Interview and musings on Haglöfs LIM Crown Proof

I interviewed Paul Cosgrove, Global Product Manager at Haglöfs, about lightweight products and mainly the new LIM Crown Proof rain jacket that is hitting the stores in the spring of 2020. This also lead to some ponderings on the different segments in outdoor; like "lightweight" and "traditional".

By Jörgen Johansson

Fording on a 500 km trek in the Swedish mountains in 2008. Wearing my all time favorite ligthweight (200 g) rain jacket, a Haglöfs Oz, long since out of production. The red chaps and grey rain shorts are MYOG.

Paul Cosgrove has worked a lot with lightweight rain jackets an other gear at Berghaus (Hyper 100) and Montane (Versalite) before joining Haglöfs in 2018. This is promising for the LIM series and other lightweight products coming from Haglöfs. Paul said that a number of products that the members in the Fb group was asking about was in in the pipline. This includes runners vests with pockets, lightweight hiking pants and tights and packs. But we will have to wait until 2021-2022 before we can buy these in our stores.

Paul Cosgrove. Photo: Haglöfs

Waterproofness and breathability

The LIM Crown Proof with Haglöfs proprietary membrane Proof has some impressing characteristics. It withstands 20 000 mm of hydrostatic head and lets air pass through at a rate of 60 000 g/m2/24 h. It is a true membrane, not a coating, made from PU. Since it is proprietary, and thus a trade secret, Paul could not divulge the actual manufacturer, apart from it being a Japanese company.

We talked quite a bit about striking a balance using the most lightweight material in existence and producing a jacket that stands up to hours of rain in Nordic conditions. He was particulary sceptic towards the real life performance of "electrospun" materials, without mentioning any companies or products. He also talked about some membranes being so hydrophilic that they could and would swell and delaminate from absorbing to much moisture within themselves. Obviously not conductive to keeping a hiker dry and away from hypothermia.

Me getting soaked and chilled wearing a RAB eVent Smock (280 g) in Brooks Range, Alaska in 2014
An important message in Haglöfs marketing is the company's roots in the Nordic climate and Nordic conditions for outdoor endeavours. Often cold and wet and with long distances between people and buildings, these conditions put high demands on functionality and reliability of gear in order to keep. "If it works in the Nordic, it works everywhere", was something Paul repeated several times.


A number of questions from the Fb group were about sizing. Many felt that the LIM garments do not fit them, they are too slim and short in the back, exposing the lower back when bending down. This was a question Paul had difficulties in answering, perhaps because there is no answer. Like he said: "We only hear from the people who are dissatisfied".

But sizing is also a question of market segmentation. LIM belongs to a product segment that Haglöfs call "fast and light". In this segment the users, according to Haglöfs, consider the weight being the most important characteristic. On the other hand, in the segment "outdoor classic", reliability is of paramount importance.

A so called "athletic" (i e slim) cut in garments for the "fast and light" segment fits well with the concept, and self-concept, of this group of users. There are also market differences and fashion differences. If you have an "athletic" build, a slim garment looks more flattering in the store. According to Paul, French garments are even more "athletically" cut, compared to northern Europe, and when you get to Italy this is even more pronounced.

Pauls advice was for users to not look at the size, but simply choose the garment with the best fit and make allowances for the kind of use intended. Like allowing space for layering of insulative clothing underneath. He also said that bigger sizes, like 3XL, etc are being produced or will be produced.

Some thoughts on waterproofness and segments like "fast and light"

My own experience of waterproof/breathables are that they are not as waterproof or breathable as the marketing would have it. But these things change and new solutions keeps pushing the boundaries, although not as fast as the marketing would have it. But we do keep getting closer to the dream of a fully breathable, lightweight and waterproof jacket that will work both as a shell from wind and rain.

Until that day my personal solution is what it has been for the last 15 years. I use a lightweight windshirt (85 g/3 oz) for wind only and a lightweight waterproof/breathable jacket (120 g/4 oz)) as a shell against wind and rain. Since no waterproof/breathable rain jackets I have tried so far has kept the rain out for the lenght of an entire day, I also bring MYOG waterproof non-breathable TT Topcoat (35 g/1 1/4 oz) that I have described here. This I put on top of the waterproof/breathable after hiking for a while in rain, depending on how heavy the rain is and how contigous I judge it will be.

Using my TT Topcoat on top of a Zpacks Challenger jacket in Brooks Range, Alaska in 2015
After having spoken to Paul I could also not help but twist and turn the concept of market segmentation in my mind and wonder whether it is good or bad for the comfort of hikers in general. An IMHO there is nothing that means more for the comfort of a hiker than a light load.

Myself, I would probably be a "ligth classic". I neither have the urge nor the ability to go "fast". But even hiking at a leisurely pace with long breaks I prefer to use "the lightest gear that does the job". Which by definition is not the "stupid light" gear that people who on principle are negative to "ultralight backpacking", often use as examples. I mean, seriously, who wants to carry heavy gear simply because it is heavy?

So from one perspective I would perhaps think that "fast and light" gear is not for me. Perhaps I am more of an "outdoor classic" and should choose that kind of gear if the marketing so indicates?

The "outdoor classics" have a high regard for reliability. One questions is if this is "real" or "perceived" reliability? Most of us have difficulties (unless we make it a hobby in defined areas) in keeping up with technical developement in all walks of life. My question is if this kind of segmentation supports a contradiction that is not necessarily true. The one that "light" and "reliable" somehow are mutually exclusive.What was light and unreliable 10-20 years ago might be midweight and reliable today if I bother to look at the facts, instead of my own impressions that have not changed since my experiences 15 years ago.

Looking at the developements in synthetics, carbon fibers and what not, it is astounding that the bestselling big packs of 60-70 liters today weigh about a kilo more than their counterparts did in the 1970's. Why? Åke Nordin, founder of Swedish gear manufacturer Fjällräven, commented on this 15 years ago. The external frame packs of the 1970-80's where unbeatable when it came to carrying heavy loads, he said, but they did not sell. So, obviously, Fjällräven did chose what sold, instead of trying to convince the consumers that they were wrong.

Me in 1975, going down into the Grand Canyon, with a Haglöfs Blå 60 l pack with a steel frame weighing 1900 g
Most of us have probably experienced the truth in the saying: "Opinions are like nails, the harder you hammer them, the harder they stick". All this point to the obvious fact that the number one priority for outdoor manufacturers is not to educate the market, but to sell their products.

A couple of years ago I interviewed a number of known and knowledgable profiles inside or with insigths into the outdoor industry for an article in One of the questions that I asked was why ultralight/lightweight backpacking was not more mainstream in Europe, but still a relatively small segment. The replies pointed at a two-pronged conclusion: Conservatism and Commersialism.

Please note that the following is mostly about what the outdoor industry calls hardware, the stuff that really weighs among your gear. Like the three big ones; pack, shelter and sleeping gear. Not about what the industry calls software, which is clothing. And where the profits come from, considering that an comparatively uncomplicated Gore Tex jacket can sell for the same price as a tent.

The conservatism opposing lightweight hiking is mostly about us hikers, the consumers, where a large segment are hesitant to adapt to new technology, or perhaps to realise that their opinions on "what works" in backpacking might be a couple of decades behind "what in fact works" today. There is also a conservatism among retailers, they want stuff that is robust (since they do not have to carry it) and can stand up to any misuse without generating visits from angry customers.

The commersialism angle is mostly about the manufacturers wanting to continue selling their profitable, already developed products. About them realising that going against the conservatism of the users is very hard work and not profitable. It is also a well known truth in all marketing that the higher the number of (slightly or imagined) different products you have to offer, the more you are going to sell. And since most of us like to consume (including stuff that is supposedly "better for the planet") we will buy into this.

All kinds of packs, light and heavy, at Coast2Coast Sweden in 2016
Since I feel that every hiker will profit from using "the lightest gear that does the job" it seems to me that the sort of segmentation we are talking about here will not really help hikers realise that you need not become wet, cold and hungry because you use a one kilo pack instead of a three kilo pack, nor a 600 g sleeping bag rated at 0C instead of a 1600 g sleeping bag, also rated at 0C.

On the other hand, when companies develop segments with lightweight gear it is of course a way for them to learn the ropes, make mistakes and be ready to expand the segment when more of the market turns in that direction. While at the same time defending the market/products they have using their sizable monetary muscles to keep the lightweight segment as small as possible. Sort of stepping on the gas and the brakes at the same time.What I have come up with from major operators is literally: "We are not that interested in lightweight, since we feel it will hurt our sales".

So, like most things in life, and all coins, this thing also has two sides. How easy life would be if everything was all black and white and not so complicated.