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2/9/2015 12:27 PM
 








I normally don't like to jump the gun as much as I am on this one, but I'm excited about this. First, a fair amount of context is in order. As many of you know, I built a Mountain Parka out of eVent a year or so ago now. We've been wanting to put it into production ever since and have mostly been waiting on First Spear to get garment production lined out so we could drop the MP into their pipeline.

This past fall they hired a gal from the company that has been producing our Mountain Serapes to handle their garment program. With that in mind, we've been waiting somewhat impatiently for the high sign that they were ready to start working on the MP. At SHOT this year, we got that high sign. We also saw a new garment that had been designed and produced under the new regime and got excited about its potential. Scott from FS graciously offered us the opportunity to do a co-branded version of their Wind Cheater geared more towards the civilian market. 

What's it for? Always an important question when evaluating outdoor gear. My layering system when moving has boiled down over the last handful of years to a pretty simple setup. I have light and medium weight long underwear top, and I have light and heavy weight shells. The heavy weight shell is a hard shell out of Dry Q Elite or eVent (represented by our Mountain Parka design) with a removable coyote ruff, and the light shell has been served a variety of ways over the years. I change from light to medium weight long underwear on a seasonal basis, but I always carry both shells and on a given trip will usually use them both separately or together. If there is no precip, I'm wearing the hard shell in temps under about 25 and the light shell from 25 to as high as 60 or so if the wind is blowing. As you might imagine, the light shell sees the most use by far.

The light shell is meant to cut the wind and perhaps some light snow or precipitation. It needs to be as breathable as possible while still performing those functions. I've used a Helly Hansen hoody, an Otte Gear windbreaker, and most recently an OR Ferrosi hoody in that role. In each case, I went until the garment in question was starting to fall apart. Sometimes I've used an REI endeavor vest when I needed wind protection but even the light shell was too much. It's lame to carry both a vest and light shell, but I've done it. I'm going to use the OR as a benchmark garment for this role. There's nothing wrong with it (other than the metro sizing) and I like it the best out of everything that has served this role for me. Until I got a sample of the Wind Cheater.

When I unboxed the WC and put it on, it immediately struck me that I was wearing a "brother from another mother" to my Mountain Parka design. It has a large fully articulated hood that comes up to the nose in front, long drop tail, wide cuffs with adjustable closures, one piece shoulder yoke, pit zips, and has about the same cut and drape to it (although the FS is patterned with more nuance). On the down side, it weighs 8 ounces more than the 1lb even OR Ferrosi that is currently filling the same role. I'm going to be looking to cut a little weight with the HPG version if possible, but there's a lot of extra functionality that you get for the 8oz more that I'm not willing to cut:

  • long tail - self explanatory for anyone who spends time in the outdoors. If you're a bike rider, it will completely cover your butt when riding.
  • large articulated hood - the hood on the OR isn't bad, but being able to put a hood over your bicycle helmet or bunch of layers is nice. also, it does offer better more controllable coverage even without the helmet part of it.
  • adjustable cuffs - the cuffs are wide enough and long enough that you can loosen them and turn them up once for sleeve ventilation. Or you can tighten them down completely for no airflow up the sleeve when riding a motorcycle or bicycle.
  • pit zips - even in a light shell, extremely useful. with the cuffs turned up once and the pit zips fully open, I get the same effect as I used to have to go to the REI vest for.
  • more robust fabric - the Duro Ambush fabric in the Wind Cheater seems perfect for the application. It isn't quite as windproof as the OR fabric or wind breaker fabric. But it breathes much better. I don't get that sauna effect that I get with the others. And it's always externally dry to the touch even when the baselayer is soaked. That's a good sign. A wind breaker will last about a year. The HH went about two and I think the OR will be good for about 2. The Duro is noticeably more robust and I expect it to last longer still. It is stretchy enough. I wish it was a little bit stretchier like the OR, but overall I think it is a better fabric for the light shell application.

So, I'm very enthusiastic about this garment for my personal use and also our chance to do a co-branded version of it. How is the HPG one going to be different? As I mentioned before, I'll try to cut weight without cutting important features. Mostly pocket layout will change. The sleeve pockets are unnecessary in our world. We'll try to do some kind of napoleon setup. Perhaps the same as on the Mountain Parka design. The FS Wind Cheater has very large and functional hand warmer type pockets, but that's not something we've ever made use of on our light shells. And if I'm looking to cut weight, that's a good place. We may have the opportunity to do different colors but initially we'll probably just do the coyote color. And I'm going to experiment with a detachable coyote ruff on this garment. I'm not sure it's quite heavy and stiff enough fabric to get the benefit out of a ruff (or if you'd want to wear it in temps cold enough to warrant a ruff), but I'm going to try it. Longer term, we're also hoping to offer a true XXL. The FS version only goes up to XL (they call it XXL, but it's just a true XL which is what we'll sell it as).

Ya know, I should address the sizing thing. Up until maybe 5-8 years ago, if you bought an outdoor garment you could buy it in your t-shirt size and it would have good room to move around in and maybe add a layer underneath if it was more of a shell. Now you may or may not get that. Sometimes the more technical garments in a lineup are still sized that way, like the higher end of the Mountain Hardwear lineup. Filson (yes, that Filson) has addressed this by having both "Alaska Fit" (the way they've done their sizing since 1897) and "Seattle Fit" garments. No comment necessary on that one. We're going to use true (or what Filson calls "Alaska Fit") sizing -- order your t-shirt size and you'll have a garment properly sized for outdoor use. If you want something "fitted" or "athletic" or "compression" or "Seattle fit" to impress your buddies, chances are that you're not reading this forum or buying gear from us anyway.

 


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/9/2015 4:06 PM
 
Very exciting. Always love to be able to support your gear too.
 
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2/9/2015 4:23 PM
 
I'm now very happy that WildThings was out of my size in their windshirt...thanks for sharing.
 
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2/9/2015 4:40 PM
 

Nice!  I'm looking forward to checking out your WC next week!  


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
2/9/2015 6:57 PM
 
But coyote will clash with my skinny jeans.
 
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2/9/2015 11:19 PM
 
Looking forward to the HPG version!
 
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2/10/2015 4:58 AM
 
Looking forward to this. And quite enjoyed your comments on sizing. :D
 
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2/10/2015 5:26 AM
 
Evan - Perhaps instead of a removable ruff, a removable hood could be considered. I can envision some scenarios where that would be useful on a light weight shell (e.g. biking, running, layering). Again, looking forward to whatever you come up with...
 
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2/10/2015 6:17 AM
 
I guess that's karma for you. I have wanted a FS Windcheater since its concept garment was released last year but, have never been able to get a hold of one. The fact that the HPG teams parka is almost identical, I am super glad to had held off on the FS one.

I cannot wait, only problem is deciding on the colour!
 
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2/10/2015 6:33 AM
 
I have been using an Arcteryx Wraith in this role for at least 3 years, and it is still holding up.That being said, even though I got it on sale, I have always been nervous about its longevity. I haven't babied it, but I certainly have been careful with it. I like it well enough I had decided that buying another one was probably in the cards when this one wore out. I was extremely excited when I first saw this, because it is something I have long wanted, which was basically a more robust, comfortable, wraith. I was very disappointed to find out their xxl was Seattle cut xxl.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/10/2015 8:34 AM
 
A windshirt/lite parka is worth its weight in gold. This looks very nice and might be a very useful addition to anyone's clothing set up. Looking forward to seeing it .
 
New Post
2/10/2015 12:11 PM
 
Very happy to hear an "Alaskan" XXL is in the works--I'm really digging the OR Ferrosi windshirt folks recommended recently, but while the sleeves are right, it's really short for my long torso.  (Now if I can just talk y'all into 28" stays on the external frame...)
 
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2/13/2015 6:10 PM
 

I can't find anything on Duro Ambush, whats the fiber content?

I've rocked a PCU level 5 for a lot of wood cutting and farm work and have been pretty shocked at how well it's held up, better then a carhartt or all polyester softshell as near as I can tell. 98/2 Nylon/Spandex, stretch is pretty non existent but a fair trade for the longevity. 

Does a Napoleon pocket make sense? A Kit Bag seems to render most of mine all but unusable. Hand warmer pockets can hold gear better then gear pockets can warm hands in my experience. The hand pockets on my Lv 5 jacket are wonderfully compatible with the kit bag and one of the many reasons I like it. I personally love arm pockets but I understand why a lot of people don't use them. Sleeves that can be rolled up is a pretty sweet (and rare) feature in a wind shirt.

As for sizing, I've been a long time Filson fan but "Alaskan fit" always meant two sizes too big in the chest and two sizes too short in the arms for me.

 
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2/14/2015 1:09 AM
 
Very interested in this, especially the XXL sizing.

Can't wait to see it!

 
New Post
2/16/2015 11:01 AM
 
Regarding fit: if you're wearing an OR Ferrosi in XXL, our XL will fit quite nicely with a tad more room to spare. Plus the WC has more length in the arms and body (it's an outdoor garment). Like I said, whatever your T-shirt size is. There's nothing unusual about Filson "Alaska Fit" sizing. It's simply sizing as it has been for the outdoorsman for over 100 years. It's identical to what REI sizing was a decade ago. Medium is for guys with 40-42" chest, Large for 44" chest, XL for 46" chest, XXL for 48"-50" chest. Carhartt sizing is pretty doggone close to that as well (but skewed lower on the low end and higher on the high end) -- Med 38-40"; Lg 42-44"; XL 46" - 48"; XXL 50-52". If you're unusually short or tall for your chest size, you will probably have length issues. Fowler, as I told someone else recently -- your body type is so far from normal you're going to have trouble getting anything that isn't custom tailored to fit well.

Napolean pockets: Everything we do is meant to be multi-purpose. The WC wouldn't be used with a KB 100% of the time. Heck, I've probably worn mine more without than with since I got it. Plus, we're hoping to get the NPs a little lower on the WC to clear a KB (just like they are on the Mountain Parka). Over the years, I've discovered that I practically never use handwarmer pockets that have a zip closure, and I've literally never used them on a shell the weight of the WC. We actually debated the value of having *any* pockets on our version of the WC. But cold temperatures require small electronics to be placed in a pocket next to the body core to stay functional, particularly in the sleeping bag at night. Things like handhelds and flashlights. Doesn't hurt with lighters either. Napolean pockets are the only type that I've found I can sleep with items in. Even if I never use the pockets during the day, I still want them for in the sleeping bag at night and they have to be NPs for that purpose.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/16/2015 11:22 AM
 
Any comments on how you imagine sizing will work if you are wanting to run a system similar to what you describe...with the Wind Cheater as the main garment with the Parka as an over layer for really cold weather? Will you want to order the Parka in a size larger than your T-shirt then? Hopefully the question makes sense.
 
New Post
2/16/2015 11:34 AM
 
Collin, that question makes perfect sense. The Mountain Parka sizing is even more generous still - it is meant to go over a Mountain Serape in greatcoat mode without constricting movement. If you only want the ability to wear a Mountain Serape over a normal insulating layer like the ArcTeryx atom or a heavy sweater, you'd actually step *down* a size from your T-shirt size.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/16/2015 11:42 AM
 
Oh good. I'm glad it makes sense.

And I like that it will be even more generous. This makes me even more excited to see you guys offering these clothing items, knowing that they will form a system. It's one of the things I find most challenging about buying winter clothing (often even from the same manufacturer)...it's hard to know based on the sizes what will function well with what in a layering system.

 

So, thank you for the answer!

 
New Post
2/16/2015 11:46 AM
 
I would vote, if there was a vote and I know there isn't, to keep the arm pockets. The amount of weight they add is nominal but their convenience is, well, convenient.
 
New Post
2/16/2015 11:51 AM
 
One of the things folks seem to be missing, is that if they want to have sleeve pockets and hand warmers, they can get the FS version. The reality is that two sweet windcheaters are coming to market, so you have two choices with different feature sets. That being said if you want a xxl that fits like a xxl should you will be stuck with our version. The biggest one FS prototyped is a true xl. Unfortunately they followed the trend, at least in prototyping, in going with Seattle sizing and not Alaskan sizing.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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When humans first set foot in a new continent, they came in small groups under their own power, bringing only the gear they needed. Most simply called themselves The People. Over time, those who chose the rougher freer life of the up country came to think of themselves as the Hill People.
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