In February 2006 a few of the Glossop Mountain Rescue Team went for a long weekend to Glen Coe. We took the opportunity to test a variety of prototype jackets.
Other photographs from 2008, 2009 and 2012.
It may not be raining, but in the Ghylls you may be scrambling through pounding waterfalls and saturating spray. FurTech clothing keeps you dry and comfortable. These types of garments are particularly useful on the legs as you don't need to add waterproof trousers.
In the May 2007 issue of TGOChris Townsend recommends clothing for 3 season backpacking. I thought I'd see how FurTech compares, even though our garments are designed for Scrambling and Mountaineering (helmet hood, pit zips, snow seal etc).
The TGO article shows each end of the ultra-light to lightweight spectrum of garments and Chris's balanced choice. A simplified version of the table is shown below, with the addition of a FurTech comparison:
Integral to FurTech
Weights in grams
Carried weight is all except baselayers and trousers (or FurTech shorts)
The FurTech Talon at 730g (actually my small size is 665g) includes integral mid layer insulation, pit zips and helmet compatible hood. The FurTech 4 Season trousers also have integrated insulation but can be converted into shorts. Insulating the large surface area of the legs adds significantly to the overall warmth of the system... counterbalanced by the vents.
If I am trying to reduce weight for Alpine mountaineering I generally ditch the windproof but at 110g the Golite Ether (with hood) can be useful to keep midges at bay and to use as an alternative baselayer when the C-thru is being washed. Two baselayers may offer more options (insulation, short sleeves) if, like me, you are happy using the FurTech Talon in breezy conditions... or just save 110g.
Chris selected a Mont Bell down jacket for extra insulation. I've entered 250g for the very different (maybe inappropriate) Blizzard Vest, used for emergencies. The weights aren't dissimilar, so you take your choice.
I've kept the same weight as Chris for the underpants.
This little exercise just goes to show how lightweight feather and fur garments are, but that's not the whole story: you will be far more comfortable in the FurTech system in prolonged wet, cold or changeable conditions. Use a thicker base layer or two, lose the windproof, and this system is suitable for full on winter conditions with better breathability and durability at little extra weight... though you may want to add thicker OverShell insulation.
The downside of the FurTech option is that in warm, midge infested conditions, your legs may be a little warm when they are zipped into the trousers. If conditions are midge free, then take the legs off and you'll be cooler than the TGO options.
Many years ago, walking in the NW of Scotland we reached a stunningly beautiful beach (I can't remember its name). It was raining but the blue sea was crashing into white breakers and I just couldn't resist going for a swim.
Afterwards my Paramo kit went straight back on without me drying off, as I hadn't a towel. 15 minutes later I was completely dry again, despite the fact that we were walking along in persistent drizzle. FurTech works in exactly the same way.
More recently I've let my legs get wet in summer drizzle and then popped the trousers over the top when I've stopped. This provides incredible versatility for summer mountain weather!
Use FurTech like a softshell, providing a little warmth and windproofing, and you will appreciate its comfort on blustery summits... safe in the knowledge that if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you'll be protected. (I've seen snow in the Brecons in September!)
On wet walks in summer rain open the rain vents for maximum cooling. Wear a thin T-shirt baselayer or vest beneath. At other times arms can be withdrawn through the sleeves for massive venting.
With the hood up and the collar tightened beneath the chin the jacket copes with a small waterfall as demonstrated in the photo. However, water tends to run down the sleeves as you climb (or in this case, traverse).
A small amount of water was forced into the pockets and I'd recommend that sensitive items be wrapped in plastic. However, my bluetooth gps in the chest pocket (which I'd forgotten about) wasn't wet.
Sitting in wet snow will not cause wetness inside FurTech trousers or jackets. However, sitting or kneeling in boggy ground or slush will force water through the fabrics. This isn't usually a problem and the fabrics dry rapidly. (Interestingly, a study on using Pertex for snowboarding showed no water ingress on that fabric either.)
While summer in the Dolomites can be very warm and pleasant these are big mountains creating their own changeable conditions. I pack my FurTech garments as standard kit for Via Ferrata and have been pleased for their comfort and protection on a number of occasions.
If you are struggling up steep single track it has to be cold to warrant using a FurTech jacket. My preference is for a windproof over a baselayer, which I find sufficient even in heavy rain if I'm generating lots of heat (I don't expect to stay dry). FurTech can be used fairly comfortably commuting or on long tours.
That said, this is a picture of a FurTech jacket on 1000m of lung bursting ascent above Zermat. (Click to enlarge.)
The pit zips work well on a bike because of the draft caused by your forward velocity.
For most people FurTech garments aren't suitable for fell running because you will quickly become too warm in all but the harshest conditions. However, it does depend in large part on the ambient temperature and how much energy you are burning. My wife occasionally uses her FurTech jacket when running.
(I've slept in the Blizzard Jacket and Tube a number of times on the OMM, chosen for its warmth to weight ratio and its warmth when wet. However, they don't re-pack to fit in a bum bag so I also have a separate one I keep in its original wrapper.)