First Ascent Front Point Jacket

Author: [ smburt ]   Contact Author: smburtSat Jan 01 13:11:40 UTC 2011

Lightweight is the best word to describe the Front Point Jacket™. This jacket weighs an astonishing 17.28oz (491gr) which means that when combined with the ever popular Down Sweater™, you have a two-tier layering system for less than 2 pounds (866gr). The jacket is described by First Ascent™ as a lightweight softshell with extra protection.

The extra protection comes in the form of a three layer 50-denier weatheredge™ pro fabric with Stormrepel™ DWR finish on shoulders, sleeves, hood and hem rated to 20000mm/20000g. Wow! that’s a lot of words but what do they mean? Basically the
shoulders, sleeves and hem are coated with fabric that will repel 20000mm of water suspended over its surface before moisture will start to seep through the fabric. Well I don’t expect you will ever be in a 20000mmm rainfall but for comparison purposed, a lot of tent floors are made with the same level (20000mm) of moisture repellent so therefore this should be enough to prevent moisture seeping through your coat. On the many days I took it out in the fall here in Nova Scotia, it had been raining quite heavily and the
fabric has held the moisture away from my body just as designed. Now another neat feature of the exterior fabric is that is can also allow 20000gr of water vapor to escape per square meter of fabric. Again, I have tested this feature on many outdoor pursuits and
time and time again it has worked flawlessly. Even in heavy downpours, the jacket was able to release enough moisture so I wasn’t soaked inside. Some moisture will build up where your pack sits on your shoulder and on part of your back but that was expected and really there is nothing you can do to prevent this. I also really liked the cut of the lower part of the jacket which sits below your back and sits higher at the front. The advantage of this cut is that you jacket will ride high on your back as you bend down from the waist.

Now a unique feature of this jacket is that the torso portion of the jacket is made of a different fabric which gives this portion a four way stretch capability and is composed of 70-denier soft shell fabric with Stormrepel™ DWR finish. You can pull on the soft
shell fabric and it will actually stretch because of the 13% spandex it contains and this will give you a wider range of movement when you need it while climbing, skiing or scrambling about without fear that your jacket will rip apart. They describe the softshell
as breathable and quick drying and in my many outings this has been true. Although this portion of the jacket will not repel moisture to the level of the three ply portions described above. There are three exterior and one interior zippered pockets. The two
main exterior pockets are placed strategically so you can access them with your pack or harness on. However, I would suggest that they put on slightly larger tabs on the slider to help opening/closing when you have bigger mitts on. However this can be easily remedied at home in no time. There is a draw string at the hem and velcros at the wrists to prevent snow from making its way in your jacket.

Now for the main sticking issue of this jacket which is the hinge hood. The size of the hood and its permanence are the two issues at hand. The size of the hood was conceived so you could wear it over a helmet which is a great feature because it’s not something
you could retrofit later. However because of this, when you are wearing the jacket in other sports that do not require helmets, you will have to use the different draw strings to make a proper fit. Also, some users would probably like to have a removable hood.
In my opinion, the hood is well conceived so that even if you are not using it, it is not in your way and its size can be easily reduced to fit over your tuque with just some careful pulls on the three drawstrings located on the side and back of the hood. Therefore the
fact that the hood is not removable should not be a big drawback for most people. Now a feature I have seldom seen in a jacket is an extra drawstring located inside the collar which will enable you to turtle the collar of your jacket. Great idea! You can pull on this
draw string to close off the top portion of the jacket and you can do this with the hood on your head or not.

The price for this jacket is in the higher end of the prices of three ply, waterproof, breathable shells out there in Canada. The thing that clearly makes this jacket stand apart from the others in the 3 ply
categories is the change of fabric in the middle portion (torso) of the jacket to improve the flexibility/stretching of the jacket. If you require this feature, then this jacket is the one for you. If not I would try out some of the other jackets out there as well to see which one best fits your needs.

Benoit Lelonde

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