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  1. #1
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    Which synthetic mid/outer layer for ski touring?

    Curious what folks out there are using for skinning in dead winter / overcast weather?

    I wanted to get a midlayer for ski touring, hopefully to use as an all-purpose piece as well. Basically the trade-off is breathability vs. wind-resistance and I wanted input from here.

    Things in mind:
    1. Arc'teryx Proton LT
    2. Rab Xenon-X
    3. Outdoor Research Cathode
    4. Patagonia Nano Air
    5. ???

    I tried on the Proton and the Xenon. The Proton is just a bit too tight of a fit for me and kind of bulky. I really like the Xenon-X but I don't think it's going to be breathable enough. I heard the Nano Air is basically invisible to wind. Thoughts on a good middle ground?

  2. #2
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    I'm not familiar with the others but I've got a Nano Air and an R1 and I have to say, in my opinion the R1 is as good or better than the Nano Air in 95% of conditions. The only situation where I'd rather have the Nano Air is if it's windy, in which case I'd probably just put on my shell anyhow. I know it's been beaten to death, but the R1 really is an incredibly versatile midlayer. And it weighs less and packs down smaller than the Nano Air when you're not wearing it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazyasian View Post
    I'm not familiar with the others but I've got a Nano Air and an R1 and I have to say, in my opinion the R1 is as good or better than the Nano Air in 95% of conditions. The only situation where I'd rather have the Nano Air is if it's windy, in which case I'd probably just put on my shell anyhow. I know it's been beaten to death, but the R1 really is an incredibly versatile midlayer. And it weighs less and packs down smaller than the Nano Air when you're not wearing it.
    That's what I was hoping to hear. I have some REI brand Polartec HE stuff (which I think is the same as R1) that I was planning to use with a midweight softshell. If that's warm enough even in brutual winter conditions then I might end up just getting the Xenon-X and use that as my puffy/outer layer equivalent in the field, since I like it a lot overall.

    Any other thoughts on whether you tour with a synthetic insulator in dead of winter or whether a high-efficiency fleece is enough? And/or what your layering system is in general.

  4. #4
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    R1 (by FreeRide Systems -- not the Gucci) and Nano Air are also my primary midlayers.

    Both are great in a wide range of temps. R1 for 20-50, Nano from about 5-40. For me. R1 is useless in wind, but still I wear it a good bit on cooler bike commutes to work and mild tours. Nano Air blocks a bit of wind, but not as much as nano-puff.

    My buddy has the Rab Alpha jacket. Much like the nano-air but gives up a touch of breathability for more wind resistance.

    Really depends on what level of "wind" you're talking about. Resort skiing 90% of places? Touring about 12k on regular basis?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Really depends on what level of "wind" you're talking about. Resort skiing 90% of places? Touring about 12k on regular basis?
    It would be a 50/50 kind of jacket to me ideally. Use it as a midlayer under a shell for the resort when it's really cold and as an outerlayer on average (3-6k) touring days with the option to put it on while skinning if it's really cold.

    To be honest, I haven't toured before but getting into it this season and want to get my gear dialed while there are deals to be had. I've done plenty of snowshoeing in spring time so I have a feel for what it will be like, but not in dead of winter.

  6. #6
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    I have a Nano air that I seldom use for touring. It's great for stop and go activities, notably those that involve ropes. But on a typical ski tour I use no insulation while going uphill. If it's cold I'm usually wearing a softshell or a Houdini type jacket. I like an oversized synthetic or down jacket I can just throw on over other layers while transitioning. If it's not that cold, my insulation typically stays in the pack, unless I'm hanging out somewhere beautiful for a while. Either way, breathability is unnecessary and comes at a cost of less warmth for the weight.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejongiest View Post
    Any other thoughts on whether you tour with a synthetic insulator in dead of winter or whether a high-efficiency fleece is enough? And/or what your layering system is in general.
    Keep in mind that if you hurt yourself and can't move fast to keep warm you are then counting on what insulation you have to keep you warm. I would not trust any fleece I own in that situation.

    My layering setup is similar to ISBD. Some old light weight capiliene long sleeve and a breathable windshirt usually suffices and I add in a R1 if it gets really cold. I throw on a heavy oversized synthetic puffy for stops and longer descents. I rarely wear a full shell unless it's snowing heavily.

  8. #8
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    Good timing on this post. My Rab Windbloc hoodie is getting long in the tooth.

    I've been looking at the FRS BOSS 3.0 (http://www.freeridesystems.com/produ...ardface-hoodie) as well.

    My conundrum is those nasty Front Range winds which I find make it very difficult to regulate temperatures in. I've been considering using a lightweight softshell instead, but at the same time, trying to keep the bulk down. Some experimentation is in order.

    Adding a Houdini to the FRS hoodie sounds like a workable concept, but I'd rather not have to stop/start to add/remove layers. I sweat a lot.

    ... Thom
    Last edited by galibier_numero_un; 10-27-2017 at 12:50 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Which synthetic mid/outer layer for ski touring?

    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    I have a Nano air that I seldom use for touring. It's great for stop and go activities, notably those that involve ropes. But on a typical ski tour I use no insulation while going uphill. If it's cold I'm usually wearing a softshell or a Houdini type jacket. I like an oversized synthetic or down jacket I can just throw on over other layers while transitioning. If it's not that cold, my insulation typically stays in the pack, unless I'm hanging out somewhere beautiful for a while. Either way, breathability is unnecessary and comes at a cost of less warmth for the weight.
    This.

    Even in -15, a baselayer is plenty on the uphill. Look at the temp, pick the baselayer to suit (cap 1 ss, cap 2, r1, powerstretch). If itís morning, start with the softshell till I warm up, then ditch it until the wind starts cutting. At the top, toss on a light puffy and ski down. Sometimes if itís really nasty and Iím moving slow, the puffy comes out on the up, but thatís really really rare - like once a year or less.

    Any of the layers you mention would be generally way too warm for me as a midlayer when moving.

  10. #10
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    Which synthetic mid/outer layer for ski touring?

    Quote Originally Posted by John_B View Post
    Keep in mind that if you hurt yourself and can't move fast to keep warm you are then counting on what insulation you have to keep you warm. I would not trust any fleece I own in that situation.
    If thereís a chance of major injury or bivy, I bring a blizzard bag to cover this. A bivy and 30 degree sleeping bag rolled into one vhs-tape-sized 13.5oz package.

    http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/prod...d-survival-bag

    This plus a 10oz lightweight puffy is much more protective than a megapuffy most people bring for emergencies. It often weighs less too. Far more versatile of course and less faff - it can be tucked away into the very bottom of your pack, unlike the megapuffy which often is annoyingly too warm and always seems to get in the way.

  11. #11
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    ^^ Is that just synthetic insulation wrapped in a VBL and vacuum sealed? Seems like the insulation would degrade over time being vacuum sealed like that...

    I carry an emergency bivvy always, but no other insulation besides the layers in my pack.

  12. #12
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    a puffy down jacket over a softshell jacket over a light base layer, doesn't matter that much which brand but on sale is good

    start out wearing all 3 and after 10 min you will need to take off the puffy and if its really warm the soft shell

    if you stop for very long put everything back on, I use 2 puffys a light one and a heavier one for colder weather
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  13. #13
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    Ok that makes finding a new synthetic easier...well I probably don't need one then...but why not haha.

    Sounds like the Xenon-X is what I'll likely go for then.

  14. #14
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    Rab Boreas pull-on over thin base layer for active up-hilling and low wind (perfect combo for winter running down to -20C, also very durable and good for rock climbing as sun and wind protection next to skin).
    Marmot Ether Dri-clime hoody for windy conditions (looks old-school these TEX-days but really universal and comfortable next to skin or as a mid-layer, has some insulation value as a kind of VBL).

    Simple, light, compact and work together. Not so good for +/-0 Celsius and heavy precip though.
    Last edited by Va Ki Bo; 10-27-2017 at 04:57 AM.

  15. #15
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    My Nano Air pretty much entirely replaced my R1. I pair it with a Houdini (ultra light windbreaker) or shell depending on conditions. Usually down to a base layer on the up. I find this setup has a ton of versatility without too much fiddle or bulk.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejongiest View Post
    ^^ Is that just synthetic insulation wrapped in a VBL and vacuum sealed? Seems like the insulation would degrade over time being vacuum sealed like that...
    No, its a structured insulation. Very different.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    But on a typical ski tour I use no insulation while going uphill. If it's cold I'm usually wearing a softshell or a Houdini type jacket. I like an oversized synthetic or down jacket I can just throw on over other layers while transitioning. If it's not that cold, my insulation typically stays in the pack, unless I'm hanging out somewhere beautiful for a while.
    +1
    R1 hoody from the Gucc and a shell available at the top of the pack should the wind really pick up. (In wind, it's ok to be cool-ish; but not cold. Put the shell on in strong wind and cold temps to avoid a URI.) Then the insulation layer(s) is just a matter of fit, weight, packability, price, looking cool in the parking lot.
    The R1 hoody is money because because it breathes well, stays tucked in and it's essentially a spare hat.

  18. #18
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    I am big time sweat factory and have always skinned in just a baselayer and synthetic shirt or vest unless it's really nuking. Problem is, if it spits a little snow my arms get wet and chilly whereas my torso is fine. In looking for a more breathable insulator I just picked up a used OR Uberlayer on the gear swap forum. I put it to the test last night and did a steep climb near my house at a fast pace in 38 F weather. I would have been a sweaty mess in my REI puffy. I was very impressed. Dry on the up, warm on the down, no sweat! There is no other insulated jacket I have owned where that would have been possible.

    Also, since it's red, I think I have found a new favorite hunting / bc skiing jacket but still need to test it a bit more. One caveat is that it's not the most compressible jacket, but I plan on wearing it most the time up and down anyway so not a big deal to me.

    Some good info on several jackets here: https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topic...sulated-jacket

  19. #19
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    Ah, the annual skinning layer thread. I'll post what I post every year cuz it what works for me after years of experimentation: I'm a heavy sweater. Lightweight next-to-skin semi-VB works best for me in a wide range of temps, i.e., 0F to 40F, regulate body temp with zipper and hood/hat. My favorite lightweight N2S semi-VB is a MH Effusion hoody, which is discontinued, to my chagrin. A Windstopper laminate soft shell with non-lam side panels, e.g., Marmot Leadville, worn N2S works okay for skinning, temp regulated with zipper and hat.

    If you aren't a heavy sweater, a base layer under light windshell (e.g., Houdini jacket or vest) should work, but I sweat too much for that.

    Insulation is for breaks, transitions and downhills.

    YMMV

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    I have a Nano air that I seldom use for touring. It's great for stop and go activities, notably those that involve ropes. But on a typical ski tour I use no insulation while going uphill. If it's cold I'm usually wearing a softshell or a Houdini type jacket. I like an oversized synthetic or down jacket I can just throw on over other layers while transitioning. If it's not that cold, my insulation typically stays in the pack, unless I'm hanging out somewhere beautiful for a while. Either way, breathability is unnecessary and comes at a cost of less warmth for the weight.
    +2

  21. #21
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    Which synthetic mid/outer layer for ski touring?

    How does 60g of Polartec Alpha compare to 60g of Primaloft Gold? Same warmth?

  22. #22
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    Which synthetic mid/outer layer for ski touring?

    Polartec is about .5 clo/oz, Primaloft Gold is about .9 clo/oz. For reference, 800 fp down is about 1.6 clo/oz. Primaloft Gold has the highest clo/oz of all synthetics, as far as Iím aware.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIYSteve View Post
    Ah, the annual skinning layer thread. I'll post what I post every year cuz it what works for me after years of experimentation: I'm a heavy sweater. Lightweight next-to-skin semi-VB works best for me in a wide range of temps, i.e., 0F to 40F, regulate body temp with zipper and hood/hat. My favorite lightweight N2S semi-VB is a MH Effusion hoody, which is discontinued, to my chagrin. A Windstopper laminate soft shell with non-lam side panels, e.g., Marmot Leadville, worn N2S works okay for skinning, temp regulated with zipper and hat.

    If you aren't a heavy sweater, a base layer under light windshell (e.g., Houdini jacket or vest) should work, but I sweat too much for that.

    Insulation is for breaks, transitions and downhills.

    YMMV
    I have used this with good success the past few years. If it's too hot for the MH effusion (about 35F for me), I'm in a UL wool t-shirt (short sleeved). I've not yet been too cold while moving but I haven't skinned in temps below about 5-10F.

    I own the Xenon, and it's great for a light synthetic puffy. But the Montbell Mirage Parka is way, WAY warmer at the same weight (12 oz) -- that jacket has the best warmth/weight ratio of any I've found -- full box baffle and the down is over 40% of the total jacket weight. (Full box baffle instead of sewn-through construction is extremely hard to find in jackets under 1 lb.) Only downside is the face fabric is very thin (7D). It goes into my ski pack and backpacking pack as the only puffy.
    Last edited by auvgeek; 10-28-2017 at 10:51 AM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by auvgeek View Post
    I have used this (with your suggestion of the MH effusion) to great success recently. If it's too hot for the MH effusion (about 35F for me), I'm in a UL wool t-shirt (short sleeved). It's not yet been too cold while I've been moving but I haven't skinned in temps below 0F.

    I own the Xenon, and it's great for a light synthetic puffy. But the Montbell Mirage jkt is WAY, WAY warmer at the same weight (12 oz) -- that jacket has the best warmth/weight ratio of any I've found. Full box baffle instead of sewn-through construction is extremely hard to find in jackets under 1 lb. It goes into my pack now as a light puffy.
    That sounds like a great jacket. The only other jacket not sewn thru and light is made by triplezero.fr.

    I need to compare them.

    I have a custom made jacket (in Nepal), same construction, but it weighs 22 oz, very warm though.

    May need to replace it.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using TGR Forums mobile app

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    That sounds like a great jacket. The only other jacket not sewn thru and light is made by triplezero.fr.

    I need to compare them.
    Yeah, it's an awesome jacket and can sometimes be found on sale for a great price.

    Curious which triplezero jacket you own...according to the triplezero.fr website, they don't really have anything similar (150 g fill and 360 g total weight). The closest I could find is the Ama, which doesn't have an integrated hood, or the Ibon^2, which is more similar to the Monbell Frostline than the Mirage. Maybe they used to make one like the Ama with an integrated hood?
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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