18 December 2009

what to wear under a speed ascent

Hi Andy.

Just a quick question for you about the Speed Ascent. When you tested it in Scotland what did you layer it with and what was the weather like.Just trying to compare it with ME Pulsar jacket for Scottish winter use.

Love the DVD by the way-almost split my sides!!



Hi Simon, I’ve been using the speed ascent for a long time (i think I’m on my 4th one), and have used various things under it.

As you probably know - the deal with a proper soft shell is that it has to conform to a sort of Inuit way of dressing; having one thick layer than can be stripped in an instant to dump heat (you can’t do this with a layering system).  For this reason I tend to wear a very thin but windproof under layer(s), which I wear walking in, walking out, and put on my speed ascent when I stop, when it’s too cold for my base layer, or to look more nails.  This way I stay cool and my jacket doesn’t get soaked with sweat on the way in.

In the early days I wore a shell polyester top underneath it (like the Marmott Driclime/Rab Vapourise).  For some reason Patagonia no longer make this bit of kit (even though it’s one of the best designs out their for active users), and I swapped my old one for bed and lodgings in Patagonia.

These days I wear a R2 R1 Hoody and Houdini pertex top under the Speed Ascent.  Reasons are I wear this set up for most of my winter training (running and biking), and know how to play around with it to match my heat output.  The shell keeps out wind, snow and a short shower, and the R1 fleece has great breathability (due to grid), and wet warmth/dry time (better than most normal base layers).  I can get away with just this on my top (no hat or gloves), on most approaches, using the hood, thumb loop sleeves (long enough to cover your hands), and big zipper to tailor my warmth.

When I’m climbing I’ll wear the hood up on the hoody under my helmet as it gives a better fit then a balaclava or a hat (I hate balaclava creep!).  The Houdini top creates a slick layer that stops the R1 or pile binding as well.  If things get worse I can also throw up my Houdini hood (I think Patagonia have - eh em - stopped making this desert island bit of kit, so buy a Montane Filament jacket instead).

As for comparing it to the Pulsar; having not used one, it’s hard to do a comparison; but the Speed Ascent is much closer to what I’d call a real softshell as it’s not a laminated shell (a hard/soft shell), having instead a stretch woven shell (very tough, weather resistant and fast drying/breathable), welded at key points to R2 pile liner (making it doubly breathable and faster drying as trad seams hold moisture badly). Bottom line it’s the best there is in my book (irrespective of who I work for).


A Snicker's bar costs 60p. Were these words worth as much?

This is a reader supported site, so every micro payment (the cost of chocolate bar) helps pay for cups of tea, cake and general web pimpery. Support via Paypal below, or even better still become a Patreon.