The Cioch Glamaig: A Summer-Weight “Paramo Type” Jacket For Winter

Madeira-48

First one of those sidebars that appear at the side of magazine articles:

Paramo is the name of a clothing company. Their clothing is based on a fabric called Parameta. Parameta is waterproof but it’s a fabric, not a plastic sheet (like eVent or Gore Tex).Its not only waterproof but also because of some clever physics applied to the design will actively move water from one side to another. The important point is that it is a fabric so it breathes like a fabric.It simply doesn’t get “overwhelmed” and have a film of water build up inside it like even eVent can do. If it ever did build up that much moisture, it would just get “pumped” through and dumped on the outside. It’s more than just the ‘usual’ capillary action at work, this is special use of capillary action that “pumps” due to the diameter of the fibres changing from one side to the other across the the material.The one downside is that it can be relatively heavy and warm compared with jackets made in something like eVent or Gore Tex. So not so good for summer when you hope to be carrying it more than wearing it. But ideal for winter use.

Edit July 2010: I now use the excellent and very light Paramo Quito jacket in summer (it replaces the separate windproof I used to carry) – but still use the Glamaig for winter!

At the moment I don’t have a Paramo jacket but I’ve been bowled over by the Paramo Cascada trousers so I’m getting a jacket based on Parameta for the winter. People on the Gear Forum of OM talk about the “Paramo religion” because “converts” to Paramo are so amazed by what they discover they get very evangelical. It took me ages to pluck up the courage to spend the money on something that, to be honest, looks like it won’t work but I’m very glad that I did. Because it simply does.

Even then I still can’t get away from the feeling that a winter jacket weighing nearly a kilo for a large size is too heavy. But a company called Cioch Outdoor Clothing on the Isle Of Skye seem to have the answer

Cioch make their waterproof clothing out of Parameta, the fabric that Paramo use, since Paramo is owned by Nick Brown who developed Parameta, and Nikwax (Nick Brown – Nikwax – geddit? ;)

Their Glamaig jacket is intended for summer use but since both LB and I are happy with a summer weight eVent jacket in winter for skiing in the French Alps and Norway and wandering about in the Cairngorms I started to wonder why the Glamaig wouldn’t work.

Cioch Glamaig Jacket At an average weight of 510gms its heavier than a lightweight eVent (which are more like 370gms for a similar size) but not by a huge margin considering the potential comfort advantage. Price is about the same and Cioch even make to measure for a very reasonable fee. Which looks to be a service worth having once you measure yourself and try comparing with the off the peg measurements.

I emailed Cioch and Neil Urquhart (pictured on their site) replied very quickly. We ended up discussing it on the phone and I found that I’m not the first to have thought of this. Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team have also decided that the Glamaig is right for them in winter. They had the Cioch Harta jackets a couple of years ago and when they came to order a new set they decided on the Glamaig instead.

As Neil said in an email to me “A guide friend of mine uses his thru’ the year in the Cuillins and I know of a member of Cairngorm MRT who uses his for ski-mountaineering. If your happy without the extra protection a full mountain jacket affords- why not?”.

But what is that extra protection?

It’s essentially two things. Firstly the Glamiag has no storm flap over the zip but a baffle inside instead. I have no problem with that and Neil says no one’s ever said it leaks.

Secondly the Beechcomber shell fabric used in the Glamaig is lighter than the fabric used in the Harta, the Harta being the equivalent winter jacket, having a storm flap and heavier shell fabric. A lighter fabric could potentially “flap” a bit more, become plastered to you in high winds and cause the infamous “pumping effect” that pushes warm air from inside your layers. That’s a potential issue but I personally feel that the layers I would wear underneath would be resilient enough to prevent that and wouldn’t be greatly helped by a stiffer shell fabric. Besides, having it made to measure will mean that there’s far less spare material to flap about.

Obviously I can’t yet recommend them from personal experience but I have just ordered one each for LB and myself plus some trousers for LB so obviously I’m feeling confident that they’ll work as I expect.

We requested a couple of alterations, fully lined sleeves, higher volume hoods to take helmets and some allowance for wearing more than summer layers underneath.

I would have liked to leave posting something about them until I’d tried them out for a season or more but in the mean time I thought it worth mentioning in case anyone reading is looking for a new winter jacket. Especially if you were considering a Paramo type jacket anyway.

A New Hydration Bag To Taste?

Walker’s Haute Route - 07-19  

Just as I thought I’d settled the hydration system tasting business – someone goes and launches a new product that looks worth a try.

BackpackingLight.com (not UK/Bob and Rose but USA/Ryan Jordan) has just started selling something that looks very similar to a Platypus, the Evernew Collapsible Water Bottle.

Evernew are a Japanese company that I’ve not come across before but they apparently do a fairly large range. The Collapsible Water Bottles appear on page 66 of their 129 page ebook catalogue. Though the size of that might be a bit misleading since the catalogue isn’t all their own equipment.

Evernew Hydration Tube From Ebook Catalogue They also have a surprisingly involved looking drinking tube and bite valve in the catalogue that’s not so far available from BPL.At 43gms (42 if you read the ebook catalogue!) it’s 12gms heavier than the Platypus 2L Reservoir but if it tastes even less of plastic I’ll be carrying it. Some more taste testing to be done – but only a little – this is stretching even my patience with gear testing!

The Ultimate Sewing Kit?

Walker’s Haute Route - 07-75

When I had a pair of shoes suddenly need repair halfway through the Haute Route I was very glad that I’d got a good sewing kit with me. So I was pleased to find out that you can now buy Kevlar thread quite easily.

Using Kevlar means that you don’t need to use so much thread to repair whatever you’re repairing.

For example, using the polyester thread to repair my shoe I needed to hold the top lace in place for at least another week’s walking so I kept sewing until I’d built up a considerable thickness, about a 3mm gear cord’s worth I reckon. Each stitch had to be punched through the plastic lace-grip that had blown as well as the tough shoe material. I had to use a Swiss coin as a thimble and managed to badly bend a “leather” needle. Luckily I had a thick “darning” needle as well which finished the job.

Sewing for ages to get a strong repair is fine if you’re sat looking out over a nice view eating lunch. Which we were. But even then, after twenty-five minutes of sewing, my fingers were sore and cold and everyone else was starting to shiver. Using Kevlar I know for a fact that I could, and would, have used far less thread and spent far less time doing it.

The fact that the leather needle bent surprised me but it wasn’t the sharpest thing I’ve ever used. So I also had a good search around for a strong and really sharp needle. The best I could find are Wenzel needles that come as a kit with some dyed linen thread for sewing leather. I got them from an eBay seller who currently isn’t trading but a search for “Wenzel thread” on eBay turned up several listings.

As for the Kevlar thread, I got mine from an eBayer in the USA: Primitive Originals were a pleasure to deal with and sell a set of five colours. FindingKing also sell just plain black Kevlar thread but the first one got ripped from the envelope by a sorting machine before it arrived. But they’ve since posted another one with no quibble at all.


Kevlar thread holding up a housebrick
Another supplier that I’ve found has a limited amount of thicker Kevlar thread. He has one huge reel and is selling it off a length at a time for a reasonable amount – but once it’s gone it’s gone. 50 metres would probably last a lifetime of gear repair but he will do any length you want. He also has a rather nice picture of it suspending a brick (tied to thicker polyester string) and reckons the breaking strain to be about 5.7kg.

Once I’d got the threads and needles I wanted I cut up a bit of card to spool some the Kevlar around. Add in the darning needle that saved the shoes and a curved upholstery needle that looks like if you need one nothing will substitute (both from a cheap sewing kit) plus a couple of safety pins and you’ve got a complete kit.

Repair Kit - Kevlar Thread Finally, to hold it all I cut the corner from a plastic document wallet, with a spare flappy bit to fold over to make a closure. Taped the edge then covered the tape in Seam Grip (which wasn’t necessary! I was just repairing something else at the time). A piece of Magic Tape or Gaffer Tape over the flappy closure to hold it shut, chuck it in a waterproof bag and you’re done.

Total weight – just 4gms.

I reckon you could put a wheel back on a Land Rover with that.

Update Edit 12 July 2011: The sewing kit above has been very handy on a couple of occasions. But here are a couple of tweaks:

I’d use a couple of “nappy pins” (“diaper pins” if you’re from the US) because they are very strong, very unlikely to ever come undone and can be used to help keep socks securely attached to the outside of the pack when drying a pair!

An eBay search for “nappy pins” always turn up a brand that I find is pretty tough (we use them to keep throws on the sofa). They are the ones with green or white coloured plastic heads made by “beautiful beginnings”

I’d also make an addition of some plain black polyester thread. Why? Simply because the black dye always ends up wearing off the Kevlar, leaving a sort of faded yellow. For items where there’s some aesthetic consideration rather than just strength it’s handy to have the choice of a neater repair. Conversely, for light coloured items the black Kevlar isn’t a bad choice for the same reason!

 

Hydration System Taste-Off

Wild Camp in the Peaks just after dawn  

My search for a “taste-free” hydration system is, for now, at an end.

I mentioned before that I bought a Source Widepac hydration system on the basis of its advertised lack of plastic after-taste. But unfortunately, although it was better than anything I’d tried before – it was by no means taste free.

Having taken it apart and taste checked each part I discovered it was mainly the hose.

So LB and I have been experimenting with Camelbak and Platypus,variously drinking directly from the bags, sucking warm water out of cups through hoses and chewing bite valves. All in an effort to see which ones tasted the least of paddling pools.

Overall the winning system is a hybrid between the three: a Source bite-valve, a Camelbak tube and a Platypus bag. Which is also the lightest system since the bag is the heaviest component and the Platypus Big Zip seems to be the lightest bag at the moment. As it happens the Camelbak tube is fractionally lighter as well.

I’ve not actually bought a Camelbak Omega bag (sorry, I can’t link directly to their own page since it’s an awful Flash site) since they’re pretty heavy, so I can’t comment on them. However my brother has tried both and in his opinion the Platypus definitely has the edge (he never walks anywhere if he can avoid it – but he hang-glides, and dropping a Nalgene bottle from several thousand feet whilst simultaneously letting go of the bar might have unpleasant consequences, so he uses hydration systems).

Assembling such a system isn’t too hard as the parts are all available separately. Swapping out the Platypus bite valve for the Source version is something I’d definitely do since I think it’s a better valve. To want to spend the extra to swap the tube as well you’d have to be pretty sensitive to plastic taste… but I am.

The Source Z-Valve never leaked when sat in the kitchen attached to a bag that was soaking. Which is more than can be said for the Platypus valve that I first I tested. It was the basic, non-angled non-tap-type rubber valve and it just kept on dripping water. It also tasted terrible whereas the later one doesn’t taste quite so bad. However the angled valve doesn’t always work; a friend who we walk with all the time has had two and both have leaked.

I was surprised to find such a difference in taste between the tubes from Source, Platypus and Camelbak since as far as I can tell they each use the same PE liner technology. The Source tube has a definite taste but although the Platypus tube is reasonably taste free the Camelback Tube Extender kit we tested was almost completely without taste.

As a side note, I would be wary of where I bought a Platypus Big Zip in future since the one I was supplied with from Go Outdoors, despite (still!) being pictured as having the new blue “taste free” tube and angled valve turned out to be one of the older, cardboard packaged, non taste-free, clear tubed ones with a bite valve that tasted like TCP. Go Outdoors have since promised to refund this but it shows it’s worth checking by phone that the stock held really is the newer Platypus. I got the one that I finally tested from Snow & Rock in Brighton.

Finally (if you really want to get into it!) here are the notes I made during the testing:

Bite Valve        
         
Source Z-Valve   Camelback Big Bite valve   Platypus HyperFlow Bite Valve + Shutoff Valve
10gms   4gms   6+6gms (mouthpiece + elbow valve)
9/10 Tastes fine   9/10 Tastes fine   7/10 Tastes a little of plastic
Good flow   Good flow   Found it a little tricky to get water through
Cap that stops it leaking even if something rests on it   Leaks if something squashes it   Won’t leak if you remember to shut the valve
Cap to prevent it getting dirty   Trails in the dirt   Trails in the dirt
         
         
Tube        
         
Source   Camelback   Platypus
50gms / 95cms = .53gms per cm   48 / 98cms = .49gms per cm   56gms / 105cms = .53gms per cm
5/10 Tastes quite bad   8/10 Tastes almost fine   7/10 Tastes not bad but not quite as good as Camelback
         
         
Bag        
         
Source 2 litre Widepac   Camelback (Omega?)   Platypus 2 Litre Big Zip ||
88gms once trimmed   Not tested (Appears to be around 105gms from my research)   44gms
7/10 Tastes a little of plastic   Not tested   9/10 Tastes OK