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GoLite Diablo Parka
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:



Initial Report:
GoLite Diablo Parka
November 6, 2007

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 55
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 138 lb (63 kg)
Chest: 37 (94 cm)

Hip: 37 in (94 cm)
Sleeve Length: 32 in (81 cm)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman2001@yahoo.com

For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.


Product Information



Manufacturer
GoLite
Website http://www.golite.com/
Model Women's Diablo Parka
Color
Maraschino/Grease (Wildberry/Grease also available)
Shell Material
Wisp HP (15-denier micropolyester)
Insulation
800-fill goose down
Tested Size
Women's Large (XS-XL available)
Manufacturer  Weight for Size M
1 lb 9 oz (710 g)
Tested Weight for Size L
1 lb 11.9 oz (791 g)
Model Year 2007
MSRP $350.00

 
 


Initial Impressions and Product Description


Design/Fit
GoLite Diablo Parka
The Diablo Parka is one of several insulated jackets that is manufactured by GoLite. It's actually their "heaviest in weight" parka model but it's still rather lightweight at 1 lb 11.9 oz (791 g) for size large. The Diablo arrived in seemingly perfect condition and in the color of Maraschino. The primary shell color appears close to what is represented on the website, a rusty red for sure. The secondary color called Grease (charcoal gray) was used for the side panels that extend underneath the length of the sleeves. The lining of the parka is fabricated in a fun and colorful polyester print that sure does add some excitement to the garment.

Like most new clothing, I was anxious to try on the Diablo Parka. I had requested a Women's Size Large even though my measurements (on the GoLite sizing chart) suggested that a Medium would be recommended. However, the parka was advertised as being semi-fitted and I certainly wanted to be able to layer clothing underneath it. I'm glad that I requested the Large because it will allow me to wear a few light layers underneath and make the parka more versatile. In addition, the parka seems semi-fitted all over especially in the shoulder, chest and hip areas. It really doesn't appear too big even with just a base layer underneath. In my opinion, I believe most women would have to size up on this parka in order to be able to layer clothing. The sleeve length is about an inch (2.5 cm) too long but it's easily remedied by using the sleeve adjustment (see below).

High quality 800-fill down is used to insulate the parka. On the exterior, the down-filled baffles are visible in both the side and underarm inserts. The rest of the down-filled baffles are sewn in a chevron pattern on the interior lining. The exterior of the jacket is very smooth and is fabricated with Wisp HP, a silky micro-polyester fabric that reportedly sheds wind and moisture. Not only does the parka feel good when touching the exterior of the garment, but the down fill enveloped me with warmth when I tried it on.


More Features

Adjustments

Diablo hood with encased elastic and one-handed adjustorsSleeve Velcro and rubber closure
The insulated hood has several adjustment features. A single-handed cord lock is cleverly located underneath a three-sided panel in the back of the hood. The inside perimeter of the hood features cordage encased in a stretch-fabric casing that ends on each side of the neck with a single-handed cord lock. The hood is very trim in size so there's not a lot of extra room. However, it will be fine for most outings while wearing a simple wool Hem adjustor (one of two)hat underneath. If I need to wear a rock helmet underneath, I will have to wear the parka without the hood in place as there isn't enough room to accommodate it. 


Besides the adjustment features on the hood, there's also adjustment options on the lower hem and each sleeve edge. The lower edge features a single-handed cord lock at each side seam.  Adjustable rubber and Velcro are paired up on each sleeve edge. I prefer this concept over the more common use of encased elastic as it allows the circumference of each sleeve edge to be fully open or adjusted to my preference.



Center Zipper
 
The front of the jacket features a full-length center zipper. The zipper extends high up to chin height and when closed, it's very much like a combination weather and wind gaiter. The top end of the zipper has a folded over fleece-covered comfort flap. Again, GoLite has added a touch of fun to the jacket by adding a ribbon trim to the baffle of the zipper. The trim is a bit stiffer than the WispHP fabric. It seems to make the zipper run smoothly and it didn't catch in the surrounding fabric the few times I tried it on.
Handwarmer pocket

Pockets

The Diablo Parka features a plethora of spacious pockets. Two zippered-exterior pockets are of the handwarmer variety. They are placed strategically at an angle with each pocket's top opening being placed closer to the center zipper. The large roomy pockets are lined with a comfy microfleece-type fabric and are easy to access. The bottom corner of each pocket seems to be anchored with a thread so I couldn't pull them inside out to accurately measure the size but they are approximately 9 in (23 cm) wide and 11 in (28 cm) in length at their longest measurement. The zippers have a small triangular pull tab with a short piece of cordage on them to facilitate opening the zipper. An embroidered GoLite logo is located beneath the exterior pocket on the left side of the parka.

There are two different types of interior pockets. A simple mesh 7 in (18 cm) wide and 9 in (23 cm) long pocket sans zipper is located on the right interior. It  likely would be a handy place to stow a small water bottle or other item. A large zippered-internal pocket measuring approx 5 in (13 cm) wide by 10 in (25 cm) in length is located on the left interior at approximately chest height. It's roomy enough to stow more than a few security items or even a hat.




CareParka stuffed in 4 L stuff sack

Care instructions are printed on a tag that is inserted into one of the internal side seams. The parka can be separately machine washed in cold water, then rinsed thoroughly and tumble dried on low temperature. Neither bleach or fabric softener should be used and dry cleaning is not an option. The website suggests that its preferable to hand wash down garments using a gentle soap.

The parka doesn't come with a stuff sack but since I will be packing it often for winter trips I wanted to see how it compressed. I used a  4 L (244 cu in) stuff sack and it fits in there perfectly without difficulty.

So far, I have a very optimistic view concerning the features of the Diablo Parka. I'm looking forward to wearing the parka during the next four months of winter adventures. I have many extended winter-backcountry trips planned and I also will wear the parka for day activities as well.

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Field Report:
GoLite Diablo Parka
January 6, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the GoLite Diablo Parka during a four-day backpacking trip, a three-day sledge trip, and a four-day rustic cabin trip. In addition, the Diablo Parka has been worn repeatedly for other cold-weather wear. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lowland swamps
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


Backpacking Trip : 

Location: Mackinac Wilderness Tract and surrounding semi-primitive territory (Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan), old overgrown roadbeds and bush travel
Type of Trip: 4-day backpack
Distance: Bushwhack route -Approx 18.6 mi (30 km)
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 34 lb (15.4 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, windy, rain, snowflakes, mid-to-low range humidity
Precipitation: Rain 0.43 in (1.09 cm)
Temperature Range:
26 F (-3 C) to  47 F (8 C)

Sledge Trip : 

Location: Mackinac State Forest (Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan)
Type of Trip: 3-day sledge trip
Distance: Bushwhack route -Approx 12.5 mi (20 km)
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 40 to 50 lb (18 kg to 23 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, with a trace of new snow during the trip, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Trace of snow
Snow Depth: 18 in (46 cm)
Temperature Range:
12 F (-11 C) to 27 F (-3 C)

Rustic Cabin Sledge Trip: 
 

Location: Hiawatha National Forest (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
Type of Trip: 4-day walk-in rustic cabin trip with day trips on snowshoes or skis
Distance: 19 mi (31 km) 
Length of Trip:
4 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 50 lb (23 kg), 12 lb (5.5 kg) daypack for dayhikes:
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow, sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Snow (5 in to 6 in/13 cm to 15 cm)
Temperature Range: 14 F (-10 C) to 25 F (-4 C)

  

Performance in the Field

The GoLite Diablo Parka has seen nearly constant use since its arrival. Not only has it been worn during numerous multi-day trips, but it has been my parka of choice for wear in all instances of inclement weather. So far this winter, nearly 90 in (2.3 m) of snow has already fallen with a dominance of cold temperatures.


Usage and Comfort
Relaxing at camp
During my winter backpacking and sledge trips, the parka was used primarily for all rest breaks and worn immediately upon arrival at camp. It has layered nicely with other layers consisting of a performance-layer top, and a light-down sweater. The parka slid on easily over these layers and it was easy to remove. Even with the extra layers I have never felt restricted in my movement especially in the shoulders or in the sleeves themselves. During rest breaks it was also layered over my shell anorak rather than underneath it to facilitate easy removal.  After breaks, I sometimes continued to wear the parka in this manner (over my anorak) for the next ten minutes so that I could transition comfortably (temperature-wise) into pulling my sledge again. I then stopped to quickly stow it in my sledge until the next break.

I have found the Diablo Parka to be an extremely warm jacket. I can only wear it continuously during an outing if it doesn't require a high level of exertion. A simple unloaded (without heavy pack or sledge) exploration or a sauntering-type walk makes the best use of the parka while doing activity for me. For example, during a day outing on my rustic cabin trip, I wore it while walking across an ice-covered lake and into the neighboring snow-covered forest. Exploration through the bush involved tracking animals and other observation activities. The temperature of the outing was about 25 F (-4 C) with relatively little wind.

Around camp, the parka has kept me warm throughout the evenings with the subsequent drop in temperatures (down to 12 F/-11 C). If I was feeling a little chilly, I just simply pulled the parka's hood over my wool hat and then I was content. I also love the longish sleeves on the parka as I can accomplish tasks without having to wear gloves. If my hands became a little chilled, I either pulled them up into the sleeves or put them in the handwarmer pockets- two great options for sure.


Wind and Water Resistance

During outings with high winds, the Wisp HP shell fabric has effectively kept the wind from penetrating through the jacket. I have remained very warm.
Although it's been actively snowing while I have worn the jacket, I just shake the jacket off before repacking it, to lessen chances of water soaking into the jacket. Of course, some snow just slides right off while I am wearing the jacket if it isn't of the highly wet variety.


Other Features and Perks


During many of my backcountry outings, I also have used the parka to cushion my head while sleeping. I just laid the parka loosely underneath my sleeping bag but inside my bivy.

Although I still pack a very light down-sweater type of jacket on my trips, I've not felt the need to bring two thicker insulated jackets for warmth like I have done in the past. The Diablo has very effectively taken the place of two ordinary parkas. The warmth-to-weight ratio is exceptional for a parka weighing far less than 2 lb (0.91 kg).

The parka is very easy to pack. For my backpacking trip, I compressed it down to a smaller size in a stuff sack so that it would fit in my backpack. For my sledge trips, I just stuffed it loosely underneath the tarp that acts as the cover of my sledge.

I love the extra-roomy sized pockets on the Diablo. The internal-zippered pocket has been specifically reserved for my car keys and identification cards on all of my winter trips. The handwarmer pockets are especially cozy to place my hands into between tasks while remaining gloveless. The large mesh internal pocket has been handy to store my hat and balaclava although there is certainly room for more items.

The Velcro adjustable sleeve edges are also easy to use. Although I have worn other jackets with this feature, the first or second time I put the jacket on, I had the rubber Velcro tab feature in the open position and as I made adjustments I stabbed myself in the eye area with the rigid open tab. Needless to say, its best to keep the tabs shut (in some position) as they are very rigid and protrude outwards and could possibly cause a bit of an annoyance. I do love this feature though, as it facilitates layering of clothings without restriction (no elastic cuffs to hinder layering).

The fleece-covered flap at the top of the zipper area feels very soft to my neck area. It's very comfortable and not scratchy. When the zipper is fully closed, the hood and neck of the parka form a built-in warm neck gaiter to seal off drafts.


Care and Durability

So far, I haven't had to do much to maintain the parka. Several times I have noticed a few drips from chai tea or other matter on the parka. It has cleaned up beautifully with no residual spotting by just rubbing some fresh snow on the stains. The parka has also proven to be durable so far. The tight weave of the shell of the jacket allowed me to wander through dense brush without harming the surface of the jacket. There haven't been any instances of down filtering through the shell and lining materials even though it has been stuffed and unstuffed repeatedly.

In the long term period, the Diablo Parka will likely see use at below zero (0 F/-18 C) temperatures. I will monitor its usage for comfort and performance as well as durability over the long haul.
 

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Long Term Report:
GoLite Diablo Parka
March 11, 2008


Locations and Conditions

During the long term test period, I have worn the GoLite Diablo Parka during three more multi-day trips totaling 15 days. It was additionally worn for both dayhikes and daily wear approximately 4 to 5 times a week. Locations ranged from and included conifer, boreal and deciduous forest communities to frozen lakes and rivers.
Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).

 


Winter Sledge Trip:                                                                             
 

Location: Lake Superior Provincial Park - Ontario, Canada
Type of Trip: Bushwhack Sledge Trip
Distance: Approx 22 mi (35 km) on map not accounting for elevation changes 
Length of Trip: 6 days
Sledge load with consumables: Approx 70 lb (31.75 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Cloudy, snow, frigid temperatures
Precipitation: Approx 12 in (30.5 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range:
25 F (-4 C) to -31 F (-35 C)


Rustic Cabin Sledge Trip: 
 

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: 4-day walk-in rustic cabin trip with day trips on snowshoes or skis
Distance:15 mi (24 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 60 lb (27 kg), 12 lb (5.5 kg) daypack for dayhikes:
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 35 F (2 C) to -1 F (-19 C)

 
Winter Sledge Trip:

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Winter sledge bushwhack trip
Distance: 19 mi (31 km)
Length of Trip:
5 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 60 lb (27 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Trace of new snow
Temperature Range: 34 F to - 4 F (1 C to -20 C)


Performance in the Field

Multi-day Usage

During the long term period, I was fortunate to wear the Diablo Parka extensively during several multi-day trips including a mid-February six-day sledge trip. Although I didn't wear the parka while I was actively pulling my sledge, it was worn continuously once I arrived at each night's camp. It was mostly layered over a silk Capilene undershirt, a light 100-wt fleece shirt, a light down sweater-type garment and then covered with my Wintergreen Shell Jacket. Multiple layers were necessary for me as five days out of six produced well below zero (-18 C) temperatures (down to -31 F/-35 C). I kept the parka on even during light aerobic activities such as shoveling snow to make a snow trench, shoveling to secure my stakes or leveling snow surfaces to set up my tarp. Although I had a synthetic and very bulky insulative parka (Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Parka) with me for safety purposes, the above combination worked well to keep me warm during most times at camp. I was very pleased that I didn't notice any degradation in the insulative factor during wear over six days. The parka layered nicely with my additional clothing and I never felt that any layer was compromised or that I was restrained in any way.Diablo Parka on tester at thiry-one below zero

Most nights I kept the Diablo Parka in a waterproof bag to keep it dry while I slept. I kept the bag next to me in case I needed to pull it on for extra warmth during the night. I only had to sleep in the parka during the last night of my trip as my -20 F (-29 C) down sleeping bag was feeling less warm after picking up moisture during the previous nights.

During the other nights, I quickly donned the Diablo Parka and layered the shell over it as soon as I half opened my sleeping bag in the morning. I wore it during all morning activities and shed it at the last minute before I started the day's journey of pulling a heavy sled through rough terrain (bushwhack).

In early March, I once again wore the parka during another sledge trip. This trip had warmer overall temperatures but the majority of the evenings were in the 3 F to 10 F (-16 C to -12 C) range. The Diablo was my parka of choice for this entire trip and I was truly happy with its overall performance. It was layered with a lightweight Capilene shirt, a light fleece and a lightly insulated vest ( I didn't use a shell over it at these temperatures).

Other usage during the long term period included wear during a four-day walk-in rustic cabin trip at the end of February. Again it was my main garment for warmth. It was mostly used for sledding and short non or light aerobic excursions outside. With the temps being mostly in the 23 F to 35 F (-5 C to 2 C), a lighter garment was worn for the highly aerobic activities.


Total Usage

Besides a total of 26 days of winter multi-day trips, I have also worn the Diablo extensively for daily wear throughout the winter season (4 to 5 times a week). There has been significant snowfall during the entire test period (135 in/3.4 m). It has been mostly quite cold (many days of 10 F to -20 F (-12 F to -29 C) this winter). With those type of temps, I was perfectly comfortable wearing the parka to shovel my driveway or go for a short dayhike with just a light underlayer underneath. During active snowfall, the snow has slid off of the parka quite effectively. When snow has fallen with higher moisture content the parka has produced wet marks but they have quickly dried as soon as I moved into a warmer environment (vehicle or building).



Durability and Care

The Diablo Parka has remained flawless throughout the test period. There are no fabric pulls or abrasion marks on the exterior shell made out of tightly-woven Wisp HP fabric which I find is quite remarkable considering how soft and fine the fabric feels. 

The zipper itself has operated without difficulty throughout the testing period. The only nuisance was that the small zipper tab was often hard to get started during the extreme frigid temps. This was more due to the size of the zipper tab resulting in that I had to use bare hands to get it started. However once it was engaged, the extra pull cordage easily zipped the parka closed.

Even though the parka didn't appear to really look soiled, I decided that it was best to wash it once to maintain its loft and performance. As suggested by the manufacturer, I machine washed it with cold water and then it was tumbled dry. I used soap that was designed for down products (there weren't any recommendations for that but I felt it was the best choice). I didn't use fabric softener as it wasn't recommended. The insulation has remained uniform so that there aren't any cold spots and the finely woven shell has kept all the down where it belongs (inside the parka!).


Possible Design Fixes
 
The high neck or gaiter-like feature has been nice to use when I'm not wearing a bulky hat (such as the one in the photo above). The parka's hood is really on the small side so such a hat takes up too much space and I can't effectively close the zipper all the way to the top. Although I would prefer a more spacious hood, I find the parka's hood is best worn with just a light wool or fleece beanie-type hat underneath.

Another design features that would improve this parka for me would be a larger zipper tab as I previously mentioned.


Final Observations

I especially have enjoyed the external fleece-lined handwarmer pockets. These cozy pockets have been handy at camp to warm up my hands while doing chores. On some days it was impossible to keep my hands exposed for more than a minute or two at a time. The pockets were easily used instead of pulling on a pair of mittens. The roomy zippered-internal pocket remained to be the best place to secure my passport (for Canadian trips) and other ID. The only pocket that I didn't seem to use much was the mesh internal pocket.

The tightly woven shell of the jacket has kept wind from penetrating through to my inner layers. I was also impressed with the adjustable rubber Velcro closures that allowed me to seal off wind and cold from entering my sleeves. This was especially important once I stopped activity and wanted to retain my body heat from escaping the parka.

I've been very happy with the size Large parka that I tested.  Even though it's a size larger than I normally wear, the tapered fit of the parka has reduced any extra volume that might of been experienced. I would definitely suggest that if the parka is to be used for layering, that one size bigger is the best way to go. At times I had up to four thin-to-medium weight layers underneath and I never felt restricted.The parka's lining slides beautifully over the layers.


In short, I love this parka! I will continue to use it after the testing period for many of my cold-weather adventures. It's outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio and comfortable fit are top notch.


Pros

  • Very comfortable and unrestrictive fit
  • Cozy handwarmer pockets
  • Large zippered internal-security pocket
  • Neck gaiter feature
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Soft and easy to stuff in pack or sledge

Cons

  • Hood is too small to layer more than a light hat
  • A bigger zipper pull would be advantageous


Tester Remarks 

Thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest for making possible the great opportunity to test the Diablo Parka. This report concludes the test series.   

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