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Taiga Chamonix Jacket

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Version reviewed: compared with Arc'Teryx Alpha SV

After wearing this jacket for a period of time, I'd like to write an update as a follow up. What attracted me to this jacket was the styling, material, and price. I'll have to say the styling is best described as classic and the jacket has four outer pockets which include two hand warmer pockets. There is also one large inner pocket. The material is two ply Gore-Tex with a high quality coating of DWR and the jacket passes Gore's Engineered for Extreme Wet Weather Test.

The best thing about the jacket is the price. I paid $180 dollars (Canadian) and it wasn't even on sale. Now, you are probably wondering about the perfomance, comfort, and durability of this jacket? This is an everyday jacket that would work great if you plan to wear it for outdoor activities, work, and school. This jacket keeps me warm even in wet and windy conditions though I would recommend wearing a midlayer for extra warmth. I have tried running with this jacket and I do not recommend wearing it for running - the fit isn't a close athletic fitted jacket though I wouldn't consider this a bulky jacket either.

As for breathability, it is breathable, not not as breathable as my Arc'Teryx Alpha SV. Inside the jacket, there is CoolMax mesh layering which makes the jacket more comfortable to wear and breathable. What about the hood? Very good simple design and it is adjustable and there is a visor in the front. As for durability, it is amazingly durable and the jacket is made out of the highest quality 2 ply Gore-Tex I have seen for a jacket in this price category. I'm really impressed with the durability and how this jacket holds its shape and form after wearing it for about two years. It looks practically brand new! The only problem with the jacket is that the YKK zippers are sometimes hard to zip up for first timers.

Now I will compare this jacket with my Arc'Teryx Alpha SV which is the top of the line jacket from Arc'Teryx. FYI, the Taiga jacket and Arc'Teryx Alpha SV jacket are both made in Vancouver. In my opinion, Made in Vancouver, Canada stands for world class quality in outdoor clothing. I will compare only with the differences with the Taiga Chamonix jacket and the Arc'Teryx Alpha SV. The Arc'Teryx Alpha is much more breathable. So much that I never felt damp or wet even after a 10k run while wearing the jacket! The jacket also feels much more lighter compared with the Taiga jacket. The jacket has 2 large front pockets, two internal stretch pockets and one sleeve pocket. Also there are two large pit zips on the Arc'Teryx jacket. Arc'Teryx also uses and invented storm flap free tight waterproof zippers which everyone is trying to copy. The hood is large enough for a helmut and is very adjustable. The Arc'Teryx Alpha SV jacket is meant for athletic activities as it is the most comfortable, lightweight, and breathable jacket I have ever owned; it works great for an alpine jacket too.

However, there are some negatives. The Arc'Teryx Alpha SV jacket is not the most durable jacket and I am quite disappointed. The Alpha SV jacket uses two different types of Gore-Tex XCR materials: heavy duty and lightweight. The problem is that the lightweight Gore-Tex found on this jacket is WAY too lightweight and it is not very abrasion resistant. Sure, it might be 3 ply Gore-Tex, but it is thin and feels like paper and it is not as durable as the Taiga's 2 ply Gore-Tex.

I will mention another interesting thing about the Arc'Teryx jacket, it doesn't hold its shape and condition for its period of use. I have worn my Arc'Teryx jacket for only several dozen times in the city and outdoor settings in wide open areas, and ONLY IN THE RAIN and not even in the snow. The Arc'Teryx jacket looks slightly more worn than my Taiga jacket which I wear much more often. I even started taking special precautions with my Arc'Teryx jacket as I will not wear it in tight and crowded places anymore! The problem with the Arc'Teryx Alpha SV is that is it too light and I wouldn't mind if Arc'Teryx made the jacket more tough - make the lightweight 3 ply Gore-Tex XCR a higher grade which is comparable to 530N Gore-Tex XCR(found on shoulder and arms of Alpha SV) and not the 420NR lighweight Gore-Tex XCR which is currently used on the front, back, and hood of the Alpha SV jacket. Yes, it will make the jacket more heavy, but it would make it more durable which is the KEY. Arc'Teryx makes lots of lightweight jackets such as the BETA AR, KAPPA SP, BETA SL, SIRRUS SL and they are excellent for their purpose as lightweight Gore-Tex XCR jackets. The Alpha SV should be designed as an Alpine jacket that is more for heavy duty climbing, mountainering, in tough conditions which is more tear and abrasion resistant. However, I still recommend only Gore-TEX XCR for the material of lightweight jackets as it is very breathable and luxuriously lightweight. I hope Gore makes a more durable next generation breathable durable waterproof lightweight fabric that Arc'Teryx will utilize. Still, the Alpha SV is an excellent jacket for a variety of outdoor pursuits, as it received American Alpine Institute Guides Choice Award. I just wish the jacket was more durable for a product that Arc'Teryx advertises as "ultimate Alpine jacket" which is "super durable".

Fabric: 2 Ply Gore-Tex
Price Paid: $180 (CDN)

This is a classic Gore-Tex jacket that is extremely functional, understated, and high quality. It's also very well priced at 180 bux Canadian. Also, there are seven different colours. There is also a huge zippered pocket inside the jacket and four outer pockets. Also, there is CoolMax mesh inside the jacket for better cooling.

This is the best Gore-Tex jacket I've owned so far for all-purpose use, and it's hard to beat the price. You just can't find a Patagonia jacket at this price with the same material and features. It will cost about 500 dollars Canadian for a similar Patagonia jacket that doesn't look as good and have the same style and features. Taiga is also made in Vancouver, Canada, one of the North America's wettest cities. However, this is an exclusive brand that is sold only in Vancouver at one store and they rarely advertise. The store is also hidden in a corner and they don't even have a website, so the cost of the garments could be sold at low prices. Taiga might be behind the competition when compared to other manufacturers as they still don't utilize Gore-Tex XCR in any of their jackets.

I, myself, just recently purchased a Arc'Teryx Alpha SV jacket in "Too-Blue" coloured size-medium (Gore-Tex XCR) that solves the problem. Alpha SV is my "NASA" space-age jacket, but get one on sale ok? Retailing at 650 dollars Canadian/475 US dollars ain't cheap! BTW, I will review my Arc'Teryx Alpha SV jacket as soon as I wear it more often in real life rough and tough situations. It's less than one month old and it's awesome!

Update: December 16, 2001

Not all jackets are perfect, so I'd like to continue with my Taiga Chamonix review. Although, I mentioned the jacket is "high quality", there are problems with the jacket's main zipper. Yesterday, I detected more problems (stitching of the zipper's tape) after close inspection! Also, to make things more clear, here's a link for the structure of a zipper

Taiga's Chamonix jacket uses the YKK 5VS zipper which is, in my opinion, not the best choice of zippers because it uses a low grade plastic (Acetal) polymer. The insert pin will eventually degrade which makes the zipper difficult to zip up. I have taken to matter seriously and I even spoke to the R&D Engineer at YKK to tell them that the insert pin should be made out of an metal alloy instead of the traditional acetal polymer. I have found that the insert pin will stratch and dent after repeated use which will lead to zip-up difficulties. This is especially apparent with Taiga jackets equipped with YKK zippers. Another problem with the jacket is the poor stitching of the tape of the zipper - the stitch lining seems to be off centred at the insert pin of the jacket. I believe this might be carelessness, or because it is difficult to sew in the retainer box area/insert pin area of the zipper because the tape is much more hard and stiff. I'm afraid that the tape of my zipper will eventually rip out after normal use. Though the jacket is made in Canada, I haven't seen this type of poor quality construction of jackets made in jackets Asian countries. Taiga claims their products are German engineered - Canadian made. I could compare their products to a VW Golf/Jetta - German engineered - piece of junk made. Although Taiga jackets are well designed, priced right for Gore-Tex, and great looking, the zipper of the jacket is the weakest link.

Finally, I have to admit that Mountain Equipment Co-op jackets are much better in quality than Taiga. MEC is also Canadian and also originated in Vancouver. Thumbs up for MEC but you'll have to pay a tad more for total quality. Thumbs up for Taiga for garment design but thumbs down for quality of the main zipper. Email me if you have problems with the zipper with your Taiga Gore-Tex jackets, Taiga fleece products, or any Taiga product problem. I believe that everyone should get a quality product for their hard earned money.

Fabric: 2 ply Gore-Tex
Price Paid: $180 Canadian

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