Look for an ArcTeryx Fissions AR / SV. In the off season you can usually find sales of prior year model for $300. I commute to NYC in one of these and it's toasty warm.
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IB uses 100% merino which is a fairly delicate material, despite what marketing might imply. You'll see IB use quite a few more blended fabrics starting in F14. You can already see the trend as most of their boxers are now using 4% lycra which helps the durability quite a bit. Also the Everyday line uses a rib knit which is less durable than their typical jersey knit products too.
As for the IB taking a dive when moving out of NZ, not in my opinion. The products produced in NZ were much more basic and a lot were a rib knit construction back then too. Since the production moved, the company was able to push things much further (thinner, more materials and finishing techniques) which has changed the way people relate to merino products and the activities they use them for.
IB's quality control is pretty high compared to many other outdoor brands, but what really sets them apart is their customer service. They're great to deal with and are more than fair when looking at defective products.
Sorry if it sounds like I'm drinking the cool-aid, but deal with IB a lot. I find they do actually care about products failing and try to improve things year after year. Of course they're not perfect, but out of the companies I've dealt with the are one of the better ones out there.
Don't know about the difference in quality because everything I have is made in china, I think I started buying icebreaker in 2011. I have a Tech Tlite from last year that feels more delicate than the ones I got in 2012.
Since they don't sell outside of US, I have to go order to UK retailers and I've never thought about complaining to their customer service. Truth to be told, I've used the damaged garments probably 100-200 times, maybe more cause I was living with 3 t-shirts in rotation. I wash everything according to the instructions, not too often, line dry, etc..
I'll post pics of the tshirts in the afternoon but since I'm wearing the quattro hoodie right now, here are two pics, there are also lots of loose threads on the inside of the hoodie. I checked the email and I received it on 2/4/12, so it's not that old for a $170 hoodie:
It bothers me because it's a fucking nice hoodie with very nice fabric feel, drapping, temperature regulation, no smell, etc.. but it didn't last too long.
I have an ibex breakaway hoody that I swear by, and have worn it every day this season (not joking).
It uses a schoeller wool blend (climbawool) that can't be beat. Construction is great, all though a bit more of an athletic cut (closer fit to body on my medium 5'8" frame).
Purchased mine for about half price on steepandcheap over the summer. Looks like the climb has some in M (pitch grey), for even cheaper.
Weird....I have the exact same hoodie and wear it a lot and have had it shortly after it came out. Mine doesn't have any tears or holes.
So I just went through the ordeal of trying to wash my Arc'teryx Veilance Insulated Field Jacket for the first time.
What a nightmare. Forget about buying a 3-pack of Nikwax products just to be able to care for it in the first place. I do my research on how to clean it, pop it in the washer on the appropriate settings and after twenty minutes I hear BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG coming from on yonder in my apartment. I run to the washing machine only to find the damn thing trying to walk across the floor on its own!
Inside was my field jacket, filled up like a water balloon, exceeding the weight of a bowling ball.
I mean I know the GoreTex membrane is some serious hoodoo but god DAMN. I hoist the 30lb water balloon-of-a-thousand-dollar-jacket (got it half price) into my shower with a splash and call up Arc'teryx on the phone. The time is 6:00 Eastern.
"Arc'teryx, this is Matt."
"Matt, I'm having trouble with an Arc'teryx garment and need some advice."
I explain my situation.
"Wow, I haven't heard that one before," he says. "The GoreTex membrane is only on one side, so the water should be draining out through the lining. Are the pockets filled up with water?"
"The pockets ... oddly enough... seem to be the one dry area of the jacket. But, I mean, the thing is waterlogged. First it's in the sleeve, then I lift it by the sleeve and it moves into the other sleeve. It's bizarre."
"I really have never heard of this happening before," Matt says. "Can you send me some pictures maybe? By the way, have you tried wringing it out?"
Now it seams that to wash my AV jacket, I will have to put it in the washer inside out. Stop it before the spin cycle, wring it out ever so slowly, put it back in on spin, let the rinse cycle balloon it back up, deflate it manually, re-spin, then pop it in the dryer.
The moral of the story: An AV field jacket likes letting water out, about as much as it likes letting it in. Except sweat vapors; the thing is generally breathable as f**k.
Pretty much the only 3 shorts I'll be wearing all summer long.
I got 2 of those as well on the Kickstarter program. They're ok but I prefer the length and fit of the 3-way longs better. Pretty much all I wore last summer, hopefully Outlier drop some better colours in the 3-way longs this season.
EDIT: by "colour" I mean - black, grey, charcoal, olive.
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