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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Obermeyer Coco or Kenai Jacket > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

OBERMEYER SPORTS COCO WOMEN'S JACKET
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
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LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 12, 2011
FIELD REPORT - January 16, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - March 13, 2012

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 61
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Sport Obermeyer
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.obermeyer.com
MSRP: US $399.50
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 33 oz (936 g)
Sizes Available: Women's 2 through 18
Size Tested: 8
Colors Available: Black, Jade, Sapphire, True Red, Waterfall & White
Color Tested: True Red
Fabric/Coating: Cocona: 100% Polyester
Insulation/Lining: Thinsulate; Satin - 100% polyester
Obermeyer Coco Jacket

Other details: (from the website)


•Adjustable cuff tabs
•Adjustable interior hem drawcord
•CZV - Control Zone Ventilation
•Fleece inside collar panels
•Full-motion, articulated sleeve construction
•Fully seam-sealed
•Inner cuffs with thumbholes
•Inside cell phone pocket
•Inside mesh "earbud" stow pocket
•Inside mesh/stretch binding goggle pocket
•Inside removable media pocket with window
•Inside secure storage pocket with zipper
•Integrated, adjustable powder skirt with stretch panel


•Interior stretch panels for fit/comfort
•Internal zipper windguard
•Key holder
•RECCO
•Reflective trim
•Removable hood with peripheral and vertical drawcord adjustment
•Scratch-free, absorbent goggle cloth
•Shaped seams for fit
•Ski pass D-ring
•Tricot-lined hand pocket(s)
•Waterproof zipper(s)
•Zipper chest pocket(s)


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The first thing I noticed about my new Coco Jacket (hereafter called either "Coco" or "Jacket") is how gorgeous the True Red color is! The fabric has a vertical gradient quality to it which makes the Jacket almost shine. Cocona's smooth texture complements the stylish construction and Obermeyer's attention to detail is immediately obvious.

According to promotional material, "Obermeyer is the first on-snow brand to introduce the highly technical and eco-friendly fabric, Cocona®, to its roster."

I'd like to explain a bit about Cocona® which is made from recycled coconut shells or (shockingly to me) lava sand. Reportedly, it has fast drying, moisture wicking, odor resistant and long-lasting capabilities. Cocona® fabrics are reported to be 50% more breathable than industry competitors and remove moisture from each layer of an apparel system 50 to 250% faster. Cocona® is a naturally derived permanent technology that never washes out or wears out and "reduces the carbon footprint of apparel through energy savings in drying and less required washing" (Eco Textile News). And while, it boggles me to contemplate, according to an Obermeyer spec sheet, "A T-shirt made with Cocona® fabric has the surface area of a football field and contains 1.3 billion active particles." Phew! That's a lot of "stuff"!

My Coco Jacket is a newer version of the one pictured on the Obermeyer website, but the changes appear to be cosmetic and mostly related to zippers.

For example, the front zipper on the website is shown to curve to the side at the neckline; there is only one zippered chest pocket and there is a zippered arm pocket. My Jacket has a straight-up front zipper, no arm pocket and two chest pockets which double as control zone vents due to their mesh linings. Oh, and the chest pocket zippers are diagonal inward to the middle rather than outward to the side as depicted on the website. Lastly, the only other discernible difference I was able to discover on first inspection is the lack of interior cuffs with thumb holes.

Let me talk about pockets here! The Coco Jacket has a bunch of them with all kinds of neat special touches. Starting with the exterior of the Jacket first, the two hand warmer pockets positioned at the front sides are generously sized with 7 in (18 cm) zippers rendered almost invisible by their placement on the princess seams. Soft fleece lines these two pockets.

Following upwards along the princess seams from the hand warmer pockets are two chest pockets. These too follow the seam so as to blend in. Five-inch (12.5 cm) openings reveal mesh linings with a glasses/goggles cleaning cloth neatly attached via a snap fastener in the left pocket. All four outer zippers are topped with a soft plastic loop for ease of use.

There are a total of five pockets in the interior of the Coco Jacket. On the left is a large (roughly 8 x 8 in/20 x 20 cm) open-top mesh pocket. Inside that pocket is a stretchy-fabric open-top pocket into which my Samsung Epic 4G cell phone almost perfectly fits - the phone is slightly taller.

A matching large zippered pocket is mirrored on the right interior of the Jacket. Like its mate, this pocket also has an interior surprise, only this time it's a detachable clear-fronted media player carrier with a hook and loop closure. Conveniently, just above this combo is a small semi-circular mesh pouch just made for an ear bud. Neat! (see below left)
Media Pockets Powder skirt

To contend with the various winter elements, Obermeyer built in several features to insure comfort. For example, there are control zone (commonly called "pit zips") zippers hidden in the side seams of the Coco. Generously sized at 10.5 in (26.5 cm), the zippers are equipped with slightly longer than 1 in (2.5 cm) fabric pulls topped with hard plastic extenders. The length is suited for that awkward under-the-arm contortion needed when "venting". A soft mesh lines the control zone ventilation/pit zips.

On the other end of the weather extreme, the attached powder skirt is elasticized and snaps closed with 4 snaps. But what is really unique about this powder skirt is that it can be snapped open, so to speak, by snapping it to the Jacket's lining when I don't need aggressive protection from the wind and snow. It's then totally, neatly out of the way instead of flapping around my waist. (see above right)

Hood Adjustments For a perfect fit, the detachable hood has four separate stretchy loop pulls to snug it down to the proper size. Metal push-toggles keep the pulls in place. Not only is the hood attached to the body of the Jacket by a back/bottom zipper, but the front tabs are neatly tucked into the Jacket's stand-up collar and secured out-of-sight with hook and loop fasteners. Again, neat! A mesh lining in the hood is part of the Coco's control zone ventilation system.

Other nice Obermeyer touches include hook and loop adjustable wrist band closures, various reflective stripes and dots and a chin-loving fleece liner in the front collar interior.

One final comment - the Obermeyer Coco Jacket as with much of Obermeyer's apparel, features the RECCO® system. According to the RECCO® website, "The RECCO® Rescue System is two-part technology. Ski resorts and rescue teams carry RECCO® detectors. The detector sends out a directional search signal, which is echoed by RECCO® reflectors worn by skiers, riders and other outdoors people."

Literally, thousands of resorts around the world use the RECCO® detectors and the Obermeyer Coco Jacket has the reflectors sewn into the Jacket.

Last winter, I talked with a member of the Search and Rescue team at a resort in Utah and he made it very clear that the RECCO® system (as does RECCO®) IS NOT a substitute for an avalanche beacon. The detector needs to be just about on top of the reflector for a victim to be located. The RECCO® system is more a recovery tool than a rescue tool and should not be relied on as a primary safety feature.

That noted...bring on the snow! (Oh wait, I'm not finished with this report yet.)

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

On the Obermeyer website I learned dirt and grime can disrupt the waterproofing and breathability of the Jacket fabric by clogging the pores. This allows water to soak through and prevents water vapor from escaping. To reopen these pores and restore the effectiveness of the coatings, Obermeyer advises careful cleaning and drying as follows:

* DO NOT DRY CLEAN
* Wash in COLD water separately.
* DO NOT use fabric softeners or bleach.
* Use a non-detergent cleanser or a very mild powder detergent - minimize soap usage
* Use the washing machine's GENTLE cycle, or hand-wash.
* Rinse very thoroughly; better yet, rinse it twice.
* Gently squeeze most of the water from the garment - DO NOT WRING.
* LINE-DRY the jacket until it is completely dry.
* DO NOT hang over a heat source to speed drying - this can damage the jacket's fabric and the waterproof/breathable coating.

The Obermeyer warranty reads "We guarantee that the materials and workmanship in all of the products we make will stand up to the use for which they are designed. Any defects in the materials or workmanship are covered for the lifetime of the product. Our warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, misuse, accidents, fading or the natural breakdown of materials over time. Just call us and ask for "Customer Service."

TRYING IT OUT

It was a pleasure slipping on my new Obermeyer Coco Jacket! The lining is a very silky-feeling polyester that slid over my top without snagging or pulling. The Coco feels as good as it looks!

Since I already own Obermeyer brand clothing, I was not at all surprised at the perfect fit (nice to know I haven't gained weight! The Coco fits closely but not tightly across my 35 in (89 cm) chest as measured just under my arms. I will easily be able to wear a base layer and a couple of mid-layers under it.

Twenty-four inches (61 cm) from shoulder seam to cuff, the sleeves reach the middle of my palms, but when the cuffs are fastened properly, the sleeves are very comfortable. Barely covering my derriere, the torso measures a very adequate 28 in (71 cm).

All the advertised features (except the thumb-loop cuffs) were readily located. All zippers and fasteners worked flawlessly and the Coco Jacket and I are ready to roll!

SUMMARY

From my window, I can see the first snow blanketing the near-distant Sangre de Cristo peaks. Winter is on its way for sure here in Colorado. I'm excited; and now with my new Obermeyer Coco Jacket, I'm ready to enjoy all the snow and cold has to offer. Snowshoeing, hiking and backpacking await. Look out - here I come!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

In the past 2 months, I have worn the Obermeyer Coco on 8 day hikes, including a 3 day Christmas/anniversary celebration trip to Estes Park, Colorado where I spent 2 days snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Supplemental usage occurred almost daily on 3 mile (5 km) walks with my son's dog through suburban terrain and a subdivision nature park. And because the Coco is so warm and attractive, I wore it casually any time it was cold enough to warrant a jacket.

I'd estimate I easily have 150+ hours wear on the Coco so far.

All of my outdoor time was spent in Colorado, most of it in the Canon City/Fremont County area. Terrain is generally very hilly to mountainous, dry, and with desert-like vegetation, including lots of very prickly cholla cactus, juniper and pinon pine trees.

It's been a rather odd winter so far with temperatures rather mild mostly, and I've worn the Coco in temperatures ranging from 40 F down to 19 F (-7 C to 4.4 C). We've had very strong winds where literally it was difficult to stand, no less hike into them. While I was visiting Estes Park, wind gusts were recorded in excess of 110 mph (kph)!

I did not actually wear the Coco while it was snowing, but did wear it in the snow during snowshoe hikes.
The Coco in RMNP
On Trail Ridge Road in RMNP

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This is not my first Obermeyer Sports jacket, so I'm familiar with the company and their quality products.

Like my Obermeyer Kennedy jacket, the Coco does a great job of keeping me warm with even less bulk than the Kennedy (which wasn't uncomfortably bulky at all!). It is impervious to winds and even when I was snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) on a day the winds were constant and very, very strong, I did not experience any chilling of my core due to the bone-chilling gusts. The arms are slightly less warm I think, but not negatively so and I've found if my core is warm, then I don't notice my extremities much.

In the super cold gusts in RMNP, I was very happy to have the hood on the Coco! I'm not a hood person normally, but it was bitter that week and I was thankful the hood was able to snug down around my head via the adjustable pulls located on the sides and back.

I also was pleased with how well and without a struggle, the hook and loop tab closures on the cuffs opened and fastened tightly around my wrists to keep out the icy conditions. The closures made the numbing task of adjusting my camera without gloves less horrid as I was able to quickly get my gloves back under the cuffs with a minimum of fussing.

From my experience up to now, I'd give the Coco an "A" for comfort in cold weather!

Conversely, I've worn the Coco in weather where I thought I might need a jacket and really didn't and was too lazy to take it off and carry it or stuff it into a day pack. Anything over 40 F (4.4 C) is too mild for a jacket for me when any activity involving exertion is undertaken. On those occasions, I used the pit zips and the chest pocket vents in conjunction with the front zipper to air cool down my torso. It worked well and I attribute that to having the chest pocket vents. I think they provide just enough "extra" ventilation to be noticeably better than the pit zips alone.

When I'm hiking or snowshoeing, I do not want to feel constricted by my clothing and a lot of times, a winter-weight jacket will do that. Not the Coco though! The freedom of motion, especially in the shoulder and arm area is very much appreciated. I love how I can move and manipulate my trekking poles, etc. without feeling I'm at risk for self-strangulation.

I love all the pockets in the Coco! I've found using the interior pockets to protect sensitive items such as my cell phone, ID, credit cards, etc. to be perfectly safe and secure thanks to the depth and zipper (on one). The glasses/goggle wipe in the outer chest pocket is located in just the right spot for me to access it without any contortions on my part and works well to de-fog my glasses as well as dry any precipitation. I've yet to use the mp3 earpiece pocket, but for the sake of testing, will get to that next report.

The only negative experience I've had with the Obermeyer is with the front zipper. I've had it separate (open) in the middle of the jacket, separate at the bottom of the jacket and get stuck on several occasions. It's always simple enough to rectify, but I'd rather not have it happen in the first place. I think the zipper is just too lightweight for a jacket that is going to be used as actively as I have used it snowshoeing and such. A slightly heavier zipper would probably do the trick.

I have washed the Obermeyer once so far. The cuffs looked rather dirty to me and I was careful to check all the pockets, zip everything closed and turned the jacket inside out. I used a cold wash, normal cycle with a tech wash soap. There were other technical items, such as socks in the wash, also. Rather than machine dry, I hung the Coco on a wooden hanger to dry. The jacket turned out beautiful and was ready to wear the next day.

SUMMARY

I'm pretty happy with the Obermeyer Coco Jacket. I like the way it looks and it certainly is warm and comfortable to wear. I especially like the fit - loose enough to move around in when I'm active on snowshoes and mountain trails. And while they are little things, I have been grateful for the glasses/goggle cleaning cloth and the roomy interior pockets. I can't begin to detail how often I used the cloth and how great to be able to secure my mp3 player, cell phone, credit cards, etc. The only not-so-great feature is the too lightweight front zipper.

Well, I'm off to Salt Lake City and a day of fun at the Outdoor Retail Winter Market's demo day at Solitude Mountain Resort. I will be the one in the bright red Obermeyer Coco Jacket!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Solitude Mountain All of my backpacking, snowshoeing and hiking while wearing the Obermeyer Coco Jacket during January and February 2012 took place in Colorado with the exception of one day on Solitude Mountain in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. I've worn the jacket on three separate weekend overnights, all in the Cooper Mountain range in my local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) playground which adjoins our property. There are no trails there, so my husband, John, and I just point ourselves in one direction, set the GPS and go!

The land is all juniper and pinon pine-covered hills and rocky gullies. It's generally rather rough. It's especially fun trying to find a suitable place to put up a tent where the ground is both relatively flat and isn't solid rock or strewn with pointy shale just waiting to poke me in the back while I'm trying to sleep!

All three nights were overcast but did not produce rain or snow. It was probably the cloud cover that saved me from dealing with temps under 25 F (-4 C). The lowest night-time temperature I endured was 25 F (-4 C) and the highest was 33 F (0.6 C). Daytime saw lows just above freezing and highs up to 60 F (16 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Wearing the Coco jacket these past two months has continued to be more of the same as detailed in my field report. It's a wonderfully flexible outer layer that keeps me warm enough in the coldest temperatures when I properly layer my clothing and yet with its multiple zipper system for venting, I can pretty much cool myself down when needed. On only a couple of rare occasions did I get too hot for the jacket and that was on steep uphill climbs, on snowshoes, with a full pack and full sun. Then, I just took it off and lashed it to my pack until I cooled down/was in shade or stopped for a long break.

I mostly wore two layers under the jacket - one a synthetic or wool, fairly thin base layer and over that a thin, but very warm, down vest. This combination allowed me to freely move my arms (a necessity when I wield my trekking poles) yet kept my core adequately covered. I hate being constricted in my arm and shoulder movements and the construction of the Coco allows me plenty range of motion.

I have been very pleased at how well the Coco has held up to the constant rubbing of shoulder straps and a waist belt as well as the prickly vegetation it's been subjected to. I always worry when I get a new top layer how it's going to withstand the abrasive contact of my pack. So far, the Coco shows no signs at all of any adverse wear. The material is very smooth and seems to shrug off my clumsy lurching into juniper bushes and pinon pine trees. I was very pleasantly surprised when the arm of my jacket withstood my close encounter with a cholla cactus plant. Usually that sort of thing would result in a howl of pain and the tedious plucking out of many spines. I mean, I've had cholla poke through my boots, so the repellency of the Coco is a very good thing!

One touch of comfort, I need to take note of. It's a little thing, but I really appreciate the fleece lining at the top front collar of the Coco. I often "turtle" when the wicked winds blow and it's such a nice feeling to have the softness of the fleece rubbing against my chin rather than the scratchy fabric of some other jacket linings. So nice!
Collar Lining
It's the Little Things!
Media Storage
Music on the Go

As promised, I tried out the earbud pouch on the inside of the jacket. I use the Yurbud Ironman earbuds which are quite a bit larger than the average earbud and they do fit nicely into the pouch. In addition to the earbud pouch, there is a very practical see-through sleeve tucked into a mesh zipper-topped pocket for safe-keeping of my mp3 player. With a hook-and-loop closure, this sleeve combined with the zippered pocket kept my mp3 player both accessible and secure.

Honestly, though, I only used the earbud pouch to try it out and will probably never use it again. I don't like to backpack/hike/snowshoe with my mp3 player blaring and when I do use my mp3 player on walks with the dog, I have the earbuds in my ears, so no need for a storage pocket. I will continue to use the mp3 player sleeve on walks for the security of my mp3 player. Can't say how many times I've dropped the device out of my pockets in the past.

Despite my problems with the main front zipper separating during my first couple of months, I didn't have any reoccurrence of that during the second reporting period. Maybe it was the little bit of weight I lost - less strain on the zipper!

SUMMARY

The old saying "You can judge a book by its cover" is certainly true about the Obermeyer Sports Coco Jacket. Its great looks are not just skin deep; the durability and versatility of the jacket make it a real workhorse as well. I am amazed at how well it has handled the abuse of a backpack with the constant rubbing of shoulder straps and a waist belt. It repels snow and water well, keeps me warm, yet is easily vented. I love some of the little "extras" such as the goggle cloth. I'm so happy with this Coco jacket that I was willing to pass down my previous Obermeyer jacket to my daughter-in-law. This jacket is a keeper!

Thank you to and Sport Obermeyer Sports for the opportunity to try it out!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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