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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Diablo > Test Report by Michael Wheiler

By Michael Wheiler

OCTOBER 31, 2007
March 11, 2008

Diablo 1
(October 31, 2007)

Personal Data:

Michael Wheiler
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Age:  51 years old
Height:  5'10"  (177.8 cm)
Weight:  175 pounds  (79.4 kg)
Chest:   42" (107 cm)
Shoulder girth:   48" (122 cm)
Location:   Southeast Idaho
Email:  jmwlaw AT ida DOT net

Personal Information, Backbacking Style, and Geographical Information:

I have had more than 39 years of camping, hiking and backpacking experience.  I try to take at least one trip 3 to 5 days in length and at least one weekend jaunt per month during the year.  I have been a "traditional" backpacker but am transitioning to a lighter weight backpacking style.  Currently my typical pack weight is around 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kg)
Most of my trips occur in southeastern  and central Idaho, western Wyoming and western Montana.  The elevations of the areas I frequent generally range from 5,500' (2 km) to 14,410 (4,392 km).  The weather in southeastern Idaho is fairly typical of a high desert plain.  Winter is usually cold with snow depths generally over 10-12' (3-4 m).  Spring can be moderately wet and cold.
6325 Gunpark Drive, Suite 102, Boulder CO  80301

Diablo Parka
Available Colors:  Port/Grease and Caspian Blue
Color Received:  Caspian Blue
Size Received:  Large
Year Manufactured:  2007
Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price:  $350.00 US

General Information:

The Diablo arrived undamaged and looking much like what I expected from the picture and description on GoLite's web page.
Manufacturer Specifications (from GoLite's web page/product tag unless otherwise noted):

Shell Material
WispHP:  breathable, quick-drying, wind-resistant, water repellent polyester taffeta.
Printed 100% polyester.
Premium 800 fill goose down.
Weight (per manufacturer)
2 lbs (910 g) (for size medium).
Weight (per tester)
2 lbs 4 oz ( 1.02 kg) (weighed on a Neoplast Digital Postal Scale).
Down filled internal baffles and exterior baffles on the side panels; attached adjustable insulated hood with single handed vertical adjustment; two exterior hand warmer pockets with reverse coil zippers; an internal zippered security pocket; decorative tape on center front storm fly; single-handed cord lock waist adjustment; adjustable Velcro® rubber cuffs; a reverse coil center front zipper; and an internal mesh water bottle/storage pocket.
Winter camping, alpinism, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, and ice climbing.
"Our guarantee is simple.  We want you to be happy with your GoLite product.  We will replace any gear with a manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, free of charge.  And if one of our products fails to satisfy you, return it to the store you bought it from or contact our Customer Service department to return it to us for repair, replacement, or refund.  Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge to the user."
Breathable, downproof, durable, water repellent, warm and lite outerwear for the coldest weather.

Examination and Initial Use:
The exterior material on the body of the Diablo is a soft polyester taffeta which on this version is blue in color with charcoal gray colored material under the armpits and down the side panel.  The GoLite insignia is stitched in gray colored thread on the parka where it fits over my left hip.  The stitching is uniform and all seams appear to be stitched securely.  The lining material is a soft polyester, gray in color with a subtle geometric design.  SBS zippers are used throughout the jacket.  The Diablo has two exterior pockets, one interior security pocket and one interior mesh water bottle/storage pocket.

Diablo 2
Interior pockets

All zippers have a pull tab except the inside pocket.  The jacket's main front zipper is a two way zipper with a nylon webbing/plastic extension on the zipper pull.  The two exterior handwarmer pockets each have an extension on the zipper pull made of black cord attached to a diamond shaped black plastic piece.  Inside the pockets is a soft, smooth material which feels soft and silky smooth. 

There is an elastic draw cord around the hood with cord locks for adjusting the hood on each side near the base of the neck.  There is a soft, fleece type material (shown in the photograph below) placed on the interior of the parka at the top of the zipper which wraps over the top of the zipper providing protection for the chin and neck from the zipper.

Diablo 3
Hood side draw cord and chin/neck protector

There is also an elastic draw cord around the hem of the jacket with cord locks on each side near where the parka contacts my hips.  The cuffs on each wrist have adjustable Velcro® plastic tabs.  There is a care/materials tag sewn into the vertical hem on the left side of the jacket.  The care instructions are, "Machine wash cold separately, rinse thoroughly, do not use bleach or fabric softener, tumble dry low temperature, do not dry clean, iron at low temperature."  I'm not sure why one would want to iron a down parka.

Initial Impressions:
The Diablo appears to be well constructed.  My initial inspection revealed no obvious defects.  The size large fit my upper body with room for additional layering if necessary.  As anticipated, the sleeve length is a little too long.  In fact, although the chest measurement of 42" (107 cm) fit GoLite's sizing chart for a size large, the Diablo feels like it runs a bit big and I believe I could have gotten by with a medium.  All zippers pulled easily and smoothly.

Diablo 4 

I folded and stuffed the Diablo into my brief case and took it to the office where it was weighed.  The Diablo's loft was quickly restored and it was difficult to tell that it had been compacted for several hours.  I wore the Diablo to lunch on a cold, lightly raining day.  The temperature never got above 42 F (5.6 C).  The Diablo kept me warm and dry.  The light rain (almost mist) simply rolled off the parka.  However, I was not out in the weather for an extended period of time.  As such, I still need to do a real test of the Diablo's wind resistance, ability to repel water, and its warmth.  The Diablo's fit was comfortable and allowed full, free movement.  However, again, my use was very limited and a real field test is still necessary to provide an accurate evaluation of the fit and comfort. 

I did not use the hood but had previously tried the hood on.  It fit snuggly but comfortably.  The draw cord on the hood was easy to adjust even with one ungloved hand.  Although not mentioned in the information provided by GoLite, there is also a draw cord hidden under a piece of fabric near the back of the head on the hood.  This draw cord is covered so well, I almost didn't discover it.  The pocket of material hiding this draw cord is shown in the photograph below.  It begins where the vertical stitching in the middle of the hood ends.  The lower portion of this rectangular piece of material is not stitched to the hood and it is through this opening that the draw cord is accessed.  Tightening this draw cord shortens the hood from front to back.  The hood also has a built in flexible visor in the front.

Diablo 5

Diablo 6

The elastic draw cord around the hem of the jacket was also fairly easy to adjust but required two hands to tighten the draw cord.  Only one hand was needed to loosen the draw cord.  The Velcro® plastic tabs on the cuffs are easy to adjust.  I was able to tighten the cuffs as much as I desired.  I also found that the parka was long enough in the back to cover my posterior.
Field Testing Strategy:

I love getting into the mountains during the winter.  There is an indescribable feeling of quiet and solitude when the pines are ladened with snow and the untracked white powder stretches out as far as one can see.  It is a glorious time to be in the mountains.  In November I will take the Bear Creek loop (about 10 miles/16 km) which includes a stop at a natural hot spring/hot tub.  In December, I plan to snowshoe into Lower Palisades Lake (elevation 6,131 ft/1,869 m)(about 8 miles/13 km round trip).  I also plan to spend one night in a snow cave in Island Park in December.  In January, I plan to cross-country ski into a Yurt in Harriman State Park (elevation of 6,128 ft/1,868 m) for one night and spend the next day skiing around the Park and in February, I plan to spend one night at Crater's of the Moon National Park (elevation 5,325 ft/1,623 m) where one can take a 7 mile trek through the Park on snowshoes or cross country skis.  I usually spend one night near Warm River (elevation 5,260 ft/1,603 m) during March.  In April, my family and I traditionally do an overnight bike trip into Teton National Park. 

I will use the Diablo on each of these outings and, as such, it will get extensive use in various terrain, at extremely different elevations, and, hopefully, during all sorts of weather conditions.  I will use the Diablo as both a layer of clothing during activities and, if necessary, for colder evenings in a sleeping bag.



One evening in early December, 2007, during the10:00 p.m. news, the weatherman promised at least -2 F/-19 C temperatures overnight.  With several items of cold weather gear to test, I decided I had to take advantage of this weather.    I donned my fleece pants, a light polypropylene mock-turtle neck shirt, a fleece stocking-cap, gloves, the Diablo, wool socks and boots, grabbed my camping gear and headed out the door into a biting 15 mph/24.1 Kph northerly wind.  At that time the thermometer read 1 F/-17 C.  With the wind chill, the temperature was -17.5 F/-27.5 C.  After setting up my tent in the back yard (elevation 4,705/1,434 m) and hauling my sleeping system out to my tent, I stopped for a cup of hot chocolate.  The Diablo kept me comfortably warm during this light work in very cold conditions.  I stowed the Diablo inside the pillow pocket on my sleeping bag but did not need to use it otherwise during the night. 

The next morning, according to the thermometer hanging near my head inside the tent (and the local news the next morning), the temperature dipped to a chilly -7
F/-22 C.  There was no wind.  I again donned the Diablo and the rest of my clothing, gathered up my gear and headed into the house.  Again, I found myself toasty warm while engaged in light exercise in very cold temperatures.

Given my holiday plans, other than wearing the Diablo around town and down to feed the horses, I didn't use the Diablo again specifically for backpacking purposes until early January.  The first trip occurred just west of Idaho Falls (elevation 4,810 ft/1,466 m).  I wore the same combination of clothing as I wore during my first outing.  This time the temperature was
24 F/-4.43 C with a strong wind out of the south reported by the local news to be 20 mph/32.2 Kph.  The effective wind chill was 9.5 F/-12.5 C.  This time I was doing a 2 mile (3.22 km) snowshoe hike while wearing a 30 lb/14 kg pack.  The purpose of this hike was specifically to examine my ability to use the Diablo during strenuous activity in relatively cold conditions and to see how the jacket handled the compression of a backpack.

My route was generally south to north in direction with approximately 18-24"/46-61 cm of snow.  Initially, the wind was at my back.  I had eaten nothing before taking this hike.  Although the terrain was generally flat, there were several hills which required me to exert myself more than usual with just using snowshoes.  I was walking about 3 mph/4.8 Kph.  About 0.5 mile (0.8 km) into the hike I began to notice my body was overheating and shortly thereafter I began to feel the perspiration on my back.  I unzipped the front of the Diablo to provide extra ventilation.  Had I been planning an overnight stay, I would have removed the Diablo at the first sign I was overheating and replaced it with a lighter jacket.  However, since I was just hiking, I kept the Diablo on and pressed onto my destination.

At the 1 mile (1.61 km) mark, I turned around and hiked back out with the wind in my face.  Now I did not have the benefit of the added insulation from the backpack and the wind stung my exposed face.  I zipped the front of the Diablo all the way up and tucked my chin under the collar.  The fleece chin-guard provided a very welcome relief from the bitting wind.  I also noticed that my body temperature went down and it was more comfortable using the Diablo on the return trip despite the same temperature and wind speed as when I started.  When I reached my destination, I carefully examined the shoulders of the Diablo and while I could see wrinkles in the material where the shoulder straps from the pack came into contact with the parka, it did not appear as though the parka was otherwise affected.

I again used the Diablo on a second snowshoe hike a few days later in the Kelley Canyon Ski area (elevation 6,323 ft/1,927 m).  The temperature was 22
F/-5.5 C with a wind out of the south reported by the local news to be 6 mph/9.7 Kph and a light snow falling.  The effective wind chill was -10 F/-14 C.  I was planning to do a 4 mile (6.44 km) snowshoe hike in the "light and fast mode" by using only a fanny pack containing just the bare essentials.  Diablo III wore a light wool turtle-neck sweater, a baseball cap, light gloves, and ski pants.  The purpose of this hike was specifically to examine my ability to use the Diablo during strenuous activity in cold conditions without the added weight of a full pack.  I packed my water bottle in the inner mesh pocket of the Diablo.  I found that this was a bit bulky and the photograph to the left shows the bulge of the bottle but it was not uncomfortable.  I definitely would not be able to pack a water bottle in this pocket while wearing a full pack.

My route was generally north to south in direction with approximately 24-36"/61-91 cm of snow.  Initially, the wind was at my back.  I had eaten nothing before this hike.  The terrain was generally uphill and sidehill while traveling north.  I tried to keep a brisk pace of about 3 mph/4.8 Kph.  A short distance into the hike I again noticed my body was overheating and I began to feel the perspiration on my back.  I unzipped the front of the Diablo to provide extra ventilation and slowed my pace to a leisurely walk.  With the slower pace and the added ventilation, I was able to continue my hike but didn't make the full trip due to darkness.  Throughout the hike, I observed that the dry, light snow was simply sliding off the Diablo's exterior material and at the conclusion of my walk, I found no wet spots.  The wind was not blowing hard enough for me to use the hood.


Fabric:  The exterior and interior fabrics remain soft to the touch and slide easily over other articles of clothing which are being layered under the parka.

Fit:  The fit of the Diablo on me is what I would call roomy.  It is a bit too bulky for me to use as a general "run around town" type coat.  However, the roomy design is good for my usual winter camping use.  It allows me to layer comfortably and does not restrict my movement.  The sleeves are especially long and allow me to pull my hands inside the sleeves while wearing light gloves or no hand protection.  The back of the parka is cut long enough to adequately cover my rear-end and provide extra insulation to that portion of my body.

Use:  For me, the Diablo is too warm for any activity which requires more than light effort such as setting up a tent.  For future testing, unless faced with much colder temperatures, the Diablo will be stowed in my pack and used during breaks or while in camp.

Wind Resistance:  So far, the Diablo has provided good protection from winds up to approximately 20 mph/32.2 Kph even when walking straight into the wind on an exposed flat.  The chin-guard provided welcome protection from the cold and was very comfortable.

Water Resistance:  I have not had the Diablo out in any serious storms yet.  It has only been exposed to a light, dry snow.  As such, at this time, I cannot really report on how well it repels moisture.  However, the constant snow it did experience was not even a challenge for the Diablo.

Features:  The plastic Velcro closures on the sleeves are easy to use and make it easy to layer.  The fleece-lined pockets are warm and very comfortable on my hands.  The exterior pockets are roomy enough for me to stow small items in the pockets and still have room for my hands.  The interior zip pocket is ample for holding my car keys, money, and other such smaller items.  The interior mesh pocket holds a water bottle comfortably but a water bottle in this pocket would be too bulky for me while using a backpack.  I have yet to try carrying a fuel canister in the mesh pocket but will do so during the Long Term testing period.  All zippers work properly without catching or binding.

Durability:  I have not noticed any durability issues with the Diablo to date.

Care:  I have not needed to wash the Diablo yet but will do so during the Long Term testing period.

At Harriman

Although I used the Diablo as the outer-layer for all my cold weather outdoor activities, I specifically tested it as my outer-layer on four separate cross-country skiing/snowshoeing outings in January and February.  I also used it on one extremely cold overnight camp out near my home.

Long Term Testing Conditions:

I used the Diablo on over-night cross-country skiing trips in Harriman State Park (elevation 6,270 ft/1,911 m) on January 11-12, and 18-19.  Temperatures during both outings ranged between 13 and 19 F/-10.5 and -7 C.  There was 5 ft/152 cm or more of snow on the ground but during the second trip we received approximately 8 in/20 cm of new snow overnight.  While we were skiing during the first trip, the wind was blowing up to 6 mph/10 km/h.  There was little to no wind during the second trip.  On both occasions, we cross-country skied approximately 6 miles over various terrain including some fairly steep hills.  I carried a full-sized backpack on both trips which was nearly full for the trip to our camping spot at about 1/2 mile (0.8 km) from the trail head.  The mostly full pack weighed 36 lbs/16 kg.  When we hit the trail the next morning, I only carried a partially loaded pack.  Total pack weight was about 15 lbs/7 kg.  I started wearing the Diablo on each of the longer ski trips but after the first 1/2 mile (0.8 km), I was overheating and I replaced the Diablo with a lighter jacket.  The Diablo then got to freeload in the pack until we stopped for lunch.  While I was using the Diablo, my movements were not restricted in any way and its soft lining felt good against my face and chin.  I was able to access pockets quickly and easily.  I had no difficulty with the zippers even while using light, liner type gloves.

View of Back

The Diablo really came in handy during the lunch break.  Even with the lighter jacket I had worked up a little sweat and my clothes were a bit damp.  When I stopped working, my body really started to cool down.  The Diablo solved that problem quickly.  In fact, I was so comfortable in the Diablo that I kept it on even after we started skiing again.  During the first trip, due to the wind, I finished the last 1 1/2 miles (2.4 km) while wearing the Diablo.

After coming home from work on January 21, I learned that we were expecting overnight temperatures down to at least -12 F/-24 C.  I decided to set-up my tent in the back yard and give my cold weather gear a real test.  At about 10:00 p.m. when I finally ventured outside, the thermometer read 12 F/-11 C with a stiff wind out of the north.  I wore the Diablo while setting up my tent, while carrying gear in and out of the house, and while getting into bed.  I took if off to sleep and didn't need to use it again until the next morning.  The Diablo proved to be very comfortable while engaged in these activities and I remained comfortably warm the entire time.  I wore only a short-sleeved cotton T-shirt under the Diablo and the lining felt silky-smooth against my skin.  The next morning the thermometer read -16 F/-27 C but I was toasty warm in the Diablo and my wool stocking cap while I took down my tent and carried gear back into the house.

On January 25, I used the Diablo for part of a snowshoe hike near Sun Valley, Idaho (elevation 5,920 ft/1,804 m).  The temperature that day was a pretty constant 25 F/-4 C.  There was a slight breeze but not enough to make much difference.  It had snowed approximately 10 in/25 cm the night before and I was the first one on the trail--as such I was breaking trial for a large part of the trip.  The total trip was about 3 miles (4.8 km) with some very steep ascents and descents in deep, untracked powder.  Due to the temperature the Diablo stayed mostly in my backpack.  Once again, I was carrying a partially loaded pack weighing about 15 lbs/7 kg.  As with the cross-country skiing, I started the hike with the Diablo on but once I started to climb, I quickly changed into a lighter jacket and let the Diablo ride in the pack.  While wearing the Diablo, my movements were not restricted.

I next used the Diablo on February 22-23 during an overnight snowshoe hike near Kelley Canyon (elevation 6,177 ft/1,883 m).  I had planned to leave work early but, as usual, I was delayed and had to hike in by the light of my headlamp.  The temperature was 26 F/-3 C.  It was overcast and threatening to snow but there was no wind.  The snow pack, typical for late February, was hard and icy.  The trail I chose was fairly flat at first but then climbed steeply to the spot where I intended to camp for the night.  This time I was carrying a fully-loaded backpack (48.5 lbs/22 kg).  As such, even on the flatter portion of the trail, I felt my body temperature raising faster than I wanted while wearing the Diablo. So it came off and got strapped under the lid of the pack until I reached the camp site.  After about a 3/4 mile (1.2 km) hike, I reached my destination for the evening.  I then put the Diablo back on while setting up my camp.  After I set-up camp, it was about 8:00 p.m, so I decided to take a little night snowshoe hike without my pack.  According to my GPS, I hiked 2 miles (3.2 km).  A couple of times while going down a steep slope, I slipped and fell on my back in the snow.  The Diablo handled it well and I returned to my tent warm, dry and ready for bed.

I slept with the Diablo resting over my pack inside the tent.  During the night, it began to snow lightly and by morning we had about 2 in/5 cm of new snow.  Amazingly, according to my thermometer, it was still 26 F/-3 C at 7:30 a.m.  It was warm enough in my tent that I didn't need a coat while fixing and eating my breakfast.  After breakfast, I donned the Diablo and decided to do some off-trail snowshoeing.  Again, according to my GPS, I hiked about 1 1/2 miles (2.4 km) by the time I returned to my tent.  It was snowing lightly but the Diablo shed the snow easily.  When I arrived back at my tent, I noted that the shell appeared to be wet but I felt no moisture inside the parka.  Although I climbed a fairly steep ridge during this hike because I was not carrying a pack, I was able to use the Diablo for the entire trek.  I then wore it while I took down my camp and repacked my gear.  In light of the fact that I was going down hill to the trail head, I continued to use the Diablo under my full pack.  Because I wasn't working as hard, I was comfortable in the Diablo while hiking down the trail.  When I reached the vehicle, I checked the Diablo for compression stress and other wear but found nothing.  The loft under the shoulder straps did not appear to be significantly affected.


The Diablo has become my favorite parka for winter camping.  It is very warm and I trust it to keep me warm when I need it.  The size large provided me with ample room to layer and still provided me with lots of flexibility in movement.  The liner has a nice silky smooth texture and feels good against the skin.  The cuffs are easy to adjust and to date are showing no signs of wear.  The hood also fits well and is easy to adjust.  All the zippers worked easily and rarely snagged.  The shell material provided good water resistance.  Overall, I would rank the Diablo as a great cold weather expedition style parka.   It provided so much insulation that I was unable to use it while hiking, skiing or snowshoeing simply because I began to sweat.  However, it stowed easily in the packs that I used and I did not notice any compression damage even after being stuffed in a pack for a couple of hours.  Despite all this use, I have not seen the need to wash the Diablo yet and it still looks great.  There are no signs of wear or tear on the parka.  Due to the size and bulk of the Diablo, I didn't really like wearing it around town  but the Diablo is now my parka of choice when heading to the snow covered mountains.

  • This parka will keep me warm when I need it.
  • Doesn't bind and is flexible enough to allow me to move freely.
  • Silky smooth lining inside the coat and pockets--this feels great.
  • Packs down small enough to fit in my day pack without any evidence of compression damage.
  • Resists moisture well.
  • Well constructed, quality product.
  • Bulky--not really comfortable to me for casual wear around town, especially the hood.
  • Too warm for me during most all levels of activity even in fairly cold temperatures.
This concludes my testing of the GoLite Diablo.  I would like to express my thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this great parka.

Read more gear reviews by Michael Wheiler

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Diablo > Test Report by Michael Wheiler

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