If you’ve read through some of the Comments Sections of our reviews, you may have noticed that we get quite a few good questions and interesting comments from our readers.
And we often find that a reader has brought to light an interesting point about the piece we’ve tested, or has raised a broader question that’s worth considering and discussing.
But some of these comments and questions can get buried deep down in a particular thread, so we’ve created this new section to feature some of the particularly interesting conversations that are taking place around Blister.
This week, we’ll highlight a comment made by Blister reader, Slim, in response to Sam Shaheen’s article, Outerwear 201.
Q: Why don’t we see more outerwear designs combining both hardshell and softshell fabrics?
“Sam, I’d ride the lifts with you! I love to talk about outerwear just as much as skis! Gear is gear, it all contributes to the things you can or can’t do, and the fun you have while doing it.
One thing that was kind of brought up in the above comments, is that it’s not as simple as membrane X or Y, specific face fabrics have a huge effect on performance, as does garment construction.
One way that you can illustrate the air-permeable but waterproof fabrics is with the Event-bottomed dry sacks.
I wish more manufacturers would design a garment with differential fabrics, using each fabric in a location where it plays to its strengths. I.e. More durable, high hydrostatic head fabrics on the knees and shoulders, more breathable fabrics in other areas. For skiing especially this could be very beneficial, as OWNerd points out, kneeling, sitting and packstraps all exert high pressures. At the same time, hard, prolonged rain is rare in skiing.
I think the problem is in marketing, it makes for a mixed message when you’re trying to sell it. That’s probably why companies like Patagonia keep trying and keep dropping the items.”
“I definitely agree with the fact that the industry is lacking good hybrid jacket at the moment. We are really interested to check out some of the new pieces from Arc’teryx that look to address this gap.
However, like you said, it is certainly a marketing issue. Unfortunately, many people who buy high-end performance jackets aren’t actually getting out and pushing the jackets to their limits. A large percentage of the market for 3L shells is upper/upper-middle class casual users, and marketing a hybrid piece to that market is hard!”
What Do You think?
Do you agree that marketing realities are the primary thing that’s keeping companies from implementing more creative and intelligent uses of different fabrics?
Post Script: the Arc’teryx Lithic Comp Jacket
We are now putting time in the Arc’teryx Lithic Comp Jacket, which features a hybrid design that utilizes different face fabrics in its construction, including waterproof GORE hardshell and a more breathable Tursaro softshell fabric.
And after several days of skinning and bootpacking between 9,000 – 12,000 ft. (under a very warm sun on one day, through a driving snow storm on another, and in moderate temps on a third), our early impressions are quite positive.
Arc’teryx’s own description of the Lithic Comp is actually very informative (we will always raise a glass to non-stupid, genuinely useful product descriptions) so we’re reproducing most of it here:
Using Arc’teryx Composite Mapping technology to merge windproof, breathable GORE® Fabric Technology with Arc’teryx Trusaro™ softshell, Arc’teryx created the Lithic Comp to manage the shifting physical output levels of backcountry skiing and snowboarding while delivering protection from varying alpine weather conditions.
RIGHT FABRIC, RIGHT PLACE
Windproof, breathable GORE® Fabric Technology provides zonal waterproof protection on the front, shoulders, top of the arms and hood, areas most exposed to the effects of precipitation and descent driven snow. Arc’teryx Trusaro™ softshell material is utilized on the back and under the arms where air permeability and stretch are required. The result is a fabric composite providing essential protection from moisture while delivering high levels of breathability and stretch.
PERFORMANCE AND FREEDOM
The Lithic Comp Jacket is designed for a specific use: backcountry touring. Purpose driven features and freedom of movement, two Arc’teryx hallmarks, receive careful attention. In addition to the softshell’s stretch performance, Arc’teryx e3D (ergonomic 3-Ddmensional) patterning utilizes extra space in key joint areas to bring an added level of use specific articulation.
The Lithic is specifically tuned to elevate backcountry performance. Easily accessible hand pockets utilize a mesh backing to increase airflow across the chest, providing additional ventilation on ascents. The protective Storm Hood™ is helmet compatible and easily adjusts for a secure fit with maximized visibility. Two internal mesh dump pockets hold gloves, skins, toque or water bottle. A drawcord at the hem seals out drafts.