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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Stonewear Designs Victory Vest > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Stonewear Victory Vest
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, MichiganAuthor

Page Contents:

Initial Report:
December 8, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 63
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
Great Trango Holdings, Inc
Website http://stoneweardesigns.com
Model Victory Vest
Colors and Sizes
Jelly, Twilight, Vine  XS-XL
Manufacturer  Weight  NA
Tested Weight  12 oz (340 g)
MSRP $119. US
Origin
USA

Initial Impressions and Product Description  Author skiing wearing Victory Vest


Stonewear Designs was founded to make rock climbing clothes for women. It has since expanded to encompass other pursuits such as hiking, running,  yoga and more.

Victory VestThe Victory Vest incorporates a full front zipper with zipper hood as well as zippered pockets. The vest is made in the USA of imported fabrics. The workmanship on the vest is very neat. The primary fabric is a waffle fleece made with 93 percent polyester and 7 percent spandex. The vest has side stretch panels that are 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex. The vest that I am testing is in the color of Jelly which is kind of a fuchsia color. The side panels are black in color as well as the lining of all the pockets.

The vest has a tall collar measuring about 4 in (10 cm) in front and approximately 2.5 in (6.35 cm) in back. This provides great neck protection if desired. It could always be folded down too. The inside of the collar is of the same fabric so it does have some heft to it. The armhole facings are also made with the same waffle fleece fabric and feature double stitching. The top of each shoulder is designed with a separate piece of fabric so that there are no top shoulder seams that might irritate the wearer. Inserted into the shoulder yoke both front and back are reflective silver strips with scalloped edges, surely being both functional and decorative.

Lots of pockets. The vest features two angled pockets, one on each lower front side of the vest. They are zippered pockets and measure about 8 in (20 cm) in length and about 6 in (15 cm) in width. The inside of the pockets are fabricated with the same black stretch material as the sides of the vest. The top left side of the vest also features a zippered pocket. Although smaller in size than the lower pockets it can still hold keys, a small snack bar or a couple of classic ski waxes.

I was anxious to try on the vest as the website indicated that it was semi-fitted. I was happy that the length was long (27.5 in / 70 cm for back length) like I prefer and there was plenty of overall comfort to wear it with different types of underlayers. The armholes are a bit roomy but I find that to be a common trait with many vests. It does allow for ventilation and heavier layers underneath. The underarm to bottom of vest measurement is 18 in (45.7 cm).

I have have already worn the Victory Vest for three days of cross country skiing with pleasant results (didn't feel sweaty). The air temp climbed to about freezing (32 F / 0 C) with little wind. I would describe the conditions as being very damp with high humidity. I was very comfortable with just a thin layer of wool underneath. I am really looking forward to continue wearing this vest for a variety of activities.


 
 
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Field Report:
February 10, 2016 

USA Locations and Conditions

During the testing period I have spent 9 days in backcountry rustic cabins and 6 days on an annual cross country skiing trip.  I have enjoyed the outdoors most other days during the test period on snowshoes and cross country and backcountry skis. Locations of all trips were in the State of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest.  Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (December 30 - January 3) 
Sled Weight: Estimated 45 lb (20.4 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow, some sun
Precipitation: About 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 17 F to 34 F (- 8 C to 1 C) 
   
Location of Trip: Keweenaw Peninsula - State of Michigan
Length of Trip: 6 days, 5 nights  (January 24 - January 29) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Snow, snow and snow  
Precipitation: At least 14-15 in (36-38 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 11 F to 29 F (-12 C to -2 C)
     
Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest 
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (January 30 - Feb 3) 
Sled Weight: Approx 40 lb (18 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, windy and warm (for winter)   
Precipitation: Light dusting of new snow
Temperature Range: 19 F to 42 F (- 7 C to 6 C)  
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Trip Talk
 

Early in the test period I found myself wearing the Stonewear Victory Vest as an outer layer either with a single layer of light wool or a heavier weight Capilene hoody. I also wore it with various synthetic hoodies which I would describe as medium weight. It seemed a perfect match for those days that were not super windy as it allowed ventilation while I hiked or skied. As the weather got colder I started layering a windbreaker over it. Most of the time I had been too snowshoeinghot with a shell jacket but I finally decided to wear a 3 oz (85 g) light wind jacket with it. That combination worked much better for cross country and backcountry skiing as well as snowshoeing. I would describe this vest as being in the warm-hot category for aerobic sports. In the picture to the right the temps were in the low 30's (0 C) for a backcountry snowshoe.

I especially like the high collar on the vest. There have been many times when I opted to go without a neck gaiter as it provides adequate coverage when it is not super windy or the wind chills are not double digits negative. Lately we have had a cold spell with single-digit temps and double-digit wind chill. The vest has been worn with only a wool layer underneath but topped by a warmer jacket. In some cases I have even worn my Wintergreen Anorak as the jacket layer (very weatherproof anorak).

The two lower hand pockets have greatly come in handy especially when I wear the vest as an outer layer. In goes my phone, ski wax, cork and other items. Of course it makes me look more than chunky but the simplicity of not always have to wear a waist pack or backpack is delightful. The chest pocket is much smaller but I can fit in a small snack or keys if needed.

The reflective accents on the vest haven't really been important for the types of activities I do in the winter as being seen is not that important (I am only on trails or backcountry) but they certainly add a little style...likely they will be more important in the spring months for some activities like bicycling.

I also love the length of the vest as it provides great coverage below the waist. As is fairly norm for me, I wear an insulated skirt over pants on almost all outings but the combination of the vest and skirt work great to keep my backside warm.

Most all the time that I have worn the vest I have been doing highly aerobic activity. During my winter cabin trips (which revolved around pulling a gear sled into a rustic cabin and then doing either skiing or snowshoeing as activities), I wore the vest for all activities. In addition, I wore the vest while staying in the cabin as a garment to regulate the warmth. Depending on how hot I had the wood stove I took the vest on and off as needed. I wore it to bed every night with a complete set of long underwear as I let the fire cool down.

I have washed the vest at least a dozen times with my regular wash and then I let it air dry. It actually dries quite fast in my low-humidity basement during the winter months. The outer fabric (waffle fleece) seems to have some pilling but this is not that noticeable unless I look at it closely. Those areas are mostly on the back of the collar and the lower half of the back of the vest. Not sure why the exterior of the collar would have piling but I can only surmise that the lower back half is from the few times I wore a waistbelt over the vest.


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Long Term Report:
April 8, 2016

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term period I have spent 2 days backpacking, 5 days rustic cabin camping (pulled gear sled in) and have enjoyed the outdoors most other days. Locations of all trips were in the State of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to over 2000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest 
Length of Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (February 21 - 25) 
Sled Weight: Approx 40 lb (18 kg) 
Distance: 23 mi (37 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, a wee bit of snow
Precipitation: Trace
Temperature Range: 2 F to 37 F/-17 C to 3 C (mostly about 25 F/- 4 C)      

Location of Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (March 4 - March 5) 
Sled Weight: Approx 35 lb (16 kg)
Distance: 11 mi (17.7 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, light wind and snow   
Precipitation: About 1.5 in (3.8 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 12 F to 35 F (-11 C to 2 C)

Day Trips: Noquemanon Trail Network, Blueberry Ridge Trail, Valley Spur Trail, Eben Caves, McKeever Trails, Swedetown Trails, Michigan Tech Trails (Michigan Counties of Marquette, Alger, Houghton and Keweenaw)
Distances: 4 to 12 mi (6 to 19 km)  
Temperature Range: -8 F to 40 F (-22 C to 4 C) 
 
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Trip Talk
 

During the long term period the temps plummeted so I had to wear a shell over the vest and base layer on many outings. I had to really be selective about what type of overlayer as many of them were too hot. What worked best was a light wind jacket or nylon pullover.

During the month of March there were an abundance of days where the temps were above freezing. I was again able to wear the vest just over a single layer of wool. I have found this to be my favorite combination as the vest is really warm. It allows my arms to not overheat as they are moving constantly while poling during skiing/snowshoeing yet the vest keeps my chest and back warm.

I have not done much in the way of just standing around in the cold while wearing the vest but during my overnight backpacking trip I did wear the vest with a wool layer and two jackets while performing chores and hanging around at camp. One jacket was a down jacket while the other was a pullover anorak. I also slept while wearing the vest over the wool layer...very comfortable!

One of my favorite features of the vest is still the tall collar. I have a long neck and this has allowed me to cover it when desired without having to use a neck gaiter. I also like the pockets on the vest during those times when I wore it just over a wool baselayer. My phone, ski wax and snacks fit in the pockets. I have found the vest to be very comfortable with no areas of restriction while I am doing activities.

The vest has held up well to many washings and other than the slight pilling that I mentioned in the field report, it doesn't look any worse. One thing that has happened repeatedly, though, is that I have zipped the vest up without setting the zipper all the way from the bottom (slightly off kilter). I really didn't notice until it resulted in the zipper separating from the bottom several times. I have been able to correct it though and I wonder if I just haven't been careful to fully insert the bottom of the zipper right from the start.

I have found the vest to be a perfect part of my winter gear wardrobe. I would expect to wear it for cooler days in late spring and fall too, but I probably wouldn't carry it in a backpack then unless the weather was predicted to be cold enough during the entire outing to justify taking it. 
 
Pros 

  • Attractive appearance
  • Length is perfect
  • Pockets are great for storage

Cons
  •   Almost too warm for aerobic activities unless it is really cold out or I just wear it as an outerlayer

Tester Remarks 

 
Thanks to Great Trango Holdings, Inc and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Stonewear Victory Vest.  This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.

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