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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Paradigm Jacket > Test Report by Jason Boyle

GoLite Paradigm Jacket

Test Series

Initial Report - April 13, 2007
Field Report - July 2, 2007
Long Term Report - August 19, 2007

Looking towards Dirtyface Peak

Tester Information:
Name: Jason Boyle
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 170 lb/ 77 kg
Chest: 42"/ 107 cm
Neck: 16"/ 41 cm
Sleeve: 28"/ 71 cm (from the middle of my chest to my wrist)
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.

Backpacking Background:
I have been camping and backpacking for about 18 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!

Product Information:
Manufacturer: GoLite
Model: Paradigm Jacket
Size: Large received, S – XX available
Color: Burnt Orange received, other colors available
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Fabric: Trinity Fabric
Listed weight: 1 lb (450 g)
Measured weight: 1.05 oz (460 g)
MSRP: $150 US
Country of Manufacture: Made in China

Initial Report – April 13, 2007

Product Description/Initial Impressions:
The GoLite Paradigm jacket is a stretchy soft shell jacket that is supposed to perform as well as a hard shell in inclement weather. The fabric of the jacket has a very soft feel and visibly stretches when I tug on it. The jacket appears to be well made and all the seams are taped. There is a full length front zipper, a pit zip under each arm, and two zippered hand warmer pockets. The bottom of each pocket is sewn to the hem of the jacket creating two internal pockets and inside of the left inner pocket there is a smaller mesh pocket meant to hold a small MP3 player or something similiarly shaped. The sleeve cuffs have a Velcro closure to seal the cuffs closed. The hood has a lot of features as well. There is a Velcro strap on the rear of the hood to change the volume of the hood. There is also a bungee adjustment on each side of the hood. The bungee cord runs through a small plastic triangle that has two holes in the
center, a larger one and a smaller one. The larger one allows the cord to move freely while the smaller one is too small for the cord to slide through so the hole acts as a lock.

Triangular lock

The jacket is semi-fitted, but based upon a quick fitting when the jacket arrived it appears to be roomy enough to wear a base layer and an insulating layer should I need to wear one. The pockets seem to be well placed, as my hands easily gravitated to them. All of the zippers have a piece of line and a toggle added to them to make them easier to find. Even so I find that the pulls and toggles are small. Though GoLite makes no mention of it I find that I can stuff the jacket entirely into one of the hand warmer pockets. This is a nice way to keep the jacket from taking up so much space in my pack.

Jacket stufed into handwarmer pocket

I won’t go into the minute details of GoLite’s new Trinity fabric, but I do want to mention it. I don’t know all the technology behind it but I do like the way that it feels and the way that it stretches. I did a simple waterproofness test at home using my hand to pour water onto the jacket and it beaded and rolled off. Not a real world test by any means but it does give me hope that the jacket can handle the wet weather spring brings in the Pacific Northwest.

Field Report July 2, 2007

The Paradigm Jacket has performed well over the past couple of months. I have used it while mountaineering on Mt. Whitney for both warmth and protection from snow and wind. The generous pit zips have allowed me to use the jacket on windy, sunny, spring peak bagging trips. The only time the jacket has not performed well was in a steady rain on a lake bagging trip. The sleeves of the jacket completely wet out in less than 40 minutes.

Field Conditions:
I have used the jacket on 12 trips for a total of 16 days of use. Significant trips include a three day summit attempt on Mt Whitney in Sequoia National Park, California via the Mountaineers Route, a single day summit trip up Mt. St. Helens, a day trip on the Muir Snowfield on Mt. Rainier in Mt Rainier National Park, and several other spring peak bagging trips in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Elevations have ranged from sea level to 11,500’ (3505 m), temperatures ranged from 10 F to 60 F (12 C to 15 C). I have encountered all types of weather conditions from wind and blowing snow, steady rain to the occasional sunny day. The majority of my hiking took place on snow covered trails, sometimes they were packed and sometimes I had to break trail.

Overall I am fairly pleased with the jacket. One of my initial concerns with the jacket was durability. I find that there is normally a trade off between durability and lightweight gear. I am glad to report that this is not the case with the Paradigm Jacket. The Trinity fabric has held up incredibly well to my brush bashing peak bagging hikes this spring. I apparently had a personal vendetta with Slide Alder this spring. It seemed that every peak I tried to bag had a slide alder grove that I was forced to push through. Amazingly the jacket suffered no holes, tears or rips!

Since GoLite markets the jacket at a multitude of activities, I questioned what activities the jacket would best be suited for. I used the jacket for mountaineering, long day spring peakbagging and for warmth while hanging out in camp. The jacket performed well while mountaineering as long as the temperatures stayed low. On Whitney I tried to wear a lightweight long sleeve merino t shirt underneath the jacket and stayed too warm. However as the temperatures dropped and the snow began to fall, I was happy to have the warmth and weather resistance of the jacket. Armed with the info from my Whitney trip I wore a short sleeve wicking base layer underneath the jacket for the rest of my trips and this seemed to alleviate most of the warmth issues. Once temperatures began to creep above 55 F (13 C) for me I had to take the jacket off and just wear it during rest breaks as it caused me to get much too warm. I also found the jacket to work well as an outer layer while sitting around camp.

On Rainier in May

The only area where the jacket didn’t perform as well as expected was with rain. It shed snow pretty well, but when I took it on a long day hike in a steady Northwest spring shower the arms of the jacket were completely soaked through in less than 40 minutes. This is bothersome since the jacket is supposed to have a DWR finish and be waterproof. I guess there is still some work to do to make soft shell type fabric completely waterproof.

Wetted out sleeve

The jacket’s features seem to be fairly well thought out. I can adjust the tab on the hood while wearing it and the hood easily fit over my climbing helmet and did not restrict my vision. I couldn’t adjust the hood length while wearing a helmet. The pit zips are plenty long enough and allow good ventilation. I did have some minor issues with the front zipper. If I was in too much of a hurry and did not make sure it was seated well the track would come unattached and pull apart from the bottom. After that happened several times, I began to pay more attention to making sure the zipper track was well seated before zipping up the jacket. All the zipper pulls are a little small and I found I had some trouble zipping them while wearing a pair of lightweight gloves. The pockets are deep and allowed me to carry small items like chapstick or snacks with no problem. I also liked the inner pockets and used them to carry my iPod while hiking solo.

Hood Shot

Overall I am pleased with the jacket. I am a bit baffled by the lack of water resistance but will hopefully have further opportunities to validate my findings to date.

Long Term Report – August 19, 2007

At Camp Schurman

Overall the jacket has continued to perform well. I have not had any more opportunities to test how well it works in the rain, but it did perform well at shedding wind on the two more trips to Mt Rainier this summer and I have had no durability issues through out the test series.

Field Conditions:
I used the jacket on two more trips since I posted my field report – an overnight trip to Glacier Basin and the Inter Glacier on Mt. Rainier and a 2 night/3 day summit attempt on Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier. Elevation ranged from 4400’ (1340 m) to 13,600’ (4145 m). Weather was mostly sunny with some clouds and on the Emmons Glacier wind was blowing steady at 30 – 40 mph (50-60 kph) and temperatures ranged from 65 F to 32 F (21 C to 0 C). A majority of my travel was on the Inter and Emmons Glaciers as part of a rope team.

I continued to evaluate the jacket on durability and usefulness through the last two months of the test series. The jacket continued to show good durability. During my summit attempt on Rainier, I wore the jacket for almost 20 hours without taking it off. Even with a pack on for the majority of this travel there is no visible wear on the outside of the jacket. All of the Velcro fasteners on the cuff and the hood are still in good condition. All of the zippers continue to operate smoothly and the bungee closures on the hood and hem of the jacket are still in good condition.

As I said in the previous paragraph, I wore the jacket for 20 hours on my summit attempt and was generally comfortable in it. I started my summit attempt in the wee hours wearing just the jacket and a short sleeve tee shirt, however I couldn’t generate enough heat at our steady pace to overcome the chill of the winds blowing off the glacier. After two hours of hiking cold, I finally put on a long sleeve tee shirt on over my other shirt and mitts. This helped greatly though I was still a bit chilly until the sun came up. The jacket did block the wind pretty well, but it was not completely windproof as I could feel wind blowing through the jacket. After the sun came up the temperature rose, but the wind did not die down. I opened the pit zips and that did a good job regulating my core temperature in the wind except when we would hit a lee then I would begin sweating.

The jacket was comfortable to wear. The fabric was comfortable against my skin and I never experienced any discomfort or chafing while wearing a pack. The cut of the hood is generous, I never felt constrained while wearing a helmet or ball cap. The jacket was beginning to smell a bit so I washed it using Nikwax Tech wash and that seemed to get the smell out and it also removed some of the dirt that had accumulated on the outer fabric of the shell.

In conclusion this jacket has performed well over the past four months. I like the light weight of it and think that it performs well in marginal conditions. The only time I will leave it behind is when I am heading out into a rain storm or when I expect sustained rainy weather, then I will opt for a more traditional hard shell jacket.
Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Paradigm Jacket > Test Report by Jason Boyle

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