Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Mountain Equipment Changabang revisited

My Changabang in use in Wales
I have finally got my Mountain Equipment Changabang back. I lent it to a mate for some reason (rainy day?) a while back, and as I had a couple of other waterproofs, let him have it for the duration- his old Helly Waterproof was shocking and was one step away from the bin. (to be honest, it should have been in the bin, but thats another matter).

So, I have my old Changabang back, its bright orange, no, make that BRIGHT orange, and has a hole in the hood where I slid head first down a piste in Japan and is covered in crap. However, thats only because I got it covered in crap before I lent it to him.
Lets see, its now kind of orange, but covered in stuff, the waterproofing has died a death- but only in terms of DWR, the membrane and the taping are both still fine and intact, and the hood is still as good as I remember.

Just a word about the hood system.
Over the past couple of years I have tried on a number of jackets by a number of different manufacturers. Arctery'x, MHW, Rab, TNF, Haglofs etc. None of them have come close to the hood system in the Mountain Equipment range. As an example, I have a MHW Argon Jacket now in my possession, and although it is good, it works well, and it sheds water, whenever I have the hood up, all I can think about is how it just doesn't grip the head, and stay on and around the head as well as a Mountain Equipment hood. With OR without a helmet.

Putting my old Changabang on and putting the hood up was like shaking hands with an old friend. It fit well, it worked brilliantly, and it stayed on my head and moved with it, no matter what I tried to do. (ok, maybe in that respect its not quite like a handshake, but you know what I mean).

So, I grabbed a bottle of Grangers 2in1, threw the jacket in the washing machine, put a couple of cap-fuls in the drawer and turned it on to delicate wash. I should probably point out here that we don't use biological soap as a matter of course, neither do we use washing powder. If we did, I'd have to run the washing machine on a cycle with nothing in it first in order to get the residue out- because otherwise it might damage the membrane in the jacket. That isn't a good thing.

The jacket came out, and went on the washing line, and eventually dried. This is NOT the end of the process. To restore the DWR (Durable Water Repellancy) you have to heat the material. This is why a lot of re-proofers recommend tumble drying the garment before use, but only if the manufacturer recommends that it is ok to do this.
(the reason why some jackets should NOT be tumble dried is because the seams are heat sealed instead of sewn and then taped- if you expose a jacket with seams like that- the MHW Dragon Jacket is a good example if you look at the hood- you end up with a jacket in component parts. Not a good look).

One of the reasons for me not to tumbledry my Changabang was that the care label has looooong since faded away, so I have no idea if it is a good idea or not. Another reason is that I don't own a tumble drier. We do have a hair drier though, so I appropriated it for a while, and used it to heat up the fabric, paying more attention to the areas that get a greater amount of use/abrasion (rucksack strap points etc).

(I was once asked which setting to use a hairdrier on for the best effects... my answer was that I didn't actually know hairdriers had any other settings apart from On and Off).

Anyhow. The Changabang is back. It's not quite as water-resistant in terms of DWR as it was, and although it beads water, it does wet out relatively quickly even though I've re-proofed it. I suspect that a bit more of a heat treatment is needed, so I'll continue to hairdrier it and test it out in nasty conditions and we'll see how it goes.
The main thing is that I have realised is just how shockingly bad the MHW hoods are in comparison to MEQ hoods. My next mountain jacket will most probably be a Mountain Equipment one, and it will be a Changabang if they still make them in a few years time when I need it. However, if anyone has a brand new Mountain Equipment Changabang in a size small that they want to swap for a Mountain Hardwear Argon size small (used maybe twice), drop me a line!

1 comment:

  1. Love the article. I bought this exact model (same BRIGHT orange and black) jacket second hand a 4 years ago on ebay and have been wearing it ever since. The label does say you can tumble dry it. My label is dated 2002. Am just re-proofing for second time in 4 years. Have been through Scotish and Welsh winters on the Ben and Cader and its kept me dry. Best jacket I have ever had.