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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Backcountry.com Rime Pullover > Test Report by Ben Mansfield
Backcountry.com Rime Pullover
Backcountry.com Rime Pullover in Carbon
(Photo Courtesy of Backcountry.com)
Over the past 15 years or so, I've tried to average at least one weekend trip per month year-round, primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. During the last 8 years, I've tried to take a weeklong trip somewhere further, but still usually in the eastern US. I consider myself a mid-weight hiker, preferring some luxury to an ultralight load. I am also an avid fly fisherman, mountain and road biker, and snow skier, and enjoy sailing my homemade dinghy.
The Backcountry.com Rime pullover is designed as a lightweight pullover which can serve as an intermediate layering piece or as a breathable outer softshell. It is made from Polartec's Power Shield material with a fleece lining. The Rime is cut with a mock-turtleneck collar and has a gusseted cuff. There is a chest zipper which runs about halfway down the torso, as well as a small stuff pocket with a vertical zipper over the left breast area.
A reflective goat (Backcountry.com's logo) is printed on the right, upper chest area, and a reflective "backcountry.com" with another goat is printed on the left sleeve.
Care instructions are printed on an inside tag sewn into the side seam towards the bottom of the pullover. Machine washing and drying are recommended, and no special treatment is required.
Backcountry.com includes a lifetime manufacturer's warranty on this pullover. Their warranty, as stated on the backcountry.com website, is as follows:
We guarantee complete satisfaction and an unlimited lifetime warranty. If at any time - now, next month, in 30 years - you're not 100% satisfied, send your gear back for a full refund. No questions asked.The manufacturer doesn't list a weight for the Rime pullover, but I measured it at an almost negligible 10 oz (284 g).
When I first tried on the Rime pullover, I was pleased with the fit and overall cut. According to backcountry.com, I'm right on the border of a medium and large. I had opted for size large based on some customer comments on the website indicating that the cut ran a little small. The Rime fits me well through the shoulders, chest, and torso - tight enough to be a layer piece but with enough room to fit a baselayer (or two) underneath. The lack of bulk is really appreciated, especially this time of year when I tend to layer up many pieces rather than just picking one heavy jacket.
My arms, measured from the base of my neck, across my shoulders, and down to my wrist (similar to measuring for a men's dress shirt) are about 34-35 in (86-89 cm). The sleeves on the Rime, according to Backcountry.com, are 35.6 in (90 cm) and are a little long for me. However, they're not so long as to feel sloppy, and the extra length is appreciated when reaching overhead or otherwise fully extending my arms. My neck circumference is around 16 in (41 cm), and the Rime's neck leaves plenty of room for a balaclava to tuck in, even when fully zipped up. The bottom of the Rime is cut a little longer in the back than in the front - hopefully this will help minimize unwanted "drafts" when squatting down.
I have been lucky to be able to test the Backcountry.com Rime pullover in a variety of conditions and applications - from a layered piece under a shell on very cold days to a top layer on slightly warmer days as winter turned into spring. So far, I've been able to get in nine backpacking days spread over four different trips - a few of which I'll highlight below, as well as a few days day hiking, plenty of trail running, and a lot of other, non-backpacking related uses (turns out, this is a very versatile piece of clothing!).
A three-day trip to Southern Ohio's Wayne National Forest gave me the opportunity to test the Rime as a layer on top of my base layer but under a jacket, as the temperatures were down between 10 and 25 F (-12 to -4 C) during the day, and colder at night. This trip into the woods was quite interesting - there had just been an ice storm a few days before I arrived, and everything was coated with ice - not quite rime ice, but close enough. The wind was barely noticeable, but since the Rime was inside of my outer (windproof) shell, I don't know that I could form an honest opinion on the wind resistance of the pullover from this trip anyway.
The Backcountry.com Rime pullover also came with me on two trips backpacking in Ohio's Shawnee State Forest. These trips were actually back-to-back as the first weekend trip, one of the three folks in my party twisted an ankle badly enough to not want to finish the loop we had intended on hiking. The survivors returned the following weekend to complete the original itinerary and do some additional exploring in the area. Both weekends were more or less perfect weather-wise. You know that perfect backpacking weather - where it gets cold at night and you don't want to get out of your sleeping bag in the morning? Then it warms up throughout the day with the warmest time in the late afternoon, and cools off again as you sit around a fire and cook dinner. It was two of those weekends in a row. The range for the first weekend was from around 30 F (-1 C) at night up to 65 F (18 C) or so, with only a little drizzle of rain on Saturday. The second weekend was similar but with a wider range, 20 to 70 F (-7 to 21 C) and no rain of which to speak. Neither trip had much wind, with the exception of the mild breeze that accompanies a temperature swing during the day.
Of course, I also put in a bunch of other trips - day trips, some trail runs, a few days of fly fishing, and a ton of day-to-day use around home and around town.
This pullover has proven to be a very versatile piece of clothing for me. It is cut tight enough that it doesn't add considerable bulk when wearing it under other layers, but is large enough that I can wear it as a piece of outerwear over a couple of other shirts. The Rime pullover adds just enough warmth on chilly days - and it is perfect for sitting around a fire on a cool spring evening. However, its intended use is active wear, and it performs quite well in this capacity as well. While actually hiking, the Rime does a good job of managing temperature and moving moisture away from my skin. There were a few occasions where I felt a little soggy, but each time it was warming up enough that I probably should have stopped to take off a layer.
As far as fit is concerned, the Rime is right on for me, with the exception of the arms which are slightly long, as I mentioned in my initial report. I really like the athletic cut of the Rime - it seems to fit me quite well. I'm also happy with the space, or lack thereof, that the Rime takes up in my pack when I'm not wearing it... it packs down fairly nicely, and springs back very well, with a minimum of wrinkles. As I noted in my initial report, both zippers are obstructed by the sternum straps on my backpacks, though this really hasn't bothered me. I haven't really found a good backpacking-specific use for the small stash pocket yet, but it is a good place to stick a gel, drivers license, and credit card when I'm out running.
Another surprise to me is the weather and stain-resistance of the Rime pullover. It has shed light rain like it's a waterproof shell, and even shed some coffee I accidentally spilled on myself one morning without staining. I have not (yet) washed the Rime, so I'll be interested to see if this behavior persists through a few wash cycles. By now, I should have had to wash the Rime several times but I haven't. Though I would expect it to by now, it doesn't stink or show any signs of dirt or wear. It does have a faint campfire smell which I really enjoy. The Rime has really impressed me in this way thus far.
Though I haven't been in any major windstorms, I have had the opportunity to wear the Rime on some windy days, and I'll say that I'm satisfied with its performance in all but the gustiest conditions. It obviously doesn't really compare to a hard shell or wind shirt, but does keep wind out much better than some other soft layers I've tried.
Long Term Report
Putting the Rime to good use...
I did break down and wash the Rime after it got a little dirty and started smelling like a campfire (a favorite odor of mine, not so much for my wife when I come home and hang it up in our coat closet). It came out of the dryer looking like the day it arrived at my door, and I have not noticed any resulting performance degradation with regards to its wind and rain shedding capabilities (it smelled better, too).
I still don't have a good use for the chest pocket while out on the trail, but this really has not proven to be a problem for me as I have access to plenty of other "stash" pockets in the rest of my gear. As I mentioned initially, in order to adjust the main chest zipper I normally have to unbuckle my sternum strap, but this has turned out to be more of a minor inconvenience than a real problem. I can actually get it most of the way down without unbuckling, and only have to do so to get the last bit of zipper undone. This can be seen in the photo to the right, along with the strap's blockage of the chest pocket zipper.
The few reflective areas on the Rime really show up against a flashlight (or the flash from my camera, as can be seen in the picture at right). There's not so much reflective material that I could say that this is a safety feature, but it would probably help someone see me if I were hiking along a forest road at night.
I'm pleased with the Backcountry.com Rime pullover. It has met all of my basic needs as both an inner and outer layer, and performed well under a variety of conditions, as long as I've applied it appropriately. It packs down small and resists wrinkles, stains, rain, wind, and stink. It fits well and has become a favorite piece of springtime gear. The extra length in the sleeves, as well as in the lower back, are especially appreciated when reaching or bending. I will continue to use the Rime for cool times during the summer, and extensively as a key layer during the spring and fall seasons.
I would like to thank Backcountry.com and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this pullover.
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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Backcountry.com Rime Pullover > Test Report by Ben Mansfield