Haglöfs L.I.M Essens Jacket Review

Haglöfs have been a premium brand for more than a century developing outstanding outdoor products that combine a strong sense of Swedish heritage with a commitment to sustainability and innovation. The launch of L.I.M (Less Is More) personified the essence of lightness. In Spring 2020, Haglöfs updated the L.I.M Series – lightweight, high-performance products that deliver uncompromised performance when taken up mountains and into the wilderness, anywhere in the world.

The L.I.M Essens Jacket Men is currently my go-to jacket for any running or mountain adventure, quite simply, it’s the best product I have tried. It combines three key elements perfectly: low weight, small pack size and warmth.

Quite simply, ‘Essens’ is the essence of lightness. The warmth and very low weight is attributed to extremely light and durable material and first-class goose down with 800 CUIN filling. Importantly, the down is treated with fluorocarbon-free DWR which works so well that the filling stays dry for up to 10,000 minutes with exposure to wet conditions. 

This is a game changer… Down has always been known to have the lowest weight and smallest pack size, however, previous incarnations would mean that any wet or damp weather would leave the filling useless.

Now, with fluorocarbon-free DWR, down has all the benefits ans wet weather performance of a synthertic filling such as Primaloft, but with the huge advantages of low weight and packing size of down. The Nikwax Hydrophobic Down can be washed with an appropriate Nikwax (Nikwax Down Wash Direct) product.

Fit is superb both in female and male versions with excess fabric reduced to a minimum. Features are minimal and notably there is no hood, no chest pocket and two hand pockets with no zips, to save weight.

The jacket will fold and compress in to one of these pockets if required.

It has a mini-box quilted construction which ensures the down is spread evenly over the jacket leaving no cold spots. The fill is 800 CUIN. The DWR repels water and dirt making the Essens a perfect all-year round insulating layer.

A full-length zipper allows flexibility in regulatimg temperature and for cold conditions it has a high nick with chin guard. The bottom of the jacket and cuffs have a simple elastic construction to reduce drafts and maintain low weight.

IN USE

The Essens jacket has been with me on all my runs since receiving the product. I pretty much always run with a pack and due to the Essens low weight, small pack size and flexibility in all weathers, there has never been a reason not to take it. My male medium weighs 160g which is up there as one of the lightest down jackets available. The ability to maintain loft and insulation irrespective of conditions has been a game changer, be that on a run from home or more notably on a multi-day fastpack when weight v warmth is key. This is a product that works for any adventure, be that in the snowy mountains or for example on stage race like Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert. Fit is neither slim or spacious, it seems to fit just right with enough flexibility in the arms, the back and sleeve length are optimised for outdoor use. Added to a merino base layer, it provide incredible warmth on cold days. Should you stop for a break, it provides ideal insulation to retain warmth before heading off again. On tough, challenging and wild days, the Essens is a superb insulating layer underneath a waterproof such as Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket which has minimalist design, is easy to pack, light and made from GORE-TEX Paclite® PLUS.

CONCLUSION

There is nothing to dislike in the L.I.M Essens Jacket, in all honesty it is the best I have tried. The warmth and comfort is incredible for such a lightweight jacket. The packing size and weight is difficult to beat. As I said, there is no reason not to take this on any run as it is the perfect insulating layer, irrespective of the weather.

RRP £200 available in 4-colours, sizes XS to XL male and female versions.

To clarify, this is not a paid review.

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Tips for the Trail – Sea To Summit Ultra Light Sleeping Mat (Extra Small)

A good nights sleep is essential when racing a multi-day adventure if out fastpacking. Without sleep, our ability to recover is compromised and eventually, sleep deprivation will impact on performance, mental strength and even one’s appetite.

Carrying a sleeping mat is essential, however, the weight of the mat is crucial. In most scenarios, we want the lightest possible that is suitable for the conditions that we are running and also provides excellent comfort.

There are many options available on the market and recently I have been testing the Sea To Summit Ultra Light Mat (extra small) which has impressed me in several key areas:

  1. Easy to inflate and default.
  2. Small pack size.
  3. Very lightweight.
  4. Extremely comfortable.
  5. Durable.

Finding a sleeping mat that provides this level of comfort in such a small pack size and weight has been a revelation. I was initially concerned that an extra small mat would be too small… Not the case, this mat has exceeded my expectations.

Under 300g in weight made with 400 TPU Nylon, the mat is durable and hardy to all conditions. The 132 Air Sprung Cells react as one would hope to body weight and provide a supremely comfortable night. In simple terms, the cells don not flatten out under hipbones or shoulders.The addition of a stuff sack and an Air Stream is a nice touch but comes with an additional weight penalty of 40-45g.

Read more Tips for the Trail HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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RAB KAON Jacket Review

When it comes to mountains and outdoor terrain, UK brand RAB have been a ‘go-to’ for any outdoor enthusiast, whether that be for the Himalayas, mountaineering, trekking, climbing or a leisurely walk in the outdoors.

2020 will see RAB launch a series of new products under the heading of SKYLINE a range of products made up of ultra-lightweight clothing that does not compromise on protection. Intended for ‘fast and light’ days that blur the line between running and technical scrambling.

It’s a significant movement for the brand and as a firm RAB fan, the SKYLINE range has already gained my attention and no doubt, it will grab the attention of anyone who likes to move faster in the mountains.

I will be introducing element of the new SKYLINE range over the coming weeks, notably, the SONIC SHORT SLEEVE TEE, PACER JACKET, CHARGE JACKET and PHANTOM PULL ON.

Image ©RAB

But first, the KAON jacket. 

The new KAON jacket personifies and sets out the stall of the new direction and although it does not come under the SKYLINE banner, it certainly ticks all the boxes offering minimal insulation with low-weight and packing size. Balancing lightweight, warmth and protection, the KAON uses a combination of 800 fill Goose Down and Synthetic Status insulation. Concentrating on the core, the Kaon retains warmth where it is needed, while ‘Pertex Quantum Air’ allows complete freedom of movement under the arms.

The Kaon offers zoned insulation allowing a balance between warmth without compromising movement. It mixes down for the core and ‘Stratus’ synthetic fill on the shoulders, hood and cuffs. 

The down in the core is 800FP hydrophobic down (70g in the men’s and 65g for the women.) This is significant as down, while warmer and lighter, cannot get wet – it loses warmth! However, hydrophobic down is treated with a durable water repellent that allows for quicker drying and the ability to resist water for longer. In a nutshell, it makes the Kaon far more usable in a variety of situations.

The Stratus synthetic fill is significant as it allows the jacket to be more breathable, dry out faster and is 20% less absorbent to other rival insulation. Synthetic is effective at keeping one warm, even when wet, so, it is ideal for damp/ wet conditions. RAB have added this to key areas of stress, either from the weather or equipment or a combination of the two. For example, on the shoulders, synthetic insulation will be far more durable with pressure from rucksack straps. Also, when compressed, it retains warmth, unlike down which requires loft.

The Atmos outer shell will still allow for loft while reducing down leakage making a perfect combination of warmth v weight.

Under the arms and down the side of the torso, Pertex Quantum Air is used which allows heat to escape and therefore allowing for body temperature regulation, always a difficult balance when moving fast and light.

IN USE 

The KAON is a wonderful crossover jacket for mountain runs and alpinists who want to move fast and light but be prepared for any potential inclement conditions that the mountains can throw at you. 

On first look, it is a simple jacket with a full-length zip, hood (that will allow for a helmet), high collar for warmth, one chest pocket, no side pockets and the sides and under arms use a different more flexible and breathable fabric. It has stitch through construction that provides a small square look to the jacket which ensure the insulation stays put.

The fit is slightly tailored, RAB say ‘slim’ but it is not super tight. Movement is not compromised. The arms are a normal length with a simple elasticated cuff. The jacket length sits just below the waist and for me, covers my backside. When zipped up, the neck goes nice and high and sits just below the chin keeping out drafts. The hood fits perfectly and has no adjustment – as mentioned, you can wear a helmet if required.

Image ©RAB

Needless to say, it is very light (240g +/-) and packs small and comes with its own stuff sack.

It is available in 3 colours, ebony (blue), firecracker (red) and dark sulphur (yellow).

I normally wear medium and medium is perfect in the KAON, size options are XXS to XXL.

 Having used the jacket as we transitioned from Winter to Spring, I have found it perfect or everyday use. On chilly days I start with it on and then remove when my core is warm. It packs away small and fits in the side pocket of my Osprey Talon 11 pack (to provide an example.) On warmer days, I have added the KAON to my pack in the assurance that should the weather change, I have an excellent light layer that will work. In conjunction with a lightweight jacket, such as the PACER (here) – I have warmth and waterproof for well under 500g.

SUMMARY

The KAON is one of those essential kit items when going to the mountains. It’s size and weight make it a ‘mandatory’ item for me – there is no reason not to take it! Warm, lightweight and packs small = perfect.

RAB HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

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Ultimate Direction – Signature Series

UltimateDirection_Logo

A new year and new products…

The Ultimate DirectionSignature Series‘ have been talked about, watched on You Tube and discussed at many a race and on social media for some time.

Released in November 2012 the packs are about to arrive in the UK anytime soon. You will have to do some ‘Google’ work to find a stockist and then cross your fingers and hope that they have any products left.

The Signature Series was designed by three of the most successful, most well-known ultra runners in the world. Using power mesh for zero bounce and state-of-the art cuben fiber for its unsurpassed strength to weight ratio, our Signature Series vests integrate load carrying, performance, and comfort into one unified system. With water bottle pockets in the front of the vest for quick and easy access, the Signature Series represents the next generation of ultra running hydration packs for runners.

AK RACE VEST

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Designed by Anton Krupicka, the AK Race Vest brings minimalism to the world of hydration. Even though it weighs in at only 6 ounces (10 with bottles), the AK Race Vest still has plenty of capacity for food, clothing, and a phone, so you can use this vest for anything from 10 to 100 miles.

SJ ULTRA VEST

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The SJ Ultra Vest is the result of collaboration with Scott Jurek, the world’s most dominant ultra runner. Weighing in at 7.5 ounces (11.5 with bottles) and offering 9.2 L of storage space, the SJ has the best weight-to-capacity ratio of any hydration pack on the market.

PB ADVENTURE VEST

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Peter Bakwin wanted a pack that could do anything from running to hiking, climbing to skiing. Featuring 12 L of volume and a variety of features, The Adventure Vest allows you to stay hydrated and comfortable on any size adventure from quick outings to all-day expeditions.

Highly anticipated, I hope to get a sample in the not too distant future and provide a review. Watch this space… !