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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > New Balance Chameleon Jacket > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

NEW BALANCE CHAMELEON JACKET
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 08, 2015

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a lightweight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) and use a tent, stove and quilt.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

front
Photo: New Balance
Manufacturer: New Balance
Year of Manufacture: 2014

Manufacturer's Website: http://www.newbalance.com
MSRP: $149.99 US

Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 11.8 oz (335 g)

Size Tested: M
Other sizes available: XS, S, L and XL

Color Tested: Black
Other color available: Mulberry with Poisonberry

Made in Phillipines







PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

back
Photo: New Balance
The New Balance Chameleon jacket is a synthetic fabric made of 90% polyester and 10% spandex per the website. The tag in the jacket breaks down the fabric a little more with the sleeves being 90% polyester and 10% elastane and the torso being 55% nylon and 45% polyester. The lining is 100% polyester and has an open-weave look to it. The sleeves are a soft fabric with a stretch to them. The torso is a quilted nylon with a slick feel. The moisture wicking fabric has an antimicrobial treatment to resist odors.

The sleeves are extra-long and include a thumb opening along the seam. There is reflective striping on both cuffs and on the upper back. The New Balance logo on the left chest is also reflective. The jacket has two zippered hand-warmer pockets. The right-hand pocket has a smaller inner pocket designed to hold a portable electronic device. There is a cord hole built into the pocket to allow for routing earbud cables to the inside of the jacket.

The tail of the jacket has a dropped back hem for more coverage. The main zipper has a contoured zipper pull and the jacket has a zipper garage at the top. There is a loop of nylon at the neck for hanging. The hem and cuffs are a black elastic binding.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT

My first impression upon receiving the jacket was that it was a grey color (as depicted on the website) but it is not black (as described by the color). I love the grey color and was happy to see that it wasn't black since I already have several black jackets. I was wearing a heavy fleece when I opened the package, so I tried the jacket on over the top. My husband immediately commented that the jacket was too small but I quickly realized that it is a more form-fitting jacket made for thinner layers underneath. I then tried it on with a short-sleeved t-shirt and it fit perfectly.

The jacket is very comfortable. I really like the feel of the sleeves on my arms. The torso is warm and it seems to puff up from the quilting. I'm surprised how warm the jacket seems to be for the light weight. When the sleeves are extended out fully they come to the knuckles on my hands. I can put my thumbs in the holes and fold my fingers up inside the sleeve to really protect my hands if needed.

I wore the jacket on a cooler day in the low 40's F (4 - 7 C) with a short-sleeved wool shirt underneath and was surprisingly comfortable. The sleeves feel fairly thin but they didn't allow the cool air through. I used the sleeves to keep my hands warm.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The jacket is machine washable in cold water and can be tumble dried on low.

SUMMARY

The New Balance Chameleon jacket is a lightweight but warm jacket which is designed to be breathable for active outdoor pursuits.

Initial Likes:
Lightweight
Comfortable
Nice grey color
Thumb holes

Initial Dislikes:
Nothing


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Point ReyesI wore the Chameleon as my primary jacket over the test period. I wore it for two backpacking trips, ten day hikes, two snowshoe hikes, nine runs and multiple walks. I also wore it for yard work, fitness classes and just around town. Overall, I'd say that I wore it on at least 35 separate occasions. Temperatures ranged from 30 to 66 F (-1 to 19 C) in conditions ranging from full sun to clouds to snow and sleet. Some examples of my many uses include:

Backpacking:
Point Reyes National Seashore, California: 3 days; 19 mi (31 km); 0 to 780 ft (238 m); 50 to 66 F (10 to 19 C) with heavy mist, partly cloudy and sunny conditions

Snowshoe Backpacking:
Rubicon Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days; 10 mi (16 km); 6,327 to 6,500 ft (1,928 to 1,981 m); 30 to 59 F (-1 to 15 C) with clear conditions and gusty winds

Snowshoeing:
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 2.5 mi (4 km); 6,327 to 6,478 (1,928 to 1,974 m); 32 F (0 C) with snow and sleet

Chipmunk Ridge, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 mi (5 km); 6,450 to 6,600 ft (1,966 to 2,012 m); 35 F (2 C) with clear but breezy conditions

Hiking:
Auburn Dam Overlook, California: 6.5 mi (10.5 km); 1,237 to 1,539 ft (377 to 469 m) elevation; 45 F (7 C); partly cloudy to sunny conditions with some light winds

Multiple hikes in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2 mi to 4.5 mi (3 to 7 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 43 to 58 F (6 to 14 C)

Haul Road, Mendocino Coast, Northern California: 7 mi (11 km); 39 to 54 F (4 to 12 C); nearly sea-level; clear conditions

Running:
Pre-dawn runs were from 3.2 to 5.1 mi (5.1 to 8.2 km); 33 to 55 F (1 to 13 C): mostly dry conditions with one light rain; occasional blustery winds

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Loon FR
All this powder just for us?
I always wore the jacket with a layer underneath whether it was a sleeveless, short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt. And for cooler hikes or snowshoeing, I also wore a jacket over the top which was usually a waterproof shell.

The most notable thing for me was how warm the jacket kept me despite its light weight. I could wear it on cool days with just a short-sleeved shirt underneath and was perfectly comfortable. I attribute this to the fact that I never felt any coolness or breeze come through the jacket even at the lighter sleeve areas. The quilted torso seemed to warm me up without making me overheat. In the worst cases where I was running and got too hot, I usually just pulled the jacket off of my shoulders while keeping my arms in the sleeves and was able to cool down sufficiently.

The quilted torso fabric made swishing noises at times which was especially noticeable while running since I was going faster and also wore a lighted armband which contacted the jacket. The noise wasn't unbearable but it was noticeable.

One feature that I really love is the extra-long sleeves with thumb holes which I used on numerous occasions. I used them on my runs until I warmed up, on cooler hikes and even while snowshoeing for additional warmth under my gloves.

I found myself wearing the jacket so often that it seemed to miss wash day. I probably only washed it four times over the test period. This means that there were a lot of uses between washings but it never seemed to hold any odor although I never wore it as the base layer so that certainly helped to keep it cleaner. The durability has been excellent with the jacket still looking like new. There are no snags, loose threads or worn areas.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Red RockI wore the Chameleon as my primary jacket over the test period but temperatures were warmer so I found myself taking it off earlier and using it less. I wore it for one three-day backpacking trip, two car camping overnighters, eight day hikes, four fitness classes, seven runs and multiple walks. I also wore it for mountain biking, yard work, softball practice and just around town. Overall, I'd say that I wore it on at least 30 separate occasions. Temperatures ranged from 39 to 75 F (4 to 24 C) in conditions ranging from full sun to clouds. Some examples of my many uses include:

Backpacking:
Pacific Crest Trail, Southern California: 3 days; 35 mi (56 km); 2,245 to 4,500 ft (684 to 1,372 m); 39 to 74 F (4 to 23 C) with clear to partly cloudy conditions

Car Camping:
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California: overnight; 2,800 ft (853 m): 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C) with clear conditions

Jawbone Off-Highway Vehicle Area, California: overnight; 5,900 ft (1,798 m); 42 to 70 F (5 to 21 C) with clear conditions and high winds

Hiking:
Stevens Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 9.0 miles (14.5 km); 1,300 to 2,300 ft (400 to 700 m) elevation; 75F (24 C); clear conditions

Auburn Dam Overlook, California: 6.5 mi (10.5 km); 1,237 to 1,539 ft (377 to 469 m) elevation; 45 F (7 C); partly cloudy to sunny conditions with some light winds

Multiple hikes in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2.5 mi to 3.5 mi (4 to 5.6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C)

Running:
Pre-dawn runs were from 3.4 to 4.1 mi (5.5 to 6.6 km); 41 to 52 F (5 to 11 C): mostly dry conditions; occasional winds

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

ShepherdWith the warmer temperatures during this test period I found myself taking the jacket off when the temperatures hit around 65 F (18 C) or sooner during more strenuous activity.

The hem of the jacket stayed down over my hips and worked well while sleeping. There was no riding up and allowing me to get cold overnight. I also liked the extra-long sleeves with thumb holes for sleeping so that I could start out a little warmer and easily push them up as I needed during the night.

I often carried my phone in the internal pocket inside the right hand-warmer pocket. I found it to be convenient since I could use the hand-warmer pockets without fear of accidentally pulling out my phone and dropping it.

The athletic fit is great for layering. It is large enough to allow for a short or long-sleeved base layer underneath but easily fits under another jacket or shell when needed.

I continued to miss wash day since the jacket was worn so often, but I probably washed it another four times over the test period. Again I never noticed any foul aroma and only washed it because I knew that it had been worn many times and not because it smelled like it needed it. The durability continues to be outstanding with the jacket not showing any signs of wear or tear.

SUMMARY

I have found the Chameleon to be an incredibly comfortable and versatile jacket. I literally find myself wanting to wear it every day...well, until the temperatures got too warm.

Likes:
Athletic fit
Comfort
Thumb holes
Great warmth to weight ratio
Very wind resistant

Dislikes:
Nothing

This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to New Balance and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this jacket.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > New Balance Chameleon Jacket > Test Report by Nancy Griffith



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