Friday, 22 June 2012

OMM Rotor Smock

Disclaimer:  I bought this with my own money from a shop!

I purchased this little beauty in late summer last year.  I've a couple of down jackets that I use for camp use at the end of the day to keep warm in that period after you've stopped walking but before you want to get in the bag or quilt and settle down for the night.  They also supplement the bag, or quilt to keep you that bit warmer on chilly nights.  The down side side of down is that it's rubbish when it's wet so the jackets tend to stay in a dry bag in the pack during the day unless it's a dry day. 

For this reason I wanted a synthetic jacket that works (a bit) when wet and dry's quickly, something for use in summer as the down ones are three and four season bits of kit.  Having tried a number of other jackets which had bizarre sizing I ended up trying this on.  Happily for me I work about fifteen minutes from (I am not connected to them in any way) so I could pop down there and mess around with it.

On first sight I though this was a ridiculous bit of kit.  The most lightweight bit of Primaloft One sandwiched between two layers of Pertex Quantum.  This would never keep you warm in a month of Sundays.  I tried it on and was very surprised.  It is quite simply amazing.  Don't get me wrong it's no where near as warm as a three season down jacket but for what it is (practically see through) it keeps you very warm.  Like an insulated wind shirt if you like.

The clever bit is that you can cinch the cuffs, bottom hem and the neck hole tight to trap in warm air.  Pertex is amazing stuff anyway, wind resistant, very breathable and super light.  Primaloft one is also pretty amazing.  If the gubbins Primaloft say is true and I have no reason to doubt it, then not only is it the most efficient synthetic insulation (I note Climashield Apex say the same) it reflects heat as well as trapping it.  However it works, it just works and works well.  The materials combined make for a fantastic garment.

I've used this on many days walking and a few backpacking too.  Because of it's properties you can use it for walking in, not just keeping in the pack until you set up camp.  When walking I view it as an insulated windshirt.  Very handy when for when a wind shirt isn't quite enough and a waterproof is a bit too much.  The collar, cuffs and hem can be opened as well as the zip at the front making for a very well vented smock.  As it's synthetic it doesn't matter too much if it gets damp from sweat as it soon drys out.  The pertex sheds light rain admirably and still does now.  I wouldn't use it in prolonged or heavy rain though.  Although when the sun comes out *snigger* you do get a bit warm in it and need to change to a more conventional wind shirt.

My two season clothing for my top half is Rohan Shirt, OMM Smock, Montane Featherlite Windshirt and North face Triumph waterproof, all mentally light, but all very functional.  I may add a long sleeve merino top for sleeping in on multi day trips.

On an overnighter at the end of March I was using the smock in conjunction with a Rohan shirt as a baselayer and the North Face Triumph Jacket over the top.  As you can see from the photo below it was quite nippy.

Well you may not be able to tell from the photo how nippy it was.  I was on the top of Black Hambleton on the North York Moors.  Slightly lower down frost was forming in hollows, the wind was keeping the frost at bay on the tops.  So slightly cold.  I however was lovely and toasty.  I slept in my summer quilt with my clothes on and was toasty all night.

A nice boundary stone I stumbled upon coming down from Black Hambleton in the morning.

I've rolled around in burnt heather with this on and it didn't rip, not purposely you understand.  I've walked around 50 miles with this on whilst using a pack with absolutely no sign of pack burn on the shoulders.  It is very lightweight kit and wont last forever but it works so well and is far more robust than it looks.  I have yet to find a single fault with it, well apart from the price of around £110.  It is worth it though.  I've yet to get it soaked through so I can't tell you how quick it dries but I'm guessing as there's not much to dry it'll be quick.


A superbly versatile, lightweight (my large is 260g!) and functional bit of kit.  In fact I would say it's probably the best bit of clothing I've bought in the last five years. Good for walking in, good for sleeping in and it also looks really really nice.  And, let's face it, it's all about the look.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Re-evaluation and Ranting

I've been a bit quiet on the old blogging front for quite some time.  I've also not had chance to do all that much walking either.  I've managed to bag a quite few day and evening walks and a few over nighters on the North Yorkshire Moors. 

Apart from the renovation of the house I'm currently living in, lots of other things have been going on in my non walking life which has given me a lot of time to consider why I walk and what I want out of walking and blogging in the future. 

1.  I've finally learned not to give a shit.

All of my blogging so far has been written with a potential audience in mind.  The audience in this case was as many people as possible.  So that blog posts were written in a style similar to that of a short article.  Non offensive and informative.  I think that this is a trap that many new bloggers fall into.  I class myself as a new blogger, there's only eighty or so blog posts here.  When I read some more established blogs such Andy Howell's or Alan Sloman's I get the impression that they write about something that they're passionate about not writing because they're thinking about their audience.  And it's good because of this.  I could be wrong and they are just fantastic authors!  So, dear reader, I'm no longer writing for you, I'm writing for me, hopefully you'll like it, if not....

2.  Turning a hobby into a business is probably a bad idea (for me).

I very nearly started up a part time business making kit.  I'm not going to do this.  Walking and backpacking are my escape from real life.  I want to be able to carry on escaping from real life from time to time.  I was self employed for five years and know that when you've got the work you have to take it.  At the expense of evenings, weekends, bank holidays etc...  When you've not got the work you don't want to clear off on holiday in case the work/money doesn't come in.  I don't want to spend time when I'm walking testing kit that I'm making.  I've got enough material to make about 20 quilts.  I will make one from time to time and sell it on but I'm not starting to get involved in deadlines and stress about something I love.

3.  I will blog about whatever I want.                                            

There was a lot of hot air about blogging about kit that had been sent to you from manufacturers/retailer.  I've done this and will continue to do so.  I enjoyed using kit that I wouldn't usually consider (see point 4 below), as long as you're up front about everything and you have a relationship with the manufacturer/retailer which is open and honest then so what.  I will be doing a few long term reports of some of the things I was testing a year or so ago and now have a fair few more miles on them.  Long term reports do show the weaknesses in products.  Nothing lasts forever.  I shall also ignore cliques and idiots.

4.  Obsession with weight is fun but pointless

Having purchased, been given, borrowed, made, messed about with a lot of really light weight kit and materials I've come to the conclusion that an obsessive urge to reduce pack weight is pointless if for the sake of carrying an extra kilo you can be warmer, drier, happier with that extra kilo  Now to great many of you reading this you will be wondering why this has never occurred to me before.  Well it has.  But the obsessive nature of things blinds you to the obvious.  A conversation on twitter recently, which I enjoyed I hasten to add, highlighted this.  We were talking about the amount of down in a quilt/sleeping bag that manufacturers use and the claims they make about comfort temperatures.  I use a quilt which weighs just over 400g in the summer with 200g of down in it.  Occasionally I get a bit chilly when high up.  Why don't I put an extra 100g in it and just be warm all the time?  Being warm all the time for an extra 100g!  Quite simple really, but not when you know people are using something lighter than you *wrings hands*.  It's not about competition, it's fun.  I really do admire the people who are pushing the limits though, their pushing and testing has benefits for all of us.  I'm just not going to be trying to do that any more.

5.  I do nothing that's "EPIC!"

And neither do you.   Most of you.