Rab Womens Paradox Light Jacket
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Exceptionally lightweight and breathable, the Women’s Paradox Light Jacket features a combination of lightweight fabrics, YKK® front zip and elasticated cuffs for increased comfort and protection.
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Rab Womens Paradox Light Jacket
Exceptionally lightweight and breathable, the Women’s Paradox Light Jacket features a combination of lightweight fabrics, YKK® front zip and elasticated cuffs for increased comfort and protection. The Motiv™ high gauge outer and brushed mesh insulation offers impressive levels of warmth and a quick drying time.
The ideal layer for high-intensity activities, the Women’s Paradox Light Jacket is a versatile lightweight jacket that is indispensable to climbers, hikers and mountaineers alike.
- YKK® VISLON® front zip with internal insulated zip baffle and chin guard
- Stretch brushed mesh insulation
- Lightweight Motiv™fabric outer
- 286g / 10oz
- 2 open hand pockets
- Elasticated cuffs
- Half hem drawcord
Three years ago, I wrote an article title Outfitted by Costco.
The ruggedly handsome model is posing against the suitably majestic mountains. From the Paradox website.
I’ve been happily using Costco gear for many of my outdoor pursuits. Since I’ve written that article, I have made excellent use of their uber-luxurious and high R-value pads for winter car camping. Additionally, I have been using their new and improved flick lock poles, keep various headlamps stashed in the house for emergency use or night-time bike riding. And the Kirkland-branded merino wool, Smartwool type, socks are almost a daily mainstay.
And something else I’ve been using for over five years as of 2018? The Paradox DriRelease merino blend brand thermal tops and bottoms.
I decided to do this review for two reasons:
- These thermals are discounted at some Costco stores right now. A top and bottom set can be bought for ~$30 or so while still available. (And, both the men’s and women’s versions are discounted on eBay, too)
- I’ve had these thermals the same amount of time as the 100% merino wool base layers I just reviewed. Yet the Paradox layers are less expensive, been used more days total, and show trivial signs of wear vs. the merino wool base layers.
First, I should say right off the bat, that calling these base layers “merino blend” is a bit of a misnomer.
They actually are a polyester blend with a bit of merino wool. The breakdown is 84% poly, 11% merino, 5% spandex. The shirts consist of something called DriRelease embedded in the poly fibers that allegedly help with odor and wicking. I am not an uber-technical gear guy, so you may want to read up on the specifics yourself.
So, how do these gussied up polyblend thermals work in the real world as opposed to laboratory settings or on a spreadsheet?
First, they wick well enough. No better or and no worse than any other poly layer I’ve used. Odor? I’m sorry, but if you are sweating, all the clothing is going to stink at some point esp on multiday trips. Even the wool layers it seems. That’s what I found anyway.
And though too much spandex in thermals in a significant amount can be counter-productive for cold weather clothing, I found the small amount of spandex in these layers to be a non-issue for real-world use.
The layers themselves are a touch heavier fabric than a light base layer, but not quite as thick as a true mid-layer. Perfect for hiking in the typically cool and dry Rockies when the weather turns. Even in summer, I’ve worn the thermal top by itself on many early mornings starts. Probably overkill for say the Southeast Appalachians in prime season. A lighter layer shirt is likely to be excellent for a chilly evening. But for the backpacking and outdoor activities I do, it is a versatile layer for three seasons and beyond uses.
A men’s medium top is about 6oz, and the bottoms (men’s large) are 7 oz. I like the zip-top, and take an ounce or so weight penalty, as I find a zip top is a more versatile piece over many conditions over a crew neck top. Part of my gradual evolution that means looking less at specific ounces and more for functionality in a lightweight framework.
(As an aside, Costco has even lighter base layers on sale currently. Both regarding weight and fabric. They are also crew tops. I have not used them myself, however).
At the end of 600+ miles on Canada’s Great Divide Trail. And over five years after my initial purchase.
These simple Paradox thermal layers work rather well.
Over the years, I found with gear that will get used up and replaced (socks, thermal layers, and so on) that the adage of “You get what you pay for” is not always true. More and more outdoor clothing is essentially highly-priced luxury goods as opposed to something four or five times better to go with the four or five times more expensive price tag. Better …maybe? Concerning its price, probably not in my humble opinion.
A Jaguar is much more expensive than a Toyota Corolla (or insert affordable, but a reliable car of choice. I like my Kia). But the Jaguar is more likely to be in the garage getting worked on by a mechanic. Or pick a Lexus, perhaps more appropriate. You get the idea.
Don’t have a Costco membership?Amazon sells these thermals in both women’s and men’s sizes for competitive prices, too!
Overall: The Paradox thermal layers are a simple, affordable, and reliable economy car when it comes to thermal layers. I like them. And they work.
Disclosure: Obviously, I bought these Paradox base layers with my funds. Thrift stores, Costco, discount stores and surplus stores generally do not give away gear to bloggers whose biggest claim to fame is that he writes a good amount when not in his small beige box at work…
Outdoor gear is expensive. Perhaps not by the standards of motorized sports, but certainly compared to jogging or birding or reading books. Since becoming firmly established in Montana a decade ago I have been cursed by the perceived necessity of cultivating and maintaining equipage for a wide range (mountain biking, alpine and nordic skiing, snowshoing, fly fishing, bow and rifle hunting, packrafting, backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, snow climbing, canyoneering) of pursuits. Storing all that stuff in a coherent and useable fashion is one issue (for a future post), acquiring it without undue stress is another, a problem with good, sustainable, and not necessarily obvious strategies.
As in “going light” for any distinct activity, the first and best way to spend less on gear is to have and need less of it. Start with clothing; you don’t need that much of it, and it is far better to buy better and less and simply have things dialed and predictable and that work for places on most days. Beyond specialist items like a drysuit and chamois shorts the clothing I use changes little one activity and even season to the other.
When it comes to actually purchasing outdoor clothing, buying on sale and out of season goes a long ways. This has been somewhat less the case the last few years, due to either demand or smarter wholesale purchasing, but the good sales direct from major brands often equal prodeal discounts. But that is not interesting advice. What we’re hear to discuss is finding truly exceptional deals on used gear, which is the way to save on the truly big ticket hard good items.
By way of example, the other day I visited a favored emporium whose specific name and location will remain a mystery. They are not an outdoor specialist, but do sell a decent amount of consignment outdoor gear. I’ve very occasionally found shockingly good deals there over the years, including last winter a full length Neoair Uberlight for 10 dollars. On this recent visit I was intrigued enough to purchase a nice pair of Lake MXZ300s (sized up a full size, ideal for cold weather) for 15 dollars. Towards the end of our (me and the 3 year old) rounds, I saw, crumpled on the floor under a rack, a distinctive combination of red and black and grey nylon in just the right shade and texture. Further examination revealed an older, but pristine, Kokatat semi dry suit, with relief zip and fabric booties. Even further examination revealed the zippers, gaskets, and inside laminate to be lacking in obvious issues. Further examination once I got home revealed a Kokatat fleece onesie inside (it felt a bit bulky). The price?
50 dollars. This for the older, almost functional equivalent of what I bought for 750 dollars back in January.
The place to find deals like this is not an established, well stocked used gear store. Second Wind Sports in Bozeman has the widest and deepest selection of used outdoor stuff I’ve ever seen in one place, by a large margin. They also have, with few exceptions, the most outrageous consignment prices I’ve ever seen. 500-600 for a clapped out pair of AT skis and bindings, 240 dollars for an absolutely worked over HMG 3400, 80 for a well used Osprey daypack. Whether this is due to demand volume, or to Brozonians wanting 100% return on their brodeals, I do not know, but I feel safe in assuming that (in a similar vein) Wabi Sabi is a much more expensive place to find used fleece jackets than it was 16 years ago. Perceived scarcity is highly relevant here.
The same rules apply to Craigslist, Ebay, etc. Outstanding deals can be had either when the seller is not overly worried about resale, or when they are not aware of what they have. Ski swaps can be good places for the former, as people are often clearing the shed and motivated by timeliness over maximizing return. For example, the Dynafit and the Fischer skis shown at top were both had for (the magic figure of) 50 bucks at separate ski swaps. Going off topic at swaps and sales is also often a solid tactic; looking for things like camping or climbing gear, or headlamps, as people seems less picky about pricing. The caveat with any of this is time. There are certain places and instances where good stuff is more probable, but it is still a numbers game.
The other caveat, especially with hard goods, is that a certain, considerable amount of technical background is immensely helpful. Being able to recognize what a thing is at a glance, and then evaluate if it is in suitable condition and at a price that suits you, potentially all in a few moments while the rush of a swap goes on around you, is not simple. And the best way to violate the first rule, above, is to buy something just because it is a good deal.
Finally, it is worthwhile to consider which expensive gear items are unapologetically worth it. For years I’ve used a heavy, ancient (bought in 2004 for $99), janky, increasingly leaky, drysuit, without a relief zipper. Since buying a new, much lighter one this winter I’ve both brought it more often (as it actually takes up less space than my boat), and been warmer and even drier. Should have done that quite a while ago. There are plenty of other examples, things that either make an appreciable difference while in the woods, or enable a whole new pursuit, that for me are always more fulfilling purchases than just another jacket.
Extremities Paradox Glove
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Outdoor clothing paradox
LB shown below in Patagonia Baggies jacket and pants, and Patagonia Micro D crew.
If you’re going to do a bunch of outdoor stuff with your infant or toddler, it’s worth getting them some primo or near-premium outdoor clothing. Given how fast they grow it can seem absurd to spend serious money on something which is grown out of in months, but a few key pieces make the backcountry a lot easier for the parents, and safer and more comfortable for the kid. Not too many companies make such clothing, with Patagonia having by far the largest selection. Therefore, Little Bear has been Patagucci’d since an early age. We live in a posh mountain town with several used gear stores, but baby clothing doesn’t pop up too often. I think most people horde it, either out of nostalgia or for the inevitable next kid.
There seems to be nearly as much variability with kids as with adults, but since he was 4 months I’ve been impressed with how easily Little Bear keeps himself warm. Bundling him up in massive layers has rarely been necessary. That said most of the time he’s along for the ride in either the backpack or the trailer, and needs more insulation than the more active adult, though riding in the pack does take some effort and generate some body heat.
Fleece and quick dry base layers have been his foundation, and well worth the investment. Babies drool a lot, snot a lot, spill food all over, and occasionally overwhelm their diapers. Poly garments dry fast, which makes drool less chilling and backcountry laundry more expedient. LB always has a complete change of primary and secondary layers along on multi-day trips.
Capilene has served LB well. The daily capilene long and short sleeve shirts (equivalent to Capilene 1 or silkweight Capilene) are nice for sun protection in hot weather, while the Capilene onesie and pants set (equivalent to Capilene 3) is warm and versatile. None of the stuff in Patagonia’s winter 16/17 line up is what we’ve used; it’s all listed as 88/12 poly/spandex which is too much lycra for good dry times. They do sell the Capilene pants separately now, which is good. These pants are bug proof, but the pajama style stays put better than normal pants on the non-waist of infants.
Microfleece has been LB’s bread and butter, and the Micro D crew (still sold) is a must-have item. We’ve had three different ones as he’s grown, and all have been used heavily. Full zip, hooded fleece jackets are also good, in a variety of weights and ideally sized big enough to fit over the Micro D. Hoods defeat, most of the time, LB’s hatred and intolerance of all hats. The North Face makes a good one we’ve used a bunch, as does Patagonia, though we found a perfectly serviceable microfleece hoody in 12-18 month at Old Navy. Fleece pants are, naturally, a good idea as well.
TNF Glacier fleece hoody, and Patagonia Capilene pants and onesie.
The most crucial piece of infant clothing has been Patagonia’s Baggies jacket and pants. Made of supplex nylon, they’re tough windbreaker-type garments, and in addition to repelling wind and light rain, are mosquito proof. The pants especially were the only ones of their type we could find, and even then they had sold so fast we got stuck with what turned out to be very charming pink/salmon numbers. The double knees provide a little padding while crawling, and the hood helps keep sun off. We haven’t invested in proper rain gear just yet, because with a rain cover on either the backpack or chariot it just didn’t seem necessary, and Baggies works enough during fair weather packrafting. I would not have wanted to have gone through this past summer, especially a few buggy trips in August, without these.
The last piece of the tech clothing puzzle is insulation. We splurged early and bought LB a Hi-Loft down coat from Patagonia, and auntie Kate got him another for his birthday. At retail this is a silly expensive and not very utilitarian item, but the style and packed size is very nice. Infants are a lot harder to hold in a slippery down coat, and the added warmth only seems to rarely be necessary. When they’re little a far more practical item is the Patagonia fleece bunting with dual access zips, and leg zips which combine both legs into one (sleeping bag or seal mode). Sadly these amazing items seem to have been discontinued; we bought aggressively from the use market this spring. Buntings are less pragmatic for older kids, as the integrated booties don’t walk well, and from 9 months on LB found them too confining.
Capilene pants, Micro D crew, Baggies jacket, fleece bomber hat, Smartwool socks, leather shoes.
The last mandatory item is socks, specifically wool socks from Smartwool. You cannot have too many of these, as they are both dead useful and tiny (and forever getting lost). They stay put better than any proper shoes we’ve found, are warm when wet, and make fantastic gloves. I’ve taken to stuffing a spare pair in each of the two hand pockets of his down jacket, better to keep track of them on dayhikes and backpacks.
Last, and certainly not least, it should be noted that we only purchased a modest amount of all this stuff. Most of it has been provided to LB by grandparents, aunts, and friends, who have done a fantastic job of making sure he is well outfitted. If you have an outdoors-inclined family member or friend who has an infant or is expecting one soon, get them some infant outdoor essentials. They’re the sort of thing which gets used constantly and is the best way to hope to the top of the list of best relative/friend/etc.
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