Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Address and Site for The Shooters' Bar

The Shooters' Bar -- the Internet's oldest freely-available list of pro-RKBA attorneys has a new site and a complete site redesign.  Updating TSB had become a bit of a pain as the list grew.  The new site has one page per state and allows me to more easily update it using RapidWeaver, from where I can then upload the changes to the Web.

The new address is

If you maintain a page which links to the old version, please update your link.

Finally, along with the new site are some new attorney listings.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Marmot PreCip Jacket Review

Yesterday while up at REI checking out their Winter clearance sale I wound up coming home with a Marmot PreCip rain jacket (which unfortunately was not on sale).

For several years I've taken a layered approach to outerwear since it allows you to combine different garments to meet changing climate conditions on the fly. I have a couple of hardshells and a softshell. One could say I've become a bit of a jacket whore. What caught my eye about the Marmot Precip was the very light weight, which I find attractive since I spend a couple hours each day commuting on a train to and from work in Center City Philadelphia. A heavy jacket is nice if I'm waiting for the train but can get uncomfortable once I'm actually on it.

Anyway, Marmot bills the Precip as "value-oriented rainwear for backcountry and urban travelers." It weighs only 13 oz. and is made using Marmot's PreCip DryTouch breathable laminate. Note that the laminated is bonded to the outer ripstop nylon shell and there's no lining. Some reviews have noted delamination after a few years but Marmot has replaced those jackets under warranty. Other features of the jacket include a generously sized, adjustable hood which fits comfortably over a hat, pit zips for ventilation, two zippered pockets, a shock corded hem, double storm flap over the zipper, and taped seams. The hood can be rolled up and secured with a Velcro tab. The PreCip jacket is available in a variety of colors, ranging from subdued to putrid. Mine is "Dark Cedar," which is very close to USAF sage green. It's a nice low key color that looks good in the city or the woods.

Marmot notes on their site that the PreCip is sized for layering over a fleece or softshell. I found the sizing to be good, fitting comfortably over my Polartec 300 SPEAR fleece or my REI Polartec 200 hoodie. Compared with my other hard shells the sleeves seem better sized for layering, allowing more freedom of movement.

Yesterday was nice with a temp around 50 degrees F. and a good breeze. I took a one mile walk with my family around the neighborhood in the new jacket. I had it layered over a couple t-shirts and the REI fleece hoodie. The combination was comfortable but after about 10 minutes I opened the pit zips. Today the weather was more typical of January: upper 30s with a steady rain and some wind. I took another one mile walk, this time wearing the PreCip over a t-shirt, cotton flannel shirt, and an REI fleece vest made from Polartec 200. This combination was comfortable for the half hour I was out. The PreCip blocked the wind well and kept my upper half totally dry, even when I stood under a fairly heavy stream of water dripping from a tree in my yard. Again, the pit zips were welcome. The hood fit well over my ball cap and kept my head and face dry. It doesn't "batten down the hatches" as much as the hood on my Mountain Hardwear Exposure II parka, but this shell is more of a rain jacket than the mountaineering-oriented Exposure II.

A couple changes which would improve the PreCip jacket in my opinion would be a mesh lining for better ventilation and protecting the waterproof laminate, a Napolean pocket and perhaps making the body a couple inches longer. If Marmot does lengthen the design they should add a two-way zipper, as well.

The lightweight PreCip packs up into a small space and would be a good choice for a traveler needing a shell that can be stowed in a carry on bag. It protects well against rain and wind. The light weight does come at a price. I can't see the PreCip as being as durable as heavier hard shells. For brush busting in the woods or activities like three-gun, in which you might find yourself rolling around on the ground, something heavier will stand up to abuse better. However, for trail hiking, travel, and commuting, the PreCip looks like it should be a good choice.

ECWCS Fleece SPEAR Jacket

For a little while I've been looking for a new fleece jacket, since my trusty old Columbia Titanium jacket is starting to show its age.  However, spending North of a hundred clams for something made from recycled soda bottles wasn't sitting well with me.  For example, I am very unimpressed with the very popular Denali from The North Face, and the only heavyweight fleece from Mountain Hardware that my local REI carries is the Monkey Man.  No thanks, I don't want to look like Sasquatch.

So, in looking around online at the beginning of January I ran across the "Polartech Fleece Jacket, ECWCS Liner" at Omaha's.   This is a black fleece jacket made of Polartech 300 issued to GIs as part of the ECWCS layering system.  I've seen the same jacket advertised as a "SPEAR (Special Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements) jacket."  For $39.95 and made in the USA, I figured it was worth a shot.

The shipment from Omaha's arrived six days after I ordered for the jacket, along with a few other items.  Upon inspection, the ECWCS Liner is a pretty standard fleece jacket.  The labels inside show that it was made for Goodwill Industries and there is a NSN (NATO Stock Number).

It has two handwarmer pockets and two large mesh pockets inside.  The zipper is two-way.  The ends of the sleeves are adjustable with Velcro tabs.  There is a windproof nylon yoke, along with nylon patches along the outsides of the forearms.  The yoke does not cover the back of the two-ply collar, which is a bit disappointing.  Also, the collar cannot be fully zipped all the ay up over my 17" neck.   Sizing in the rest of the torso is a little generous.  I ordered a Large and while the sleeve length is perfect the body is a bit long, which is OK because it won't ride up if I bend over.  (I am 5'6" tall, with a 44" chest, 34" sleeves, and a beer gut.) I suspect a Medium would've fit but this fits comfortably over a sweater.  The armpits have pit zips for ventilation. The bottom hem can be tightened with elastic shock cords on both sides.

Like most fleece jackets, the ECWCS Liner is not very wind resistant.  To test it I took a walk around my block the night it arrived.  The temperature was 29 degrees F., with a 5 MPH breeze.  I wore the jacket over typical city clothes: a cotton undershirt and a cotton/poly button down Oxford shirt.  What I found was that as expected, the breeze -- whether from my walking or the wind -- penetrated the fleece easily.  Until I warmed up from the walk I felt a chill where the breeze was blowing against me.  However, it wasn't too bad and I could tell that if worn under a shell, the ECWCS Liner would provide good insulation.   I tried it out under my EOTac Field Jacket and my Mountain Hardwear soft shell, and it seems to layer a bit better than my Columbia jacket.  The sleeve adjustment tabs slip inside the outer garment more easily.

Since getting the ECWCS jacket I've worn it into work a couple of times.  Once was under my soft shell and once by itself layered over another fleece, on a calm day.

I am happy with this purchase.  The jacket is warm, comfortable, pretty well made, and a good alternative to the high priced fleece jackets from name brands.