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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Ether Wind Jacket > Owner Review by Cheryl McMurray

GOLITE ETHER WIND JACKET
OWNER REVIEW

April 30, 2009

PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY

Name:  Cheryl McMurray
Age:  50
Gender:  Female
Height:  5' 8" (173 cm)
Weight:  145 lb (66.6 kg)
Waist:  32 in (81 cm)
Chest: 36 in (91 cm)
Torso Length: 18.5 in (47 cm)
Sleeve Length: 22.5 in (57 cm)
Email Address:  cherylswan@earthlink.net
City, State, Country:  Garden Grove, California, U.S.

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I've been backpacking and hiking for 3 years, mostly on weekends.  Backpacks are usually 2-3 day trips in the Eastern Sierras with 38-50 lb (17-22 kg) loads depending on the season and a distance around 30 miles (48 km).  One class 2 rock climb with day packs is common.  I am working towards lighter weight loads.  Day hikes are 10-15 mi (16-24 km) in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains with loads of 15-20 lb (7-9 km).  I have camped in snow, freezing temperatures, winds (once was gale force), but mostly fair weather encounters so far.  

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer:  GoLite
Manufacturers Website: http://www.golite.com
Year of Manufacture:  2006
List Weight:  3.3 oz (94 g)
Actual Weigh:  4 oz (113 g)
Size:  Women's Large
Other Sizes Offered: X Small, Small, Medium, X Large
MSRP:  $80 US

FEATURES

Water Repellent
Windproof
Adjustable Hood
Built-in stuff pocket
Highly packable
Ultralight
Elastic cuffs
Adjustable hem

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

The GoLite Ether jacket is made of a very thin material called WhispHP that feels very soft on my skin.   It has a full zipper with elastic cords at the hood and hem areas for adjusting and elastic around the wrist.  There is a stuff pocket for stashing very small items when I wear it and the jacket will pack into the pocket when I'm not wearing it.  The zipper extends up to my chin giving me full neck coverage.  When the jacket is packed into its own pocket it forms a triangle shape that measures 5.5 in x 5 in x 4.5 in (14 cm x 13 cm x 11.5 cm).  It is a smooth material but wrinkles easily when stuffed into its pocket.  The size that I'm reviewing is a women's large.  It fits very well as the sleeves come right down to my wrists of a 22 in (57 cm) length, it is not tight at the hip area measuring 39-40 in (99-101 cm) but can be adjusted about 2 in (5 cm) at the hem cord.  I can fit a base layer and fleece pullover underneath without issues with a 37-40 in (94-101 cm) chest size.  The hood extends 2 inches (5 cm) in front of my forehead but when adjusted for winds will come down to the top of my eye lids making it awkward when I move my head up almost obscuring my view.  The color seen below is a pastel green and the compacted jacket is a lipstick (red) color.  I own 2 of these jackets but my field tests have been with the lipstick-colored jacket.  I use the pastel green jacket for cycling.  Both are the 2006 model size large.

GoLite Ether full view   GoLite Ether pocket    GoLite Ether elastic cuff

GoLite Ether hood closeup          GoLite Ether jacket with packable jacket           GoLite Ether packed inside pocket

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have carried this jacket on every backpacking and hiking trip I have taken since my purchase in February 2007 but will focus on 3 specific trips as they involve more extreme conditions.  

The locations were in the local Southern California mountains with temperatures ranging from just below freezing to the high 40s F (around 9 C).  The conditions included constant drizzle, a blizzard, and winds.  Elevations ranged from 1800 ft (550 m) to 10,000 ft (3000 m).

Trip Report #1

 Mt. Waterman February 2007 snowshoe day hike in the San Gabriel Mountains (Southern California).  The distance was 5 mi (8 km) with temperatures beginning in the low 40s F (around 6 C) with partially cloudy skies to just below 32 F (0 C) in blizzard conditions.  Elevations were 6200 ft (1900 m) at the trail head to 8000 ft (2400 m) at the peak.

I started off with a base layer and windproof, water resistant fleece jacket for the snowshoe up to the peak and then I put the Golite jacket on as the temperatures dropped to freezing and it was becoming breezy and cloudy.  Although my fleece jacket had properties that duplicated the GoLite jacket I used the GoLite as a light parka and was able to zip it up to my chin and put the hood on to seal all of the cold air out.  I did have a fleece hat on under the hood.  The snow was beginning to fall and it soon became blizzard conditions.  I used the GoLite jacket as my parka shell from that point on and stayed warm and dry while moving.  The snow was dry and powdery so it did not have a chance to melt once it hit the jacket.  The benefit of the jacket on this trip was the ability to zip myself in up to my chin and cinch the hood keeping the wind and snow out.   After getting back to the cars I took the jacket off and when the snow melted the jacket became damp inside and out.  Photo below left shows me in the blizzard with the lipstick-colored jacket.

                                           GoLite Ether in a blizzard                                         GoLite Ether in 35 mph wind

Trip Report # 2

Mt. Baldy November 2007 day hike in the San Gabriel Mountains (Southern California).  The distance was 8 mi (13 km) with temperatures in the low to high 40s F (around 6-9 C).  Conditions were breezy increasing to windy above 9,000 ft (2700 m).  

The trail head elevation was 6000 ft (1800 m) with temperatures in the high 40s F (around 9 C).  I started out wearing a light long sleeve hiking shirt, fleece pullover, fleece cap, and the GoLite Ether jacket.  Although we were climbing a fairly steep trail the Golite jacket never cause me to overheat and became valuable when the wind speed picked up at certain spots on the trail.  I removed the jacket 2 mi (3.2 km) up as the sun was warming me and continued on for another mile (1.6 km) up only to hit the cold winds at 9000 ft (2700 m).  I promptly put the GoLite jacket back on along with the hood and it immediately cut the wind saving me from a chill.  The winds were cold enough that I never felt too warm even with the steep climb for the last mile to the top.  At that point the winds were reaching their peak speeds of 35 mph (56 kmh).  We sat in the sun with the wind to our backs and remained comfortable with the jacket protecting me.  In order to keep the wind out from my head area I had to cinch the hood which brought it close to my eyelids which was uncomfortable.   It kept me protected from the cold winds at the high elevation so long as I had and insulating layer underneath.  Photo upper right shows me on top of Mt. Baldy with 35 mph (56 km) winds to my back.

Trip Report # 3

Santiago Peak January 2009 day hike in the Cleveland National Forest (Southern California).  The distance was 14 mi (22.5 km) and 4400 ft. (1300 m) of elevation gain with temperatures in the high 40s F (around 9 C), constant drizzle and occasional light rain.  At this point the jacket had been washed with regular detergent about 5 times.

The trail head elevation was 1800 ft (550 m) in misty conditions with temperatures in the low 50s F (around 11 C).  I wore the GoLite jacket over a wool base layer, and polyester hiking shirt.  We hiked on and off uphill for about 3 hours.  I never overheated but noticed that the jacket was very wet inside and out along with my second clothing layer.   I had to switch to my rain jacket at that point for the rest of the hike.

After I got home I tested the water repellency of the jacket once it had dried.  I drizzled some drops of water onto the jacket and it soaked right through which explained why I became so wet.  I suspect the cause of it was most likely the detergent washing of the jacket from the past year.  I promptly treated the outside of the jacket with a waterproof spray-on treatment and once it dried the jacket was beading the water again.  The jacket while worn hiking uphill did not overheat me at any time and did keep me warm at the stops although it was not keeping me dry.

FINAL TEST

I ran the final but most simple test in my kitchen as I still was unsure about GoLite's water repellent claim.  I put a few drops of water on the pale green jacket that had never been washed and still had the original DWR.  In under 45 seconds the area around the water drops began to darken and when I put my hand underneath, began to feel the water drops coming through.  The lipstick-colored jacket that had been retreated with the waterproof spray did only slightly better becoming damp underneath but not wet in the same time period.  The photo below shows the results of my test on the jacket that had the original DWR still applied.

                                                                GoLite Ether showing water droplets soaking in



THINGS I LIKED

Very lightweight
Will stuff into its own pocket
Will protect me from cold winds
Material is very soft on my skin
Breathability is excellent

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE


Water repellency is poor
Hood when cinched down around my face comes too close to my eyes

CONCLUSION

The GoLite Ether is a very lightweight  compact jacket that is highly wind resistant but the water repellent claims I have found are overstated.  From my field testing I have found that the Ether will instantly protect me from the winds sealing out all cold air with the ability to zip and cinch the jacket around me and breaths well but will not keep my dry even in light drizzle.  

I would recommend this jacket as a wind proof, breathable jacket.












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Read more gear reviews by Cheryl McMurray

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Ether Wind Jacket > Owner Review by Cheryl McMurray



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