Macpac Pulsar Plus concept by – Daniel Joll , review by Matthew Scholes
I was sitting in El Chalten, Patagonia, with Kim Ladiges after a successful but particularly wet and cold ascent of the Ragni route on Cerro Torre. In total we were out for six cold and wet days. Often sleeping in our tent on top of a bed of water. We were talking over our ideas for the perfect synthetic belay jacket. Something that would perform well in cold, damp environments and also had a technical cut allowing you to easily climb while wearing it. We used the Pulsar, but felt we wanted something a bit beefier for cold conditions. The concept for the Pulsar Plus was born from this conversation.
We took the current version of the Pulsar, designed in conjunction with the NZAT. This is a great climbing jacket. It performs well in cold conditions and is light enough to wear while moving but it was never intended as a winter belay jacket. For ascents in cold weather on peaks like Cerro Torre we would usually layer it with something like the Macpac Supernova light weight down jacket to beef up the warmth. The Pulsar Plus was designed with long cold climbs in mind. It does away with the need for an extra mid layer in cold conditions and brings some new features to the Pulsar jacket such as a higher storm cuff. This allows you to have your face more protected while wearing a helmet at a belay. Large internal mesh pockets for holding gloves and water bottles, double ended chest zippers to allow you to open from the top or bottom i.e when you want your jacket to go over a belay device with out causing the rest of the jacket to ride up. It is a technical fit, i.e long in the back, helmet compatible hood and arms that allow you to raise your hands while the jacket body stays low and snug. Synthetic fabrics also have the advantage that when ripped they don’t shed all their contents. This is a big advantage over down as it allows you to be a bit rougher on the top without the fear you might lose half the filling should you tear it open.
Our first full expedition with the Pulsar Plus was to Nepal. We were climbing in late November i.e things are getting cold there, on the long steep and very shady North Face of Cholatse. Check out a video of this ascent by clicking Cholatse 6440m via the North Face
This review by Matthew Scholes is based on using the Pulsar Plus on that Expedition.
I have for a long time been a fan of synthetic fill jackets. Sometimes referred to as 'idiot proof' insulation, they retain their warmth in damp environments, are robust and can dry out the wettest gear or layers from underneath it, without compromising the warmth of the jacket while you are wearing it. The Pulsar Plus is Macpac's first real cold weather synthetic jacket with 200gsm of PrimaLoft GOLD throughout the chest and 100gsm on the sleeves - which is double the normal Pulsar.
The shell material is the Pertex Quantum, proven to be lightweight and durable material. I think what really sets this jacket apart is the cut. Unlike other insulated jackets it's actually really nice to climb in, so can be used for more than just belaying or standing around. On Cholatse we ended up wearing it all day, climbing, belaying and sleeping. It also includes a helmet compatible hood, long body so it can be tucked into you harness and stay that way, two-way zip, and internal mesh pockets for gloves and things that you don't want to freeze.
The Pulsar Plus is a great piece to have in your collection. Use it as your warmest layer for climbing in New Zealand winters, Patagonian Summers or as part of a system when climbing a cold north face in the Himalayas as done by the New Zealand Alpine Team.
The Pulsar Plus – A five-star technical synthetic jacket.
The new Pulsar Plus will be instores for NZ winter 2018. Keep an eye out on your local Macpac store or their website for details.