Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ULA Catalyst is home!

It´s just in!

Ordered and payed on Thursday, dispatched on Saturday and arrived to his new home today!

Very excited about my first pack from this brand, even more excited about the "Sewn in Utah, USA" patch, and most excited about the great fit.

Many thanks to guys from ULA and ofcourse to guys from UOG UK for such a quick delivery and the possibility to buy ULA packs in Europe. More info to come...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Berghaus Active Shell Velum Anorak

I finally decided to write a report on my current lightest shell in closet - after 9 month of abuse during running, hiking and alpinism in different environments.

author of picture: Lukas A.

So, what can we say about Velum Anorak for sure? It´s really light (309 grams - size L) half zip jacket made from two types of GTX Active Shell (reinforcement on shoulders). It´s very packable and it has very simple design.

Why I chose the half zip version instead of classic full zip jacket? Well the weight is one of the most important criteria for me, so that´s reason number one. The zip itself is reason number two - based on my experience, the zip is first thing which starts to cause problems and without working zip the jacket is quite useless, mainly during heavy rain and strong wind (in other words - conditions where I put the jacket on).

Pack size is quite small, pics above don´t show the possible compression (which makes the pack even smaller)

I am very warm-blooded person and I don´t like wearing shell jacket during high aerobic activities, because of possible over heating and sweating. So how active-shell performs during running? I would recommend it for really rainy and windy conditions  and temperatures around and under 0° C (32°F). I wore Velum during my last fast hike / run across one Czech mountain range for the whole time (6 hours) and it performed well, the temperature was around 2°C (35°F) and the wind was very strong making the temperature drop under the freezing point. Add to these conditions, the weather was very foggy and damp. In fact during one part of run across very windy ridge I had to wear my insulation jacket over to avoid being cold.

I am really impressed how fast drying the jacket is. It´s a big advantage, because no one likes to wear wet and heavier jacket, but it´s not case of Velum - it dries really quick in the field.

The biggest concern almost everyone has with Active Shell and other light materials is the endurance and abrasion resistance. I don´t observe any abrasion or other kind of damaged on the outer material, nor on the inner material with expection of the micro-tape covering the seam in the bottom of the jacket, however it does not effect the funcionality yet.

I really didn´t try to avoid demanding conditions and I am sure the jacket will serve me well for at least another season or two.

Winter climbing in High Tatras, author: Lukas A.

What about some practical things? The hood works with helmets (old Petzl Elios in my case - my experience is that helmet of this size pulls the jacket up a little bit - you can see it on the picture below) and its peak is reinforced with wire. The adjustment of the hood is simple thanks to Berghaus one hand adjustment system - you can just pull the cord and it´s done. The button for releasing the cord is hidden inside the jacket. It´s the same for the bottom of the jacket.


There is only one mesh pocket accesible from outside with simple zip (not waterproof) - it´s big enough for energy bars, compass and cell phone in wateproof case. 

Is there anything I don´t like about the jacket? I am really sad, that it´s made in Asia, therefore I am looking for some similiar piece of equipment, which is made in Europe / USA / Canada. 

To sum things up, Velum Anorak is perfect for thru-hiking, adventure races, mountain running and alpinism for one simple reason - you don´t know about it while it´s  in your backpack, but you can feel the protection it gives you when you put it on. 

Bad news is, that Berghaus decided to produce only the full zip version (both in Velum and Asgard product range) and Velum was moved from "Extreme" product range to "Mountain" range (so no limited lifetime warranty for it anymore).

Overall rating (see my rating explanation)
Weight: Light
Volume: Small
Performance: Perfect yet (9 month, various trips and conditions)