By Ryan Williams Administrator From London (sort of) Dec 25, 2012
This is the new thing in the outdoor apparel game. A few have been around for a while (Patagonia, few others) but now it seems everyone is doing jackets like this. Even my company is doing one next year, and we're more of a trekking and lifestyle brand than a climbing company.
I think they have their place, just like other specialty products. The Variant is basically taking a hardfaced fleece base layer and a thin windproof vest and combining them. I think they also make one with a hood. Plenty of people out there who wear vests to keep their core warm - the idea behind these "hybrid" jackets is the same.
The FA one is more like a full shell though. Not quite a hybrid in the same way as the Variant is - IMHO.
Hey Coop. I'm no expert but I have been collecting some of the newest hybrid samples for a review that I'll have up in a month or two.
Hard shell/soft shell examples, differing amounts of insulation or differing fabrics. All Hybrids really, to better fit the amount of effort and or more anatomically correct.
Swix did a hybrid 10 years ago or more. But certainly not one of the first. That one has a super thin stretch back, lightly insulated wind shell front for cross country skiing. I of course snagged one and used it for trail runnning in winter and quick trips in the mtns where a pack covers your back. I still use it. Outdoor Research has been doing a few for almost forever. I had to laugh as I just got a Patagonia Piton Hybrid soft shell they are hyping right now. Piton is simply a copy of my OR. But my OR is a couple of seasons old and 1/2 the price. SAG has been doing a merino wool and 60g Primaloft 1 I like.
Another long time favorite of mine is the now discontinued Eddie Bauer Frontpoint, that again Patagonia recently copied and calls the Mixed Guide Jacket. Arcteyx hit a home run with the Atom LT, another hybrid. I suspect the Aphix will be another hit with 80g instead of 60g insulation and even more venting on the sides and arms. Another one I am stoked to see showing up.
I like the Accelerant but wish the hood were able to go over the helmet. The Camp SkiMo shell is the unltimate...no back panel required :) Cabellas has one of the best I think. Three differnt Polartec fabrics used for best effect anatomically.
I understand the comment "not very versital"...but once you start using them I find I can use a hybrid (if you pick the right one for your activity) over a much broader range of tempertures and activity levels than say a full on insulated jacket.
If you think about it even pit zips were an early effort to build a hybrid.
I recently asked a company to build a specific hybrid for my own use..60g and 40g insulation, pull over, helmet hood, and a mess, non insulated back panel. The said may be so I bought a pullover Atom LT. Ripped it open and sewed on a mess back panel. With a pack it rocks @ 6oz :)