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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Wind River Softshell jacket > Test Report by Shane Williams

GoLite Wind River Softshell
Test Series by Shane Williams
Initial Review: January, 2011
Field Report: March, 2011
Long Term Report: May, 2011

Tester Information:

Name: Shane Williams
Email: sherpa[dot]colorado[at]gmail.com
Personal Website: coloradosherpa.net
Age: 36
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 190 lb (86.20 kg)

Bio:

As a child I lived in the last house on a dead end street. Just beyond my house was a wilderness area. I started hiking and exploring there, and I've never stopped. I started backpacking in the South Eastern Appalachian Mountains, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. Today I primarily hike in the Colorado Rockies. My pack weight is approximately 30 (13.61 kg) to 50 lbs (22.68 kg). I often carrying more gear than necessary hoping that I wonít need it. I enjoy weekend excursions into the High Country with friends and lower elevation day trips with my family.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: GoLite
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.golite.com
Sizing Chart:
Listed Materials: 92% Recycled Polyester, 8% Spandex; 93% Nylon, 7% Spandex
Listed Weight: 1 lb 6 oz (620 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 6 oz (620 g)
MSRP: 175.00
Awards: Editor's Choice "Green Award" 2010 - Backpacker Magazine
(Courtesy of GoLite)

Product Features:

  • Added reinforcement in high abrasion areas
  • Harness compatible pocket placement
  • Articulated wrist cuffs
  • Soft, brushed-back wind-resistant fabric
  • Bonded sleeve pocket
  • Relaxed Fit
  • * Garments specified as "Relaxed Fit" are designed for comfort and freedom of movement.

Care Instructions

Machine wash cold with like colors on gentle cycle. Do not use bleach. Do not use fabric softener. Line dry or tumble dry on low. Cool, Iorn if Needed. Do not dry clean.

Warranty:

Golite guarantees their products against any manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, free of charge. If the item does not meet expectations GoLite recommends that the item be returned to the store where it was purchased or contact our Customer Service department. Golite also states that they will repair, replacement, refund, or GoLite credit, at their discretion. Damage due to wear and tear can be repaired by GoLite for a reasonable charge.

Materials and Construction:

Tier 1 recycled polyester, Spandex, Nylon, DWR

GoLite, as a company has adopted an amazingly responsible approach to the construction of materials and the manufacturing of GoLite products. Perhapse one of the best examples of this is the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket, which is constructed utilizing 93% recycled materials. GoLite states that they do this to minimize environmental impacts by making smarter choices pertaining to the materials, the production methods employed, and the degree to which they take responsibility for a productís entire life-cycle. In addition to the responsible selection of materials, GoLite also takes a humanitarian approach to the methods by which they produce their products. They do this by employing only fair labor practices which are based on the standards set by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions .

The Wind River Softshell Index Rating

(Courtesy of GoLite)

The GoLite Index Matrix

(Courtesy of GoLite)

Initial Observations

My initial impression of the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket is that itís a solidly constructed jacket. When I first put it on I was particularly impressed with the fit and feel. While the material isnít heavy, it has the feeling of density that seems to promise protection from the elements. The interior lining is a soft thin pile fleece material. The exterior is comprised of the two synthetic blends (Polyester/Spandex and Nylon/Spandex) mentioned in the previous section. The synthetic materials each have a slightly different feel. The shoulder panels and sleeves have a brushed-back, reinforced finish that is designed to minimize wear to high abrasion areas. The remainder of the surface area, which is primarily everything below the shoulder panels, is constructed using the other synthetic material and seems to be slightly more flexible. Both exterior materials have a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish.

The GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket is designed with a series of 6 strategically placed pockets. The left sleeve has a bonded pocket thatís 4.5 in. (11.43 cm) wide and 6.5 in. (16.51 cm) in height. The front of the jacket has two pockets that are elevated. The bottom of the zippers are 7 in. (17.78 cm) from the bottom seam and have a length of 6 in. (15.24 cm). These pocket placements have been selected to accommodate for easy access while wearing a climbing harness. The three external pockets have a water resistant seals around the zippers as well as a zipper hood for recessed placement when fully zipped. The zippers also have pull tabs adorned with the GoLite logo. The 4th pocket is located in the interior of the left breast and has a 6 in (15.24 cm) zip closure, a zipper hood, and has a 5 in (12.70 cm) width and 8 in (20.32 cm) height. In addition to the zip closure pocket, the interior has two open "drop pockets", one on left behind the zip pocket, and one on the right. The depth is 13.5 in (34.29 cm) from top to bottom. These "drop pockets" seems to be a perfect place to keep a large item such as a National Geographic Topo.

*Topo not included*

Another nice feature of the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket is the articulated wrist cuffs. The cuffs have an interior closure that is designed to keep out the elements, such as snow and ice, should they get past the initial Velcro cuff.

Cuff rolled up to show articulation
Cuff in normal position

The front of the Wind River Softshell has a bi-directional zipper that can be unzipped from the top or unzipped from the bottom. The upper portion of the zipper ends at the top of the 3 in (7.62 cm) collar and can be fully zipped for additional coverage around the neck area. This zipper is also equipped with a zipper hood.

Front Bi-Directional Zipper

All seams of the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket are sewn with a tight single stitching. The left breast and rear collar sport the GoLite logo. Thereís also a draw cord sewn into the bottom hem that can be cinched down to provide further protection from external elements. Lastly, GoLite wanted to be sure that the redemptive quality of their recycled materials were not disregarded, so they have cleverly made note of it on the manufacturers tag.

General Overview:

The GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket appears to be well designed and solidly constructed. The fit and feel are impressive and offers a full range of motion without binding or becoming uncomfortable. Itís lightweight but dense construction along with a lightweight environmental footprint makes it appealing on several levels. I look forward to testing the performance of this Softshell over the next several months as temperatures drop and wind speeds increase. This concludes my initial report, a follow-up field report will be posted in March. Thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest.org for an opportunity to test this item.

Field Report: March 17th, 2011.

Field Conditions:

Location: Mount Herman
Date: 12/22/2010
Conditions: Sunny/Windy 35 F (1 C)
Elevation: 9000 ft (2743 m)

Location: Red Rocks Canyon
Date: 12/27/2010
Conditions: Sunny 50 F (10 C)
Elevation: 7000 ft (2134 m)

Location: Waldo Canyon
Date: 12/30/2010
Conditions: Sunny/Cold 20 F (-6 C)
Elevation: 7200 ft (2195 m)

Field Report:

Over the past couple of months, Iíve become well acquainted with the GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket. It has the preferred jacket of choice for outdoor activities including, hiking, biking, and a decent share of early morning snow shoveling sessions.

The Wind River softshell jacket has performed very well during this test period. During the colder months of the year, I typically carry a synthetic fleece and a windproof/waterproof exterior shell. These two pieces of gear have been my defacto standard for years, and has proven on many occasions to be versatile and adequate for providing warmth and protection from the elements. After wearing the Wind River softshell a couple of outings I started to entertain the idea of leaving my windproof/waterproof shell at home. In essence this one piece of gear accomplishes what previously took two. In the field I would typically wear a short sleeve synthetic base shirt, a mid-weight long sleeve synthetic secondary layer, and then the Wind River as an exterior layer. This softshell along with the layering system proved to be the sweet spot for providing warmth and protection from the wind.

The feature that I found to be the most impressive was its ability to block the wind. At times wind speeds were in excess of 40 mph (64.37 kph) and I wasnít able to detect the slights draft. The fleece lined interior material has a nice feel and acts as an additional layer. The external material is amazingly rugged and makes me feel ďbullet proofĒ against the elements.

The placement of the pocket openings are positioned as to make the contents more accessible while wearing a harness. This is a great idea, however, I think this could use some improvements. The internal surface area of the pocket is only slightly different than any other jacket. If I put a powerbar in the pocket, it slides to the bottom of the pocket which is only 2 in (5.08 cm) from the hem seam. I anticipated that the lowest portion of the pocket would still be well above the hip belt region. Other than the placement of the pocket openings, they seem to be regular pockets.

During this test period the Wind River Softshell Jacket hasnít had any operational defects. All zippers have worked flawlessly without hanging or snagging. The stitching and seams are all in premium condition and arenít showing any signs of wear or fraying.

Field Image: Red Rocks Canyon

Summary:

The GoLite Wind River Softshell Jacket is well constructed and adequately provides the ability to keep the elements out. It has a contoured fit that minimizes excessive bulk. The pockets could use some reengineering to reduce the depth as to keep items from interfering with the hip belt.

Pros:

  • Combines the features of a synthetic fleece and a windproof/waterproof exterior shell
  • Bullet proof against the elements
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Pocket design could you some work
Long Term Report: May 21, 2011.

Field Conditions:

Location: La Plata Peak
Date: 04/05/2011
Conditions: 10 f Ė 20 f (-12 c to -6 c) and Sunny
Elevation: 9800 - 14344 ft (2987 - 4370 m)

Location: Castle Peak
Date: 05/14/2011
Conditions: 33 f - 75 f (0.56 C - 23 C)
Elevation: 9750 - 14050 ft (2972 - 4282 m)

Field Report:

During this series of testing Iíve thoroughly enjoyed wearing and testing the GoLite Wind River Soft Shell Jacket. Its performance in the field has been nothing less than excellent. It has held up well and provided both warmth and adequate protection from the elements in every situation. With two early spring time ascents into the higher regions of the Rocky Mountains, The Wind River Soft Shell has seen a fair diversity of weather conditions.

During an ascent of La Plata Peak on April 5th, I had an opportunity to really see what the Wind River Soft Shell was capable of. The temperatures ranged from 10 f Ė 20 f (-12 c to -6 c) and the skies were perfectly blue. However, once on the upper ridge, the winds were whipping at an approximate 60 mph (96 KPH). During this portion of the ascent my upper body attire consisted of a polypropylene base layer, and the Wind River Soft Shell Jacket. The Wind River held its own and kept the wind from cutting through material and the jacket never became drafty. I was glad that I had this particular jacket in my arsenal. I was also glad that I had the opportunity to take it into the more extreme conditions, for which it was made.

The next major ascent that this jacket accompanied me on was a climb of Castle Peak. This was an overnight backpacking trip consisting of 14 miles (22 km) through fairly deep snow and an elevation gain of 4200 ft (1280 m). The weather was mostly clear and temperatures were significantly warmer. The low was 33 F (0.56 C) and the high was 75 F (23 C). As I ascended above 13400 ft (4084 m) a storm blew in and brought snow and wind with it, though, it was minimal in comparison to La Plata peak. For this ascent I also wore a base layer, and wore the Wind River Soft Shell as a secondary shell when it was needed.

As mentioned in my previous field report, this jacket provided the same functionality that previously took 2 pieces of gear to accomplish. This helped to reduce overall pack weight without sacrificing a much needed piece of gear.

Field Image: La Plata Summit
Field Image: Castle Peak

Summary:

Wind is one of the most difficult elements in nature to contend with. The GoLite Wind River Soft Shell Jacket delivers when the conditions are less than optimal. It consolidates a layer of warmth with a wind shell layer, making it a versatile and effective piece of gear.

This concludes my Long term report. A special thanks to backpackgeartest.org and GoLite for allowing me to be a part of this test series.



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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Wind River Softshell jacket > Test Report by Shane Williams



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