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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2001-11-26

Road Warrior: Middle Layers for the Olympics
Part II

By Mongo

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Seventy-five days to go till hell freezes over!

(The "chief" informs me that I have not fulfilled my contractual obligations to Sports Shooter and that I am deficient in the number of articles I promised to pen this year. So as a bonus this month, I present the 3rd installment of "ICE AGE" your Winter Olympics survival guide.)

MIDDLE LAYER

This is your insulation layer, and all the basic laws of physics apply.

Thicker is warmer, thinner is cooler.

What we're trying to do is create dead air space between you and outside world. To do so, you've got 3 different types of materials to choose from.

DOWN fill (natural)

Plucked from the tender undersides of virgin albino Cantonese geese, DOWN feathers has traditionally been the insulation choice of backpackers because of the tremendous warmth to weight ratio. If you're going to be standing around outside a lot waiting for an event to start, you'll really love the nice thick layer that DOWN provides. As long as it stays dry, DOWN is an excellent insulator, but beware! If you sweat a lot, or it rains and the DOWN gets wet, it will lose it's loft and become USELESS. Additionally it will take a LONG time to dry out.

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PRO's

Ultra light weight
Ultra High compressibility
Best warmth to weight ratio

CON's

Expensive
Poor insulation when damp
Moderate breath ability

Mongo's picks:

Expense account - Northface Nuptse Down Jacket $199.00
Your own dime - Cabela's 650 Goose Down Reversible Parka $59.95

POLYESTER fiberfill (synthetic)

Sometimes referred to by the trademark names, Thinsulate, or Polarguard, this is pretty much the same stuff you find in those big rectangular Coleman sleeping bags. It's cheaper than DOWN, and insulates pretty well when damp. You really don't have many choices when it comes to a mid layer jacket, as most companies make full-length parka's with GORE TEX or DWR finish shells. A jacket like this is ideal for the wimp sports shooter covering indoor events like hockey or skating, where all you need is something to keep you warm while waiting for the shuttle bus.

PRO's

Lightweight
Good compressibility
Good warmth to weight ratio

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CON's

Limited breath ability
Limited insulation weight options

Mongo's pick:

Patagonia Puff jacket $159.00

POLYESTER fleece (synthetic)

This is the current rage in insulation layer systems. With dozens of different names, POLARTEC, Synchilla, Yukon fleece, Micro fleece, Regulator fleece and on and on, you can get this material in a variety of different weights (thickness). From Patagonia's Retro X (imagine a lambs wool car seat) to Madden mills Micro 100 (like your favorite pair of flannel pj's) Just match the fabric to the level of activity your going to pursue.

PRO's

Excellent breathability
Wide range of insulation weight options

Inexpensive (cheap, good value)
Good insulation even when wet.

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CON's

Poor compressibility

Mongo's picks:

Downhill course at Snowbasin - Patagonia Classic Retro Cardigan $169.00 (you'll look like a bear)

Nordic Combined at the Olympic sports park - North Face Denali Jacket $129.00

Curling in Ogden - REI Polartec 200 jacket $60.00

Next month - BASE layers, hats and gloves.

(Mongo Johnson, the self-appointed "Layer King," spends his off hours roaming the Northface and Patagonia outlets in search of great deals for Sports Shooter readers.)


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