OUTDOOR RESEARCH MAVEL WINDSHIRT
TEST SERIES BY JAMIE LAWRENCE
May 05, 2007
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Hobart, Tasmania AUSTRALIA
5' 7" (1.70 m)
165 lb (75.00 kg)
I was introduced to bushwalking/tramping/hiking around 13 years ago as a young child scouting and though my school physical/adventure education. After leaving school, I mainly did short daywalks until recently when I have started to again re-walk some of Tasmania's key hiking routes and try walks I have yet to attempt. I mainly walk in the winter months, in Tasmania's central highlands areas. I prefer light gear, extended walks (3-5 days) in a group of 3 or shorter walks (1-3 days) walking solo. I would generally carry a base weight pack of around 8 kg-10 kg (17 lb-22 lb).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
11 December, 2006
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.orgear.com
Listed Weight: 14.8 oz (420 g)
Measured Weight: 14.11 oz (400 g)
Colour: Retro Red
INITIAL FIT & IMPRESSIONS
When I first tried on the Marvel I felt that it was a little tight fit on my just around my torso towards my armpits. At first I thought I may have required a large size, but the rest of the garment is a good fit in the sleeve and hem length. My chest measures at 37 in (94 cm) which would put me at the edge of being sized Small or Medium according to the sizing chart on the Outdoor Research website. I can only
As listed above, the Marvel features a full front zipper with a zippered pocket on the sleeve and hand warmer pockets. My initial complaint with these zippers is the size of the tabs. Although the windshirt is fitted with YKK zippers which move easily, the tabs are so small I struggle to use them with my fingers. I have yet to try wearing gloves but anticipate this would only make the matter worse. I am looking at adding a small tap to the zippers to make them easier to use.
I have only worn the Marvel once since it arrived, which was for a brief walk in the city. It happened to be a very windy day (gusts recorded to around 50 knots, 92 km/h, 57 m/h) and I was wearing a short sleeve shirt under the Marvel. I noticed very little wind on my bare arms underneath and the Tricot lining was very comfortable and warm. This was quite a surprise to me as I expected that the Marvel was designed for much lighter conditions then those on that day.
TRYING IT OUT
My initial impressions of the Marvel is that it is a very high quality product which is well designed and constructed. I have test to find any loose threads, seams or poor craftsmanship.
|Windshirt as Packed|
Things I Like
I like the look and feel of the product, the colours are bold but not overbearing and the materials are lightweight, accommodating for movement and appear to fit their intended purpose for outdoor wear.
Things I don't Like
As previously mentioned, I was surprised that the fit did seem a little tight although I had determined my fit from the Outdoor Research website. I've yet to test if this fit is effected by wearing a pack.
I also find the zippers too small for this product, as I have also previously mentioned.
At this point I can find no other issues with the Marvel that I don't like.
Overall I think the Marvel Windshirt is a great product and I look forward to further pleasing results over the test period.
I plan to wear the Marvel Windshirt on all of my upcoming walks over the testing period. As the weather conditions in Tasmania change dramatically, even snow is possible in summer. I am keen to test the worthiness of the jacket in handling rain, wind and general poor weather conditions. Over the test period I will be in the Southern Hemisphere summer, with temperatures expected to range between 3 C (37 F) and around 30 C (86 F) but this is only an estimate. Areas planned to visit include Mt Anne (South West National Park) Frenchmanís Cap (Franklin National Park) and other spur of the moment trips.
I will look to test the full list of features listed above and others they become obvious over the testing period.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
Many thanks to Ourdoor Research and BGT for the opportunity to test the Marvel Windshirt.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
13 March, 2007
Over the past few months I have been testing the Marvel Windshirt on my walks in to the following areas of Tasmania.
The South West National Park is the largest in Tasmania. A region of wild rivers and jagged mountain ranges, rolling button grass plains and silent and green rain forests, it encompasses some of the finest wilderness country in Australia. The highest peak in the park, Mt Anne, stands at 1,423 m (4,669 ft) above sea level and is only reached by climbing the summit of Mt Eliza (1,260 m/ 4,134 ft) and is one of the toughest walks in the area. During my walks in the area, nearly all the walking is above 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and the weather ranged from pelting rain, freezing winds and scorching sunshine. The highest temp was 25 C (77 F) with the lowest around 5 C (41 F), however these are taken from weather reports for the time, not actual measurements by myself. I walked the routes of the Mt Eliza & Mt Anne Summits, A traverse of the Lightnighting Ridge and around Lake Judd to Anne River. There were 3 trips ranging between 2 and 4 days.
|A View Towards Mt Anne, South West NP|
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
To date during the test period I am yet to find nothing of a serious nature that renders the Marvel unsuitable for its intended purpose. There are quite a few things I like about the product and a couple of small issues that I've noticed since receiving the Marvel.
|Climbing Mt Eliza, South West NP|
Things I like
As previously mentioned during the Initial Report, I genuinely like the look and feel of the garment. Having worn it for nearly a couple of days on end, it remains comfortable, seems to repel dirt and grime and doesn't seem to retain odor and start to smell like everything else in my pack seems do after a few days walking. I am also impressed by the strength of the fabric, in particular the Stretch Woven Nylon shoulder/arm sections which are grey on my Marvel. With a pack weighing around 15 kg (33 lbs) on my most recent walk of 4 days, this placed a lot of strain on the straps of my pack which sat directly on this section of the Marvel. After this walk and a good wash, the Marvel looked as good as the day it arrived with no visible evidence of straps or waist bands leaving marks or piling.
On my first trip testing the Marvel, the weather was particularly bad, with low cloud, wind, sleet and rain. I wore the Marvel as my outside layer for all of the first day of walking (mainly due to the fact that I'd packed my full length jacket right at the bottom of my pack!) and was highly impressed by its ability to keep me warm and dry under conditions at the limit that the Marvel is designed to repel. I also noticed just how breathable the Marvel is and that it really does stop a lot of wind. It was because of this that I was quite comfortable not only whilst I was walking, but also when I was stopped having a drink or a snack. I also found the Marvel quite comfortable as a mid-layer which was the case when the weather really closed in and I was forced to put my full length jacket on.
Things I don't Like
At this stage I am yet to find anything that is of a major fault with the Marvel. During my Initial Report I identified that the zipper tabs on the handwarmer pockets are too small for my liking. Now that I've had a better chance to use these zippers, both with and without gloves, I am sure that they are too small or require a small rope attachment similar to that on the main zipper of the jacket.
|Poor Weather on Eliza Plateau|
I've also noticed that there is a bit of an issue with not having some kind of drawcord around the collar of the shirt. This is a very handy option on a similar product that I already own as it is great for stopping bits of scrub or water entering around my neck. I've found that I get a small amount of wind and water down the front of the Marvel when it is fully zipped up as the collar sits forward with no way of me bringing it closer to my neck.
As outlined above, I've found the Marvel Windshirt to be a really high quality product that has coped well with what I've put it through to date.
Apart from the small issues with the zipper tabs and the collar, I am yet to find an issue that prevents me from wearing the Marvel whilst in the bush. I am totally confident that under light conditions the Marvel is an adequate protection for me and is lightweight enough for me to throw into my daypack for those 'just-in-case' moments.
For the remainder of the test period, it is planned to take a 5-day walk to summit Frenchman's Cap in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park for April. The track is considerably more arduous than many other Tasmanian walks, including the Overland Track. This is a T2 track, which means that the track surface is rough and muddy over extended sections, especially across the Loddon Plains, and is steep in places. Most walkers spend between 3 and 5 days completing the return trip, a distance of about 23 km each way. The summit of Frenchman's cap is 1,446 m (4,744 ft) and although not high, is one of the toughest peaks in Tasmania. During April the area averages around 150 mm (5.9 in) rain with temperatures ranging from -2 C (28 F) to 20 C (68 F).
I will look to further test the Marvel's ability to handle poor weather and remain clean in really muddy environments.
This concludes my Field Report on the Outdoor Research Marvel Windshirt. The final report in this series, my Long Term Reprot, will follow in around 2 months. Again, many thanks to BGT and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
10th May, 2007
As mentioned in the Field Report, it was planned that the final walk in this test series would take place during a summit of Frenchman's Cap in Tasmania's west coach. Unfortunately this was not possible for various reasons and our plans were changed. The final walk during the testing period was a 5 day walk within the South West National Park, in Southern Tasmania. The walk route was a crossing of the Arthurs Plain to Lake Oberon via Moraine E. From Moraine E, we summited Mt Orion, then followed the main walking track to Lake Cygnus via Mt Sirius. From Lake Cygnus we summitted Mt Hesperus (1,097 m, 3,599 ft) and returned to the Arthurs Plain via Moraine A. We returned to our car via the Old Port Davey track along the Arthurs Plain to Junction Creek then onward to the car.
|Looking towards the Western Arthurs range|
The Western Arthurs is a small mountain range in South West Tasmania. The range was heavily glaciated during recent ice ages and is an almost continuous series of steep cirque headwalls. While it is only 15km (9.3 m) long, the range contains 22 major peaks and 30 lakes. The scenery is spectacular with glacial tarns surrounded by towering cliffs. The range is the best example of glaciated scenery in Tasmania. The track is very rough and at times dangerous. It ascends and descends many steep gullies which are at times more like a rock climb than a walk. There are no handrails, ladders or any safety aids as this is a wilderness area and such improvements are contrary to the area. The distances may seem short but a typical 4km (2.5 m) day will take from 4 to 7 hours to walk.
This walk took place during mid April. Although no weather observations were taken during the walk, details from the nearest observation station, located at the base of the Western Arthurs, so that the lowest recorded temperature was 4.4 C (39.9 F) which was on day 4 of our walk. Highest temperature recorded was 22.7 C (73 F) which was on the first day of our walk. Observations also show that a total of 4.4 mm (0.17 in) of rain fell over the time of our walk.
As this area is dominated by peaks, it is very exposed to the open weather of Southern Tasmania. This always includes high winds. During the first night of our walk, we had a very extensive day, finishing on the track around 10pm. It was during this first night that we had some of the strongest winds. Unfortunately for us we were unable to measure their speed, but the observations for the area at Scott's Peak showed a highest gust recorded was 80 km/h (50 m/h). This would be far lower then the winds we encountered, as at many points our party was either blown off our feet or unable to move forward due to the high winds.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
This final walk in the test was by far the most demanding that I had put the Marvel through during the whole test period. I've decided to comment on some of the key areas that I discovered over the test period.
Protection from Weather
The winds that we experienced were surely beyond that of what the designers had intended the Marvel to withstand. I say this due to the product's description on the manufacturer's website 'This windshirt offers you basic protection from light weather and cool temps.' Although temperature wasn't a major issue for us, wind chill was, as this would force the temperature much below that shown in the weather observations detailed above. The windshirt was never designed (or sold as) a full wind stop garment. I have been very impressed with the Marvel's ability to keep out the elements. I have worn the Marvel during weather ranging from full sunshine to strong winds and rain and I have been impressed with just how well the elements were kept at bay. I have always found that the Marvel does an excellent job of blocking or reducing the amount of wind that penetrates and is also very good at keeping me dry in light mist and when there is a lot of moisture in the air.
|Summit of Mt Orion|
Fit & Comfort
In in Initial Report I made point of mentioning that I felt that the Marvel was a little tight around the top of my chest towards my armpits. Over the test period this has failed to bother me and I now find wearing the Marvel very comfortable. I doubt that it the windshirt has stretched, more that the wearer has changed shape (a good change!) loosing a small amount of weight! I have worn the Marvel throughout the test period with many combinations of gear. Where possible I tried to use it mainly as a shell, for protection from weather. As mentioned above, I was very impressed with the Marvel's abilities in this area. I also used the Marvel as a mid-layer on several occasions. This was mainly when the weather conditions further deteriorated beyond that which the Marvel could withstand. This would have been high winds and heavier rain. The Marvel was very comfortable in this situation, and its ability to breath did not seem to suffer substantially. It is worth noting that the outer jacket I was wearing over the Marvel was also a breathable fabric.
One of the biggest surprises that I discovered over the test period was how warm the Marvel kept me when outdoors. For many nights I used the Marvel as a lightweight alternative to a full fleece jumper when camped or sleeping. I found the obvious advantage of this was that because the main body of the Marvel is constructed from 40D x 50D rip-stop polyester, it did not grip on the inner of my sleeping bag, allowing me to toss and turn at night without having to wake up and untangle my bag. By simply wearing a light thermal and the Marvel, I was nice and warm all night. I also enjoyed the lack of baulk the Marvel's design allows. This made it perfect for stuffing in a side pocket of my pack. During most of the walks taken during the test period, the weather would change quickly and often, meaning many stops to change into or out of a fleece or jacket. I was fortunate enough to be able to simply use the Marvel for most of these occasions, or by simply unzipping the front zipper, cool down enough to prevent me stopping to take off the windshirt.
Throughout this test period I have maintained that the zipper tabs are too small and make the zippers on the Marvel hard to use. I found that wearing gloves makes this much harder and I was forced to remove my gloves to effectively use the zippers. I also discovered that I have no use for the arm pocket. I found that the only time I used it to store something, my compass, that it is very hard to use the zipper, only really being possible if I hold the sleeve taught with my other hand. I would suggest that future models of this product remove this pocket as I can see little benefit from having it there with the obvious disadvantages of more seems to allow water to penetrate the garment.
Care & Maintainence
The nature of the Marvel windshirt is to be a relatively simple garment. This makes it very easy to care for. I have had no issues over the test period that have required any special attention in terms of maintenance or repair. After wearing the Marvel for a walk, I simply throw it in the washing machine with my other gear and let the normal cycle run. I let the Marvel dry outdoors on a normal clothes line. During my Field Report I mentioned that I found that the Marvel always cleaned well and had a 'like new' look after a wash. After my walk in the Western Arthurs I found this was not the case, as the Marvel developed some rather obvious stains around the collar. The area had recently suffered substantial damage from bush fire, resulting in a lot of charred trees and my gear (and me!) getting covered in ash and charcoal. The Marvel took a great deal of this well, with the dust and ash simply wipping off, however the were many marks that remained after a wash. In order to remove these stains I simply soaked the Marvel overnight in an a common laundry soak product and it has, once again, returned to that 'as new' look.
|Stains on Collar|
Overall, I have been very satisfied with the performance of the Marvel Windshirt. I have found it to be more then able to cope with the weather conditions for which it was designed to be used, it is comfortable to wear and offers surprising warmth for its weight. I have had no major malfunctions with the product and apart from basic washing, had no issues of maintenance or repair to attend to. Since receiving and wearing the Marvel, I have started to wonder why I have never looked at purchasing an item of clothing like this in the past. I have focused on only reporting on wearing the Marvel as a piece of outdoor clothing whilst walking. I have worn the Marvel extensively beyond this purpose, finding it a perfect item of clothing to throw in my sports bag or as a light shell to walk to work. There is little doubt in my mind that this product will serve me well for quite some time to come. This is my first experience with gear produced by Outdoor Research and if the Marvel is a sign of their ability to build functional and practical gear, then I look forward to getting my hands on more products.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
This concludes my report series for the Marvel Windshirt. Many thanks to BGT and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test this excellent piece of gear.
Read more gear reviews by Jamie Lawrence