Review of gear - Psolar Jett Hotronic

< Newer | Older >

At 7000m on the Lhotse face wearing the Jett heated vest.  You can also see the Psolar mask around my neck.  Whenever we rested I put the mask on to sooth my throat, but have pulled it down for the photo.  Photo Attila Jelinko.Hi It's Paul.  I said earlier I would write a bit about some of the gear that I used and what I thought of it, so here goes.

By far the most significant piece of new equipment that I had on my expedition this year was my Psolar mask www.psolar.com This really does keep the Khumbu cough away better than any medicine.  Initially I didn’t wear it much during the day however by the end of a day I would find that I had a dry, sore throat and a minor cough.  Under normal circumstances my sore throat would get much worse at night, however after wearing the mask whilst I slept, I would wake up with no sore throat or cough at all.  I wore it every single night from Namche onwards, with the sole exception of when I was using oxygen.  If you are looking at the models on their website I had a Bx balaclava and a Lx mask.  I found the balaclava to be too hot and I didn’t like the feel of it on my hair, so I only wore the Lx mask.  But that’s just me, and Attila who also had both, often wore the balaclava at night.

I would recommend getting at least two masks/balaclavas because the heat exchanger does get very dirty when you are wearing them so much. Attila had bought the anti-fog foam, and I would suggest that you buy a few of these, because otherwise it really fogs your glasses up.  Attila seemed to be able to get his anti fog foam to work, but I couldn’t so well.  I would try to wear the mask while climbing, but I found that it made it too hard to see out of my glasses.  A couple of times I climbed without glasses, because I really wanted to use the mask.

Towards the middle of the expedition, I started leaving it around my neck during the day, and whenever I would feel a little dryness, cough or a sore throat, I would pull it up over my mouth for 5 minutes and that’s all it would take to make the problem go away. 

I can’t recommend this strongly enough to people going climbing in places where the air is cold and dry.  They are not expensive (about $40), which I think is very reasonable for the product.

The other benefit of the mask is that it does keep you warm.  At night I would often be hot, even though I was using a reasonably lightweight sleeping bag (in fact it’s the bag I use for hiking in Summer in Australia). 

On the subject of the Khumbu cough; a couple of times I did cough and the mask wouldn’t stop it.  If you don’t get on top of the cough your throat gets more irritated and you cough more, creating a never ending cycle.  I have found that codeine tablets or codeine syrup is the best product for quickly stopping a serious cough.  In some countries I understand that codeine (an opiate) is banned, but you can easily buy it very cheaply without prescription at the many chemists in Kathmandu.  Some people say that it’s dangerous to take codeine in the mountains because it can lower your respiration rate, but I have never noticed any major impact, other than it makes me very drowsy.  I probably used it about 5 times during the expedition.

All Wired Up

Last year I used Hotronic electric foot warmers www.hotronic.com (the M3 model, with semi custom insoles) and was very happy with them.  I haven’t used any other brands, so I can’t compare.  This year I also had a heated vest from Jett www.jett.us.com and for me it was an amazing experience; a kind of glimpse into the future, because this is how all our clothes will be some day.  The vest was thin and the battery weighed very little, so it doesn’t feel like the type of garment that is going to keep you warm.  But it does.  I wore the vest all the way from Camp 2 to the summit of Everest and back down again and I never once put it on the warmest setting.  There are three warmth settings and I used one and two.  What I found even more surprising, was how easy it was to regulate your heat just by adjusting the temperature control.  When you are climbing on a steep face, with a backpack on, it’s not easy to take layers off or put more on, and the ease at which you can change the warmth of your clothing was a whole new experience for me.  When the wind direction and speed is changing regularly you do find that your body temperature varies a lot, but with the press of a button you can adjust for it.  Managing your temperature is not just about comfort; it’s vital to avoid perspiration and subsequent deterioration in the warmth of your clothes.

But where I see really big potential for both the Hotronic foot warmers and the Jett vest is in an emergency bivouac situation.  Both of these devices would improve your chances significantly – the vest heating your core and the foot warmers heating your feet.  And we are not just talking about keeping you warm for a few hours – up to 17 hours on one battery and if you carry a spare set then you can have at least double this time.  That’s at least one night and maybe even two.  I know that if I had these in Kazakhstan, I wouldn’t have got frostbite and lost 4 toes. In all mountains that I climb from now on, I will have both these pieces of equipment, and at least one spare battery.   Up next I'll write about boots and down suit/jacket/pants.
Regards, Paul.

Messages

Gear

Great info on the gear. Keep the reviews coming as I am curious to see what works for you and what doesn't work. There is lots of information on what to take on a Everest climb, but not much in the way of brands and how they perform. Every bit of information helps.

I agree

Will write about all the key pieces of gear that I had. Some of which was good and some not so good. I know I found there to be a lack of good information out there about how the products work in the field. Cheers, Paul.

Thank You Paul...

for the initial review...look foward to the others. Very interesting concept of variable warmth clothing and how it is emerging and developing, as your "pioneering use" has revealed.
WP

Gear Review

Hi Paul,
This review is excellent. Can you consider taking about your 2way radios and the frequencies you needed, and the pack you used from camp 2 to the summit.
Thanks Craig

great products!!

a great critique of the vest and foot warmers.they should be a ''must'' for anyone going into cold climes. cheers [ken.nz]

charging

Hey Paul

Great info thanx..

How is it with charging it? Did you use a solar panel?

On Jett they say 4h+ with 2 batteries...

How many batteries did you bring for vest and socks?

Cheers from Zurich Marco

Hi Marco, I bought 2 sets of

Hi Marco,

I bought 2 sets of batteries for the vest and 3 sets for the footwarmers. My thinking was to always keep one set of batteries spare for emergency.

With the vest, when you are working hard, you can turn it down or off, so you will find that you will get a lot of time out of one set of batteries. They are really amazing - it's just like being able to take off or put on clothes with the press of a button.

My foot warmers lasted from the South Col until the Hillary Step. I had run cables up the inside of my down suit to a chest pocket, so changing them over or adjusting the temperature was very easy.

We had AC power available in BC, so charging was straight forward. Most teams will have power at BC.

Regards,
Paul