CANADA GOOSE HYBRIDGE JACKET
TEST SERIES BY EDWARD RIPLEY-DUGGAN
INITIAL REPORT: January 4, 2011
FIELD REPORT: March 19, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT: May 22, 2011
||Catskills, New York
||6' 0" (1.85 m)|
||220 lb (97.50 kg)
I enjoy walking in all its forms, from
a simple stroll in the woods to multi-day backpack excursions. Though by no
means an extreme ultra-light enthusiast, from spring to fall my preference is to
carry a pack weight (before food and water) of 12 lb (5.5 kg), more or less. In
recent years, I've rapidly moved to a philosophy of "lighter is better," within
the constraints of budget and common sense.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Canada Goose
Year of manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.canada-goose.com
Listed weight: N/A
Measured weight: 30 oz (850 g)
Country of origin: Canada
Insulation: Down (750 fill power Hutterite white duck down), Polartec Powershield O2
Hybridge Jacket Front (note reflective strips)
The Canada Goose Hybridge jacket arrived in fine shape. Included were numerous hang-tags and a small brochure on the company's products. The manufacturer describes the sizing of the jacket as "slim insulated," and in consequence I had asked for and received a 2XL, rather than my usual XL. This seems to have been a good choice. The jacket in no way binds or restricts, and there is room for a light insulating layer under the jacket for use in emergencies. The construction of the jacket features sewn-through down insulation (i.e. not baffled), with down pockets strategically arranged on the front and rear of the jacket, as well as around the neck. The arrangement of the down is in accordance with the company's Hybridge Thermal Mapping technology, designed to optimize the effect of the insulation (more about this later). The balance of the jacket utilizes Polartec Power Shield O2 insulating fabric (primarily on the sides, shoulders and sleeves).
The jacket does not come with a stuff sack. It is fairly bulky, but not to the point of being a problem. It appears to be a serious piece of insulated wear, and it is extremely well sewn and constructed. The left arm bears a prominent "Canada Goose Arctic Program" embroidered label. There is no other external branding other than a small Polartec proprietary label.
Design and materials
Canada Goose is primarily known for their down wear. As noted in the specifications online, this garment utilizes 750 fill power white duck down (Canada Goose states that none of their down is live plucked), and it is sourced from Feather Factory, who obtain their down from the Hutterite communities of Alberta, Canada. The shell for the down is ripstop nylon (20 Denier) with a DWR finish, and the down sections of the jacket are lined with a plain weave polyester, also DWR treated. To date, I have seen no evidence of protruding feathers.
The concept behind the Canada Goose Hybridge Thermal Mapping technology is that the down is strategically located over areas of the body which experience higher rates of heat loss, and the warm air thus trapped by the insulation circulates to the less heavily insulated portions of the jacket. These less insulated areas use Polartec's Power Shield O2 fleece, which (worn fleece inward) blocks 96 percent of the wind, is highly breathable, water repellent, abrasion resistant and is "stretchy for active comfort." (N.B. these claims are the manufacturer's, and will be evaluated, so far as is possible, in testing).
Hybridge Jacket Rear
From this, and the literature with the jacket, the Hybridge appears to be positioned as a softshell for active wear. This is quite unusual for a piece of down clothing, because of the problems inherent in insulation loss when down insulation dampens with sweat. One hang tag states that the jacket is "Ideal for active pursuits such as skiing, hiking or snowboarding..." as well as "a brisk walk on a cool day." The down on the front of the jacket is distributed over sixteen pockets. That on the back of the jacket is in twelve pockets of somewhat larger size, and the neck has two down pockets in the rear and (when zipped) four small pockets in the front. The jacket has a high neck, extending when fully zipped almost to the chin. Although there is no "zipper garage" at the top of the neck, I have not experienced any chafing or discomfort. The neck is lined with nylon tricot, which gives it a pleasant feel.
Externally, the jacket has a main YKK zipper, backed by a lightly insulated storm flap. There are two tricot-lined zippered exterior pockets, the zips with attached pull cords, well positioned as hand-warmers. The sleeves are equipped with recessed stretch cuffs of a black elasticized material, which helps guard against heat loss and makes for a good seal with gloves, almost guaranteeing no exposed flesh. Each sleeve is equipped with a pair of reflective fabric bands, presumably for added safety in road walking or running. The back of the jacket has a flat loop of webbing affixed by sturdy stitching, described by the manufacturer as a grab strap. I'm unsure what the function of this is (other than to allow me to be grabbed by some helpful soul when on an alarming downhill slide). The waist of the jacket has an elastic drawstring, the tension of which is controlled by two cast nylon spring loaded fittings. When cinched, this creates a tight seal, which in conjunction with the high neck, seems to allow little heat to escape. The rear of the jacket is cut a little longer than the front.
The stretch Polartec is used on the arms, sides, waist, and sections of the neck. It is used with the pile inwards, which makes the most sense for insulation as this maximizes trapped air. The interior of the jacket is lined (except for the Polartec sections). There is a hang loop on the neck (as well as beading reading "Canada Goose"). There is one internal pocket, partially sealed with hook and loop fastener, large enough for a spare pair of gloves. Mention is made on the website of an internal stretch pocket for a MP3 player or cell phone. I was unable to locate this; the interior pocket I mention seems a little large for this purpose, and is not made of a stretch fabric. There are a variety of internal labels, both branding and product care. The latter states that the garment should be machine washed only (front loading machine) and line dried. Tumble dry, bleaching, ironing and dry cleaning are not recommended.
Hybridge Jacket Interior
This is an interesting jacket. I own nothing similar, in so far as garments using thermal mapping technology go. This seems to be an innovative first for Canada Goose. I look forward to determining how this works in the field. I will be reporting on my preliminary experiences about two months from now.
The Hybridge Jacket appears to have been constructed from very high quality materials, with admirable attention to detail.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Conditions over the preceding months have been quite severe, with a great deal of snowfall, one of the most intense winters in some years, but the snows are now rapidly receding, except at elevation. I have used Canada Goose Hybridge jacket extensively (mostly in January and early February), for hiking, cross-country skiing, and for general use. I was unable to use it for any backpack excursions, owing to an injury incurred in mid-February when (of all things) I stepped off a kerb in New York City onto a patch of black ice and crashed down with my full weight on my left knee, which resulted in an injury that (though now substantially healed) curtailed all my outings for the balance of the month and a portion of March. All use was in the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountains of New York, to elevations of about 4000 ft (1220 m). Daytime temperatures seen during use were at minimum 0 F (-18 C), more generally in the low 20s F (-7 C, give or take), on occasion with severe windchills.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
First things first. The Hybridge jacket performs extremely well for me under conditions of moderate exertion. On a long and comparatively slow bushwhack, with a substantial elevation gain taken at a modest pace, I was able to wear it almost continuously, although I did need to unzip it for venting a few times. When I was stationary at elevation I needed to quickly throw on another layer (also down) under the Hybridge. This was in part because I was no longer exerting, and it was very cold up high, but also because I had sweated into the jacket a little, despite wearing just a merino shirt underneath.
This seems to me to be the jacket's major limitation. Although it breathes well for a garment that's substantially down, even under cold conditions vigorous exertion leads (for me at least) to a certain amount of dampness, even in the breathable Polartec Powershield O2. At worst, after vigorous exertion I have experienced a significant loss of loft to the down pockets that comprise the jacket's' main insulation. This is especially a problem in the area where my pack rests against my back. This region of the jacket has a very ample supply of down. That's a very good thing if the jacket is being worn without a pack, but on almost any winter excursion I carry a pack of some sort, even for a cross-country skiing outing on groomed terrain. This is a simple matter of safety and convenience.
It is when skiing that I have experienced the worst problems with the down at the back becoming too damp to effectively insulate me when I'm stationary (although that's not much of the time, having a wetted-out insulation piece is always a concern). This is a little disconcerting, because the jacket is not intended so much for belay-style insulation (in other words, as a warm layer for periods of limited activity), but rather it is designed to be worn during quite intense activity of the kind to which I have subjected it. After several hours of cross-country skiing, on two outings I found the down at the back of the jacket was indeed so damp that it had lost perhaps eighty percent of its loft; the front of the jacket was in better shape, retaining perhaps half the original loft. The temperatures on both occasions were well below freezing, with rather severe windchills, well within what I would have expected to be this jacket's optimal temperature range.
After each of these occasions in which I had sweated into the down, I washed the jacket, using a down-friendly wash intended for such garments. I don't have a front-loading machine (which is recommended), or easy access to one, so I used my top loader on a very gentle cycle. I have now washed the jacket twice. This seems quite straightforward, and I have noted no loss of loft after drying has completed. I have air dried the jacket inside on a line, manipulating the down manually to prevent excessive matting, and I've finished the drying in my tumble dryer on a no-heat setting.
I continue to be impressed by the quality of the manufacture of the jacket. I have yet to see any down whatsoever protrude from the shell, and the fabric has held up well to wear, with no rubbing evident in the area where pack straps rub. Although I have worn this on one bushwhack, it was on a comparatively open ascent, not the spruce/fir growth common here (which can be brutal on gear), so there was a minimal risk of the jacket getting jabbed and torn. The wrist collar makes for a very good union with my mountaineering or skiing gloves, with no exposed area of my wrists.
Despite now having reservations about using the Hybridge for really intense activity, I like it very much as a warm shell. It is comfortable, pretty much windproof, has (in this size at least) room for additional insulation, and appears durable and well made. I will be using it for some planned backpacking trips over the next couple of months, although I may use it as a nighttime layer as with warming temperatures it is unlikely to be a suitable choice for daytime use.
Despite some misgivings about the use of the Hybridge Jacket for high-exertion activity, I do find it a well-made, useful and comfortable and generally well designed jacket. Although the back of the jacket seems overly well insulated for use when wearing a pack of any size, I don't see any real solution to this (short of, perhaps, some additional venting via zips in the underarm area, which might offer a considerable improvement, though at the cost of some added weight).
LONG TERM REPORT
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
For the past two months I have used the Canada Goose Hybridge jacket on one backpack trip and six day hikes in the Western and Southern Catskills, at elevations to 3,000 ft (914 m). Temperatures have ranged from 35 F (2 C) down to about 70 F (21 C). Conditions have been very variable, with one warm day, generally cool nights at elevation, and (recently) very heavy rain on and off.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
By and large, the Hybridge jacket has not been well suited to the milder spring conditions. I have carried it against possible emergencies, and for keeping warm when standing around (in which capacity it proved its worth), but it's really a warmer jacket than I would normally carry at this time of year. Having said that, it certainly did the job when needed. I did wear it on one drizzly afternoon, but (rather as expected) did not find it sufficiently water and sweat-proof; much loft was lost. It's really as a cold weather piece that this jacket shines, and for better or worse it has been mostly mild. I was out on one cool day of very high winds, and I did feel that perhaps the fleece was not as windproof as it might have been under such conditions, but I was certainly not cold even when stationary.
There has been no observable wear and tear. It's also clean, having been twice laundered with the appropriate sports wash, and it has held up well to this, with no loft loss that I can determine. The zipper runs smoothly, the fabric has no snags (I have generally stayed on trail),and I would characterize the jacket as robust. Against that strength must be set the weight; this jacket is no lightweight. Still, for winter trips I'm not generally going for the lightest possible pack, as conditions here be hazardous, and I won't hesitate to pack this next year, though for day trips rather than backpacks, when extra weight is undesirable given the overall higher pack-weight for safe winter travel. While perfectly feasible for cold weather backpacking, I feel that I own lighter alternatives of equal or greater warmth.
This is a well-made jacket, suitable for carrying and wearing for a wide range of winter activities, although for really intense sports like cross-country skiing, it is too warm for me in all but the very coldest conditions, with loss of loft from sweat a real issue, as noted in the field report. It's a comfortable garment (I enjoy the feel of the fleece). I do have some concerns that the thermal mapping technology used does not take into account the fact that under winter conditions I am almost always wearing a pack of some kind; getting too hot in this area is a distinct concern, and it can lead to serious dampening of the down and consequent loss of loft. Still, my overall impressions are positive; perhaps the company can make some designs changes in the next version that will improve this. One possibility that comes to mind are zippable vents in the underarm area. This would be a real plus, I believe.
My thanks go to Canada Goose and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Canada Goose Hybridge Jacket. This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer
Version 1.5. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.