Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Gear Talk: Integral Designs PLQ Jacket and Pants Review

Just this morning I read that Integral Designs was bought by the parent company of Rab (hat tip to Roger who tweeted about it). So while Integral Designs will continue to exist, it looks like production will be moved from Calgary, Canada, by mid 2011. I am not going to speculate why this happened, and what is going to happen to Integral Designs. I do wish both ID and Rab good success on their venture together, and hope that they continue to produce the great, high quality kit they currently make.


In the beginning of this season's winter I received from Integral Designs the PLQ jacket and the PLQ pants for testing. Since I got them, on every trip I have been wearing these two garments, and I am very satisfied with them. This is my review of these two fantastic garments, which keep me warm in our cold winter.

The PLQ Jacket in Size S is 329 g on my scale, of which are 80 g Primaloft Sport insulation which keep you warm. It has a Pertex Microlite outer and lining, which feels very comfortable and keeps the wind and snow at bay, and also withstands a bit of rain. The long front zipper is great for temperature regulation, and it has a rather big zippered inside pocket where I usually keep my phone and things which need to stay warm.

The long front sipper is great for thermal regulation.

The inside pocket is huge.

The thumb hooks are excellent.

The thumb hooks of the jacket are a very nice feature, I usually first slip through them and then put my mitts over them, that's a very warm combo. The hems are all elastic and don't let any heat escape, also the collar closes snugly around my neck and doesn't let my precious heat escape. The inside zipper pocket can be sometimes a bit difficult to close, a anti zip snag webbing tape shouldn't be too heavy and would make it easier to close.

The PLQ Pants, also Size S, are 276 g on my scales and a true favourite of my girlfriend who borrows them nearly every day when she walks back from work. But not only my girlfriend finds the pants excellent, also I do =) A taffeta lining and a Pertex Microlite outer with also 80 g of Primaloft Sport for insulation make these a great pants to wear when the temperature drops under -5°C. The pants has no pockets, elastic hems at both legs and a shock cord waist "belt" to trap the warmth. It keeps wind and snow outside, and also my rolling around and kneeling in the snow kept them dry.

I wear them over my baselayer, and for temperatures of up to -20°C they are sufficient and keep me comfortably warm while walking. I tried if I could go with only a baselayer and my shell layer but found that I am losing heat, especially my thighs were very quickly very cold. With both PLQ jacket and pants I am well isolated, and only need to wear my shell layer if its very windy or snowing heaps. I wear both when walking, and at camp usually put the PLQ jacket up for drying while wearing my dry down isolation. The beauty of the Primaloft Sport insulation is that is still isolating, even when moist from sweat, or when the sweat has frozen. This has happened to me, I for example was wearing it during the days, switching into camp clothes in the evening the garments quickly dried when hung up for drying, or froze when I forgot to do so. If the latter happened I just put them on in the morning, and within minutes I was warm again. That is the beauty of synthetic isolation, and a great advantage for folks who are longer than a night or two out in the cold.

While much of the world is going with a smile towards spring, we'll have the snow and cold for another six to ten weeks here in Finland; and for my trip this weekend the weather forecast is promising -15°C and snow. I will be very happy to wear these two garments these coming weeks, and if you're still looking for a warm and functional isolation layer while walking, then you can find them either at Ultralight Outdoor Gear (while they don't have the PLQ pants and jacket listed, they will order them for you) or at Sack und Pack. You also could order directly from Integral Designs or check their dealer's list.

Two thumbs up from me for the Integral Designs PLQ jacket and pants!