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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

SEIRUS DYNAMAX QUICK COMBO
Test Series by Theresa Lawrence
Initial Report - January 30, 2014

Long Term Report - June 12, 1014

TESTER INFORMATION

Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 36
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
Head diameter:
53 cm (21 in)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - January 30, 2014

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Seirus Innovation
Manufacturer's URL: www.seirus.com
Year of Manufacture: 2013

Made in:
USA
MSRP: $29.99 US
Listed Weight: n/a
Measured Weight: 63 g (2.2 oz)
Size:
One size
Color:
Black

DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo is a unique balaclava that is essentially a beanie attached to a face mask attached to a neck warmer. Pretty nifty. The whole deal is fleece lined making it very soft to the touch. The beanie and neck warmer are made out of the same stretchy lightweight and thin fabric consisting of 90% polyester and 10% spandex. The face mask is made up of 70% neoprene, 15% nylon and 15% polyester. DYNAMAX appears to be the name given to the wicking, wind-blocking fabric, also noted on the packaging as MICRO DENIER, DUAL DENSITY THERMAX.

Of note, the face mask, at the mouth, has 40 little holes to breathe through. I noticed that not all the holes were punched out of the fabric, some are still holding on. I will cut out the odd ones that didn't make the cookie cutter, as I'm pretty sure they were all meant to be unified holes for breathing. There are a lot of seams to connect everything together and all look pretty solid, though I have some reservations of the intersect between the beanie and the neck warmer at the ear. I  would call this part the hinge because this is the spot where, if I were to pull the face mask down to wear as just a neck warmer without covering my mouth and nose, the material would be pulled and stretched. 

TRYING IT OUT

The packaging shows four options of how the Dynamax Quick Combo can be worn. The first option is to wear it just as a beanie, meaning the rest of it is inside the beanie. I found this tricky to make it lie flat and comfortable. The second was to wear the beanie and have the mask pulled down as just a neck warmer. This was easy to accommodate and comfortable. The third was just the face mask and neck warmer. The beanie was not worn, instead it was just hanging out at the back. The mask seemed to slide down my face a bit and I don't see the need since if my mouth and nose are going to be covered, I'm thinking the weather warrants my head and ears being covered too. The fourth was the full suited balaclava, which was definitely the most comfortable of all. It was very warm and cuddly feeling. I'm thinking this will be ideal for skiing, we shall see.

I like the way the fleece feels on my face and I've tried the full-face effect with both my goggles and ski helmet. The beanie is thin enough to wear under my helmet and the ski goggles fit on top of the fabric. The shape of the fabric around the eyes and nose mimic my goggles, so the fit appears to be good. I just wonder whether or not my goggles will fog up. That is to be determined.

When I first put the balaclava on my head I thought the beanie was way too big as my eyes were half covered. But, I found a way to wear it that will work, I just double the rim over and above my eyes. It becomes a little thicker at this point, but my helmet can still accommodate the width. And if I'm not wearing a helmet, then it really doesn't matter, unless it breathes less because of the double fabric. Since there is only one size to this item, I will have to make it work and report back.

SUMMARY

Overall, the Dynamax Quick Combo appears to be a convenient piece of gear to bring skiing. Especially on those windy, cold days, consistent with most ski hills. The fleece lining the face is very soft and comfortable, however I have some reservations about the size, that it may be too big for my small head. As well, if I'm pulling down the face mask often, I have some concerns how the hinge point at the ear (intersect between fabrics), will hold up. Other questions to be answered in the field test are will my goggles fog up? Will I be able to breathe through those tiny holes cut in the fabric? And will breathing cause the face mask to get cold, wet and uncomfortable? I am looking forward to the field test where I can test all of these things.


Long Term Report - June 11, 2014

FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the course of the test period I used the Dynamax Quick Combo on one 15 km (9.3 mi) x-country ski trail where it was -15 C (5 F) and 4 days on ski hills where the temperature was -20 C (-4 F). It also came along on a 6 night, 7 day backcountry hut ski-touring trip. Unfortunately it wasn't used as much as I'd like on this trip because of the warm temperature which hovered at only - 3 C (27 F), in the middle of winter, for the entire week. I used it on two other overnight ski-tours to a hut where temperatures were -4 C (25 F), snowy and very windy. And finally, I used it on 3 other backcountry ski-tour day trips with temperatures averaging about -8 C (18 F).

COMFORT AND FIT

As mentioned above, the beanie comes in only one size and came down over my eyes. Folding up the beanie above my eyes worked well enough, however, this created quite a thick rim under my helmet. I was able to adjust my helmet to accommodate the size, but after awhile on the ski hill, my head started to feel compressed. Otherwise, the fabric felt soft against my face. This was nice, though not when it was wet from breathing, which wasn't long after wearing it. Also, bringing the face mask down under my chin to use just as a neck gaiter created a large bulk at the neck, which was very warm and created noticeable pressure under the chin. Overall, not especially comfortable. When the face mask was wet, tucking it under the chin did not make the moist environment disappear, but created a chafing sensation under the chin. I found no comfortable way to use this item as just a beanie, all the extra fabric tucked into the beanie was very bulky and awkward feeling. I always carried a second beanie if I didn't require the face mask or neck gaiter.



PERFORMANCE

The Dynamax Quick Combo did work well to keep my face warm for the most part. However, there was an unexpected bitter sharp cold sensation just under the nose and through all the tiny breathing holes. For some reason I thought it would eliminate and protect me from such wind and frost feelings. Adding to this, if the top of the mask wasn't tucked into my goggles then very brisk cold air funneled in from the top. In transitioning from mask to neck gaiter, I found it easy to do this while skiing with mitts on. But, when it came to putting the mask back up, I had to stop, take off my mitts and tuck it under my goggles, which was necessary to prevent some serious cold draft. I tried to just stay tucked in and ready at the top of the hill. This never worked because I would always overheat and would want it off, then not long after, I would get too cold and want it on again. Such were the conditions on the hill. Sometimes, I was so overheated that I opted to take off my helmet and remove the whole thing. But then, I had to have another beanie handy because the wind was still cold through the helmet on my head.

Breathing into the mask did result in wetting the fabric very quickly, which then became cold and uncomfortable on the face and neck. On overnight trips I had no way to dry the garment. I typically found I would try to avoid the wet mask by pulling it under my chin, but then this defeated the purpose of protecting my face from wind and cold, so I was at a loss.

For backcountry skiing it was generally too hot. A lot of exertion was required for skinning uphill even in very cold temperatures. I found my temperature varied too much over the course of the day. So, I preferred to have a separate beanie that I could throw on when I started to cool down, as well as a separate neck gaiter that I could easily put on, take off, bring up over my nose, etc. Much like a layering strategy for clothing, which can be shed or put back on as conditions change. For the most part, I didn't feel like I saved any weight or bulk on my trips having to take duplicate items (separate beanie and neck gaiter) to accommodate varying conditions on my trips.

Fogging up of goggles and sunglasses was a concern I had before the test began. And I can now report with delight, that I did not have any fogging of my ski-goggles throughout the whole test period. I was very pleased with this. However, my sunglasses did fog up when I was x-country skiing and exerting a lot of energy. No surprise there. On another positive note, the garment did not show any signs of wear over the course of the test. It was machine washed a few times and thrown in the dryer as well. The 'hinge' point, which I had concerns about did not prove to be a weak point after all.

SUMMARY

Overall, I would say the Dynamax Quick Combo endured the test period quite well. It still looks new. However, for my preference, it was too big in size for my head. Mainly it didn't fit well under my ski helmet, though it didn't seem to bother me if I wasn't using a helmet. I found the garment to be warm and soft. However, to my surprise it didn't completely block out the cold wind when skiing. There still was a cutting sharp cold sensation coming up from under the nose and through the little breathing holes of the mask, which was alarmingly frigid. Moisture built up fairly quickly from breathing into the mask, which not surprising didn't dry in cold conditions. This resulted in skiing most of the day feeling wet on the face or avoiding it by tucking it under the chin, which defeated its purpose. I was pleased that I didn't have any fogging with the goggles, but my sunglasses fogged with strenuous exercise. Having said all that I still plan to use it for colder temperatures skiing, which is not uncommon here.

Likes
- soft fabric
- no fogging with goggles
- easy to machine wash and dry
- durable

Dislikes
- one size only (too big for me)
- supposed to have multiple functions (beanie only, neck gaiter only, full face mask and face mask/ neck gaiter only), but did not pan out that way comfortably
- moisture in the mask area built up very quickly from breathing
- fogging with sunglasses with strenuous activity
- did not shed weight by bringing an all-in-one item as it did not accommodate varying conditions as well as a separate beanie and neck gaiter, so I carried both


Thanks to Seirus Innovations and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series.



Read more reviews of Seirus Innovation gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence



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