Gary posted an excellent review of the TNF Futurelight waterproof/breathable clothing technology. I’ve got a couple of pieces for testing as well. Might as well join the fray.
As my Futurelight shell pants (Summit Series L5 LT Pant) are indeed light, and thin, and simple, I figured they’d be a good layer for spring ski touring. Sort of a do-it-all when-it’s-warm layer I could wear in comfort while driving, restaurant lunching, and skiing. So I did.
I can tell you this stuff does breath like the dickens — comfortable during an hour of warm driving. A 40 mph breeze during my first test day proved the Futurelight also blocks wind effectively enough to be called “windproof.” As to the dripping question: how waterproof? I did the “rub” test, which is nothing more scientific than rubbing water on a section over bare skin, pressing hard, and working for five minutes. I couldn’t get any perceptible liquid water transfer. I also have a Futurelight jacket (review coming, it’s nice), and wore it during a brief but heavy shower here in Colorado. It shed water like a duck’s back.
I’m not sure what the reasoning is for having a thigh pocket — only. When I stride uphill, anything heavy in a thigh pocket is a non-starter. I hate the feeling, and the possible blister on top of my otherwise attractive quadriceps. Lack of pockets does keep the minimalist vibe going, good on that. But still… Even one additional hip pocket would be nice. The L5 pant does have a nicely executed beacon pouch inside the thigh pocket. As beacons shrink, carrying your beeper here can be simple and easy, compared to using industry harness and pouch systems that could double as props for an eight minute film originating in the San Fernando Valley.
I like suspenders on my shell pants, no suspender mounts here. We’ll probably sew a few, just three tiny loops of webbing. The cuffs do not have a built-in gaitor, but they’re tight. They barely cinch around my Hoji ski boot cuffs. But they did fit and worked fine.
Will I continue to use? Yes. Comfort trumps pockets. Futurlight might be the waterproof-breathable that comes closest to the air transfer of soft shell fabric, while remaining functionally waterproof for everything but lengthy stints in 100% humidity endless downpour.
“Nothing vents like an empty opening,” my ski partner Jake said the other day when we got on the subject of clothing ventilation. I tend to agree. But I’d urge anyone set in their ways to give Futurelight a shot. You might be surprised, and find yourself enjoying the scenery instead of fiddling with zippers.
Last thing. I’d rather may L5 testers were black. Be that as it may, if you need to find me just look for the man with goldfinch legs.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.