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Should I trade my FF Volant for a Frontpoint?


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Someone help me make a case. Partially I want a new parka, but also, I've been a bit cold on the last 2 trips and I'm wondering if I should change my parka quiver. I have a 7 year old Volant that I absolutely love, but I am thinking about selling it and buying a Helios with no hood for milder stuff, and a Frontpoint for high-altitude/winter. Has anyone worn both? How much warmer is the Frontpoint than that Volant? Thanks!

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Having worked on the design of several FF products, hopefully I can give you some insight on the lineup.


Volant vs Helios

The Volant is a substantial jacket and pretty warm for most folks. Do you run a little cold? If that's the case, then diversifying your jacket collection to extend your comfort range could be a good plan. I have 2 Helios jackets (hooded & std) and find that even with the sewn-through construction they are remarkably warm. I have used a Helios-Vireo (sleeping bag) combo on Rainier multiple times and it works great for me. I tend to run on the warm side. The compressibility and weight savings of the Helios relative to the Volant is welcome if you don't need the extra warmth of a baffled jacket. I highly recommend the Hooded Helios/Vireo combo for spring, summer, and fall alpine use in the Cascades. That is an unbeatable combo for weight, volume, and comfort. The Helios fits differently from the Volant. You should try it on, as many people wear one size larger in the Helios than they do in the Volant.


Volant vs Frontpoint

The Frontpoint is an expedition jacket, no doubt about it. It's basically a shortened Icefall with fewer pockets. The baffles are longer than the Volant so it lofts more, and it has the effective double internal/external zipper system to create a baffle at the main zipper. The Frontpoint is designed for Alaskan and Himalayan conditions. Unless you really run cold, I would say the Frontpoint is overkill for Cascade conditions with the exception of Rainier in winter when it's single digits on the summit. I've used my Volant on Rainier in the winter and found it more than adequate. Now that the Volant comes standard with double-slider zipper it's more versatile, but it still lacks features of the FP like zippered pockets and large internal cargo pockets for gloves/waterbottles (all of which add weight). The Frontpoint takes up a fair amount of pack space, so again- not conducive to Cascade style climbing where you want to go for 2-4 days with a pack that is 50 liters or smaller.


If you go the Helios/FP route, my prediction is that you'll use the Helios 90% of the time for Cascade trips and the FP will hang in your closet but you'll be grateful for it on Denali or when you're hanging out at Ingraham Flats in January.

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Thank very much for the thoughtful reply.


I guess I should have stated what I use the jackets for. Mountaineering/14ers. 4 season, and ice climbing. The Volant is one of my favorite pieces of gear, but there are a few things that bug me about it. 1- it is a little too short in the torso-I frequently have to pull it down, and 2- I wish there was a pocket or 2 for me to stick water bottles in. If you stick a nalgene in a Volant and start moving it will fall out the bottom since it has no drawcord hem. Also my XL Volant was a bit on the snug side with multiple layers underneath.


I called and talked to Feathered Freinds and they told me that though the sizing chart makes the size dimensions look the same for the Volant and Frontpoint, that the Frontpoint was cut roomier in reality. He also told me to size up one on the Helios.


I ended up ordering the Frontpoint in XL and the Hooded Helios in XXL, and I say a bittersweet goodbye to my XL Volant-it is on eBay.

Edited by Dhamma
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