GOLITE ECHO JACKET
TEST SERIES BY MIKE DAURIO JR.
May 12, 2008
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Mike Daurio Jr.
6' 0" (1.83 m)
183 lb (83.00 kg)
I am quite new to backpacking. My experience lies mostly as a canoe guide. My inspiration to get more into this sport/hobby was a backpack trip to Thailand in 2005. Due to my experience I am fond of lightweight, waterproof quality gear. I backpack in mainly hilly forested areas and of course near rivers and streams. I also do a lot of backpack traveling to other countries. I am a 3-season backpacker. Every year I spend time in the Ozarks in Missouri and in Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. I'd love to explore Canyonlands National Park in Utah. I am originally from the Midwest, but have recently moved to the Washington DC area and more importantly about 40 miles (64 km) from the Appalachian Trail.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.golite.com
MSRP: US$ 100.00
Listed Weight: 9 oz (260 g) on website, 8oz (230 g) on attached product card
Measured Weight: 9.8 oz g (278 g)
Other details: The Jacket is available in men's small, medium, large, and extra large. Product tested is the size large.
On the tag, GoLite boasts a lifetime guarantee. I do not have any experience with GoLite's warranty services, and hope not to, however in my opinion a lifetime warranty is a strong argument for a purchase of compared gear. GoLite's exact verbiage is, "We will replace any gear with a manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, free of charge. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge to the user."
I received the package today and was impressed even before I opened the package. I hold environmentalism near and dear to my heart. The packaging, the jacket came in, was clearly labeled as recyclable. "The mailing bag is made with at least 25% recycled plastics (10% post-consumer waste, 15% pre-consumer recovered industrial material). It is free of toxins, dioxins, and carcinogens."
The jacket arrived in new condition and intact. The quality of the Echo is radiating from each seam. The quality of materials and technologies are evident when first slipping the jacket on. The high quality Gore brand Windstopper material is smooth on the inside and soft on the outside. Gore claims Windstopper is a windproof, weather resistant material with maximum breathability.
The jacket has a full front zipper that reflects GoLite's commitment to quality in detail. The SBS zipper is the same absinthe color as the jacket. The jacket has two hand warmer pockets lined with mesh material that can double as vents in hot weather. On the inside of the jacket are two internal mesh pockets that are big enough to house a Nalgene bottle each. I placed a bottle in both and zippered the front closed. The two bottles created a large bulge on the front simulating a dual-cylindrical sized beer belly. The presence of the Nalgene bottles makes it gard to fit my hands in the the hand warmer pockets. On the left chest is a napoleon pocket also lined in mesh. All the pockets can be sealed by a same colored zipper. On the zipper's handle is a looped cording with a hard plastic charm with the GoLite logo.
The jacket's collar has a smartly placed fleece liner to protect the neck from the zipper. The back panel of the jacket is largely vented with an opening below where the shoulder blades would be housed. It is stitched in place by 2 in (5 cm) of sewing positioned in the middle of the back over the spine. The vent is backed with the same meshing used to line the pockets. The cuffs are solidly cinched to the wrists by a combination of sewn-in elastic and a hook and loop type rubber adjustable clasp. Upward drafts can be sidelined by an adjustable cinch cord that tightens the lower jacket to the body.
TRYING IT OUT
|Gorgeous model NOT included.|
I rushed to try on the jacket after tearing away the eco-friendly shipping packaging. I received the jacket after work and in a snowstorm. I was faced with the task of taking my dogs for a walk despite the wintry conditions. I slipped it on and grabbed my camera for a few pictures. Temperatures were an estimated 28 degrees F (-2 C) and there was close to an inch and a half (4 cm) of snow on the ground. The rate of snow fall was great as the accumulation gained that depth in approximately 45 minutes. With dogs in tow I did my normal 1 mile (1.61 km) loop around the snow covered hills in my neighborhood.
I am impressed by the fit of the jacket. I had a T-shirt and a cotton half-zip sweater on under the jacket. The jacket's cut provides a snug torso fit and adequate length in the sleeves even with my lanky arms. The cuffs even when open are a little hard to get on and off over my watch. I am pretty thin in the wrist areas and was surprised I had trouble. The jacket is long enough to cover below my belt line but I'm cocerned it may come up short with bulky under layers like a down puffy vest. I will test with a puffy and report on the fit of the jacket.
The jacket provided exceptional protection from the falling snow. I am impressed by the breathing ability of the jackets design. I decided to hustle around the loop to try to break a sweat. I felt the protection of the shell but my body was cooled by the large venting in the back panel. This feature maybe a little too much venting to use as a winter shell, as it was a bit drafty, but sweat I did not. After my second loop around I witnessed the beading of melted snow on my back shoulders. This leads me to believe that heat was escaping through the Windstopper fabric, turning the snow to water, and then repelling the water. In cold conditions I'd rather lose heat and stay dry, than stay warm, sweat, and then freeze from the inside out.
I also tried out the jacket under the faucet in my kitchen sink. The jacket's Windstopper material defied the water from getting at my under layers. My half-zip undershirt was bone dry after a 40 second dousing. I think I captured the jacket's rejection of the water well with the photo below.
|under the faucet|
The next morning I awoke to about 8 inches (20 cm) of snow and temperatures in the 20-23 degree F (-5 to -7 C) range, according to the news report. I slipped the jacket over a long sleeve tee and shoveled the walkway to the driveway. I was way too cold for comfort and retreated back in the house for a merino wool and polyester base layer. I returned to finish the task and was again overcome by the cool weather. The jackets vents made insulating the interior of the jacket difficult. I worked faster trying to get my core temperature up but never got comfortable. I still wore the jacket to work and a 200 weight fleece provided enough warmth as a mid layer.
When arriving at work I decided to stuff the Echo into a side pocket of a small backpack instead of hanging it. The jacket crunches down to about the size of a large orange. I left it bundled for about 8 1/2 hours and unpacked it for the trip home. I expected it to look like tin foil does when it is opened after being balled up. The Echo had a share of wrinkles but less than I expected.
I am planning to use the jacket all I can on the trail and in everyday use over the testing period. I plan to report what layers I use with the jacket and what conditions I use it in. Possible layers will include various base layers, wool, cotton, fleece and the down puffy for mid layers. I will also using the jacket under a down vest for comparisons. The winter season is upon us early in the Midwest and I hope to still see a few rainy days. I have decided the jacket will be perfect for my morning runs. I try to get at least three of these four mile (6.4 km) runs in per week. These take place in Glacial Park, part of the McHenry County Conservation District. Glacial Park is a large open grassland with glacial formed hills. A portion of the trail winds through a wooded section of the park.
I will venture out to a few trails in northern Wisconsin in the Nicolet or Menominee National Forests. Here I will experience boreal north woods of poplar and pine along dirt trails through tree cover and grass lands. I hope to get out in temperatures around the freezing point, 32 degrees F (0 C). Elevations will range from an estimated 900 ft (274 m) to 1400 ft (427 m).
This concludes the Initial report of the GoLite Echo Jacket. I will update the report in approximately two months.
I am so far pleased and impressed with the GoLite Echo. Its weather protection has proven tough and I look forward to getting it out under other conditions. The fit is great for athletic activities. I am excited to put the jacket through the ringer over the next few months.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The Echo has played a vital role in my morning trail running. I have completed the runs about three times a week in Glacial Park part of the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) in Illinois. The trails consist of a mix of mowed meadow, and gravel and rocky trails. Temperatures ranged from 40 F to 20 F (4.44 - 6.66 C)
I have also worn the Echo on a day hike of the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical park in Maryland. I hiked the gravel path in 50 F (10 C) weather with light rain.
The jacket has been worn on day hikes and dog walks on many days through the Harrison Benwell Conservation area and Stickney Woods both also part of the MCCD. Temperatures have been consistent with the temperatures in my morning runs.
The Jacket has also been included in my daily outerwear choices for normal day to day activities. On average I have worn the Echo about four to five times a week.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have been pleased with the overall performance of the shell. The Echo has stood up to 35 mph (56 kph) wind speeds and plenty of dousings.
On my morning runs I have worn a baselayer and fleece under the Echo. On some of the warmer days I have forgone the fleece and have worn just the jacket over the baselayer. The Jacket breathes extremely well through the back vent. I found the back vent breezy on cooler days and on runs without the fleece underneath. The venting allowed my sweat to escape rather than gather underneath the shell during rigorous activity. The chest pocket housed my Ipod on the runs and kept it snug against my chest. I wore light gloves and the zipper pulls were easily grabbed.
On my day hike on the Tow path in Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical park I witnessed what the swollen Potomac River looks like. While hiking, I was caught in the tail end of the rains that caused the swelling of the river. I was doused for about a half hour of light steady rain. The shell's DWR repelled water off the shell at first but the fabric started accepting water in the exterior fibers. The fabric was darkened by the inclusion of water. No moisture was felt on the inner side of the jacket. Wind gusts were rated at 26 mph (42 kph) and the shell again did a great job of keeping them off my arms and chest. My back was protected by a Windpro fleece vest worn underneath the shell.
I have packed the shell small by turning the chest pocket inside out and stuffing it in the inverted pocket. The packed jacket held dimensions of about 2 in (5 cm) thick by 4 in (10 cm) wide by 6 in (15 cm) length. The packaged jacket fit well in my hydration pack, and a fanny pack.
The shell is perfect for highly aerobic activities. It also does well on moderately cool days. I have found the Echo tends to be too breezy for my liking when the temperature is below 35 F (2 C) and I'm not doing any aerobic activity. I also find I cool down easily in the jacket after exercise, and if it is too cold out, I start to freeze. On my 50 F (10 C) hike through the Tow path the jacket I believe was doing what it was meant for and in the climate It was meant to be used in.
The water resistant nature of the jacket and wind proof material has continued to test with excellent results. I have yet to get wet in the jacket and have been nailed a few times while out on day hikes and trail runs. I am really impressed with how well the Echo has fared so far in this category.
The design of the jacket has great ergonomic engineering. I am 6 ft (183 cm) tall and 185 lbs (84 kgs). In choosing a large size I have been able to layer underneath it and have been able to where it with only a base layer. The Echo has a great fit on my body. The cuffs adjust well and the cinch waist cord is easily adjusted as well.
Overall I am impressed by the jacket and it will be included in my arsenal of gear going forward. I feel I have figured out its limitations to keeping me warm and am looking forward to using it in the upcoming spring.
I will continue to test the jacket for durability. The shell has become dirty, and with all the perspiration, a little stinky. I will care for the jacket using a tech wash and hope to get it out in the rain again to test the DWR finish after washing it.
With the spring season upon us the jacket will, I feel, be more in its range of temperature protection and hope to hit the trail more often in it, take it on an overnighter, and include it on my mountain biking adventures. I may even take a climbing class and I feel the design of the jacket would allow for the movement needed when climbing.
This concludes the Field section of the Report. Please check back for the Long Term report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have had an active spring, so far, and the Echo has been in tow with me most of the time. I have done numerous day hikes, a couple of mountain biking trips, and an overnighter in Shenandoah National park. I've also used the Echo to walk my dogs and continued to use it on morning runs. Overall I've used the Echo in some way at least thirty times since the field report.
I have found a new favorite day hike. The Billy Goat trail in the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historic Park in Maryland is a rocky trail that winds through mountainous forest, and hops over river carved boulders and rocks. The day we went out, was the first real gorgeous day of spring with the sun shining and temperatures around 75 F (24 C). As the sun descended behind the trees temperatures dropped in to about 60-64 F (15-18 C).
|The terrain on the Billy Goat Trail.|
I have also worn the Echo on a a mountain biking adventure in Schaeffer Farms, part of the Seneca Creek State park in Maryland. Ten miles (16 km) of trails wind through hilly dense forests. The temperature was around 62 F (17 C). Wind speed was noticeably increased and made the air feel cooler.
My first visit to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia was on a day that brought afternoon thunderstorms with hail. After entering the park's gates we hit an afternoon gusty thunderstorm that brought a lightning show, a heavy dousing, and even pea-sized hail. Temperatures were around 80 F (44 C) before the storm and cooled to about 70 F (21 C) before we started out on the trail. We took the Matthew's Arm Loop and gained 600 ft (183 m) of elevation while climbing the Cut Off trail to the Knob Mountain Ridge Trail. The trail head starts in woods abutted to the parking lot and descends down a hill before winding along a gushing stream, swollen by the storm. After crossing the stream over a downed tree trunk, the trail gains elevation for 1 mile (1.6 km) to the ridge trail with a total elevation of 2657 ft . The trail consists of packed mud, leaf covered earth, and hard bouldered mountain side.
My morning runs and dog walks have been spent on the streets of my new urban home. Paved concrete and mowed grass line the ways on these journeys. As my dogs' needs are frequent, the temperatures and weather conditions have varied.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On my day hikes, the Echo has protected me from, the sun, and dousings. On the trail it has kept me warm when the sun has retreated in the afternoon, and has protected me from a barrage of raindrops.
|The Echo post dousing.|
I have been impressed with the Echo in the field so far in this testing series. The echo has been a reliable shell in my travels so far. The Echo's protection is startling from such a light coat. Lately, I feel the Echo has been in its intended element. I found myself questioning the design of the jacket at times in cooler weather, but have learned much about jacket design by conducting this test. So far in this test, I have hiked, ran, and commuted many miles in the Echo but hadn't worn it with a pack on yet. My concern with the vented back being too vented, has now been relieved. Wearing the jacket and a pack closes the vent in back, and in times when I'm really hoofing it on a jog without a pack, the vent satys open, and does its job to not let me get so sweaty. In both visits to the Chesapeake and Ohio N. H. P. I've gotten used to the backvent's use.
In Shenandoah N. P. I had waited for the heavy rain to pass before heading out on the trail. On a side note ten minutes into the trail I had my first Black Bear encounter. It went smooth and safe and I headed down towards the stream. I walked under a canopy of pines and other trees and was pelted continuously with heavy raindrops. My pack's straps pressed hard on my shoulders and the Echo's once strong DWR finish seemed to become overcome by the wetness. This was the first duty I had given the echo since it was laundered and feel it may be due to the laundering of the fabric, but at the time thought it could be due to the straps pressing on the fabric. Since the hike I have also had to walk my dog in the rain and encountered similar soakings in the shoulders, forearms and some on the chest. I was able to document them in the pics below.
|My shoulder DWR failure.|
|DWR penetration in the chest area.|
On the Mountain biking trip the Echo provided fantastic wind protection in the parking lot as we were gearing up for the ride. On the ride the venting of the jacket was tremendous for the aerobic activity I was conducting.
As mentioned above I laundered the Echo in between a couple of hikes. I used Nikwax Tech Wash brand detergent and hand washed the garment in my sink with cold water as instructed. I then rinsed the jacket gave it a wring and a shake to get out the excess water and hung it to air dry. It took a good 8 hours to get the jacket dry again.
The hook and loop type wrist cuffs and seams have held up over the last few months. The durability and construction of the jacket has been problem free.
I have learned a lot about this jacket's design over the testing period. It has many strengths and while opportunities have arisen during the test I think the job asked of the jacket may not always be what it was intended for.
Some of the strengths include:
-The Echo has great wind protection.
-The jacket breathes superbly.
-Pre-wash, the DWR finish repelled countless drops of water
-The lightweight fabric and compressibility allows for easy storage and totability.
- At 32 F (0 C) and above the jacket performs extremely well and allows layering underneath
- The Athletic cut and design of the jacket makes physical activities easy to perform while wearing it.
- Zippers and the zipper pulls are well designed.
- I am a big fan of a Napoleon chest pocket and the Echo has one that held things ranging from my Ipod, to a Digital camera, to a roll of poopy bags while walking the dogs.
Opportunities lie in these areas:
- The DWR finish post wash has been a concern. I will need to buy some spray on waterproofing.
- The jacket's venting while excellent in warmer temperatures, allows too much air in cooler temps.
- The jacket can be inverted inside itself to stow easier; however, I don't think the jacket was designed for it. I don't think it would be too hard to do.
I will continue to throw the echo in my pack for any hikes for quick and light protection. I plan on using the jacket while jogging, biking and any other aerobic activity I perform outdoors in conditions calling for the echo's protection. I also plan on using the shell for everyday activities where a light jacket will be needed. I am thankful to Backpackgeartest.org and GoLite for allowing me to test the Echo. I really learned a bunch! This concludes the test series.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
|Mike Daurio Jr. after walking the pups.|
Read more gear reviews by Mike Daurio Jr.