Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Moon on a Stick - The Rain Jacket

"You want the moon on a stick!" - Another one of those quirky English phrases I use that translates poorly for my international students and colleagues at work. I guess the phrase simply means 'You want it all'. No compromises.

As I get older I find myself caught in a paradox of slowly caring less about the minutiae and specifics of the gear I use out in nature but at the same time less patient with poorly designed or over engineered products from an industry often seemingly hell-bent on missing the point or over egging the omelete (oh god, another one...)

So here are my 'moons on sticks'. No compromises. If I could have it all. This is the wish-list I want to hand to a gear company as a blue-print for the gear I want them to make, because none of them seem to. None of these products will probably see the light of day because each one will no doubt be full of contradictions, technical naivety (bordering on ineptitude) on my part and unmarketable nano-niche appeal.

Obviously everything written under this semi-irregular title should be treated with a pinch of salt (oh man, are they supposed to learn English from me?!). Please don't take this too seriously but feel free to add your own observations, especially those of the 'Hey! That product actually exists!' type.

In light of the endless barrage of rain pounding Bergen this week I start with a pretty topical subject:

The Rain Jacket

Pretty simple right? Hood, arms, body, zip, waterproof. There are thousands of models out there, surely one is perfect? I haven't found it. Pretty sure no one else has. Not light enough. Too warm. Too many pockets. Right hood, wrong pockets, etc, etc. So here goes. Here is how one of the outdoor gear companies could make me happy (or slightly less critical)....
  • Hood - The late Haglofs Ozo hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. Bullseye. There you go manufacturers, just hire the guy who designed that one and you can fire everyone else in your hood design team. 
  • Pockets - Two. A-line. Mesh lined. Big. Simple as that. Rab have this nailed-on on some of their shells. "Map-sized Napoleon pocket"... I've never put a map in a Napoleon pocket and have never seen a friend do this either. Ditto upper arm pockets. I mean seriously, WTF. "Convenient for your GPS" - are you kidding me? Pockets on shells for me are more for venting between showers than storage solutions.
  • Wrist. Velcro or thumb loops, I've used them both and would be happy with either. If you're going to use velcro just make it nice and simple (Montane circa 2008) and whatever you do make sure the sleeves long. Scrambling, cycling, skiing, etc all need long arms. It's nice to pull your fists up inside them too. Those with short arms can roll sleeves up. I can't roll up my arms. Plus, they can always buy Paramo...
  • Zip. Smock or full zip, I'm not fussy. The brief delight from knowing your smock is lighter than your friends full-zip is countered by their smugness when they slip their jacket on and off far easier than you. Take yer pick.
  • Material. Either a premium 3-layer 'waterproof/breathable' fabric or a cheaper-to replace-when-I-shred-it-on-barbed-wire 2.5 ply option. I'll sweat my ass off in both. Don't try and tell me otherwise, even with your new fabrics. Your lies are wasted on me. If it's half-way decently waterproof it'll be half-way appallingly unbreathable. Stop kidding us and yourselves.
  • Colours. Sure, why the fuck not.
There. The perfect rain jacket in six steps. Easy huh?!

1 comment:

Dave Hanlon said...

My current shell, ME Firefox, the old one in Proshell, before they f'ed it up with pit zips,bought a size up (since passing 40 "athletic cut" garments have taken on the appearance of speed skating suits) may well be the best I've ever owned. Bit short on pockets for your taste though. oh and if you want colours you aparently need to buy it when its still contempory. Only black odd sizes left these days. Fortunately blacks my favourite colour.