water Repellant coatings


Materials - the Gore-Tex saga


Design


Over-trousers


Alternate approaches

    
    
Non-waterproof fabrics

    
'Soft Shell' - a new approach

    
'Silnylon'

    
Ponchos and Capes

    
Packa parka and pack cover

    


Brands and models - conventional






   

 



What do you really need?



What do you (really) need in a jacket, and how do the available materials provide this? Ultimately, what you need in the bush or the mountains is protection from hypothermia, which means protection from both wind and rain. But you need this under two quite different wearing conditions. The first is while you are being active; the second is while you are standing around. Combining the two is difficult. Adding to the complication are threee different weather conditions: cold wind (simple), really cold wind and snow (still fairly simple), and heavy rain (impossible). In this FAQ we are mainly concerned about rainy weather.



The first thing to point out is that if you are waving your arms around - going through some scrub for instance, the water on your hands and the scrub is going to go up your arms and wet your sleeves from the inside. Rain hitting your face is going to run down your neck and wet your shirt front. Sweat on your back is not all going to escape, and it will wet your back. And finally, rain running off your jacket will hit your knees and wet all your trousers, and that will wick upwards. You can wear waterproof trousers as well, but this is getting a little complex and expensive. Unless it is really cold and windy, it is also too hot to be comnfortable. If you are active, you are not going to stay dry, no matter what the claims on the label might say.



Some manufacturers "test" their designs on a clothing dummy under a shower. They do up all the zips, flaps, cuffs and so on, and hang the arms straight down. Then the shower head is pointed at the back of the head. Testing is commendable, but these conditions bear no resemblance to the real world. Maybe a jacket can limit the amount of fresh cold rain pouring into your clothing, or maybe you can keep the water inside your jacket warm. That is, unless it is warm enough that the inside of your jacket turns into a sauna (real world!) and you start to die of heat exhaustion. So you open your jacket up for cooling - and get wet anyhow. Face it: if you are active you will get wet.



In fact, what you usually need is protection from the cooling effects of the wind. If you are dry you may not need a waterproof jacket to get this. Just a tight weave fabric will shed the wind enough. If it is really cold, maybe with (dry!) snow, you don't really need a waterproof jacket either. If there is warm tropical rain, there's little point in a jacket and you won't get cold anyhow. However, if there is cold wind and rain around you can get very cold, but it will be by surface evaporation. To go any further we have to get a bit technical and look the details of the wet surfaces and the conduction of heat. Not all of this is totally obvious. Bear with us.




 



The theory underlying waterproof materials



We start with the outer surface of your jacket. If it is wet the water it will evaporate in the wind and make the outer surface really cold. If the outside is cold, the inside will be cold, and will get condensation. When this cold surface touches your skin, your skin will will get cold. This is what hurts: cold skin, leading to hyperthermia. Who cares about being wet if you are warm?



An obvious solution is to stop the fabric surface from getting really wet. (A traditional cheap PVC raincoat is really good at this, but it has other disadvantages.) We can try to stop the fabric surface from getting wet by making it water repellent, so water doesn not 'stick' to the surface. One way of doing this is by coating the fabric with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. The two main forms of this are silicone and fluoropolymer. The conventional current versions of both wear off fairly quickly through abrasion, although the fluoropolymer seems (so far) to be more robust. (However, this is changing with some of the latest silicone coatings: see the bit at the end on alternate designs and materials.) When you have a good coating of one of these DWRs on the fabric the rain will bead up and roll off: the fabric itself stays fairly dry. A dry fabric does not get very cold, and doesn't leak water. If this is the path you are following, maintaining the DWR coating on your jacket is crucial. In fact, some would argue that the DWR coating is (far) more important than whether the fabric is actually waterproof. There is much truth in this, leading to the Soft Shell concept.



But note that this is just one way of keeping your skin warm. Alternatives include making the whole fabric water-repellent, so none of it gets wet, and making sure that a wet outer surface does not get to touch your skin and cool it down. These are not quite conventional approaches.



Let's think about the inside of the jacket. If the outside of the fabric is wet and cold, the inside will be cold too, and it will quickly get wet from sweat condensing there. This sweat and wet fabric will start to stick to your skin, and now the cold really starts to trickle in. You can limit this somewhat by having a thermal top or other thickish layer under your jacket, but obviously a cotton shirt is not going to work. They are notoriously cold when wet. And if the outer surface of the jacket is wet, you can forget about most of the "breathability" the fabric is meant to have: it has just been reduced way down (albeit not quite to zero). So, as the outer surface chills from being wet, condensation and cold inside can follow if you don't take special steps to handle it.



Less obvious is the idea that follows on from this. Having a bulky layer on under your jacket, even if it is not really a top-rate thermal insulator, will keep you far warmer than you expected. Even a thermal top may provide enough bulk between your skin and the jacket to stop the water from reaching your skin. We aren't talking about real insulation here: just a physical spacing layer. If your skin can stay dry and warm, the heat from it can actually drive moisture out of the layer surrounding it. So there is a trend today towards rainwear which is not 100% waterproof, but does have this insulation layer under it. You probably won't see it in Australia yet, but the Europeans knew about it long ago and the Americans call it Soft Shell and think they invented it recently.




 



Breathability - in Australian conditions



This term was used above. It means that the fabric can let water vapour pass through, while blocking liquid water. There are lots of pretty diagrams in the mountaineering catalogues which illustrate this. Different manufacturers claim all sorts of enhanced breathability for their own products, but most of them omit a critical detail: what conditions are needed to use the breathability.



Think of little ping-pong balls (or water molecules) popping back and forwards through some holes in a wall. Every now and then, one of the balls "hits" a hole and pops through. If there are lots of balls on one side and only a few on the other, those on the numerous side will flow through more: they win. If the balls on one side are packed more densely, they will win. If the balls on one side are racing around more quickly, they will win. The side that wins gets to pump most little balls (ie water molecules) through the wall. (Those of you who remember Maxwell's Demon may recognise this description.)



In real terms, this means we need either a temperature gradient or a vapour concentration gradient across a fabric to get vapour transmission, or both. So most fabrics work well when the outside air is a very cold and very dry - high alpine conditions in America or Europe maybe. But when the outside air is warm and humid, like we get so often around Sydney or Queensland, you are dead out of luck.



It has been suggested that an increased air pressure can make this work. By itself, it won't. And there is no way you can get an increased air pressure inside your parka anyhow. You would end up looking like the Michelin Man*.



What this means in practice is that the expensive fabrics which claim increased breathability won't be able to deliver much in the way of benefits in many parts of Australia, once you get out in the bush. However, the manufacturers and vendors are remarkably loath to admit this as big-ticket items make more profit.



On this subject, you might want to read Ranolf Fienne's book "Mind over Matter". He insisted on wearing cotton jackets in the Antarctic for an unsupported ski crossing. His argument is that breathability is crucial in stopping any build-up of ice inside the jacket, and that cotton is still the best. Note that he was in dry conditions, way sub-zero, so actual waterproof ratings were irrelevant. An interesting perspective. The modern Epic fabrics and soft-shell concepts carry this theme forward.
   


* He's called Bibendum. The first Michelin advertising showed the character drinking a glass of nails (to show that it didn't feared flats) and saying "nunc bibendum est" ("Now it's time to drink" in Latin). People misunderstood the sentence and the name Bibendum became associated with the Michelin Man. [My thanks to "Maki" for this information! RNC]




 



Durable Water Repellent Coatings



If you can keep the surface of your jacket or clothing from getting wet, the rest of you and your clothing inside it will stay warm and (fairly) dry. So if that's how your jacket works, it makes a lot of sense to do a bit of maintenance on it to keep the water beading off. Actually, this is probably more important than either waterproofness or breathability, under typical East coast Australian conditions.



The initial DWR coating is applied to the basic fabric under optimal conditions during manufacture. It is almost always a fluoropolymer today, and should last a fair while. You can often restore some of its performance by ironing the jacket or warm tumble-drying it. What this does is make the DWR polymer coating flow around the fibres again, to cover up the worn patches on the surface. Well - until you run out of coating, which seems to happen all too quickly.



You can buy various brands of replacement DWR coating at walking shops to replace the original coating when it wears off. There are several brands: follow the instructions on the containers. Just be carefully with the iron and don't melt the jacket! Incidentally, do not try to mix the two forms (silicone and fluoropolymer): they will not adhere to each other, and mixing them will wreck any further attempts to coat the fabric.



Which one is best? Well, up until recently the consensus has been that the silicone (spray-on) versions rub off very easily, so the fluoropolymer ones have been preferred. That's because they are meant to actually form a solid layer around the fibres. I'll go with that for most fabrics today, but later on I will mention some new fabric designs which have been introduced.



Sadly, experience tells us that replacement DWR coatings do not last all that long. You can iron the fabric regularly to redistribute what fluoropolymer is left (read the instructions), but it is a temporary measure. Frankly, I am about ready to give up on conventional replacement DWR coatings: they rarely last longer than one good downpour.




 



Materials - the Gore-Tex saga



Now we look at what materials we have for jackets. Long, long ago we had oiled japara jackets as rainwear: they worked - sort of, maybe, sometimes. (Hey: a black oiled japara jacket from NZ was the bees knees in those days!) Then we had a brief flirtation with the new PVC-proofed nylon fabrics. This material was more waterproof when new, but sweat condensation inside meant you got very wet if working hard. Unfortunately the early PVC coating process was poor and the proofing layer peeled off quite quickly, after which the thing became absolutely useless. Mine lasted about one year. Into this troubled area came the patented Gore-Tex ® fabric. It was waterproof but breathed out water vapour, and it did not peel. The term 'waterproof/breathable' (WPB) entered the market. Gore had a huge marketing budget, and the material made quite an impression. Here in Australia Gore-Tex took over the whole market. Seam-sealed Gore-Tex jackets were the "only thing" to wear for quite a while.



But after a while some problems surfaced. The thin Teflon ® membrane turned out to be very susceptible to damage from our scrub: once punctured by a thorn it leaked for ever more. The ubiquitous thorn scrub around the Blue Mts proved especially hazardous; the Tassie scrub was no better. Once the DWR coating on the outside wore off and the heavy surface fabric got wet, it was found that condensation did build up inside and you got wet inside despite the "Guaranteed to keep you dry" slogan. The materials licensed for use in Australia had a heavy nylon outer layer and a second lighter inner layer to protect the Teflon membrane: the net result is a very heavy fabric. Some customer disillusionment set in. In addition, Gore's licensing conditions were very tight and the jackets proved to be very expensive. In fact, jacket manufacturers overseas switched to other materials fairly quickly, so that Gore-Tex never became dominant overseas as it did in Australia. (Don't believe me? Check some overseas web sites, and see below re Pyrenees.)



Does this mean that the Gore-Tex materials are no good? Not a bit of it. They are superbly engineered fabrics. They are excellent for many things. But the heavy ones available in Australia are not a good match for Australian conditions. It is interesting to note that Gore do make very light Gore-Tex fabrics, but they will not licence them for rainwear in Australia. The official reason they give is that we are too rough on our gear. What this really means is that our scrub is too rough, and they got far too many warranty claims. Understandable.



GoreTex materials are still widely used in Australia, but many other materials are now being used. The most common is PolyUrethane-proofed nylon. The PU proofing allows water vapour through, although not as quickly as Gore-Tex. (Mind you, manufacturers have wonderful ways of presenting the "facts" to show each of them has a better product. Just don't believe any of them.) PU-proofed fabrics are usually much lighter and cheaper than Gore-Tex. However, the nylon surface fabrics on all of them are just the same and hold the DWR just the same - no better, no worse. The lighter materials may wear out more quickly, but since the jackets are cheaper this does not matter so much.



Now for the big secret which was apparently unknown in Australia at the time of writing in 2004. What is the actual waterproof layer in Gore-Tex? It's PU: polyurethane! But, you might say, what about the fabled Teflon layer? Well, it turns out the story is a shade more complex than you think. Some older walkers will remember that there were two versions of Gore-Tex, and that the first version had problems which led to a lot of recalls. The first version did have an expanded Teflon layer, which blocked the liquid water and let the water vapour through very well. But it quickly became contaminated from the inside by sweat and body oils. How very sad - how very obvious in hindsight. So the Gore-Tex designers covered the inner surface of the Teflon membrane with a layer of polyurethane. This layer kept the Teflon layer clean. They modified the PU to be hydrophilic (water loving) so the water molecules could go through it, and they made the PU layer very thin to help. In essence, the Teflon now serves as a support for this PU layer. But this double layer does not breathe as well as the original single Teflon layer. Furthermore, the very thin layer of PU has to be protected from damage, hence the use of an inner knit layer and the fact that most Gore-Tex fabrics are 3-layer.



Of course, if PU can breathe, why not skip the Teflon layer and simply use a PU layer? The advantages of doing this are that it bypasses both the Gore-Tex patents and is very much cheaper to produce. The drawback is that a slightly thicker layer of PU is needed when it is put straight onto the fabric. So many companies leapt into the PU-coating market. The thicker layer meant that a PU fabric did not breathe quite as well as the Gore-Tex fabric, and this allowed Gore to claim they had the best breathability on the market. It became a battle between Gore's advertising and the cheaper prices the competion could charge. Gore won the PR battle in Australia for a while, but not in many other countries. Anyhow, with all these WPB fabrics, the surface fabric still gets wet, and you still get cold and wet. The question remains: is all the weight of the Gore-Tex fabric worth having? You may gather that the author does not think so. In fact, these days I am quite sure I do not.



Some companies worked hard on improving the breathability of the PU layer, but with limited success. Fancy things like "Triple Point Ceramic"® are still just PU - in this case with very fine ceramic particles embedded into the PU layer to enhance the breathability. They still could not match Gore. The better approach was to look for a new technology. As a result several interesting developments have occurred recently. The original Gore patents expired, so companies could safely experiment with Teflon. A company called BHA Technologies has developed a Teflon membrane but engineered the surface of the Teflon to be oleophobic: oil-hating, and highly resistant to oily contaminant fouling. It does not need a PU layer to protect it. They call this eVENT. Since it is very similar to the original Gore-Tex fabric is it any surprise that it breathes better than the current Gore-Tex? Unfortunately, it is just as expensive as Gore-Tex. Then there is another developed by 3M. It's called Propore, and is basicallly a microporous polypropylene fabric. It uses a WPB microporous polypropylene membrane which is laminated to a single nonwoven polypropylene fabric or laminated between two nonwoven polypropylene fabrics. Different from PU layers, Propore breathes equally well at low and high humidity levels, and breathes better than the Gore-Tex membrane. Unlike eVENT and Gore-Tex the technology used in Propore is very cheap, and the fabric is very light. It is even lighter and less expensive than PU fabrics. A Propore jacket can weigh 133 g and cost only US$30! Propore is becoming a cult choice of long distance hikers - at least in America where they hike on trails. The disadvantage it suffers is that it is not as strong as nylon fabric. Another very similar fabric is used by Frogg Toggs, and is reputed to be a little stronger. Finally, there is Entrant G2 XT from Toray. It is supposed to be more breathable than Gore-Tex but not quite as good as eVENT. It uses a hydrophobic micro-porous membrane. Apparently it has some penetration into the European market, but not so much into the USA market. I know the Toray company: they make very fine fabrics, so this one bears watching. Finally, there is a new development in totally weaterproof fabrics which are not breathable. The logic here is that no shell keeps you dry in bad weather anyhow, so why worry about that: just keep the wind and fresh water off your skin at the minimum weight. It is covered below under alternate designs and materials.



There have been some passionate arguments about whether one should use anything but the absolute best material in the mountains, in the name of 'safety'. This begs the question of what is 'best' of course. Just don't believe anyone when they try to tell you that you will die if you don't take an XYZ jacket. (I have been told this most earnestly.) Many of us survived for years before XYZ jackets were even invented. I suspect some people hold this attitude to justify having just spent $400+ on a jacket which they subsequently find is less than perfect.






 



Design



Despite all the criticisms above, Australian bushwalking jackets are some of the better designed ones in the world - as jackets go for Australian needs. If you compare Australian designs with those from overseas you will notice two major differences. Ours are much longer, and overseas ones often have a lining. There are reasons.



Australian parkas are made for (relatively) warm rain in the bush; overseas ones are often made for dry snow in the mountains. That means ours can or should be longer, hopefully to keep our bums dry: the length would get in the way on overseas mountains. At the same time, there is no point in having a lining when you are going to be hot inside your jacket anyhow. Less obviously, we have traditionally thought that ours need to be a bit more waterproof. However, since we never stay dry in serious rain, one has to wonder about this requirement.



Some key points to look for in a traditional bushwalking parka are therefore as follows. A long jacket is useful when walking: it keeps your backside and waist drier (note: I did not say "dry"). A cord around the waist is essential: it stops the wind whistling up inside when it is really cold. A cord around the bottom edge is useless: when you are walking it can't work as you need the room to move your legs. Long sleeves are good; you can bring your hands right inside the sleeve and keep them, if not dry, at least out of the wind. A Velcro ™ strap around the wrist is best; elastic doesn't work except with the very lightest of fabrics.



The zip down the front does not have to reach the bottom of the jacket. In fact, if the jacket is long you will probably unzip it a bit from the bottom to give your legs room to move. This can be essential if you are climbing through rough country. So if the jacket is long the zip has to be double-ended; shorter jackets may not unzip all the way down, but this may make them hotter. It is best if the zip has a good storm flap over it, otherwise the rain will come   straight through the zipper. A 'storm flap' consists of an outer flap going over an inner flap from the other side, with the inner flap being bigger than it needs so the end folds over, and these do work better than a single flap. This is shown in the diagram to the right. There are two ways of securing the storm flap over the zip: press-studs or another zip. The advantage of the studs is that when it is very hot you can skip the zip and just use a couple of studs to keep the jacket partly closed. This happens more often than you might think, and you can't do this with a second zip. The zipper pull tab should have a good bit of tape on it so you can find it easily, especially with gloves on. You can always add a bit if there is none. The zipper should be robust: there is a terrible tendency to give it a good tug when conditions are bad. A moulded-tooth zip (as opposed to a coil-coil zip) is probably better unless you are willing to be a little careful. That said, there is no reason why a lightweight parka should not have a light #3 coil zip: it will work just as well (as the author has proven over time).



A large well-shaped hood is essential. If the hood is too small for you when you try the jacket on, it is going to be even worse when you put a pack on. The shoulder straps will pull the hood down on your head. Check this very carefully! Also check what shape the hood makes when the draw-cord is pulled tight. Some hood openings do not seem to be where your eyes are, or they make it impossible to turn your head sideways. This gets worse when you wear glasses. A good hood has a bit coming up under the neck like a tube and over your chin. This may sound (and look) funny at first, but wait until you are walking through driving sleet or snow before deciding. A bit of a peak forward of the drawcord is useful too, to stop the rain from streaming down across your face. It doesn't have to be very large: your face is going to get wet anyhow.



When you put a jacket on try raising your arms to the roof. The jacket will inevitably ride up around your waist, but the less movement the better. This is achieved by a large gusset under the armpit. Cheap designs don't have this: skip them. Of course, when you lower your arms this may leave a whole lot of excess loose material under your armpits. Frankly, who cares? (Unless you want the jacket as a fashion item, in which case you don't need to read this.) At the same time, check the wrists don't ride up your arms: if they move the sleeves are too short.



Some reinforcement over the shoulders may be useful, but it adds weight. This is to resist wear from the shoulder straps and to resist water being forced through the fabric. In general this dates back to the days of oiled japara and one can worry too much about it. But do check where the seams are: you don't want any over your collar bones, for obvious reasons of comfort.



It may help to have one or two external pockets: you would be surprised how useful they can be at times. Unless they have an extremely good cover the pockets are going to fill up with water anyhow: what do you have which can be left floating? A small drain hole in the stitching at the bottom is recommended. An internal pocket at chest level for a map is one of the more useful features to look for. It is usually accessed from behind the storm flap but in front of the zip.



"Pit zips" are sometimes offered under the armpits: "to let the hot air out". If I am that hot I have to open more than a pit zip; otherwise I would prefer to keep some of that hot air inside to keep my skin dry thank you. Pit zips are a bit of a gimmick as they don't work very well in practice. They leak, and they add cost and weight. They seem to belong in the "marketing features" category, along with huge numbers of pockets, reflective tape, etc. Forget them.



Finally, all seams above the bottom hem should be sealed one way or another. The normal way is with a seam-seal tape applied on the inside. This can add some stiffness to the design; it does add cost. However, in this case the cost is absolutely worth while: without sealed seams the jacket is almost useless.



Details like how many pockets there are, reflector tape, fancy logos and so on can be left to the street fashion crew to worry about. They just add cost and weight.




 



Waterproof Over-Trousers



Not all walkers bother with these, but if you are going into the NSW or Vic Alps they are strongly recommended at all times of the year. The number of times Boxing Day on the Main Range has been celebrated with sleet and snow is startling. Cold, wet and miserable is no fun.



That much said, we are left with the question of what sort of over-trousers are needed. For this exercise we can divide them into two opposite classes: heavy expensive (and typically Gore-Tex) ones with zips down the sides, and very light ones. The advantage of the zipper ones is that you can get them on over big boots fairly quickly. Unfortunately, that is their only advantage. They are much heavier, much bulkier, much dearer, and just as prone to damage as the light PU ones. Some of the light PU ones are very wide in the leg, so you can get boots through them. Of course, if you are not wearing boots, the whole thing gets much easier.



Will the light-weight PU nylon ones last? Well, if you wear them in thick scrub you are asking for damage, but the same applies to jackets. What is surprising is how well they do survive: the wet nylon surface seems to skid off most sticks very easily (but barbed wire is a no-no). And they can be great fun in the winter: they can slide really well on snow and ice. Great for parka-sledding, but sometimes a little exciting when you fall over on a steep slope. Our light PU-nylon ones have lasted for years.



Should they go on the inside or the outside of gaiters? Well, if you put them on the inside they are protected from the ankle-level scrub, but then they funnel the water straight into your footwear. On the other hand, if it is pouring rain, your feet will probably get wet anyhow. Your choice (does it matter?).




 



Alternate approaches



Non-waterproof fabrics



For historical reasons Australian walkers all have parkas, but are they really necessary? When people went walking with all-cotton clothing, the answer was probably yes. Cotton gets wet and stays wet and cold: this can be dangerous. But what if you are wearing a DWR-treated nylon top (or windshirt) and a thermal under it, while walking energetically? It turns out that you can stay reasonably warm without a parka under quite significant rain, for the reasons outlined above. Get moving and stay hot, and you drive the water off. OK, you will get a bit wet at the wrists and neck - but you would have got equally wet there with a parka on most days anyhow. The key point is that when you stop you put your parka on very quickly.



This method does get used overseas a bit, and we have tried it in NSW and the French Pyrenees with success. But it requires some judgement, lots of experience, lots of good food and spare dry clothing for the end of the day. You try it at your own risk - and not in a howling gale or sleet!


   

'Soft Shell'



This is a generic term (already) for the concept roughly outlined above, although not all companies using the term agree exactly on what it means. One version goes like this: you take a water-repellent surface fabric (usually with some sort of silicone treatment) and combine it with an insulating bulk layer on the inside to create a fabric which breathes but is 'sort-of waterproof'. Some companies want the fabric to be a stretch fabric as well, but imho that is optional (and very expensive) at this stage. Other companies argue it should mean just the surface fabric, and that the user should be free to decide what insulating layer to have on the inside. I incline to the latter. The archetypical brand here is Epic by Nextec.



The advantage of the integrated multi-layer approach is that it produces a very nice garment with nice outside surface and a soft warm inner surface: very consumer-acceptable. Think trekkers and street wear here. The disadvantages (to the bushwalker) are several: higher price, higher bulk, less flexibility. You can't easily change the weight of the insulating layer and you can't change that layer if it does get damp. It is not my choice.



The advantages of the single-layer approach for the bushwalker are obvious: lower cost, more flexibility, less bulk if you want to have just a jacket for emergencies tucked into your pack. The realities are that the market has room for both. The author cribbed a good review of the whole soft shell concept in 2004; it seems to have been removed from the web since then so the guts are reproduced here.



However, the author's experiments here in Australia with a poly-cotton version of one of the shell fabrics being pushed in this area are not so encouraging so far: the fabric got wet because my sweat nullified the silicone coating, and I suspect the coating was abraded off the cotton fibres as well. Bluntly, cotton is not a good choice here. On the other hand, a very light synthetic Epic fabric called Malibu did make a nice soft-shell ski jacket, good in the wind and snow and tolerable under pouring rain when I had a good inner layer under it (and was working hard). In the meantime, Macpac are using some synthetic Epic fabrics in some very light jackets, but without seam sealing and with only a single line of stitching at the seam. It would seem they do not intend these for any form of serious rain protection. But the Epic material does breathe a bit since it does not have a continuous film across the face of the fabric. This is a Work In Progress: see the Ultralightweight and DIY areas for more information.


   

'Silnylon'



A very exciting development associated with the Soft Shell idea is the the introduction of silicone impregnation methods. This is completely different from the old spray-on silicone treatment. Typical base material is nylon or polyester fabric which has been thoroughly impregnated or encapsulated in a silicone polymer. Several processes are being developed and used, and are far more rugged than the old silicone spray. The result is a DWR in bulk, and one which does not wear off. The water just beads off - and so doesn't get through. The material come in several forms: the EPIC mentioned above and the Schoeller fabrics are breathable and fall into the Soft Shell category. But "SilNylon" (or variants thereof) and some stiffer siliconised yachting fabrics are different, and totally waterproof. The 'silnylon' is making big waves in some areas like lightweight tents. Look for some of these fabrics to reach the Australian market soon.



The author is experimenting with some imported samples of these materials. The Malibu was good for a shell jacket, and the Silnylon makes superb lightweight and waterproof tents. It is not too bad as a poncho (next) either, as long as the poncho can flap a bit to reduce condensation.


   

Ponchos and Capes



Once upon a time we didn't have parkas: we used ex-army ponchos. These are not a lot of use in really thick scrub or on ridge-tops in a high wind, but they weren't too bad on a track in the forest. They left your arms free and didn't cause too much sweat build-up. They could be put over your pack as well, removing the need for a rain cover. But we seem to have forgotten all about them, what with our Gore-Tex parka love affair.



We spent 6 weeks in the French Pyrenees in the "summer" of 2002. Actually, it was the worst summer for the last 50 years, and it rained a lot - almost every day. What startled us was that very few of the French walkers we met carried parkas in the summer. But they ALL carried ponchos or capes. These ranged from fairly sophisticated upmarket affairs to simple PVC designs.



To be technical: a poncho is a flat piece of material with a hood set into the middle. You throw the lot over yourself and your pack, and you head pops through the hole in the middle and is sheltered by the hood. There are studs or ties down both sides to hold it together in case of wind. This piece of material is quite wide: big enough to rig an emergency shelter out of in fact. It is also wide enough to shelter most of your arms even when you are using them. Some Americans like them too: part of the tarp-tent craze there.



A cape is a bit like a poncho, but tailored and sewn down the sides. It has real sleeves, although they may be fairly generous. Obviously it offers a bit more shelter under high wind conditions. Conversly, in warm weather you will get a bit more sweaty inside one, although not as sweaty as inside a parka. And it can't be used as an emergency shelter very easily. However, there is no reason why you can't put a front zip into a cape: then it looks a bit like a parke for a hunchback! But it is so easy to put on when a shower happens: you can do so while walking along.




Obviously, you wouldn't use either of these when ice climbing. They may not be all that good for ski-touring either. But we found they were wonderful for track walking. Putting our parkas and pack covers on was an absolute pain in comparison. And they worked. In fact, I am not sure all of the ones we saw in France were really fully waterproof: just water-repellent in some cases.



John Walker contributed the following comments:



Recently however I've taken to using a $2 shop vinyl poncho (not the pocket sized ones, but the "heavy duty" type, if you can call them that). This was an experiment but has been surprisingly successful for the type of walking we do (day walks, mostly on track...various standards from fire trails to overgrown, almost non-existent footpads). I would not call it a robust long term solution, already a few holes and tears from overhanging scrub but still serviceable after several uses (and abuses). When it finally gets torn to shreds I'll just buy another one.



Advantages:
- real cheap
- extremely lightweight
- relatively sweat-free (the big holes where your arms and legs go through help with ventilation I suspect)
- covers your pack as well (NB I'm talking 30-35 litre day packs though)
- seems to actually keep you reasonably dry
- very fast to deploy over self and pack



Disadvantages:
- could be longer, especially at the back
- heavier duty material would make it more robust/tearproof





Packa™: parka and pack cover



A rather kinky idea, which should work really well for some people, is the 'Packa'. Think of a conventional pack cover and a parka joined together at the edge of the pack cover. Tie this onto the pack as a pack cover. When it rains, reach back, grap the parka bit, and pull it around you. Alternately, think of it as a snug, well-fitting poncho. The current model is made from silnylon and is rather light.




Both the Packa and a poncho have several hidden advantages too, apart from sheer convenience. The first is that your back can sweat into the pack frame space rather than having that waterproof layer smack up against it. The second is that you won't get leaks into your pack from the stitching in the harness area, and the harness stays dry. With a conventional pack cover a lot of water gets funneled down through the harness, and can get into your pack. The major drawback is of course the fact that when you and your pack part company, one of you will be without rain protection. If this is unlikely to matter, something like this or a well-fitting poncho might suit. They do make it very easy to pull on rainwear without stopping.



I tried out a silnylon poncho/parka cross (rather like a Packa) I had made myself on our trip in the Pyrenees in 2004. If had a full-length opening down the front and I had designed it so that it was easy to slip my arms in and out of the sleeves. While it did not rain very much, the ease of use was wonderful, and the ability to alter the ventilation really worked well. I will be using this a lot more I think.




 



Brands and models



We list here some well-known brands and some well-known models from those brands. All are "waterproof"; jackets without seam sealing are generally not included.If some models have gone out of production, or newer ones aren't listed, let us know. Pictures, prices and data are needed, samples are better. [Some catalogues show model, some add weight but no price; others show price but no weight. Sigh.] This is a Work In Progress.





Paddy Pallin


Well respected brand, usually long and simple.
Vortex: 870 gm


Verve: 820 gm womans


Vertigo: 750 gm


Vibe: 650 gm


Vista: 750 gm


Vital: 710 gm


Voyager: 635 gm


Vista overpants: 420 gm





Mont


Good Australian compnay
Overlander: 890 gm


Traverse: 700 gm


Tempest:: 810 gm


Austral: 650 gm


Highplains: 770 gm


Synchro: 830 gm


Shadow: 760 gm


Felix: 715 gm


Astryx: 685 gm womans


Shadow Pants: 690 gm


Highplains Pants: 470 gm


Austral pants: 380 gm


Traverse pants: 725 gm





Mountain Designs


Tend to be rather fashion-oriented with frills
Ascent: 600 gm


Descent: 500 gm


Nimbus: 950 gm


Stratus: 840 gm


Cirrostratus: 860 gm


Cirrus: 690 gm


Cirrus pants: 390 gm


Cumulus: 630 gm


Strato: 670 gm


Snowfall: 890gm


Snowdrift: 670 gm


Snowcloud: 690 Gm


Snowcloud Pants: 310 gm


Spindrift





Wilderness Equipment


Solid products, but never very light
Esperance: 790 gm


Naturaliste: 840 gm


Traverse: 810 gm


Telemark: 610 gm


Breakaway: 690 gm


Rainforest: 800 gm


Foxtrot Pants: 350 gm


Raindance pants: 530 gm





One Planet


Good brand, many models, some light-weight
Cascade: 760 gm


Bullfrog: 890 gm


Mirage: 705 gm, womans


Torrent: 590 gm


Cat and Dog: 650 gm


Standard Overpants: 295 gm





Peter Storm


UK firm, extremely light-weight, low cost, last well. These are popular with ultra-lightweight enthusiasts. Their main weakness lies in their having a single flap over the zip rather than a full storm flap, and this does allow a little bit of a leak in very bad weather. The local agency lapsed and 'they' are working on a new one. In the meantime, contact the manufacturer directly via their web site. www.peterstorm.com or by email at sales@outequip.fsnet.co.uk for direct sales.   
120 jacket: 300 gm, mid-length, PU Nylon


122 trousers: 150 gm, no zip, PU nylon


139 jacket: ? gm, longer, PU nylon





Rainbird


Asian origin, huge range, also light and low-cost. These models are "waterproof breathable" (others are not breathable). They are almost as light as the Peter Storm, and can be inspected locally.
Flinders:


Grampian:


Compass:


Range:


Ayer:


Everest: , mesh lined


Pioneer: , mesh lined


Kilmanjaro: , mesh lined


Himalaya: , mesh lined


Freestyle Pants:





Summit


We have one, and it is a bit heavy, but very rugged!
??: ? gm





Kathmandu


NZ firm, judged OK by many when on 1/2 price sale (a harsh judgement). Also carries Mountain Hard Wear. They do emphasis the 'street wear' and overseas trekking side a bit more, so fair enough.
Alpinist: gm


Tsunami: gm


Stormfront: gm


Monsoon: gm


Mandalay: gm


Overpants: gm





Macpac


Well respected NZ firm, a little more oriented towards alpine designs.
Prophet: 740 gm alpine


Oracle: 720 gm alpine


Zealot: 640 gm alpine


Resolution: 745 gm


Olivine: 720 gm


Latitude: 565 gm


Hollyford: 610 gm


Rainjacket: 655 gm


Zodiac: 720 gm


Rain Pants: 390 gm


Mountain Pants: 630 gm






 



© Roger Caffin 1/May/2002

Smamitman38820.7495717593
מממן
Smamitman  
#2 נשלח : יום שישי 28 אפריל 2006 23:35:06(UTC)
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Another great link to understanding
PsychoVertical The truth about breathable waterproofs
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#3 נשלח : שבת 29 אפריל 2006 12:29:47(UTC)
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אדם!!!

WOW

איך אומרים?

CHAPEAU

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#4 נשלח : שבת 29 אפריל 2006 12:31:27(UTC)
זמי1


דירוג: שביליסט בכיר

Medals: שביליסט מומחה: מדליה זו הוענקה עבור תרומה לפורום בידע ובזמן וחלוקת הניסיון בשבילים בעולם עם גולשים אחרים

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זה לא סתם סימנריון, זו עבודת תיזה.

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