The sheepskin was awesome! It sure got wet, but only the outside. The wool fleece remained dry and warm - it really is amazing to wear.
The jacket, pants and gloves cut the wind, sleet, snow and rain well. A simple rubbing of bee's wax on key areas like shoulders, arms and seams, made certain of it. The zips in the pants vented the leg well. Will be adding braces.
Really pleased with the performance all round.
Thor just returned from 4 weeks in Japan, throughly testing the Peak Oil Jacket. 4 weeks of continuous use in snow, rain, altitude, night clubs and tokyo streets. It comes back to us with some incredibly valuable feedback, some spoken, the rest written into the jacket itself.
The very first thing we notice is how great the thing breaks in! The oilskin has rubbed back and softened to a dry, slightly shined, not waxy, worn in looking jacket.
The second thing we notice is that the stitching still shines like new, and this is something we don't like so much. On this jacket we used a thread with more polyester in it. While it certainly retains its own colour, we want it to absorb some of the oil and darken with the jacket. Our normal thread with more cotton does this nicely, so we'll stay with that.
The zips glide beautifully, so Riri earns their reputation.
The pattern worked, breaking in nicely, and coming back without any complaints. Our main question was if the simplicity caused any discomfort or tight spots. None! We've since adjusted the hood design however, giving a draw chord that pulls better around the face, and more room if a helmet needs to be worn under it.
Early in Thor's trip, reports came in about snow sticking to the jacket. We don't yet know if this is a thing with new oilskin, or if a worn in oilskin sheds the snow ok. Watching that space. The main thing we needed to know is that it was water proof.
It's true that plastics are used for mountain and snow sports these days, and that cotton based gear is heavier, and potentially colder. But we'll truck on in the face of that, looking to our principles of natural and recycled materials that anyone can pull together and not need a petro chemical plant to produce. 4 weeks successful use in Japan, including proud wearing in nightclubs is enough encouragement for us. And we notice that either Thor has no body odour, or the natural materials are not inducing it...
And while this one isn't Thor's jacket, here's Leigh wearing his on a recent camping trip with his family up around Mount Macedon in Victoria. Yes, it got cold enough. This jacket is identical to Thor's, but has hand pockets and red stitching.
We stopped by East Warburton last week, and bought an old canvas family tent. We knew it was beyond repair for its original purpose :( but grabbed it for its recyclable canvas. It's 1970s flavours of green and blue have faded back, and once we made a jacket and bag from some of it, we threw it in the wash to see what would happen. Result: a kinda stone wash, lime green jacket, held together by black stitching and patches of new ripstop canvas. Next we'll oilskin it to see what we end up with. If we could find a reliable source for these old canvases, they'd would make a beautiful line of limited edition products. Nice to know the pattern worked with the heavier material too.
We first pulled one of the jackets out of the bag when we stopped to put chains on the car. Yep, being canvas we could confidently chuck the jacket down in the mud and rocks, and not worry about pressing a hole in it.
Our first day was spent resort skiing. We're happy to confirm both prototypes kept us warm, dry and protected, including on the slow lift rides over the ridge and into the howling southerly that blew all day.
The unworn surface of the oiled canvas seemed to catch and hold the needle and stella snow flakes a bit, compared to the plastic jackets around us, but we suspect that's because the jacket was new, with the surface being kinda furry. By the end of the second day, we noticed the surface was starting to get that signature shine of a worn oilskin, and snow fell away.
The Riri Aqua zips worked beautifully! They set, glide and unset effortlessly. Easily the best waterproof zip out there. We'll change the placement of the zip though. We thought to end the front zip at the neckline, leaving the studs and plackets to close the neck, and keep it free and flexible. We wanted to avoid that slight stiffness that a zip can bring to the neck, but we concede this is not a big enough problem to warrant loosing the ease of the zip. In future makes, for the jackets that have the Riri Aqua zips, we'll place them up over the neck, and leave off the plackets and studs.
The difference between the Peak Oil Jacket prototype 2 and 3 is in the sleeve. On the 2 we set the sleeve in, meaning a seam runs over the shoulder and under the arm. On the 3 we used a raglan sleeve, where the seams run up to the neckline. We think the raglan fits better and offers more freedom of movement, but we'd like to work a bit more on the set-in sleeve, and experiment with a removable sleeve design.
The pockets. We reckon 4 pockets on the front is overkill. We didn't use the 2 lower pockets at all, and the vertical zip was difficult to manage. Either we'll leave off the lower pockets, or rethink their placement to reflect the rarity of their use. The two breast pockets where very useful though, and the vertical Aqua zips made them easy to access with a pack on.
The hoods covered well, and in these conditions they're a must have - both fully on, or half up the back of the head with the collar all done up. We're looking for a better way to do hoods though, that fits them to all different head and neck sizes, that blocks all wind, and keeps fitted on a moving head. We're also conscious that some people like to remove the hood, we've got a few ideas...
We're not sure the Ventile lining needs to be sewn in. We're thinking to try a removable lining so to make it washable and replaceable, plus the added versatility of using the liner alone, or swapping it for insulation.
Finally, the weight question. These jackets are heavier than their plastic counterparts, but we honestly didn't notice a difference. We spent a day resort skiing, followed by a pretty big day back country, which had us wearing them in a full range of situations and body temperatures. They packed down into our bags no trouble, and seemed to feel nicer than the plastics when we wore them climbing out of a valley.
All up, we're stoked the prototypes worked in the conditions we're designing for. They're confidently tough, perform well in snow conditions, feel good when active, and the weight didn't bother us on these extended day trips. This first test has shown us we're on the right track, and with a few minor tweaks we'll have a jacket we're proud to put out to market.