Report | Field Report | Long-Term Report
Name: Will Rietveld
Height: 6 ft (183 cm)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
Chest Girth: 41 in (104 cm)
Sleeve Length: 34 in (86 cm)
Email: (willi_wabbit at
bresnan dot net)
City & State: Durango, CO
Location for Testing: Southwestern
US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).
have been an avid backpacker for 49 years. Backpacking is my
passion. I backpack the year around in the Southwestern US (CO, UT, AZ,
Backpacking Style—I have
been a lightweight backpacker for many years and an ultralight
backpacker for 8 years. My wife and I give presentations on lightweight
and ultralight backpacking in our local area, and have developed a
website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking (http://home.bresnan.net/~swultralight/)
to share information.
Report (November 2, 2007)
Product Tested: Men’s Diablo Parka
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Sizes Available: S to
XXL (size L tested)
Red, Blue (Blue tested)
weight 32.5 oz (921 g) size Large; manufacturer weight 32 oz
MSRP: $350 US
|GoLite Diablo Parka. The garment tested is blue,
not red as shown. (Photo from GoLite Website.)
From the GoLite website: “The heat is on in this well-featured,
technical, lite-weight arctic parka. With premium 800-fill goose down in
the internal baffles and exterior baffles on the side panels plus a
silky WispHP™ micro-polyester shell fabric to shed wind and water, the
Inferno will keep you warm in the coldest winter conditions. Featuring
two handwarmer pockets, an internal zippered security pocket, adjustable
Velcro® rubber cuffs, a single-handed vertical hood adjustment, and an
internal water bottle pocket, the Inferno will protect you on the
highest mountain peaks without weighing you down.”
Features (from the GoLite
· 800 fill goose
· Printed Polyester
· WispHP™ Shell
· Two handwarmer
pockets with reverse coil zippers
· Reverse coil
center front zip
· Decorative tape on
center front storm fly
· Single-handed cord
lock waist adjustment
· Adjustable rubber
Velcro® tabs on cuffs
· Internal zippered
· Internal mesh
storage/water bottle pocket
· Interior and
exterior baffles on side panels
The GoLite Diablo is a technical alpine down parka, not a down
jacket. With an attached (not removable) insulated hood, a longer body
length to cover the hips, approximately 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) of 800
fill-power down insulation, and a water-repellent shell, the Diablo
Parka is designed for extreme conditions. By comparison, a down jacket
usually does not have a hood, is waist high, and contains much less down
Construction—According to the GoLite
catalog, the Wisp HP shell fabric on the Diablo Parka is “A 22 denier
polyester taffeta with DWR (Durable Water-Repellent finish). It’s
ultra-lite, highly breathable, wind-resistant, and water-repellent.
It’s an ideal fabric for use in high motion, sweat intensive endurance
sports.” I have a GoLite Wisp Windshirt made of the same fabric, and
agree with GoLite’s claims, except I find that it is not exceptionally
breathable. However, for use as a parka shell, wind and water resistance
are probably more important factors.
The quality of construction is superb. All stitching is tight and a high
number of stitches per inch (about 12) are used in higher stress areas.
I found only two flaws in the entire jacket: 1) the drawcord on one side
of the hood is not solidly anchored in its seam, and 2) there are a lot
of loose threads and an unsewn 2 inch (5 cm) gap in the bottom seam of
one of the front pockets (my wife sewed it closed). I will watch these
areas for any signs of failure.
Size and Fit—I
normally wear a size Large, but size Large in the Diablo Parka is more
like a Large Plus. GoLite calls it “semi-fitted”, but on me it is
more of a relaxed fit. I measured the body width and found it to be
tapered only 1 inch (2.5 cm). So far, I like the roomy fit, because
there is room to wear several layers of clothing under it without it
being too tight and compressing the down. I donned the parka over a
thick baselayer plus a Primaloft insulated jacket and found that it has
plenty of extra room for the additional clothing without feeling tight.
The raglan-style sleeves are very long; I can retract my hands
completely inside them. Articulation is excellent; when I bend over and
cross my arms or raise my arms above my head, the sleeves only pull back
to my wrists.
The Parka completely covers my butt, and extends down about 11-12 inches
(28-30 cm) below my belt. I measured the body at 31 in (79 cm) in back.
The back is dropped 1 in (2.5 cm) lower than the front.
Garment measurements (size men’s L): body length 31 inches (79 cm) in
back (measured from the base of the hood), body girth averages about 52
inches (132 cm), sleeve length (center of back to end of sleeve) is 37
inches (94 cm).
Loft—The Diablo Parka is
insulated with 800 fill-power goose down. I measured the single-layer
loft of the parka’s back at 2 inches (5 cm), and the sleeves at 1.6
inches (4 cm). The parka has baffled construction to hold the down,
which is more thermally efficient than sewn-through construction, and is
expected for an arctic parka.
parka seems to have most every feature I would want (see list above).
Additional features not on GoLite’s list are a fleece chin guard, and
three adjustors on the hood (two on the sides and one on the back).
There is only one internal mesh storage/water bottle pocket; I prefer
two large ones. They are very handy to hold items inside the parka (fuel
canisters, gloves, goggles, water flask, etc.) to keep them from
freezing, or to thaw them out. I will evaluate how well the thin mesh
works for this purpose, and if the single pocket provides enough
capacity for inside storage.
2007 through February 2008.
Test Locations—Southwestern US (CO, AZ, UT, NM).
plan to use the Diablo Parka on high elevation winter camping
trips where I will camp in the snow at high elevations in below zero
temperatures. Every winter we build one or two igloos in remote areas
were we backcountry ski or snowshoe, and we camp in the igloos for 1-2
nights on each trip. I spend a lot of time snowshoeing and skiing above
12,000 feet (3658 m) in the winter, and love to winter camp to enjoy the
winter splendor. The highlight of this coming winter will be a 10-day
winter camping trip in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry in
February, where we will be traveling a 35 mile (56 km) loop on skis and
building four igloo base camps. Expected extreme conditions (for all
trips) include: high elevations with strong winds and high wind chill
factors, snow storms, subzero temperatures, and deep snow. Elevations
will range from 8,000 to 13,000 feet (2438-3962 m) and temperatures will
range from subzero to about 40 F (-18 to 22 C).
Diablo Parka will be tested doing the following activities: 1) snow
camping in a tent and igloo, 2) snowshoeing, 3) backcountry skiing, 4)
backpacking, 5) ice fishing, 6) winter car camping in Southern Utah.
How the GoLite Diablo Parka Will
be Used—On these various activities, I will wear the GoLite Diablo
Parka as either an outer layer or under a storm shell, depending on the
temperature, wind, precipitation, and exertion level. In some activities
(skiing and snowshoeing) the parka will be worn as a belay jacket when I
take a break, in other activities (snow camping and winter car camping)
it will be worn in the mornings and evenings when it is really cold, and
for ice fishing it will be worn all day. The Diablo Parka will likely be
too warm to wear for high exertion activities, unless it is extremely
cold. Realistically, the parka will mainly be worn to stay warm at lower
exertion levels. However, an important part of the test is to report on
its versatility, comfort range, and the activities and conditions where
it is best suited.
I will be testing the GoLite Diablo Parka in a range of activities and
conditions over the next four months, and will be reporting on its
performance in my Field Report in two months and my Long Term Report in
four months. This concludes my
Initial Report. My Field Report will be appended to this one in
approximately two months.
Report (January 5, 2008)
and Type of Use
In the first two months of testing, I have taken the GoLite
Diablo Parka on seven trips, as follows:
Walking in a snowstorm
Winter Igloo Camping
Locations and Conditions
All testing was done in southwestern Colorado at elevations
ranging from 6600 ft to 12,000 ft (2012 m to 3658 m). Temperatures while
wearing the parka ranged from 30 F to -16 F (-1 to -27 C). The strongest
winds I encountered were about 20 mph (32 kph) at 0 degrees F (-18 C),
giving a wind chill of -22 F (-30 C).
The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me warm while backcountry skiing
in a high alpine basin on a sunny cold day.
Photo by Bill Webbe
Results to Date
Shortly after receiving the GoLite Diablo Parka, I decided to
test its water repellency by walking near my home in a snowstorm. The
snow was very wet and stuck to the parka. After about 30 minutes I was
coated with snow, especially on my head, arms, and shoulders. Water
beaded up on the parka’s shell fabric due to its DWR (Durable Water
Repellent) finish, and did not soak through the fabric. However, there
was some evidence of wetting through at the seams, which are not sealed.
While snowshoeing and backcountry skiing at
moderate elevations (9,000 to 11,000 feet/2743 to 3353 m), I carried the
Diablo Parka in my pack and put it on when I took a break or stopped for
lunch. The parka was simply too warm (for me) to wear during higher
exertion activities, like skiing or snowshoeing uphill, but it is very
handy to put on to avoid chilling whenever I stop.
When backcountry skiing or snowshoeing in the
alpine zone above timberline (above 11,800 feet/3597 m at my location),
there was typically a stiff breeze blowing in combination with
temperatures in the 10 to 20 F (-12 to -7 C) range. Under those
conditions, it was comfortable to wear the Diablo Parka over a heavy
baselayer, if I slowed my pace somewhat.
Sunset on a cold windy point. In a
0 F (-18 C) temperature and 20 mph (32 kph) wind, I had no
trouble staying warm.
Photo by Rick Hagar
I also used the Diablo Parka on two igloo camping
trips. On those trips the parka was too warm to wear while snowshoeing
uphill in rough train to get to the igloo, but it was very useful late
in the day when I was out taking sunset photos on an exposed point at 0
F (-18 C) and a 20 mph (32 kph) wind, then snowshoeing back to the igloo
in the dark using a headlamp. I didn’t wear the parka inside the igloo
in the evening, because the inside temperatures were in the 30’s F (-1
to 4 C), and a synthetic insulated jacket was sufficient. Overnight in
the igloo, the parka stuffed inside my backpack made a great pillow. I
put it on in the morning when the inside temperature was initially 23 F
(-5 C), and when I exited the igloo into -16 F (-27 C) temperatures.
Fit – The Diablo Parka is roomy enough to wear over another
jacket, like a medium weight synthetic jacket, for even more warmth. The
sleeves are extra long, so I can retract my hands into the sleeves if I
want to. The waist drawcord has two adjustors so I can snug it around my
butt to eliminate drafts. And the hood has three adjustors that can be
adjusted once and then left that way. Overall, I would rate the
parka’s overall construction quality and fit as superb.
I really like the parka’s Wisp HP shell fabric. It is lightweight, but
adequately durable (no snags so far), soft and supple, and very water
and wind repellent.
From the use I have given it so far, I am generally happy with the
parka’s features. The fleece-lined hand warmer pockets have plenty of
room, and the fleece chin-guard is appreciated. As mentioned, the parka
will seal up tight to eliminate drafts. My only disappointment is that
there is only one medium-sized inside mesh storage pocket; I prefer two
large ones so I can warm up several articles of clothing or a fuel
canister inside the parka.
The GoLite Diablo Parka is designed for extreme cold and
wind, and performs very well under those conditions. For its 2 pound
weight (921 g, size Large), the Diablo Parka is exceptionally warm. In
lesser conditions, or under higher physical exertion, it is simply too
warm (for me) to wear and seems like overkill. Granted, there are many
people who easily get cold, or dislike getting cold (my wife for
example), and don’t easily sweat while wearing heavy insulation, and
for them a heavyweight down parka like the GoLite Diablo is just the
So far, I have tested the GoLite Diablo Parka on
trips where I have only needed it occasionally, and it has actually
spent more time in my pack than worn. For these trips in generally
milder conditions, I personally prefer to take two lighter insulating
jackets so I can layer them, rather than take a heavy parka that is too
Report (March 10, 2008)
In the two months since my Field Report I have used the
GoLite Diablo Parka on six additional outings totaling 19 days, as
detailed in the table below.
Locations and Conditions
Field testing was done in southwestern Colorado and
Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming at elevations ranging
from 6600 ft to 12,000 ft (2012 m to 3658 m). Temperatures while wearing
the parka ranged from 18 F to -16 F (-8
to -27 C). The strongest winds I encountered were about 15 mph
(24 kph) at 0 degrees F (-18 C), giving a wind chill of -19F (-28 C).
I found it difficult to use the GoLite Diablo Parka a lot.
The Diablo is an expedition weight down parka intended for more extreme
conditions. On day trips in cold weather, including one day of
backcountry skiing where the high temperature was 0 F (-18 C), I wore
the Diablo parka only on breaks to avoid chilling. While I was skiing I
was warm enough with less bulky insulated clothing. The same was true
while snowshoeing on cold days.
On one three-day igloo camping trip in mid-January
I built an igloo with a friend and camped in it two nights. I wore the
Diablo Parka in the evenings and mornings when I was outside the igloo.
I typically wore a heavy weight wool baselayer under it. The morning low
temperatures were 2 F and 10 F (-17 C and -12 C). It was too warm inside
the igloo to wear the Diablo Parka.
The highlight of my testing was an 11-day igloo
camping trip in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. We transported our
gear into the backcountry on pulks (sleds) pulled behind us and
constructed three igloo base camps. At each base camp we stayed three to
four nights and enjoyed daily ski trips to remote geyser basins and
other features in the surrounding area. Again I wore the Diablo Parka
only in the mornings and evenings when I was outside the igloo, in low
temperatures ranging from 4 to -16 F (-16 to -27 C). I wore lighter
clothing inside the igloo where it was warmer (20 to 35 F/-7 to 2 C).
|The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me toasty warm on below zero
mornings while igloo camping in January and early February.
The GoLite Diablo Parka handled all of my trips and test
conditions in stride. On many of my day trips, I carried the Diablo
Parka in my pack, but only wore it on breaks to avoid chilling. The
Diablo was overkill for me in temperatures warmer than about 15 F (-9
C), where a lighter insulated jacket would have been sufficient.
However, in temperatures I experienced below that level, the Diablo was
very much appreciated. On the coldest mornings with low temperatures of
-15, -12, and -16 F (-26, -24, and -27 C) at Yellowstone National Park,
the Diablo was toasty warm over a heavy wool baselayer.
I was not able to get in an alpine tent camping
trip during the test period so I could test the GoLite Diablo Parka
under some really extreme conditions. When camping in a tent, there is
no escape from the cold like there is in an igloo. If it’s -20 F (-29
C) outside, it’s almost the same temperature inside the tent, so an
expedition weight parka like the Diablo is more essential. For my use, I
could easily wear the Diablo in temperatures down to -20 F
(-29 C). It’s sized so it will layer over other insulated clothing, so
it can probably handle even lower temperatures when worn over other
clothing as needed.
following bullets summarize my testing of the GoLite Diablo Parka:
This is a serious alpine/expedition parka. It’s
800fill-power down and baffled construction provide about two inches of
single layer loft. Its shell fabric is light weight, durable, and
Its construction is superb. Fabrics are lightweight and
adequately durable. At 2 pounds (.91 kg), it’s one of the lightest
mountain parkas available.
The fit is excellent. The body is long enough to cover the
butt and sleeves are plenty long. The sculptured hood covers the head
well and adjusts for a close fit. The parka has enough room to layer
over other clothing when needed.
There is only one medium sized mesh “drop pocket” on
the inside; I recommend two large drop pockets to provide plenty of room
to warm gear inside the parka.
I found the Diablo to be toasty warm in temperatures down
to -16 F (-27 C), and (for me) it seems capable of handling even lower
For me, the Diablo is overkill for three-season backpacking
because it’s too warm and too heavy. It’s also overkill for warmer
winter days when the temperature is above about 15 F (-9 C), when a
lighter insulated jacket will suffice.
From my testing, I found the appropriate situations for the Diablo
to be really cold
winter conditions, such as those encountered in the northern States and
at high elevations. For day trips or winter camping in really cold
conditions and wind (below 15 F/-9 C, and below 0 F/-18 C in
particular), the Diablo is really in its element.
That said, for people who get cold easily and who feel
chilly at much higher temperatures than those I mentioned, the Diablo is
a good investment to “never feel cold again”.
I would like to thank GoLite and the BackpackGearTest Group for
selecting me to participate in this test.