/ Westcomb Specter LT Hoody - disappointing (sorry, TobyA)

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nb290 on 27 Apr 2010 - p54BE1B33.dip0.t-ipconnect.de
just tried a Westcomb Specter LT Hoody, prompted by TobyA's positive review. I'm pretty disappointed in both the jacket and the review!

The jacket

- rides up when moving arms overhead
- the peak isn't stiff enough
- the hem drawstring works only at the back and thus pulls the jacket into a funny shape when tightening the drawstring
- and most drawstrings are "hidden" and therefore not glove-friendly.

My humble Rab Momentum is much, much better and only 25 grams heavier!

Westcomb gets a very good write-up on here, but to judge frm this particular garment it looks like these ex-Arcteryx people aren't quite there yet. In summary, the jacket is light and has a large-volume hood, but is otherwise badly designed.
captain paranoia - on 27 Apr 2010
In reply to nb290:

When reviews started four years ago, I posted my thoughts on things that might be looked at for a review:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=215813

cuff pull, peak stiffening, use of elastication all mentioned...

;-)
In reply to nb290:

Fair enough, although the more clothing reviews I write the more I think that the shape you are (or I am in this case) is perhaps central.

> just tried a Westcomb Specter LT Hoody, prompted by TobyA's positive review. I'm pretty disappointed in both the jacket and the review!

So you say:
> - rides up when moving arms overhead

Haven't noticed that myself at all and I have ice climbed in it which is very arms-above-your-head (see my Marmot Genesis review). But this is exactly the type of thing that fit seems to determine so it does sound like the wrong jacket for you.

> - the peak isn't stiff enough

I wonder if it has changed? On mine it is fine - it's not wired but it doesn't move at all in gusty weather and keeps driven snow off me fine.

> - the hem drawstring works only at the back and thus pulls the jacket into a funny shape when tightening the drawstring

That's true; I guess to save a few grams and is also to make the front look 'smarter'. But also to be brutally honest, I've got quite a big arse (a drunk Australian girl once called it 'pert' which, once I had got over being objectified, made my night) so I've never really needed to tighten the hem cord up anyway because the medium is kind of snug on me there!

> - and most drawstrings are "hidden" and therefore not glove-friendly.

You're right on this - like lots of superlight jackets they are fiddly and hopeless with anything but the thinnest of gloves on.

> My humble Rab Momentum is much, much better and only 25 grams heavier!

Never tried one, so can't say but for you I'm sure it true. RAB tends not to be the best fit for me though. I've been reviewing some RAB stuff recently which has on the whole been great but I've had one quality control issue with one of the items (this seem to be a bit of an issue for RAB), and despite being great stuff still isn't the best fit for me although better than past seasons.

> In summary, the jacket is light and has a large-volume hood, but is otherwise badly designed.

I think 'badly designed' is too harsh. It's not perfect but few things are. But I can totally see that it might not be what you want, or what fits you. It's kind of a problem with doing reviews one by one. I might well like the Momentum more as well, or think that it's better value for money etc. but I've never tried one. I just reviewed the Specter LT in its own right. I guess the only thing I can say, is the more I do of them the more range of alternatives I can compare them to, but it's dependent on which manufacturers want to put their products forward for testing.

Captain Paranoia - I don't remember your post, but shall print it off now!
nb290 on 27 Apr 2010 - p54BE1B33.dip0.t-ipconnect.de
In reply to TobyA: OK, yes, perhaps I'm being too harsh... But am not sure whether underarm lift, which is really crucial for a technical jacket, is determined by fit: isn't it more about whether underarms are gussetted or not? Which in case of this Westcomb one, they don't seem to be, or not very much... This is an issue where Rab seem to be more on the mark (although they have other problems, such as quality control), and Arc'teryx too.

A suggestion for UKC moderators: In clothing reviews, I would find comparisons useful - reviewing a garment in its own right isn't all that helpful to people about to make a purchase.
HeMa on 28 Apr 2010
In reply to nb290:
> But am not sure whether underarm lift, which is really crucial for a technical jacket, is determined by fit: isn't it more about whether underarms are gussetted or not?

But whether you get underarm lift is inherintly dependent on ones body-type... Those with gorilla arms will almost always get únderarm lift (ie. me), and those with more "normal" proportions will prolly not. Now if the fit would be for those that have long arms, well I would imagine that those with short arms would be b*tching about the fit as they are swimming in excess arm lenght on that jacket.

Mark Stevenson - on 28 Apr 2010
In reply to HeMa:
> But whether you get underarm lift is inherintly dependent on ones body-type... Those with gorilla arms will almost always get únderarm lift (ie. me), and those with more "normal" proportions will prolly not. Now if the fit would be for those that have long arms, well I would imagine that those with short arms would be b*tching about the fit as they are swimming in excess arm lenght on that jacket.

Pretty much my conclusion after finding it utterly impossible to find anything that fits me perfectly. In old school tailoring I'm a 38" long (arm length) so either have to put up with 'Smalls' which are around 38" medium or a 'Medium' which are closer to 40/42" long.

The top of the range clothing manufacturers need to realise that if they want us to continue to spend several hundred pounds on their latest technical garments they really need to offer them in two arm lengths. I went for a new Westcomb Revenent hardshell jacket (in small) after trying on about every jacket in production. It is the best fit I found and utterly superb but even with it, in an ideal world they sleeves could be 40mm longer.

The same applies with waterproof trousers, there are only a tiny number of manufacturers (Mammot, Westcombe, TNF, any other?) who do differing leg lengths and even then most places don't stock all sizes.
nb290 on 28 Apr 2010 - p54BE1AF4.dip0.t-ipconnect.de
In reply to HeMa: hmm, not sure if that's right, and not just because I do have short arms: looking at Rab and Arc'teryx technical jackets, these seem to have a bit more material under the arms so that the body of the jacket won't lift when you move your arms up. This gussetted construction (similar to the crotch construction of technical trousers) of course doesn't make a jacket prettier, and I suspect that this is why Westcomb don't do it on this admittedly very pretty jacket. Rab do it, but it shows - and Arc'teryx do it too but somehow they manage for it not to show!Arc'teryx stuff is cut really well; pity they don't use eVent.
In reply to nb290: I'm wearing the Specter in the photo at the top of this page: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=2538 and the one lower down where I'm not wearing a harness. And actually better - check here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3bhSo6922y4/S6aP3ahLhVI/AAAAAAAACKw/qPH7aBGne7o/s1600-h/Toby-Kisko.jpg and really haven't noticed this issue. In contrast it's real problem on the Marmot Genesis - although there I thought it is because my shoulders are relatively broad. When I get home I'm going to compare the underarms (ummm - delightful) of my old Arcteryx paclite, the Marmot one I did last summer http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1971 (actually check the photo there - it looks less good than the Westcomb, although I don't remember it being an issue with the Nano) and the Westcomb. I'll try and post photos somewhere so we can compare designs.
In reply to Mark Stevenson: I think with modern gear (last decade perhaps?) stuff has become so much more streamlined and fitted. Better patterns, better cutting machines and better sewing machines presumably. My Goretex from the early 90s was floppy and boxy in comparison. But I guess the downside of that is that certain things just don't fit us well. I was planning to get a RAB VR a few years back to replace an old Driclime, but the medium I literally couldn't do the zip up on across my chest. The large was still tight there but the sleeves were then about half a foot too long! I ended up with a TNF equivalent because it fitted well.

I think you're idea is sound, but I have no idea about the economics of it. It seems shops are loathed to stock too many XSs and XLs already, although the web obviously makes the sales issue of niche products less of an issue.
captain paranoia - on 30 Apr 2010
In reply to TobyA:

> Fair enough, although the more clothing reviews I write the more I think that the shape you are (or I am in this case) is perhaps central.

That's certainly true; many things are very much dependent on personal morphology (ecto-/meso-/endomorph) and physiology. I touched briefly on reviewer's physiology in my 'review suggestion' thread, and mentioned the general cut style, but it ought to have included reviewer's body shape etc.

> Captain Paranoia - I don't remember your post, but shall print it off now!

No worries. I'm arrogant enough to partly hope that Mick might have used it as the basis of guidance notes to be sent out to anyone reviewing things for UKC; Mick seemed to think the suggestions were useful at the time. I'm not arrogant enough to think that the list was comprehensive...

Any chance of your layering article coming to light in the near future... ;-)
ads.ukclimbing.com
captain paranoia - on 30 Apr 2010
In reply to HeMa:

> But whether you get underarm lift is inherintly dependent on ones body-type...

I'd suggest that it has far more to do with the cut of the upper arm and armscye area of the sleeve and jacket body.

To take the worst case, we could take a classic suit block, and use it to cut sleeves for an outdoor jacket. Try lifting your arm above your head in a suit jacket. Your cuff will ride up almost to the elbow... If you lie a suit down flat, and straighten the fabric of the sleeve and body as much as possible, you'll see that the sleeve 'points down'; the cuff is at about hip pocket level. This design ensures that there's little excess fabric under the arm, so the suit has no bunched fabric, and looks 'smart' when the arm is at the side of the body.

It's interesting that older military uniforms used this sort of sleeve design; totally impractical for real battlefield use, but looked smart. This cut is now usually reserved for 'dress' uniforms only, with a more sensible design used for combat clothing. The Raglan sleeve (commonly used in outdoor clothing design, especially fleeces) seems to have been an attempt to make a more practical sleeve that dosen't have too much excess fabric:

http://www.stretchy.org/catsuit/sleeve/raglan.html

In order to allow the arm to be raised without pulling either cuff or hem, we have to design a sleeve upper & body armscye that either has excess fabric to allow the arm to be lifted, or uses stretch fabrics, or both.

If you lie a jacket with good arm raise down flat, and straighten the fabric of the sleeve and body as much as possible, you'll see that the sleeve points almost straight out; the cuff is at about the same level as the scye. If you bring the arm down beside the body, you'll notice that there's quite a lot of fabric bunching in the armpit area.

One other way of reducing pull is to raise the bottom of the body armscye, but this makes the armscye rather restrictive; not good when worn over layers, or on someone with large arms.

In a jacket with a well-cut sleeve armscye, provided the cuff reaches your wrist when your hands are at your side, and the body of the jacket fits you with a reasonable amount of ease, raising your arms shouldn't cause much pulling of cuff or hem. This is more to do with the simple length of the sleeve than to do with the design of the sleeve armscye.

If you're very wedge-shaped, then your may over-fill the upper body area, but you'd notice that because the jacket would be tight around the chest anyway. I suppose if you have very pronounced latissimus dorsi (?) muscles, they may expand as you lift your arm, effectively reducing the ease to such an extent that the sleeve movement is compromised.

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