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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > High Sierra Alta Interchange Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

HIGH SIERRA SPORT COMPANY
ALTA INTERCHANGE JACKET

Initial Report - February 16 2017
Field Report - April 10 2017
Long Term Report -  June 14 2017

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 50
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 200 lb (90.7 kg)

Waist/inseam:

36"/32" 91cm / 81 cm

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

HIGH SIERRA SPORT COMPANY

Year of Manufacture:

2017

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.highsierra.com

MSRP:

155.00 US$

Sizes:

M, L, XL, XXL

Material:

• Shell: 100% Nylon Taslon
• Shell Lining: Taffeta
• Zip-Out Lining: 100% Polyester Fleece, 240gm
• Insulation: 100% Polyester– 120gm in body, 100gm in sleeve/hood

Measured Weight:

Liner: 17 oz (477 g)
Shell: 2.00 lbs 5.39 oz (1057 g)

Product pix

Product Description:

The HIGH SIERRA MEN’S ALTA INTERCHANGE JACKET is a 3 in 1 jacket consisting of a fleece inner jacket and an insulated waterproof shell with removable hood. Either piece can be worn independently or they can be worn together. It comes in four colors: “Black”, “Mercury” (gray), “Pool” (light blue), and what I received “Kelly Green”.

Initial Report

February 17 2017

FrontThe grey fleece inner jacket includes two hand warmer pockets on the outside and a heavy-duty reversible zipper and elastic cuffs. There are 3 elastic loops for securing the fleece liner into the shell, one on each sleeve and one at the back of the neck.

The shell by itself is a heavy insulated jacket with two zippered hand warmer pockets and one breast pocket with hook-n-loop tabs. It has a removable hood with a drawstring around the front as well as a hook-n-loop strap for adjusting the volume of the hood. The storm flap to cover the front zipper has hook-n-loop tabs. The hood is removed by way of a zipper and two hook and loop tabs on either side hidden in small pockets (nice detail). The jacket has an inner taffeta liner and heavy outer nylon shell. Inside the collar has a fleece lining. There are two sets of zippers in the shell, one for the shell and the other for attaching the fleece as an inner liner. There are also 3 fabric strips with snaps that correspond to the 3 elastic loops on the fleece jacket to hold the collar and sleeves in place. There is also an elastic draw string around the bottom of the shell.

I looked up the product and found references to 3 terms I was unfamiliar with; “ARMADRI”, “ARMAREPEL”, and “ARMAHEAT”. These refer to waterproofing, repellent (water, dirt, etc.) and insulation respectfully. I used the contact link on the manufacturers web site to ask them what these were. I receive a prompt reply suggesting I call their toll free customer service line. I called that line and the customer service representative I talked to while pleasant and helpful, was unable to provide any more information than what is on the web site. So I have no idea what these really mean.

The fleece liner fits me quite well, and is soft and comfortable. The shell is somewhat larger and fits me loosely when worn alone. When the two jackets are combined they form what I would refer to as a parka. The combination seems warm but bulky, however it does not seem to restrict movement. This jacket is far heaver and bulkier than anything I would normally use for cold weather activities like hiking, snowshoeing, etc..

I would consider this a sort of entry level product. It does not include some features I would prefer in this sort of garment especially things like inner pockets, and venting options (such as under arm zips). This appears to be very warm and comfortable. The kind of thing good for casual outdoor activities and camping where warmth and versatility is desired but weight and bulk are not an issue. It also might be effective for casual snow shoeing. This is not the sort of thing I would normally take for overnight hikes due to its bulk. So I am looking forward to trying it out in various activities to see how it performs and if my first impressions are right or wrong.

BackI would make one final observation about the color. It is green...very, very green, I would go as far as saying shocking green. I am not really fond of the color but I  will say that as I look at it more it is growing on me. A few people who I have shown it to have all had similar comments along the lines of “well, at least you will be visible” and I have to agree that in this jacket I will be easy to see, which can be a good thing.

Likes:
  • Warm
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Appears durable
Dislikes:
  • Heavy and bulky
  • No venting options

Field Report

April 10 2017
RainUsage:
  • Day snowshoeing - North Fork Tieton, Eastern Cascades, Washington
    • Fresh and compact snow, temperatures a little below freezing, overcast, calm winds
  • Solo snowshoeing (one night) – Pacific Crest Trail Central Washington State
    • Packed trail and fresh snow, temperatures hovering around freezing, light to moderate wind, snowing
  • Daily “urban” use – Central Washington State & Central Oregon
    • Conditions ranging from just above freezing to well below freezing. Light rain, light to moderate snow, winds moderate to none.
  • 2 night “Yurt” camping (Ski Patrol pig roast) White Pass ski area, Central Washington Cascades.
    • Temperatures around freezing, some light rain & snow.

This is a difficult report to write. I would say first and foremost that there is really nothing “wrong” with this garment, only that it is not really suited to what I mostly do in regards to backpacking type of gear. So I will do my best to explain what I find is not suitable for me vs what I think may be lacking or could be better with this garment.

To start I will say this jacket is warm and comfortable. I would liken this jacket to what I would refer to as a “parka”. That is a very warm heavy coat that feels like a big hug. When I wear the shell and fleece liner I feel like I am comfortably wrapped in warmth. It is snug without being constricting. It fits well, allows me full maneuverability, and does not ride up at the hem or sleeves. The long cut of the jacket means I don’t get drafts up my back even when moving around or bending. The hood fits well and I can adjust the volume by way of the hook-n-loop tab on the back of the hood. While the hood is not articulated, it does allow me some range of movement to look around before obscuring my view. While the hood does not really have a visor, it does extend far enough forward that it helps prevent snow/rain from getting into my eyes or glasses. Since the hood is removable, I was able to remove it on one occasion when I knew I would not use it but was going to be out while it was snowing. This way I did not have the hood flapping around on my back just filling up with snow.

The fleece is fairly unremarkable in design. That is, it is almost identical to other mid weight fleece full zip jackets I have. The plastic, reversible zipper is easy to operate and I have had no problems with it snagging, sticking, or separating. The sleeves are a good length, they don’t ride up nor are they so long that they extend past my wrists. The elastic cuffs help to ensure they stay in place. As mentioned in my initial report, the liner attaches to the shell by way of 3 elastic loops sewn into the liner, two on the sleeves just above the cuff and one at the back of the neck just below the collar. The shell has 3 fabric loops with snaps that match these attachment points. These attachments combined with the front zippers keep the fleece liner securely in place. On its own the fleece liner is comfortable, moderately warm, and somewhat wind and moisture resistant. It is also breathable and seems to do a good job at wicking moisture away from my body. I often wear fleece jackets like this at home, to work, around town, and for things like camping. Basically any time I want a warm comfortable layer, and this one is on par with all my others. It fits as well and keeps me as comfortable as I would expect from this sort of garment. I don’t normally use fleece for acclivities like backpacking, I find it too bulky and prefer down or down-like insulation.

Snowshoe with MegThe shell seems tough and durable. This is the type of garment I preferred when I did activities like snowmobiling and when I would spend extended periods working on mountaintops and needed something that would keep me warm and dry while mostly inactive and also durable enough to withstand some abuse (brush, tools, dirt, etc). For what I do now, this jacket is too bulky, the combination of warm insulation but no venting options makes it unsuitable for anything above low activity levels. When inactive this jacket keeps me warm and sheds snow and light rain quite well, however when I was snowshoeing I quickly became overheated, even without the fleece liner. Without ventilation features the only option would be to remove the jacket, but it is far too bulky to easily stash in my pack really limiting this to low activity level outings.

OK, I think I beat the bulk and lack of ventilation to death. I will move on to more positive aspects of the testing so far. The first few wearings of the jacket was for more urban activities like going to/from work, walking the dog, running errands and trip to central Oregon with my wife and some friends where we did a bit of walking. I used the jacket on mornings well below freezing. My truck takes longer than the drive to my office to warm up, so I need something warm to wear on those extra cold mornings. And a few days I found my truck buried in snow or coated in a thick layer of ice. A warm, durable, jacket that is at least somewhat water resistant is important for these days. This jacket did not disappoint. It provided me with full coverage, while not restricting my movements. I was able to reach up to the truck roof, where I occasionally would dump snow on myself and lean out over the hood to reach the far side. The ice, dirt and maybe a few sharp edges could be death to a lightweight jacket, but the Alta Interchange jacket is more than equal to the task. It kept me warm and dry, and received no damage from things like sharp ice and even the occasional interaction with the sharp edges of my ice scraper.

BeerManI did manage to use this jacket on an overnight snowshoeing trip. I went for a quick outing to test a new hammock system. The temperatures hovered right around the freezing mark the entire time and it was snowing most of the time. The result was a mix of snow and water dripping off the trees. While the hike in resulted in my getting rather overheated, it was not a problem since I went only a short distance. While setting up and breaking camp I had no choice but to be working under the trees and even up against the wet brush. The jacket protected me from the water and snow keeping me warm and dry. While sleeping I zipped the jacket over the foot end of my hammock allowing me to shift my tarp further above my head and there by extending the effective coverage area of my tarp.

For casual outings like walking the dog and/or around town in snow and light rain the jacket is great. It sheds snow and light rain well (I have not had it in heavy rain so can’t comment on that), blocks wind, and is comfortable to wear.

As the winter season has been coming to a close I have been finding fewer and fewer occasions to wear the shell but have been wearing the fleece liner often. The exception was our annual Ski Patrol Pig Roast. I was asked to prepare the pig this year. I had to dress and package a 100 lb (45 kg) whole pig in wire mesh, start the fire in the roaster (a home made brick roasting pit we assemble every year), then tend the fire and pig every hour, for 24hrs leading up to the event. Then attend the event, and clean up afterwards. Needless to say it is a lot of work and not suitable for delicate garments. This jacket withstood brushes against the sharp wire mesh, scratches from the bricks and sticks of fruit wood (used for smoke), as well as some mud, pig fat and more (it took me two showers before I finally got the smell of smoke out of my skin and hair). I was able to simply wipe most of the grime off of the jacket and found no signs of visible damage despite the abuse. I wish my body performed as well, I was sore for a few days.

Overall this is a really warm and durable garment. Very suitable for low exertion activities and/or very cold conditions. While I don’t see me using it for activities like hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, etc., I do look forward to using it for sitting around the camp fire, and casual use such as walking the dog in bad weather.

Likes:

    * Warm
    * Comfortable
    * Versatile
    * Appears durable

Dislikes:

    * Heavy and bulky
    * No venting options


Long Term Report

June 14 2017
Since the last report I have been unable to find occasion to wear the shell. I have worn the fleece to wear on my way to work on chilly mornings, about 3-4 times.

In looking over the garment I see some smudges of dirt along the front, sleeves and the hand warmer pocket covering flaps. This is I am sure entirely from the pig roast. I expect most of that to come out when I get around to doing my end of season washing/maintenance of my winter gear. Aside for the dirt the garment is showing no signs of wear.

I would note that when I while preparing to put it away with my other winter gear I discovered that the fleece liner uses the same type/size of zipper as the shell (only shorter) and so I managed to zip the liner not to the inner liner zipper but to the main zipper of the shell. This resulted in a bit of confusion on my part until I figured out what I did and was easily fixed with no problems. I will need to pay better attention in the future.

This brings me to the only time in our reporting that a bit of projection is allowed: How I expect to use this item in the future. As noted this garment is not really suited for most of my activities. This however does not mean I don't like it or won't use it. I look forward to using this garment for low aerobic activities next winter. I expect to wear it for walking my dog and general daily wear on cold days/nights as well as carry in my vehicle for winter travel as well as for before/after skiing/snowshoeing. I know I will get plenty of use out of the fleece liner as I wear that sort of garment from the beginning of fall to the end of spring.

This concludes my Report. I would like to thank the folks at HIGH SIERRA SPORT COMPANY and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



Read more reviews of High Sierra Sport Company gear
Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > High Sierra Alta Interchange Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes



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