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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Merrell Rove Tech & Moxie Jacket > Test Report by Rick Allnutt
Merrell Rove Tech Jacket
Over the last several years, I have become an ultralight camper with a three-season base pack weight of about 8 lb (3.5 kg) and skin out weight of 17 lb (8 kg). I have completed many section hikes on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in all four seasons, and many trips to state parks, with a total mileage of about 1550 miles (2500 km). I am a gearhead, a hammock or tarp camper, and I make much of my own equipment.
Trail Name: Risk
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
INITIAL IMPRESSIONSPart of my camping gear during the three cool seasons is a jacket that can be worn around camp or when the wind blows cold on the mountain ridges. For several years, I have used a fleece pull-over for this purpose, but have been interested in a jacket that would offer more insulation at a similar weight.
The Rove Tech is a jacket insulated with PrimaLoft One and has polyester fabric shell both inside and out. It is not waterproof, but is termed water resistant.
When the jacket arrived, it was just what I had expected from my review of the Merrell website. I was not able to find a fitting chart on the Merrell website so I ordered the jacket in a Large size because that is how I order most of my shirts and jackets. It fits fine. The sleeve length is just right for my rather average arms. The chest dimension of the jacket fits with adequate room, but there is not much additional room to add additional layers under the jacket. The fit of the jacket is illustrated in the opening photograph of this report.
The insulation in the jacket gives about 0.4 in (1 cm) of dead air space over most parts of my chest. Where there is pressure on the jacket (elbows, shoulders) it flattens to about half that thickness. At the shoulders, the thickness of the insulation seems to be preserved by internal and external seams. There may also be a seam from joining two layers of insulation at the top of the shoulder.
There is no insulation between the inside of the front two hand-warmer pockets and the outside of the jacket. The insulation in this area is between the pocket and the inside lining of the jacket. I have worn the Rove Tech in the cold wind and my hands stayed warm in the front pockets, though I could feel the cold through the fabric. The front pockets have a zipper closure that opens from the top as can be seen in the accompanying photo. In this left side photograph, the dark material is lateral to the pocket. During testing, I will note if the darker color keeps grime from appearing in this area.
Speaking of pockets, there are four of them. The hand warmer pockets have been discussed. There are also two pockets higher up on the chest. The photo to the right shows the left sided slash pocket with a vertical opening. I have placed the zipper pull so that is vertical to show the location of the pocket next to the MERRELL logo on the left breast. This zipper actually hides very well under a cloth covering when the zipper pull is in its normal position, making the pocket all but invisible.
The zippers are all nylon. The pull tabs for the three pockets described thus far are plastic with metal with metal zipper bodies. The same is true of the main front opening zipper for the jacket. They are not waterproof. They are quiet and have not jammed on the cloth at the edges of the zipper at any time during my first few days of wearing the jacket.
There is a matching pocket to the slash pocket on the right side of the upper chest, except that the vertical opening for this pocket is inside the jacket. The zipper pull tab and zipper body are nylon for this pocket. Next to the pocket is a plastic bubble through which an earphone jack can be routed. The plastic zipper body for this pocket gives me hope that there is nothing to scratch my phone or iPod in the pocket's hardware.
Inside the end of the sleeves, the jacket has an internal knit cuff. This design keeps the knit cuff out of the weather. I find that I can wear a pair of gloves with the end of the glove inside the sleeve end, but outside the knit cuff. If I were going to design a sleeve to keep snow out of gloves, that is the way that I would have designed it. I will be noting during my testing if this is a useful design feature.
The bottom hem of the jacket extends about 4 in (10 cm) below my belt. It is fitted with a draw cord and has two single handed adjusters. However, with my 36 in (91 cm) waist, there is no spare room to tighten the adjuster.
Care instructions for the jacket are sewn to the inside on a black tag. These instructions include 1) machine wash cold, 2) do not bleach 3) tumble dry low, 4) cool iron and 5) do not dry clean. During the test period, I hope to do a field wash of the jacket in a bucket of water and then to dry the jacket on a sunny day.
The Merrell Rove Tech jacket is well designed for outdoor use. Thought has been built into the fit and the fittings. From a good selection of zipper material to the choice of insulation, I am very pleased with the jacket at the beginning of this test.
The things I really like about this jacket are:
- It is really light and packs quite compactly in a stuff sack (not included).
- The fit and insulation is just right for active hiking in cool weather
- The Merrell folks have gotten everything right in choice of materials for my purposes
I thank Merrell and BackpackGearTest.org for selecting me for this test. Come back in a couple months to see how it has fared in the depths of a south Texas winter.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS20 December 2008 – Night at South Llano River State Park, Junction Texas. Hammock camping. Low of about 45 F (7 C). A beautiful clear night with lots of astronomy accomplished.
23 January 2009 – Garner State Park Texas. Testing gear and doing astronomy at this dark sky site. Tested the gear in cold windy conditions. Low of 30 F (-1 C). I had to wear the jacket under my sleeping quilt to stay warm. It was that cold in the wind.
30 January 2009 – Cat’s Meow Star Field, Fredericksburg, TX. Cold night doing astronomy in the Texas hill country. Clear skies, temperature about 27 F (-3 C). Cold night with no other coat other than the Merrell jacket.
28 February 2009 - Another night of astronomy. Slept in the back of my truck under the clear sky. Low temperature of 23 F (-5 C). Used the Merrell jacket as insulation under an overcoat.
27-29 March 2009 - Another moonless weekend of astronomy - two nights. Cold with high winds. Low temperature of 32 F (0 C).
For the astronomy nights listed, I was up most of the night looking at stars and getting cold. I would take an couple hours of nap every couple hours.In addition to the 5 nights above, I also used the jacket for a number of day hikes, and several trips to Ohio. I also wore it to work almost every day during the period.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELDJackets are about the easiest of all hiking equipment to give a full test during a testing period. Not only are they necessary gear for all hikes - from day hikes to long distance hikes - but they are useful every day of the testing period. In keeping with that, I have worn this jacket for approximately 100 days in the Field Testing period. That is a lot of use. Most of the time, it has been my only outer insulation. But on a couple of the sub-freezing astronomy nights, I wore the jacket as a layer of insulation under an outer coat.
This Merrell jacket is well made. I have not had any issues with seams, construction, or quality. Only two times has the zipper pull gotten fouled by the flap next to the zipper. Both of those times were in the dark and in awkward positions. And even then, it was easy to run the zipper back down to get the "storm flap" out from under the zipper. In neither case was the cloth damaged by the zipper pull.
I have walked in the jacket, slept in the jacket, and tested the water resistant nature of the cloth in drizzle conditions. The jacket insulates even when moist from perspiration. The surface of the cloth sheds water pretty well for non-waterproof material. It eventually wets, but even then it does not mat and it retains its insulation value - it kept me warm. Most of my walking has been on trails, but some of it has been off trail, doing some bush whacking. The material has been much more resistant to this sort of abuse than I would have expected. For a light and filmy sort of outer covering, it has not suffered any pulled threads from Texas juniper or other vegetation.
The jacket packs at least as compactly as any other jacket, fleece, or other insulation layer I have ever carried. It is lighter than most of those layers. That makes it a good choice for just about every season of camping. I have to have some insulation every month of the year when I go camping in the Appalachian Mountains. This jacket fits the bill either as my only insulation for three seasons, or as my under layer for the dead of winter in the areas I walk.
I have used the jacket enough that I have found it necessary to wash it several times. Each time I followed the instructions in the jacket lining and washed it in a machine and let it hang dry. The color has been "color fast", not bleeding onto other items. The durable water resistant finish of the cloth may have suffered just a bit with repeated washing.
Things I like thus far:
- The jacket is easy to wear, easy to carry, and keeps me warm.- The quality of the sewing and construction is first rate.
Things I don't like:
Nothing at all. Really.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS15-19 May 2009 – Five day hike on the Appalachian Trail in Mid Virginia. Lows of about 45 F (7 C). Weather varied from warm days to cold windy nights. One night of hard rain and a day of spitting sprinkles as a cold front moved over the mountains.
Over the testing period, I wore the jacket for ten overnights including five on the Appalacian Trail. I wore the jacket an estimated 130 days either day hiking or for around town use.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
One of the great things about this jacket is that it is easy to carry on a long hike. It compresses very well and is very light for the amount of insulation it provides.
For the hike I took this month, I kept the jacket in a dry bag when I was not wearing it. To easily compress it, I sat on the dry bag and rolled the closure end. When I packed the dry bag, it was as though it had been vacuum packed. On my last night out, the temperature dropped and I was camped on the crown of a hill. There was enough breeze that it was quite chilly for the light weight gear I had with me. Because of the wind, I wore the jacket under my sleeping quilt and that helped me to stay warm.
On an eariler day of the hike, a cool morning included sprinkle. It was hard to decide whether I wanted to put a rain jacket on top of the Rove Tech jacket or to just let some of the sprinkles land on the jacket. I ended up not using the rain jacket for most of the morning, and the water repellent coating of the jacket beaded up a lot of the mositure. The insulation under the nylon covering did not compress in these wet conditions and I stayed plenty warm.
Over the entire test period, I had no issues with the zippers, seams, or construction of the jacket. This jacket is well put together and stands up to both hiking and daily use. It will remain a part of my long term gear for spring, summer, and mild winter hiking.
Things I like about the Rove Tech Jacket:
- High quality
- Right amount of insulation
- Compresses well for carry in a packI've really enjoyed testing the Rove Tech Jacket and thank both Merrell and BackpackGearTest for including me in this test.
Read more gear reviews by Rick Allnutt
Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Merrell Rove Tech & Moxie Jacket > Test Report by Rick Allnutt
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