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Thread: PHD 'Kappa' Jacket

  1. #1
    Goon JimboJames1972's Avatar
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    I was privileged enough to take a prototype Kappa to test in Lapland recently ‚?? it was fantastic! As this was a prototype though (it's the jacket shown on the PHD website) it differs slightly from the final version ‚?? Lycra cuffs, slightly more insulation in the body (160g not 130g) and has had a fur ruff added to the hood.During testing I found it warm (even at -25C when active), completely wind and water resistant, breathable, hardwearing but also light and easy to move about in.

    So, what do you get? Let's start with the outer fabric...

    PHD introduced HS2 last year to replace their Gore-Tex. This was a good move ‚?? HS2 is lighter, softer, more flexible and, according to Peter, both more waterproof and breathable than the Gore-Tex fabrics it replaces. It is therefore many times more water resistant than the outer fabrics used on synthetic duvet jackets from many other manufacturers. It is also tough ‚?? in testing PHD had to modify the abrasion machinery just to make an impression on it! A few wet weather outings I have done since returning from Lapland proved it more than weatherproof enough‚?? rain just ran off and it never felt as if any got through the outer. The seams on the jacket have not been taped though but this is clearly not a problem thanks to their clever positioning.

    Insulation was 160g/m PL1 in the main body and 100g/m in the arms. This is PHD's first jacket with PL1 insulation and it might replace the traditional Thinsulate. I've owned PHD gear with Thinsulate, and have always rated it highly, but this switch to PL1 looks like a big improvement. Comparing the Kappa to my Sigma smock, the Kappa lofts better, is less bulky and just feels warmer. The different quantities of PL1 should give you warmth where you need it and less bulk elsewhere. PHD have stitched the PL1 to just the inner lining to give fewer water-leaking needle holes in the outer fabric, as well as a better air gap between the insulation and the outer - this should give better insulation and increase breathability too.

    The inner lining is MX. This is not water resistant in its own right but I have used jackets with the same lining over wet clothing in the past and it has had no detrimental effect on the insulation.

    Other features include an adjustable, zip-off hood, 3 outer and 1 internal zippered pocket, one-way zipper, internal draught flap and elasticated lower hem.The hood is a big step up from hoods used on PHD's other lightweight gear. This one is similar shape but is large enough to go over helmets, has real volume adjustment, and has a velcro face guard to close it up at the front. It allows a better fit in high wind conditions and offers much more protection than its simple format suggests. The collar is slightly higher and less tight than on similar models and allows room for high-collared under layers and balaclavas.As for pockets, there are two hip height ones and a third on the left chest area. The two lower ones have no insulation as such but still offer simple protection and are a good size. The upper chest one is significantly larger. The final, zippered internal pocket is similar in design to those used in PHD's special versions of their Yukon and Minimus jackets.

  2. #2
    Goon JimboJames1972's Avatar
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    SIZING. I am right between a ‚??standard' medium and large and, in the past, I have selected PHD gear in medium if I intend to just wear base layers under it but go for a large size if I plan to wear added fleece layers as well.

    This jacket was made as a large. On me it fitted loose enough to go over layers, but still does not feel excessively baggy when I have needed to wear less in milder conditions. It is long enough at the rear to cover my backside and comes just above crotch level at the front. Sleeves are plenty long enough so as to never expose my wrists no matter how much I bend and stretch.

    TESTING. The warmest day I used it on was -10C air temperature, accompanied by gale force winds and blizzards. The coldest day was -25C but almost clam. My other clothing consisted of Helly Hansen ‚??Warm' top and leggings, 100wt fleece, PHD Zeta salopettes, fleece hat and balaclava, wool socks and mittens for the colder days. However, I swapped to Paramo Aspira trousers and just the base layer under the jacket on the milder, but more stormy days. A Minimus vest was carried to over-layer at stops, and this was needed a couple of times.

    On each of the days that I used the Kappa (ski and snow-shoe treking) I was completely comfortable ‚?? never too hot, never chilled uncomfortably and never dampened by moisture build up inside the jacket. I did try the Kappa on a couple of our days of ski-touring but it was just too warm for me then.

    The outer HS2 fabric stayed soft and flexible, even in the extreme cold. Some Gore-Tex fabrics I have used have gone quite stiff in similar conditions and I felt that breathability was reduced too. No such problems with the HS2 ‚?? it would still flap about in the wind and I am assuming this action went some way to help pump moist air out. Either way I never felt the need to dry or air either the jacket or under layers after use.

    It also stood up to wear and tear well. It was scrunched up in the bottom of kit bags, had rucksack straps and harnesses rubbing it and was worn while crashing through forest trails and while scrambling around on rocky, ice covered slopes. There are no signs of wear what so ever ‚?? no marks on the fabric, no scuffs from abrasion, no loose or worn stitching, nothing.

    SUMMARY. In short, this is a very, very good jacket. I've owned many over the years, but I have never had one that can cope with such a variety of awful conditions, that is this warm and light but that does not sweat up inside either. This combination of fabrics, insulation, cut and fit is as near perfect as I can imagine. It stood up well to both the elements (down to -25C) and physical wear and tear very well indeed.

    Sorting out the cuffs to make them a larger diameter will make getting mittens or gloves on under the jacket easier. The final versions will have this though. Adding pocket insulation would be good, as will adding hood stiffening and swapping the internal draught flap for an external storm flap. However, these are extremely minor niggles and I'd certainly be happy to part with more cash and get another, should this one eventually wear out.

  3. #3
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    nice report jj

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Where's my Kappa vest?

  5. #5
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    James - what is the stuffability like - stuff sack compatable or more of a scrunch down into bottom of pack jacket?

  6. #6
    Goon JimboJames1972's Avatar
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    Hi Panda,

    Stuffing is good. I used a PHD #2 sized stuff sack most of the time (this measured 17cm x 28cm) and it was a very easy job to get the jacket into this. In fact, it was so easy it was reallyjustone-handed job. Once in it onlytook up about 2/3 of the bag and would further compress with ease.

    I did try a smaller, #1 size sack a couple of times. This was possible if I took the hood off and stashed this separately but it was more of a struggle. Two hands needed.

    It also saw the inside of my backpack several times, with no ill effects.

    James

  7. #7
    Mini Goon
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    Why have they reduced the PL1 fill?

  8. #8
    Goon JimboJames1972's Avatar
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    I can't say for sure.

    The very first prototype I got was very different - DriShell outer, PL1 at 100g all over, insulation stitched through both the inside and outer fabrics, no lower pockets, very basic hood... Don't get me wrong, it was still a very nice jacket (my better half loved it!) but its different specification meant it was suitable for different conditions. They already do the Sigma and this first prototype did not really offer much that was different as far as outright performance went.

    Droping the insulation from 160g to 130g (18% drop) will make the new jacket a fraction lighter and easier to pack away. There will be a slight drop in 'warmth' too, but I'm estimating only a few degrees?

    I'm sort of keeping fingers crossed that they will consider offering insulations in different weights (in the same waythey offer different downs in their other items) perhaps up to 200g in the body and 150g in the arms / hood? No word back on this yet but I understand they are looking at the pocket insulation.

    J

  9. #9
    ‹bermensch Nigel Healy's Avatar
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    Posting in this thread too.

    Primarily due to JJ's glowing review and me finding shortcomings in alternatives, I ordered and now have the PHD Kappa. I'd emailed PHD last year and advised to go for a large. Here's the dimensions


    back length 31" - which on me

    front zip length 27"
    sleeve armpit to end 28"
    flat width arpmits 26"

    I did a thorough investigation into all similar type jackets. The reasons to go for the Kappa is its got hand-warming pockets (sounds obvious but many don't), an actually long back because in the cold even insulated trousers get their insulation squished by the human shape there, so any warm coat needs to be where the straight of the back of the leg meets the bum, the almost-waterproof outer so much less need for a shell, the removable hood so I can use it in less-cold situations with a buff+cap, and the smart-looking non-outdoorsy general look, plus its in black, and all the fabrics are tougher. It is slightly heavier than similar insulating jackets but that's due to a tougher outer fabric.

    I don't know when I'll get the right conditions to give it a proper cold test, earliest will be December if a typical year for me.

    Now I own plenty of down jackets, the down equivalent to this one is the Montbell Alpine Light, its dimensions similar, but down squished to cold-penetrating nothing under any pressure, a cold spot forms in the lower-back area if you sit, even if you sit on an insulating pad. This weighs almost twice that of the down but its more of an about-freezing or below-freezing active backpacking type situation.

    I do have some concerns it will be too warm, but if I sweat in this one it won't kill the loft unlike down.

  10. #10
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    I've never sweated in a down jacket. How would that happen?

  11. #11
    ‹bermensch Nigel Healy's Avatar
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    Via it being too warm?

  12. #12
    Ultra King Martin Carpenter's Avatar
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    Still not easily if just standing/pottering about in it.

  13. #13
    ‹bermensch
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    I've sweated in a down jcket before but never come close to GBH never mind killing any down. I was usually sweating before I put it on & only wore it to stop getting chilled during stops in sub-zero temps. The longer I spend on OM the more I think I'm living in a simpler, less complicated outdoor parallel universe.

  14. #14
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosswm View Post
    The longer I spend on OM the more I think I'm living in a simpler, less complicated outdoor parallel universe.
    Don't get too worried.

    All OM members are not the same

    reality is often much simpler than lots of theorising about "what ifs?", overanalysing figures or trying to make everyone elses reality fit your theory.

  15. #15
    Ultra King edh's Avatar
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    well that's debatable....



    ...seemingly endlessly

  16. #16
    ‹bermensch Nigel Healy's Avatar
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    Context!

  17. #17
    ‹bermensch Nigel Healy's Avatar
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    I don't know these came out, might been discussed in OM already, but I noticed they now do PHD Kappa trousers too

  18. #18
    ‹bermensch Stephen's Avatar
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    The Kappa trousers look nice but would be far more versatile with full side zips.

  19. #19
    ‹bermensch Nigel Healy's Avatar
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    with weight and volume added... I have the Torres pants but dont fit.

  20. #20
    ‹bermensch Stephen's Avatar
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    Probaly add another 100g.

    I got a pair of Arcteryx Atom Lt troos recently, have full zips and come in at 340g, mind you they only have 60gm2 fill.

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