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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Wisp > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

April 24, 2007


NAME: Raymond Estrella
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (93.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.

The Product

Manufacturer: GoLite
Web site:
Product: Wisp
Size: Extra Large
Year manufactured: 2005
MSRP: $50.00 (US)
Weight listed: 3 oz (85 g) Weight measured 3.1 oz (88 g)
Color reviewed: Grease (not offered any longer)
Colors available: Avacodo, Burnt Orange and Lt Mediterranian Blue (shown below)
Warranty: 100% Guarantee

GoLite Wisp
Picture courtesy of GoLite

Product Description

StuffedThe Golite Wisp is a light-weight garment that the company calls "an ideal travel jacket or just-in-case wind shell". The company says that it can be used in a "wide range of activities in windy and or drizzly conditions".

(Note: upon submitting this review one of our editors informed me of some features new to the latest Wisp. He and his wife just received them. I am incorporating these items into the review.)

It is made of "WispHP", 22 denier polyester taffeta with a DWR treatment. It has a fine rip-stop pattern in it and it is very translucent. The material is very soft and silky feeling, much like the lining in a sleeping bag. (The new colors are not translucent.)

The three in (7.5 cm) high collar is made of a triple thickness of the material and has a seven in (17.5 cm) long black nylon YKK zipper in the front of it going down onto the chest. The zipper is backed by 1 in (2.5 cm) draft/water stop.

On the left side of the chest the GoLite logo has been embroidered. (The new models has this logo printed on.) The waist and wrists have elastic sewn in to them to help keep out the elements.

Inside of the Wisp on the left side is a care tag. It reads, "hand wash, line dry in shade, no bleach, cool iron and do not dry clean". Just above the tag is a small pocket. This pocket can be used to self stow the Wisp. Once the jacket is stuffed in the pocket a flap goes over the top of the opening to close it. This exposes a short nylon loop meant to be clipped to a carabiner. GoLite says that it packs down to the size of an apple, which is true as can be seen here. (On the new model the pocket is now zippered and is outside near the hem.)

Field Conditions

The Wisp has been with me on many day-hikes and fastpacks all over southern California. I have had it with me for trips to the San Bernardino, San Jacinto, and Cleveland National Forests. I have worn it in temps down to 27 F (-3 C) The warmest temps it has been used (worn) at is only the high 40's F (8 C) as I am pretty warm blooded. (It has been carried in much warmer temps though.) It has been at high altitude a lot as I break it out when on windy peaks like San Gorgonio (11499'/m) and San Jacinto (10834'/m)

I have had it in Utah in the Canyonlands National park. Temps there ranged from 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C). Here is a picture of it on the top of San Jacinto.

On San Jacinto


I bought the Wisp in 2005 to mainly use as a lightweight rain coat for day hikes, and as the wind shirt that they position it as. I am so hot-blooded that I rarely need it for this purpose often.

I use it on multi-day trips when I don't expect bad weather too. I have been bringing it on winter trips that I do not plan on needing an ice axe. (I would not want to have to slide down a slope with the Wisp. It is not made for that and does not deserve to be shredded during a self-arrest.) A memorable trip that I used it on was a trip to San Gorgonio that saw temps plummet to 22 F (-6 C). It was still 27 F (-3 C) and very windy when I had to take off hiking. I put a lightweight Arcteryx top over my t-shirt and topped it off with the Wisp. It worked great.

It is usually very windy on the top of peaks, not to speak of the temps in spring-time or late fall. It is great to be able to pull the Wisp out of the daypack or summit pack and wear as I have a top-of-the-world snack break or lunch, such as this break on the top of Jepson. As can be seen, it gets very wrinkled while stuffed into its little pocket. Maybe that's why they say to use a cool iron. I seem to have forgotten mine…

On Jepson

In light rain the Wisp works quite well as my body heat will keep it dry inside. But the fabric will wet out under heavy or long duration rain-fall. I will notice a very light amount of damp feel on the inside of the fabric. It works quite admirably for a lightweight alternative to a heavy dedicated raincoat. I wear a hat with it in the rain, and zip it all the way up to keep water from entering through the collar. Here is a picture of the fabric with water beaded up and running off. Notice that my arm can be seen through the WispHP fabric.

armIMAGE 5

On a hike with my fiancée, she wanted to cut her total weight a bit and was concerned about the weight of her technical shell. I told her if she could live with the XL size of my Wisp I would bring it along for her use, letting her leave behind the shell that weighed 5 times more. She was pretty enthusiastic saying, "Yes!" I may have to get her one in the future.

I love how small it packs down. The pocket will not stay closed with the fabric flap though. With movement in my pack the material works itself out. Sometimes I will throw a rubber-band around it, other times I don't even stuff it but just shove it in my pack.

The company recommends re-doing the DWR treatment periodically as it is affected by dirt and such. I have not at the time of this writing, but am going to do a few of my winter shells soon and will add the Wisp to the load.

As far as the breathability claims, to me it is no more or less breathable than any of my other shells. I still get over-heated in it when hiking and take it off as soon as it stops raining or I get warm.

It has held up very well for something so light. I have no holes, tears or separating seams on it yet. It is very tough too. I slipped off an icy trail in the San Bernardino Mountains and hit a tree branch. I thought for sure that I would need some McNett's repair tape, but the Wisp did not tear. My shoulder got a good scrape though.

All things considered I really like the Wisp and plan to carry it for many trips to come. I wish that GoLite made the matching pants with side zippers, I would buy them too.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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