Thursday, November 29, 2007

Warm Cosy Bliss

As they say, "Christmas is just around the corner", and I imagine that more than a few of the people reading this blog are trying to come up with the perfect "gear gift" for that special someone. There is a preponderance of gear out there, and sometimes it's difficult to identify the "best of the best". (If anyone has hints or suggestions I would truly appreciate the advice.) For me, if there is a single piece of gear that I have appreciated most- it is my Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Hooded jacket.

I moved to Salt Lake from South Texas with a few sweatshirts and absolutely nothing in the way of jackets. As a grad student, I didn't exactly have a large budget for new clothing and gear, so I started out trying to make do with what I had. That first winter was pretty miserable until I finally gave up and accepted that wearing two sweatshirts at a time simply was not cutting it. My first jacket wasn't anything special- I bought it at a gear swap, and it did okay. It wasn't until the next Christmas when I received a Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero jacket that I was finally able to enjoy winter just as much as fall and spring (the jury is still out on Utah summers).

The sub zero is extremely warm (the baffles are not sewn through- and it makes a difference!). I find the jacket to be excellent for cold winter belays. The zipper is two way, so you can unzip the bottom to get at your belay loop and device much easier. The hood is really nice for those extra cold days or nights at camp, and there are pull cords in all the right places to reduce the space between you and the jacket- effectively keeping out drafts. The pockets (on both men's and women's jackets) and collar (women's only) are lined with soft fleece.

I don't ski in my jacket as it is only water resistant, and it typically ends up being too hot to ski in anyway. I'm now on my second jacket - the first held up to four years of repeated abuse and my only complaint is that it now smells distinctly manky despite washing attempts (which is my fault and not the jacket's- I would recommend early washing as soon as mank begins to set in). I still keep the old jacket for cold weather climbing, camping, backpacking, etc, and wear my new (smell free!) one around town.

So if your S.O. gets cold during the winters (and you're looking to avoid having their cold hands thrust into your warm parts), I *highly* recommend this jacket.

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Anonymous Rob Story said...

I have the sub zero vest, and on brutally cold EC ski days when the snow guns are on, its a great mid layer for keeping warm.

There's something to be said for dependable gear, too. I have an old Marmot windstopper fleece (back when windstopper was a new thing) and its served me well for years. I feel like I should get something new, but honestly theres nothing wrong with the one I have.

Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Cloudveil, Arcteryx, Patagonia - you just cant go wrong with any of those names, and personally they are the ones I have had the best experience with.

11/29/2007 12:45 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

Right on- I hadn't even thought about a vest. My fiance is always getting miserably cold during skiing (even worse than me!), and we usually try to address the extremities (warm socks and down mittens even), but I wonder if his cold hands and feet are due to a too cold core.

I would agree with most of your statements- but there are always exceptions. I had a Marmot ski jacket that fell apart after a couple of days :( and I've had some Patagonia items that weren't terribly sturdy. But no complaints about my Arcteryx and Mountain Hardwear gear at all!

11/29/2007 2:57 PM

Anonymous Keith said...

Mountain Hardwear has several jackets with the "sub zero" name. Not all of them have baffled construction. You need to pay for the SL version, with their waterproof/breathable shell to get baffled construction.

I almost ordered the wrong one. Although you link to the correct version, you actually don't state the correct SL name.

Just don't want others as baffled as I was...

12/06/2007 1:25 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

Sorry about that Keith. I totally dropped the ball on that one. I'll be more careful in the future.

Glad that you are no longer baffled but have baffles. ;)

1/02/2008 4:21 PM


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