Amber dropping a knee last weekend. I should also note that today, below 5300′ or so, was the very first breakable crust day of the year. Fairly mellow icey rain crust, which I’m happy to report the Marquettes made absolutely inconsequential. Rocker is the shit.
My quest for the best shell for ______ continues. Early this past week a large Patagonia Essenshell pullover came up for sale on BPL, and without hesitation I grabbed it. The Essenshell is an early-mid 00’s vintage, made of a nice polyester micro ripstop fabric with Encapsil treatment, Patagonia’s branding of the Epic fabric treatment. Waterproofish (at a very low PSI), quite breathable, and because the DWR is structural, needs no reapplication. Best of all, the ripstop has a surprisingly soft hand, and based on testing (ski touring) today, the Epic coating is quite breathable (not all Epics are created equal).
Good stuff: the fabric, belly button length zip, nice big pockets, enormous hood which swallows a helmet with ease, cuffs with both elastic and velcro.
Bad stuff: waterproof zips, front pocket backing material.
The pocket size is awesome. Big, but just above hipbelt level. Waterproof zips are, I hope, dying out. Their durability and (lack) of ease of use beats out the hype. What’s unconscionable, is the use of thick, fuzzy mesh as the pocket material. It seems destined to suck up tons of moisture. I may have to replace it.
One handed hood pull: very good. Tough but not stupid heavy fabric: excellent. (Pullover is about 11 oz.)
The large size was enormous on me. Fortunately, a simple side seam ran up the middle edge of each side and out each sleeve. I turned the pullover inside out, ripped some of the stitching out of the hem, took 2 inches off each side, 1.5 inches out of each sleeve (dimensions based on my Arc’teryx Paclite pullover), cut the excess off, then resewed the hem. A simple 20 minutes work. As a bonus, the sleeves and body are extra long, good for sealing out snow during particularly athletic faceplants and tomahawks.
Inside fabric detail. Feels nice against the skin.
I anticipate this becoming the go-to skiing shell. What will be more interesting is to see how waterproof and quick drying it is, and how successful the just-get-wet strategy will be come spring. I’ve got a new tarp on order that might help in that goal.
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