The stifling humidity has been replaced with a welcome cold snap.  It was still summer like conditions in late October and now we are into the fall season.  Hong Kong is due for a change as the air-conditioning units so prevalent alongside all the walls need a break.  The change in weather is welcome.  I love the cold.  Canada is cold.  Nobody knows to handle cold like Canadians do.  The prevalence of Canadian products on the shelves of stores can only mean one thing – Winter is coming.

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Logo in similar throughout the years. New logo is reflective and ironed on while the old logo is stiched.

Westcomb makes outdoor clothes.  www.westcomb.com . Technical apparel for those that enjoy the great outdoors.  Arc’Teryx is a main stay among Hong Kong people, their products are everywhere.  Westcomb is similar but they do not use Gore-Tex products.  Gore-Tex is great, it ushered in an area of allowing people to enjoy the outdoors 20 years ago.  The problem is the advancements in fabric technology have been slow to trickle down to the average consumer as Gore-Tex remains the gold standard.  Westcomb solves this problem, cutting edge fabrics with design standards built for those that enjoy the outdoors.  They use a range of third party branded products to complete this task: Polartec, eVent, Scholler etc.  Most people know Polartec in the form of fleece.  eVent is the challenger to Gore-Tex.  Scholler makes a fabric called c_change where the membrane contracts and expands according to temperate.  Cutting edge stuff.

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The Tango is only for the Male frame but a Small can indeed fit females. The sleeves may be a bit long.

Westcomb does not use Gore-Tex.  Gore-Tex products are great for the average consumer, it keeps out the rain.  There is one issue: garbage bags keep out the rain too and with Gore-Tex it keeps out the rain but I sweat like a pig.  It problem is the PU layer they attach to the membrane that keeps you dry also makes you sweat.  Gore-Tex is a marketing juggernaut with near monopoly power in the outdoor industry.  No one cares for Goliath.  Goliath is slow to bring about change, why kill the goose laying the golden egg?  Consumers get fleeced as they are none the wiser.  I need my products to perform well.

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A Westcomb eVent hardshell, first generation. It has the motorcycle zipper, off from centre.

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the eVent membrane that allows the jacket to be both waterproof and breathable. Wash it often as it’s similar to skin, clogging the pores will prevent the material from breathing.

For me I break it down as follows: eVent for the great outdoors, NeoShell for everything else.  eVent is great for people that go out of bounds in the backcountry.  NeoShell will work for the majority of the population.  I disdain wearing hardshells unless it is truly raining outside.  If it rains I stay indoors so the hybrid fleece with the wind layer works perfectly fine for me in all situations.  Westcomb’s Rebel jacket made with Polartec WindPro was a staple in my wardrobe until I lost it.

Wool is nature’s drifit.  Drifit, Airism, Heatech are all the same product – it’s plastic.  It dries quick so your body spends more time operating at the optimum temperature range.  If you have a large collection of drifit products, you will come to realize one thing – they stink.  Wool is similar.  It’s a natural drifit material that doesn’t stink.  The only problem is its expensive and nowhere near as durable.  Wool won’t work for people playing contact sports so unless you are a pro athlete, you don’t need drifit.  Wool will work just fine.  Wool has one benefit over drifit which is critical for people enjoying winter sports, it’s able to retain heat when wet.  I love wool clothing.  It’s not the same wool as your parents use to wear where the fibres make you itch.  The new wools are very high end.  My 6 year old Westcomb has held out astonishingly well.  Westcomb makes a quality product.

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Wool tends to pill in areas of high abrasion.

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a 6 year old Westcomb italian merino wool hoody. 47% polyester, 39% wool, 12% nylon and 2% others

Westcomb’s Cruz Zip Neck shirt.  Fabric close up below.  I never intend to wash this baselayer to see how it stands up to the test of time.  My last Westcomb wool baselayer was able to go over 8 years until it started to develop holes last month, which may be the results of HK’s moths.  I find the quality on par if not better than smartwool and icebreaker.  I love the Made in Canada label on my clothing.  It is better value than smartwool and icebreaker without the Made in China tag and quality.

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difference in wools. Blue wool is meant to wear as a baselayer for direct contact to skin. 100% wool. Orange is a merino wool hoody so the wool is blended to give it better characteristics to survive the outdoors.

Now we are into the hybrids.  Think Fleece.  Fleece is great but a gust of wind removes all the heat.  I loved Westcomb’s fleece jacket with the wind layer as it did a great job of cutting through wind.  In Hong Kong, Pertex shells are all the rage.  It’s a very light fabric to provide cover from air conditioners.  Westcomb makes a hoody using Pertex Equilibrium insulated with Polartec Alpha.  Polartec’s Alpha insulation has a very interesting history, it was developed for the United States Special Forces as an advanced insulating material in their combat uniforms.  In the outdoors, you layer clothing so you can remove as needed.  With the Alpha insulation, you no longer need to remove nor layer as it regulates core temperature during both dynamic and static activity.  It also retains warmth after soaking so this is the most state of the art insulation to date, it’s all the good properties of wool and down mixed together.  Pertex to provide cover from wind and Alpha insulation to keep you warm regardless of weather conditions.  This is my Westcomb Tango Hoody – the one size fits all for every and all activity.  6 years after my first Westcomb piece, the new Tango hoody is both lighter and warmer is every aspect.  The wool hoody is due for retirement.  Hybrid technical jackets will be the future for outdoor wear.  This jacket better last 6 years.

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Pertex Equilibrium up close.  It is windproof.  I don’t expect it to be waterproof but it better perform in the wet.

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Polartec Alpha inside.

I spent the past week wearing the Tango hoody around time and can confirm it does a great job of regulating body temperature.  Synthetic products are great as you can engineer the exact characteristics you want into the product but there are tradeoffs.  The main tradeoff to synthetic products I cannot look past is it retains bad odors once I start to sweat.  This is the main reason behind my love for wools, it can never stink.  The new WC Tango hoody better not retain bad odors.  I will take it into the cooked food centres to see if I come out smelling like grease.  It does hold up quite well for the time being, it would seem to be the best product for HK’s weather.

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pertex equilibrium

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polartec alpha, us special forces technical material

To keep the cold out, you will want to wear a wool base layer with WC’s Tango hoody one size fits all.  If it rains, you will need a hardshell that is rated to a minimum of 10,000mm to keep you dry.  It will be overkill for walking in and around the concrete jungle but dry = comfort and there is no price one can pay for being comfortable.  Most people are miserable in the rain.  I take solace in the fact I no longer have to carry an umbrella, my hardshell keeps the wet out.  This enables me to punch umbrellas out of my face and rub up against people soaking them in areas their umbrellas no longer cover.  I stay dry while wetting others allowing my clothing to breath.  I love HK etiquette and I am sure I will get away with it.  Opps.  Sorry.  Excuse Me.

Westcomb makes outdoor clothing so I trust it will keep me warm and dry.  Canadians don’t lie.  It also has the added benefit of being designed and made entirely in Canada.  The clothes have made it to Hong Kong and are currently available exclusively at The Outdoor Shop in TST’s Silvercord building.  The Outdoor market is still in its infancy in HK, it’s a niche product at the moment.  Racing the Planet carries many of the popular labels but it’s cheaper to order overseas even with the astronomical shipping transport levy.  There are a few outdoor shops in Mong Kok (Chamonix on sneaker street) but their product selection leans heavily towards tradition rather than innovation.

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