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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Wind River Softshell jacket > Test Report by Gail Staisil

GoLite
Wind River Softshell Jacket
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Initial Report:
December 29, 2010

Tester InformationThe author during a winter expedition

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 58
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Gender: Female
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last two decades, 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 14 lb (6.35 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 Wind River Softshell Jacket
Color
Dark Walnut/Cement (Also available in other colors)
Size Women's Large  (Also available in XS-XL as well as Men's  sizes)
Fabrics
 Recycled 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex, 93% Nylon, 7% Spandex
Manufacturer  Weight  1 lb 3 oz (530 g) (539 g with BGT conversion chart)
Tested Weight  1 lb 5.3 oz (604 g)
Model Year 2010
MSRP $175.00 US

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

GoLite Wind River Jacket
I received the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket in the requested size of Women's Large and I was sent the color of Dark Walnut with Cement trim. The colors look much like milk chocolate with creme. The jacket is also available in three additional colors of Garnet Red/Cement, Black/Granite and Cement/Garnet Red as well as other sizes from XS to XL. The jacket arrived in great condition with no noticeable defects.

My initial impression of the jacket was that it was well designed but much more heavy duty than I anticipated. I have owned several softshells before but they have all been softer and lighter in weight.

The jacket has definitely been designed for winter usage. According to GoLite, the jacket is designed for winter athletes who get out in the backcountry. Its attributes of high breathability, water resistance and superior range of motion are all noted on the hangtag that came with the jacket.

 .

Technical Features

The hoodless jacket itself has a relaxed fit according to the manufacturer. This allows layering of additional clothing. The Interior pocket with top opening holding 1 qt aluminum bottlematerials that make up the jacket are mostly recycled. One of the fabrics is comprised of Tier 1 92% recycled Polyester and 8% Spandex and the other fabric is 93% Nylon with 7% Spandex with a DWR (durable water resistant) finish. Tier 1 refers to recycled materials that are held to the same test standards as non recycled alternatives. The main body of the jacket has minimal stretch but the shoulders and top face of both sleeves are highly stretchable. Both fabrics have soft brushed interior surfaces. The manufacturer claims that the materials are wind resistant.

The center front of the jacket features a full length contrasting color zipper with large teeth and a two-way zip feature. This allows me to unzip from the top or from the bottom to vent. The top end of the zipper also features a zipper hood to keep the zipper from possibly irritating my neck. A tall collar is designed with a micro fleece type material on the inner face.

There are two zippered handwarmer pockets that are bonded in place. The pockets both have a mesh interior. Each pocket also features top openings on the interior so that a water bottle could be stowed easily inside the jacket. There is also a secondary opening on one of the pockets featuring a vertical zipper. It could safely contain keys or cell phone and not interfere with the handwarmer aspect.

There is also a sleeve pocket on the upper end of the left sleeve. This pocket is sewn in place and features a contrasting color of material. All poc
kets are reportedly placed to be harness compatible. All of the zippers on the exterior have some type of additional pull, the center zip has a rubberized pull and the three outside pockets have ribbon pulls with a bit of silicone type grip on the ends.

Articulated sleeve edgeThe sleeves are of the set-in variety but the shoulders are constructed with raglan type seaming in the yoke areas. The bottom edges of the sleeves feature an innovative style in that they are articulated rather than being straight. The part that goes over the top of the wrist is longer than the back of the wrist edge. They also feature hook and loop closures on the exterior as well as interior sleeve wristlets. The latter are made out of light stretch material and would likely prevent snow froBack of jacket yoke constructionm going up my sleeves when I fall. It could help with cold and wind from entering the bottom of the sleeves. This feature seems rather neat as my hands usually have poles in them during winter activities exposing them to more of the elements. The interior edges of the sleeves are also lined with micro fleece type material. 

There is a GoLite logo on the center back of the jacket just below the neck as well as one on the lower left side of the jacket. The lower hem also features two adjustment toggles one located at approximately each side.  


Fit

I tried the Wind River Softshell Jacket on with various types of layers underneath. The best fit for me is over a medium-weight wool top as I can't imagine wearing anything more with this due to the type of activities I will be doing while wearing the jacket. The sleeve length is perfect and the
length of the jacket just covers the hips.  


Care

The care instructions are found on a tag sewn in one of the interior seams. Basic care involves machine washing it in cold water with like colors on a gentle cycle. It should not be bleached, dry cleaned or exposed to fabric softener. It can be tumble or line dried.


Overall, the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket looks like a real workhorse. I am looking forward to seeing how it performs in the backcountry.

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Field Report:

March 6, 2011

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the GoLite Wind River Jacket during several multi-day backcountry trips. I have also worn it often for winter sport activities including cross country skiing, snowshoeing and even snowshoe running. Sessions wearing the jacket totaled 42. Locations ranged from and included boreal and deciduous forest communities, backcountry frozen lakes, groomed and ungroomed ski trails and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1400 ft (427 m).


Trip 1 -
Late December/Early January Hike-in Rustic Cabin Trip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 16.6 mi (27 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 60 lb (27 kg) including fresh (heavy) consumables
Sky and Air Conditions: Cold, windy, cloudy with some sun
Precipitation: Trace of snow
Temperature Range: 6 F (-14 C) to 41 F (5 C)


Trip 2 - Early February Hike-in Rustic Cabin Trip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 19.2 mi (30.9 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 55 lb (25 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, light snow
Precipitation: Snow (couple of inches/5 cm of very light snow)
Temperature Range: 5 F (-15 C) to 25 F (-4 C)


Trip 3 - February Sledge Trip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Old road bed and off trail
Distance: 11.4 mi (18.35 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 50 lb (22.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly cloudy
Precipitation: Trace of snow
Temperature Range: 4 F (-16 C) to 29 F (-2 C)


Day Activities:

Activities:
Backcountry, classic and skate skiing, snowshoeing and snowshoe running
Locations:
Blueberry Ridge Trails, Noquemanon Trails, Mt Marquette Trails, McKeever Trails, Michigan Tech Trails, Swedetown Trails, Saux Head Trails, Echo Lake and Big Bay backcountry areas...all locations in Marquette, Alger and Houghton Counties, Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Distance: Usually not measured in distance but the sessions average 2 -2.5 hrs in length
 


Performance in the Field


Breakdown of Activities:

Pulling sledge with backcountry gear: 7 days
Snowshoeing: 14 sessions
Running on snowshoes: 2 sessions
Skate Skiing: 5 sessions
Classic skiing: 13 sessions
Backcountry skiing: 2 sessions

Author pulling sledge of gear
During the first extended trip with the GoLite Wind River Jacket, the weather was briefly warm and then the temps plunged 35 actual degrees (6 F/-14 C). I had snowshoed while pulling my sledge of gear into a rustic forest cabin that is inaccessible by road. Once there I did snowshoe trips each day. With the weather conditions the snow had warmed and then froze into a solid rock-like surface. I needed the snowshoes for traction on the steep hilly terrain!

The winds were wild as well as the temps went down to 6 F (-14 C). I was plenty warm in the jacket ..almost too warm. I did do a lot of repeated descending and ascending which was a good measure of activity plus I was wearing snowshoes which adds to the equation. However I was initially concerned that I might not be able to wear this jacket in warmer conditions for such activity as it was almost too warm.

After the first extended trip I have worn the jacket for many day activities. I quickly found it was much too hot for skate skiing unless the temps were below 10 F (-12 C) or the wind chills were significant.

Classic skiingI then tried it for classic skiing in temps from below zero (-18 C) to the low 20's (-7 C) It worked perfectly for those endeavors so I continued to wear it most every time I classic skied.

I also continued to wear it for skate skiing when the temps were low or the wind chills were high. I also have worn the jacket for two sessions of snowshoe running. It has been too hot for that activity so I vented the front zipper quite quickly each time and just wore lightweight gloves and a light hat. For normal snowshoe treks (not running), the jacket has functioned well.

Two more extended trips were taken in February. One was similar to the first trip in that I pulled my sledge into a rustic cabin and then took day trips with either skis or snowshoes. The third trip was a winter camp scenario where I moved each day pulling my sledge through the hills of a national forest. The temps were mostly around 20 F (-7 C) or lower so the jacket provided the right amount of warmth.


Further Thoughts on Performance

I have found the Wind River Jacket to be quite adaptable to my many sports and it offersSnowshoeing on ski trail adequate coverage over my upper body. I have appreciated the inner cuffs of the jacket when I have fallen into deep powder snow more than once. The cuffs are loose enough that they layer nicely over my inner layer. They don't bunch up the sleeves when I put the jacket on my body.

I do miss having a hood on the jacket especially when temps are very cold. I have worn a neck gaiter that can be pulled up over my face or head for extra warmth instead. I do however appreciate that the collar on the jacket is very tall reaching my hairline in the back.

The zippers have been easy to operate as they have very large teeth. Nothing has caught in them and the cold weather doesn't seem to affect their performance. I love the fact that the center zipper can be opened from the top as well as the bottom to vent. The zippered pockets are easy to operate and I can actually open them to retrieve a snack while wearing ski gloves.

After my first few endeavors while wearing the GoLite Wind River Jacket, I have come to quickly learn at what conditions it is suited for. I really thought that I was going to have a hard time wearing the jacket because it is much heavier than what I normally wear for winter aerobic activities. I soon found that by wearing only a light wool top most of the time it was adaptable.

I like the fit of the jacket and would consider it more a trim fit than a regular fit as suggested by the manufacturer. This observation is based on other clothing that I own that are sized regular fit and trim fit. Even though I normally wear just one thin shirt underneath I really couldn't add another layer without feeling restricted. I only say this as the jacket fits very close to my body type. With only one layer underneath, the jacket hasn't hindered my movement in anyway.

Even though the jacket is not waterproof, I have found that its water-resistant finish fends off most precipitation. Since I play outside in all types of weather I have worn it during steadily falling snow as well as needle-like sleet.  My shirt underneath has remained dry.

I have also worn the jacket during stormy winter weather where the winds were 20 to 45 mph (32 to 72 km/h). This is where the fabric of the jacket really shines...it is very wind resistant. Many of my friends can't believe that I am warm in such conditions while just wearing one top underneath as they are more bundled up.

I still find the jacket a bit heavy in weight and bulky but it hasn't been a real issue as I haven't had to stow and carry it because I am always wearing it. During the long term period the weather will maybe eventually get warmer and I will likely get to see the ramifications of that  scenario.

 

Durability and Care So Far

The jacket looks great after all the wear in the field test period. There are no signs of pilling on the stretchy surface and all the stitching and bonding has remained intact. I have only washed the jacket 4 times so far.
Although it never appeared to be dirty due to its dark color, I washed it simply because I wear it all the time for endurance activities. I'm sure it needed cleaning although I hadn't detected any odors. I have washed it in cold water with other clothes, briefly put it in the dryer for a few minutes and then placed it on a drying rack.

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Long Term Report:

May 9, 2011

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term period, I have worn the GoLite Wind River Jacket for winter and early spring sport activities including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, day hiking, mountain biking and backpacking for a total of 31 additional times. Locations ranged from and included boreal and deciduous forest communities, desert and high desert terrain, ski trails, hiking trails and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 5000 ft (1500 m).

Early May BackpackingTrip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail/bush roads
Distance: 15 mi (24 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg) - includes 2 qt/l of water
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 27 F (-3 C) to 41 F (5 C) 

Day Activities:

Activities:
Cross country skiing (14 days), snowshoeing (5 days), hiking (8 days) and mt biking (2 days)
Locations:
Blueberry Ridge Trails, Noquemanon Trails, Mt Marquette Trails, McKeever Trails, Michigan Tech Trails, Swedetown Trails, Saux Head Trails, Echo Lake and Big Bay backcountry areas...all locations in Marquette, Alger and Houghton Counties, Upper Peninsula of Michigan; South Mountain Park, Superstition Wilderness, Red Rock Wilderness, all in the state of Arizona
Distance: Usually not measured in distance but the ski and snowshoe sessions average 2 -2.5 hrs in length and the hiking sessions were up to 6 hrs in length
 


Performance in the Field
Tester hiking in the Red Rock Wilderness of Arizona
Although I live in a cold climate, the spring time weather has brought colder than average temperatures. Most daytime temperatures have been from below freezing (32 F/0 C) to the mid 40's F (6 C). I certainly wore the GoLite Wind River Jacket much more than I expected during the last two months! I even was surprised that I was able to wear it in Arizona which brought a few unseasonably cold days (I must of brought it there). Rain and snow were part of the equation and temps dipped below freezing (32 F/0 C).

As earlier stated, winter weather has mostly prevailed throughout the spring in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There has been the occasional warm day but I actually was able to cross country ski through the first week of April and snowshoe through the 23rd of April (the latter on downhill ski slopes).

The weather brought new snowfall several times as well as a mixture of sleet and rain at other times. Mostly cloudy conditions prevailed with a bit of sun at times.

I have continued to like the jacket for cross country skiing as it never rode up or restricted my movement during activity. It was equally comfortable for my other activities. I wore it two days for mountain bike rides of each approx 13 miles (21 km). The sleeves/inner cuffs didn't allow the wind to enter the bottom edges of the sleeves.

Hiking on a spring day in the snowI found that the jacket also worked perfectly with a loaded day pack. The fabric did not bunch underneath allowing the harness to rest comfortably on my body. The same was true while wearing it with my backpack on a two-day trip of 15 mi (24 km).

I still find this a heavy jacket but I am truly amazed at its wearability for different sports and its overall comfort. I have continued to wear the jacket with a light wool top or light synthetic shirt underneath (as pictured above).

A few times I have had to stash the jacket after I warmed up from activity and although it took a bit of room in my pack, it was easy enough to do. I have also just dropped it down to my waist at times. 

I still miss not having a hood on the jacket especially when temps are very cold.  I have worn the jacket on many stormy days including rainy weather. It seems to fend off moisture as I haven't had a problem with my under layers getting wet. I love the fact that the front center zipper can be opened from each end and I often use it that way, just joined at the center for a bit (see above photo for example) or opened from the lower edge. It allows more ventilation for sure.

 

Durability and Care
Backpacking on a cold early May day
The Wind River Jacket still looks amazing with no real signs of wear after a total of 73 outings. It has been easy to care for and has been washed with my other clothes a few additional times and hung to dry. The fabric has remained water resistant, the zippers have remained intact and the bonded seams are perfect.


Pros
 
  • Stretchable fabric
  • Zippers are easy to operate in the cold
  • Roomy pockets
  • Great jacket for cold temps and wind chills
  • More versatile than I initially thought possible

Cons


  • Somewhat heavy/bulky

Tester Remarks 

Thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Wind River Softshell Jacket. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series. 

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