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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro > Test Report by Shane Williams

Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclava
Test Series by Shane Williams
Initial Report: January 31, 2011
Field Report: Check back in April 17th, 2011
Long Term Report: June, 2011


Initial Report

Tester Information:

Name: Shane Williams
Email: sherpa[dot]colorado[at]gmail.com
Personal Website: coloradosherpa.net
Age: 36
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 190 lb (86.20 kg)

Bio:

As a child I lived in the last house on a dead end street. Just beyond my house was a wilderness area. I started hiking and exploring there, and I've never stopped. I started backpacking in the South Eastern Appalachian Mountains, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. Today I primarily hike in the Colorado Rockies. My pack weight is approximately 30 lbs (13.61 kg) to 50 lbs (22.68 kg). I often carrying more gear than necessary hoping that I wonít need it. I enjoy weekend excursions into the High Country with friends and lower elevation day trips with my family.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Chaos
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.chaoshats.com
MSRP: 24.99 US $
Measured Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g)
Style Number: 1670
Available Colors: Black
Available Sizes: JNR (Junior), S/M (Small/Medium), L/XL (Large/Xtra Large)
Material: 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex
(Courtesy of Chaos)

Product Features:

  • Pro Stretch Multi-Functional Hinged Balaclava with added face protection via Windshield face insterts.
  • Ideal for layering under a helmet or worn alone.
  • Mesh breathing panel for superior air exchange.
  • 3D form fitting flat panel construction.
  • Flat lock stitching provides comfort and durability.
  • Lycra binding around the face seals out the elements.
  • Shaped bottom prevents gathering with added protection.
  • Form-fitting 4-way stretch
  • Moisture wicking material
  • Highly Breathable
  • Machine Washable

Care and Maintenance:

Machine wash cold, gentle cycle. Do not bleach. Do not wring out, dry flat.

Product Overview:

Upon receiving the Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclave I found it to be in premium condition as advertised by the Manufacturer and was free from any defects. All elastic segments were form fitting and the balaclave did not have any tears, snags, or worn places.

Choas, the manufacturer, prides itself in being ďThe Next Generation in Cold Weather ProtectionĒ. The primary means for securing this position in the marketplace is through their proprietary ďChaos Thermal RegulationĒ technology. Specifically designed not only for warmth, but also for versatility in cold weather conditions.

The Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclave, here after referred to as ďThe MultiĒ, is constructed of 88% Polypropylene and 12% spandex. Itís comprised of a series of panels that are fused together with a triple threaded stitching. The Multi is made up of a single ply material, except for the front panel that covers the cheeks, nose, and mouth, which is either double ply or made of a heavier material. The external surface of this front panel also has a faint grid like structure, which is constructed to wick moisture from the region around the nose and mouth.

The Multi derives its name from the fact that itís designed to be worn in several variations, each accommodating in different conditions. If utilized to the fullest capacity, The Multi acts as a full head covering, leaving only the eyes exposed. If it gets a little warmer, Thermal Regulation can be achieved by flipping the top portion back or pulling the lower portion down. If the top portion is flipped back, the ears and everything below the cheeks remain covered. If the lower portion is pulled down the hood stays in place and everything below the forehead can be exposed. Lastly, both the upper and lower portions can be pulled down and utilized as neck gaiter.

In addition to these design attributes, The Multi also has a stylish CTR logo imprinted on the right front panel.

Testing Strategy:

During this test series a few key points of evaluation will be:

  • Does The Multi provide adequate warmth in spite of its thinner design.
  • How well it shields the wind.
  • How well it wicks moisture.
  • Comfort while wearing a climbing and/or biking helmet.

Summary

Field Report: April 17th, 2011.

Field Conditions:

During this test period Iíve had several opportunities to use the Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclava. The predominate activities for testing have been day hikes and bike rides. These outings entailed temperatures ranging from 40 F to 10 F (4 c to -12 c) and a mixture of wintery conditions. These tests were conducted in and around the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and ranged from 6000 ft to 14336 ft (1829 m to 4370 m). While I havenít had a chance to test the balaclava where it was snowing or raining, I did have a chance to wear it for an extended period in extremely high winds and blowing snow, but otherwise it was perfectly sunny.

Field Report:

Upon initial utilization of the Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclava, I was very impressed with the comfort that it provides. With previous balaclavas that Iíve worn they typically feel somewhat restrictive and generally uncomfortable. Chaos has really found the sweet spot with the selection and blend of polyester and spandex. The interior material of the face panel is a softer material that is both warm and form fitting. The thinner material is also a nice feature and has become my preference over some of the thicker neoprene balaclavas on the market. In addition to the fit and feel of the Multi-Tasker, Its thinner design also makes it accommodating for wearing a helmet. I used it while wearing a bike helmet and was surprised to find that it didnít require any adjustment of the helmet size.

In addition to a comfortable experience wearing the Multi-Tasker, it also performs well in the field. During a hike of La Plata Peak I had an opportunity to test the Multi-Tasker in some extreme conditions. As we started our hike the temperature at 10000 ft (3048 m) was 18 F (-7 c). As I reached treeline I noticed that the winds were fairly strong. After ascending through a couloir and gaining the ridge at 12660 heavy winds became prominent. The remainder of the route followed the ridgeline to the summit. While on the ridge temperatures dropped to 10 F (-12 c) and wind speeds ranged from 40 mph (64 kph) with frequent gusts up to 60 mph (96 kph). During this ascent I wore the Multi-Tasker in its full coverage configuration. Initially when assessing The Multi I had reservations pertaining to its ability to adequately shield the wind, those reservations were clearly put to rest. Another aspect in which I had reservations was around its ability to wick away moisture. Ascents that are physically taxing, in spite of it being very cold, causes the body to generate quite a bit of heat, and sweat. The Multi did not collect sweat condensation or wet from sweat. I did have an issue with condensation from my breath building up on the interior of the face panel but it was mostly frozen.

While I believe The Multi provides adequate protection from the wind I did discover an issue, but I wouldnít qualify it as a manufacturing or product issue, but rather a consumer selection issue. When selecting the size I chose the Large/XtraLarge option. When I received this item it was a little larger than I was expecting, but all in all it felt reasonable. However, during the upper portion of La Plata Peak, I began to have a burning sensation just above my cheek bone. I found that a portion of my skin was directly exposed to the elements. Once I realized it was exposed I was able to pull the face panel up a little more which resolved the problem. Later I discovered that this resulted in a mild patch of frost bite where the exposed area had been. Once again, I believe this to be an issue of improper size selection on my behalf, and does not reflect The Multiís ability to adequately provide protection from the wind. The main reason for disclosing this issue is to inform potential consumers that proper sizing is essential. The following photo shows the triangle area (between the eye and ear) that was exposed as a result of improper fitting.

My Favorite Feature:

One of the features that I like the most about The Multi is the ability to lower the face panel when needed. This comes in handy when refueling on the go is necessary, without letting valuable heat escape while chugging water and munching energy bars.

Summary:

The Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclava is an interesting piece of gear in the fact that it allows a versatile approach to coverage and heat retention. It has performed well and held up nicely during this portion of testing. It hasnít exemplified any issues with is construction. The seams have all fared well and it currently shows no signs of fraying, tearing, or wearing thin. Light-weight, Warm and WindproofÖeverything an outdoorsman could hope for.


Field Image: Summit of La Plata Peak
Long Term Report: June 7th, 2011.

Field Conditions:

Location: Castle Peak, Colorado
Date: 05/14/2011
Conditions: 33 F - 75 F (0.56 C - 23 C)
Elevation: 9750 ft - 14050 ft (2972 m - 4282 m)

Field Report:

During this portion of testing of the Mistrial Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclave opportunities for utilization were reduced somewhat due to warmer weather. It did, however, come in handy during an ascent of Castle Peak when a perfectly sunny day turned stormy. When the weather deteriorated, snow began to fall and winds increased. The Multi Tasker Pro was a welcomed friend.

In use, I did have some minor fogging of my snow goggles that I didnít have previously. I believe this was a combination of warmer weather causing perspiration, as well as less wind to provide aeration. This was the only instance that I encountered where the Multi didnít provide sufficient breathability.

During this testing series The Multi Tasker Pro Balaclave has performed well. It hasnít prematurely shown signs of wear. All seams and materials proved to be well built and have endured as expected. Iíve enjoyed testing this item and Iím sure it will accompany me on many trips to come.

Field Image - Castle Peak

Summary:

The Multi Tasker Pro Balaclave performs well in the field. It provided adequate heat and protection from the wind. Extra precautions should be taken when sizing, as it could potentially leave portions of the face exposed to the elements if fitted larger than needed.


This concludes my Long Term Report. A special thanks to Chaos and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test The Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro Balaclava.


Read more reviews of Chaos gear
Read more gear reviews by Shane Williams

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Chaos Mistral Multi-Tasker Pro > Test Report by Shane Williams



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