TEST SERIES BY DOUGLAS MCCOY
June 10, 2008
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Spokane, Washington (State) U.S.A.
6' 1" (1.85 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I've always been intrigued by the outdoors, as a kid I remember playing "survival" and was always drawn to the wilderness, but never really had the opportunity to fully enjoy them. I got serious about backpacking 4 years ago, and it is now more of a lifestyle than an activity. Most of my backpacking is solo and often off trail "via throw a dart on a "topo" and plot a route. In accordance with this, I've transitioned from "heavy" to "ultralight", and constantly seek ways to lighten my load and share my ever growing knowledge with others
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.thewarmfront.com
MSRP: US $ 24.99 U.S.
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Other details: Taken from the Warmfront website: The Warmfront is made in the USA from the best technical Malden Mills fleece that blocks the wind, yet breathes and transfers perspiration from your body so you donít get cold and wet from sweat.
|Shown on the outside of my jersey|
The Warmfront is a rectangular piece of wind resistant fleece with a stretchy neck strap that is secured around my neck. It is designed to be worn against my chest beneath my hiking apparel or cycling jersey to provide an added layer of frontal warmth and protection from wind and slight rain. The main body of the Warmfront is approximately 14 inches (36 cm) wide and 20 inches (51 cm) tall. The neck strap measures about 16.5 inches (42 cm) long by 2 inches (5 cm) wide and is stretchier in comparison to the Warmfront itself. It has a simple hook and loop fastener that extends about 2 inches (5 cm) which makes the neck piece about 18 inches (46 cm) in total length.
My initial impressions with the Warmfront is hopeful. I have not yet had the oportunity to test it as of yet because we have been receiving
a rash of snow storms that has left up to 2 ft (61cm) in my front yard at an elevation of 2000 ft (610 m). So because of the current road conditions it has prevented me from even being able to get to a local park or one of my favorite hiking areas to test it out. As soon as the weather "clears" I will be able to get out and some testing with it, and taking it along on my early spring backpacking trips. I will be also using the Warmfront in my regular riding routine that I do, but the focus of my testing will be done in regards to backpacking since that is whom and what I am testing it for.
I must admit the the Warmfront looks like a fleece bib. As far as functionality I am eager to see it will perform up to the tasks given, which is to protect me against the wind and elements. It has a nice soft comfy fleece feel against my skin, neck strap does not choke me in any way, but I only have a 15in (38 cm) neck so there is no worries there.
|Shown inside of jersey|
|Jersey fully zipped, note neck strap position|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There were none provided. But the product is straight forward and easy to figure out on how to put it on. There is a tag attached to the lower part of the body that gives washing instructions: "Machine Wash Warm" "Do Not Bleach" "Tumble Dry Low".
TRYING IT OUT
I put the Warmfront on just for initial testing purposes and photo shoot. I did it with my cycling gear on because I figure if it is going to fit under my cycling gear then it will fit under my loose fitting hiking shirts. I like the way it feels against my skin and has a secure fit around my neck. I was able to tuck it under my jersey and smooth it out well enough to not agitate me with clumps under my jersey. It did kind of give me a "poofy" look but that is expected when wearing a base layer of clothing over an already snug fitting long sleeve riding jersey. I had free range of motion when swinging back and forth and it did not "ride up" my torso enough to bother me.
My main testing strategy will be on my early spring backpacking trips where the temps ranges will be from 20 to 50 F( -6 to 10 C) I may include it in a few snow board trips as well. The elevations will be from 1500 ft to 4500ft ( 457 to 1372 m) which keeps me below and at snow melt levels for the months of February through April which is when the field report is due. I also will be testing it on my day hikes around town and in the vicinity of where I live. The temp ranges will be the same as stated above.
Some items I am going to look for in testing the Warmfront are:
Does it breathe as stated?
Will it keep me warm in adverse weather conditions or on a long descent after heavy sweating?
Will it block the wind?
How easy is it to take on and off while still being under clothing?
Will it stay in place or does it bunch up while hiking?
How versatile is it?
Will there be any piling?
Is the snap and hook closure going to stay in place after along period of use?
Will the serged edges remain intact or will they begin to unravel?
This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back in approximately 2 months for my Field Report to see how the Warmfront has been performing in the early spring season. I would also like to thank BackpackGearTest and Warmfront for letting me test this gear item.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Test #1. Mar 8-9 2008. Overnight hike along the Columbia River by Saddle Mountain and Hanford Reach Washington USA. Temp 45 F (7 C) during the day, 25 to 30 F at night. (-3 to -1 C), winds constant at 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 kmh) with consistent gusts up to 50 mph (80 kmh). Terrain was rugged and rocky dessert plains and mountains. Elevation ranged from 1450 to 2050 ft (442 to 625 m). Skies were over cast for the duration and slight spattering of rain for about 20 minutes fell during the middle of the night.
Test #2. 20 miles (32 km) round trip commute to work and back. Temp riding to work at 3pm PST was 40 F (4 C) and over cast with slight precipitation. Ride was through downtown and then a 2 mile (3 km) hill climb at 7-9 % grade finishing with a 2 mile (3 km) flat before getting to work. Ride home was at night at 10 pm PST. Temp was 25 F (-3 C) and clear, with the route in reverse of getting to work.
Test #3. Apr 5 2008. A 6 mile (10 km) day hike in the Dishman Natural Wildlife area, a 5 minute drive down the road from my house. Terrain is established dirt trails through varied woodlands and marshes with small "bouldering" involved to see the views of the surrounding mountains and city. Weather was snowing in the morning with about 2 in (5 cm) total accumulation, but had melted off the trails and decreased down to about 0.5 in (1 cm) in late afternoon when I went out. Temp was around 37 F (2 C) and steady throughout the hike. The hike took about 3 hours including stops to look at scenery, meditate, make beverages, and talk with locals on the trails.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Test # 1 I drove to the location after work and find a spot in one of the gullies between hills to sleep for the night, and do a planned day hike the next day. I wore the Warmfront next to my skin and tucked it into my REI Sierra convertible pants. As outer layers I wore a Mountain Hardwear canyon land shirt, and a Montane Aero. The Warmfront was a very valuable piece of clothing to have; I had it on the whole time of the trip except when sleeping. Because of the severe wind conditions, it provided a much needed extra layer of warmth. It kept me comfortably warm when doing camp chores and fighting the wind when setting up my tarp. However when standing still and being idle I could tell that I only had an extra layer of warmth up front because my chest area was definitely warmer than my back, which eventually forced me to put on my Montbell Down U.L. Inner Jacket .
The day hike the next day was not much more than exploring the local mountains and terrain in order to plan a longer back pack trip in the near future so an accurate mileage/kilometer count can not be given. It was still severely windy and gusty all day but during the hike I maintained a comfortable core temperature with the Warmfront which kept my chest area warm. My back stayed warm because of my pack but if the wind hit me from the side I could definitely tell that I only had a layer up front and not around my sides and back. Also again during my lunch stops and many terrain observation stops when my pack was off my back I would have to put on my down jacket to offset the warmth difference from front to back. The two caveats I had with the Warmfront during this trip was #1 the little tag on the left lower inside kept itching me, which I readily solved with my pocket knife and have not had any itching problems since. # 2 the only other item of concern was that it would tend to bunch up on the sides and not lay flat against my chest which decreased the protected area to about 9 inches (22 cm) instead of the normal 14 inches (35 cm). Re-tucking it in would remedy the problem for a duration, but under extensive twisting and turning or prolonged hiking, it would just bunch up again.
Test # 2. This is where Warmfront showed its true ability. It provided plenty of frontal wind protection from the cold air as I was riding to work. again I had it next to skin under a long sleeve cycling jersey (see beginning photos) After about 20 minutes of stop and go riding through town I did get a little too hot around the neck area where it attaches. Simply by un-doing the hook and loop closure and letting the neck collar fall over my jersey allowed the hot chest air to escape and cooler air to come in. When it got a little too hot after that I un-zipped my jersey about half way but reattached the warmfront to keep it from falling down and out. This moderated the temperature well enough to keep me comfortable. At a prolonged stop light I would re-zip everything to keep myself warm.
Then came the hill climb. About 1/4 into the hill I was over heating (as usual) and completely took the Warmfront off. It was very simple and safe to do. I was able to undo it with one hand and pull it out through the top of my jersey. It stayed off until I began to get too cold on the last flat portion to work when I was no longer having to struggle up a hill and now the wind was hitting me again. Putting it back on was not as tricky as I thought it would be. I first attached the Warmfront to my neck with one hand, then sat up in the saddle and un-zipped my jersey about 3/4 of the way, tucked the Warmfront in with both hands, re-zipped and I was back in the saddle again and hammering to work. It was a bit awkward at first but I am sure after a few more tries I will have it down to a "science." Going home that night was about the same, except because of the cooler temps I did not have to take it all the way off, and merely regulated my internal heater by un-doing and re-doing the collar piece.
Test # 3. The Warmfront test started out ok but then diverged from there. I had on the same clothing as in test one. Because I did not have on my regular pack and only a small Camel Back I was chilled in the back area all the time. This irritated me greatly, because my body temperature was uneven, and I hate unevenness. I would get too hot if I put on my down jacket but too cold in the back with just my wind shirt on. Plus it did get a little too warm in the neck area and I ended up leaving the neck attachment off most of the time. Again it would bunch up quite often and this also irritated me because now just my belly was staying warm and nothing else. But for the sake of testing I did not take it off for the hike, just to be able to monitor its performance. At rest stops was about the only time when things were "ok" because I could have it all the way on and my down jacket on to keep the rest of me warm, but I did still notice the offset in temperature and truly the only real nice and cozy part of my was just my chest, because it had the proper amount of insulating layers on. I would have to say that the two most agitating things this test was the constant "hot neck" and cold back. Next to that, always having to fix the bunches on the sides proved to be frustrating as well.
In summery for the field test portion I have noticed that for me, the Warmfront no longer becomes useful above 40 F (4 C) unless there is some major wind involved. It just becomes way to hot for my normal wear. Also it does not really fit into my multi purpose philosophy when it comes to backpacking. The fact that it is only designed to keep my core front temperature warm leaves itself to be only one purpose and not two or more. Although it is soft enough and big enough it may make a good camp towel :-) The Warmfront has a hard time staying in one place and bunches up on the sides, which I find very frustrating because I can feel it not laying flat like a nice taut sheet with square corners. Also the "hot neck" syndrome gets in the way of comfort as well and sometimes just could not be regulated as much as I liked. As a cycling item it worked and fit into its designation better, but again if I had it on and it was above 40 F (4 C) it would no longer be useful and is just too hot to wear period. So it worked well for rides where the temperature was cool to start, but eventually heated up to the point where it could be taken off and stowed neatly in my back jersey pocket or bike pannier.
For my long-term testing strategy I have a 40 mile (64 km) 3 day backpacking trip planned in the end of April in the Wennaha Wilderness area in south eastern Washington. It is mountainous terrain and I will be hiking to the estimated snow line for that time of year which is an elevation of about 4000 ft (1219 m) but will be starting out at an elevation of 1500 ft (457 m) with a temp range of 50 F (10 C) during the day and 30 F (-1 C) at night. I also have two over night hikes scheduled but the destinations are still in the planning stages. I also will continue to do day hikes and use it as much as possible on my daily bike commutes to and from work. As far as what I will be looking for will still be the same as mentioned in my initial report. But I will also be trying to figure out a way to keep the thing in place and not be so bothersome to me when hiking.
This concludes the field report portion of the Warmfront. I again would like to thank BGT and Warmfront for giving me the opportunity to test and continue to test this gear item. Have a blessed day.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have had the Warmfront on several outings since my last report, from 4 day treks to short day hikes. The terrain has varied from easy trails to rugged mountain climbing. The elevations have been from 1500 ft (457m) to 4500 ft (1372m) and the temps have been from 10 F (-12 C) to 65 F (18 C). I have gone through rain, sleet, hail, sun, and snow with the Warmfront, some of it being all on one trip and in one day.
On my 4 day Wenaha River (in Troy Oregon U.S.) trek I used the Warmfront the most. It was a canyon land hike with the elevations ranging from 1500 ft (475m) to about 3000 ft (914 m). The temperatures were about in the mid 40's F (4 C) range during the day and either 35 F (1 C) and drizzly or clear and freezing at night.
The other overnighters and day hikes I did not use the Warmfront (but I did take it with me) because it was just too hot for me to have on. And if I did have it on to start with, it was quickly removed because of over heating problems.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Warmfront got the most use during my Wenaha River trip. The first two days were rainy, sleety, or slightly snowy. I would have the Warmfront on in the morning but by mid day it was too hot for me to be comfortable in it any more. I noticed this to be the situation once it hit the 40F (4 C) mark. While wearing the Warmfront I had to have to neck strap undone 90% of the time just to allow the heat to escape the neck area and allow for some type of cooling to take place.
Other times I would have it strapped but my shirt unbuttoned to try and regulate my body temperature. Or a combination of my middle buttons undone and the neck strap opened as well. Also one of the most unnerving aspects about it was that my chest area would be too hot, my back either hot or just right and my sides freezing. On one morning when the temps were about 30 f (-1 C) at the beginning of my hike I performed a test of my silk weight capilene shirt versus the Warmfront. The Warmfront performed as expected (hot front, sweaty neck and cold sides) I then took the warmfront off and put on the capilene. For me this was a much better temperature regulator. I was warm all the way around and never really got too hot even when the temps went past the magic mark for the Warmfront. I could regulate my temperature much better just by unzipping my jacket and or undoing some of my buttons. For me the Warmfront seemed to never have a happy medium. But for the sake of testing I put up with it as much as I could until I could no longer stand it and removed from my body and donned on appropriate clothing according to weather conditions. My day hikes and over nighters went the same as the Wenaha River trip and eventually when the weather got too hot to even think about putting it on for any hike it merely stayed in my pack "just in case."
For me the Warmfront is best suited for cycling in cool to cold in climate weather below 40 F (4 C) and is not much of a backpacking item. I found it to just be an extra 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of weight I had to carry. All though it did make a nice soft pillow in my sleeping bag or kept my butt warm when sitting on a log or the ground. I found it to be bothersome around the neck area most of the time, and more often then not I had to keep the neck strap undone just to be comfortable and not over heat too quickly.
As far as the wear and tear of the Warmfront there is none what so ever. I have washed it several times, sat on it on the ground, used it for a pot cozy, a towel to dry my self off with, a pillow, extra padding under my legs at night when it got too cold (I use a torso size sleeping pad so I need leg warmth that usually is my extra clothing, or back pack or a combination of both) and I even think I used as a foot wrap once time. Through all of this it stood up to the task and has not shown one bit of wear or break down of material and stitching at all, so for that I give it an A ++.
I do not plan on using the Warmfront as part of my backpacking clothing kit, because it is just not versatile enough for me and my ultra light philosophy. It was just way to bothersome to deal with most of the time, and for 2.5 ounces (71 grams) I can not take the weight penalty. However I do plan on using it extensively for cycling in cold weather, which is where is showed itself worthy as part of my cycling closet.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
This concludes my long term report on the Warmfront. Again I would like to thank BGT and Warmfront for allowing me to test this item.
Read more reviews of Warmfront gear
Read more gear reviews by Douglas Wayne McCoy