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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Obermeyer Falcon or Kennedy Jacket > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

OBERMEYER KENNEDY JACKET
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
Obermeyer logo

LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - November 06, 2010
FIELD REPORT - January 11, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - March 27, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 60
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: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.obermeyer.com
MSRP: US $389.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 2 lb 2 oz (964 g)
Available Colors: Aqua Frost, Black, Black/Aqua Frost, Black/Cassis, Black/Iris, Cassis Red, Glowstick, Iris, and Pink Ruby
Tested Color: Aqua Frost
Available Sizes: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16
Tested Size: 8
Fabric: Synergy - 100% polyester with HydroBlock® XLS waterproof-breathable laminate and DuroGuard, durable, water-repellent fabric protector
Insulation: Thinsulate Type G 80gm
Waterproofing: 20k mm/10k g
Obermeyer Kennedy
Picture Courtesy of Obermeyer


FEATURES
•Adjustable interior hem drawcord
•Articulated elbows
•CZV - Control Zone Ventilation
•Fleece chin protector
•Fleece inside collar panels
•Full-motion sleeve construction
•Fully seam-sealed
•Fused zipper(s)
•Gusseted sleeve cuffs with adjustable tabs
•Inside Lycra
•Inside mesh "earbud" stow pocket
•Inside mesh/Lycra
•Integrated, adjustable powder skirt with stretch panel
•Interior Lycra
•Internal zipper windguard
•Key holder
•Lycra
•Mesh inserts in vents
•RECCO System
•Removable technical hood
•Scratch-free, absorbent goggle cloth
•Secure storage pocket with zipper
•Ski pass D-ring
•Tricot-lined hand pocket(s)
•Waterproof zipper(s)
•Zipper chest pocket(s)
•Zipper sleeve pocket(s)
•Fit: Mid Length, slightly shaped

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

This is one GORGEOUS jacket! I pretty much knew what the Kennedy would look like from the Obermeyer website, but in person it is really impressive. The color scheme of my jacket is a very attractive, very bright white with aqua princess-seamed side panels and aqua trim in the form of "piping" accenting the pockets, zippers and collar lining. The interior is a mix of black and grey fabrics.

Construction of the jacket is quite complex; a web of (almost invisible) seams not only give the jacket shape as in the princess seams, but also to give it a full range of motion as with the articulating elbows.

While the outer shell is a sturdy smooth-feeling polyester, the interior is mostly Lycra with panels of a very light fleece where there is skin contact. Breathable mesh lines the two "pit zip" vents which are a generous 11.5 inches (29 cm) long, the detachable (or stow-able) hood, and three of the five interior pockets.
Pit Zip
Mesh Vented Pit Zip

Speaking of pockets - there are bunches of them! Two of them are on the front waist of the Kennedy - hand pockets - and then there is a Napoleon pocket at the left chest. All three of these sport approximately 5.5 inch (14 cm) zipper openings. A slanted 5 inch (13 cm) zipper on the left wrist reveals yet another small pocket - note to self - a good spot for a sport gel or two, maybe a lip balm as well! Oh, I almost forgot to mention! In the chest pocket is an attached absorbent cloth to clean my glasses, sunglasses or goggles. And in the left front waist pocket is a D-ring for clipping on my lift ticket or whatever. In the right front waist pocket is a snap-able loop for my keys.

Inside the Kennedy jacket, there are a total of five more pockets. Only one of the pockets has a zippered closure, the other four have a stretchy top opening. Inside the approximately 6 x 6 inch (15 x 15 cm) zippered pocket which is on the left front and is mesh, is another perfectly-sized pocket for an mp3 player. It's obvious this inner pouch's purpose is to carry my tunes as directly above the outer pocket is a small circular mesh pouch for my earbud! How neat is that! On the right interior of the jacket are two more pockets, one of mesh and one smaller pouch inside of the mesh one. Lots of storage! Now, all I'll have to do is memorize some sort of system to where I stow everything!
Gpggle Cloth
Chest Pocket Goggle Cloth

Ear bud Pouch
Interior Earbud Pouch


In keeping with all the other thoughtful touches in the Kennedy jacket, Obermeyer has constructed the hood in a technical manner with four separate stretch adjustment loops with toggle locking mechanisms for a custom fit. When the north winds blow, I can really snug down the hood to keep them out, yet with the full hood mesh lining, there should still be venting. The hood attaches to the stand-up collar and is removable via a 5.5 inch (14 cm) zipper.

To further keep out the nastier winter weather conditions, Obermeyer has incorporated a powderskirt with a front waist snap closure and rubberized elastic bottom and an interiorly- adjustable drawcord. There are also unique, very nice, thumb looped cuffs which are separate from the jacket lining. That is to say, the cuffs are separate pieces which are sewn into the sleeves of the jacket about 5 inches (13 cm) up the sleeves from the cuffs of the jacket proper.
Hood Adjustments
4 Loop and Barrel Lock Hood Adjustors
Supplemental cuff with thumb loop
Supplementary Cuff with Thumb Loop

Lastly, Obermeyer has installed the Recco Avalanche Rescue System in the Kennedy. This is a reflective device which requires no activation, no batteries, cannot lose signal strength and has virtually unlimited duration. According to the Recco website, "The RECCO® system is an exceptional additional search method since it can pinpoint the exact location of burial with harmonic radar." "Burial"? Yikes! Don't like the sound of that, but realistically, anytime I'm snowshoeing/backpacking in the winter, there is a possibility of mishaps, so the RECCO® system is a good thing! There are over 600 resorts worldwide which use the RECCO® system and a quick glance at the North American lists assured me I'll be covered in most of my usual winter haunts. Bring on the snow!

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

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."

On the Obermeyer website I learned that 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.

As my jacket is bright white (!) I will be very interested in how it holds up to my outdoor activities. I will be extra careful to follow the care instructions so as to keep it "bright white"!

TRYING IT OUT

Right now it's a record-breaking 76 F (24 C) here in Canon City, Colorado, so trying on a winter jacket feels a bit premature! Even with Obermeyer's Control Zone Ventilation, the Kennedy wouldn't be my first choice of clothing today! However, my excitement and curiosity had me quickly pulling on the jacket and checking it out anyway.

Before ordering the jacket, I had placed a telephone call to Obermeyer's customer service to chat about the size chart on their website. My chest measurement is exactly the size 8 (35.5"/90 cm) measurement and I wanted advice on that. With layering in mind, I wasn't sure whether to go with the size 8 or go with the size 10 to prevent the layers from making me look and feel "stuffed". The very nice gentleman who answered my call confirmed my reasoning that layering would be anticipated and ordering my "correct" size was the way to go. When I received the Kennedy, I found he was right!

The jacket feels very comfortable over a mid-weight top I often wear as a mid-layer and even after adding a light fleece (help, I'm sweating!), my movements are not restricted. That said, the Kennedy is close-fitting and I won't be layering bulky tops or ski sweaters underneath. If Nordic Snowmen sweaters were my style, I'd definitely need to "size up".

Generally, when winter hiking and snowshoeing, I wear a very thin (silk or wool) base layer, another technical layer (either a mid-weight base layer or a light fleece depending on the temps) and an outer layer. As far as fit goes, this system will work fine with the Kennedy.

Everything about this jacket is pleasurable to the touch. The lining is soft, the thumb loops are snug but do not pull on me, the chin lining, the pocket linings and the powder skirt all feel soothing to my skin which is very dry right now. Even the venting mesh has a flexible, not-stiff texture. The outer shell material appears to be sturdy yet, again, not stiff. Very nice!

Checking out the construction of the Kennedy, I'm impressed with the quality and attention to detail. All stitching is tight, even and straight with no loose or dropped threads. All zippers work flawlessly and with ease and sport flexible plastic zipper pulls. I can find no imperfections in the manufacturing of the jacket. And now that my "inspection" is complete, I can't wait to wear the Obermeyer Kennedy jacket. Where ARE my snowshoes?

SUMMARY

Stylish, good-fit and technical features galore! What's not to like about the Obermeyer Kennedy jacket? Additionally so far, I really like the numerous pockets and can't wait to see how well the Control Zone Ventilation system works.

Winter is my favorite time of year for outdoor activities and I am extra excited about this coming season thanks to the Obermeyer Kennedy jacket. I expect to give it a good workout hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing in both Michigan and Colorado with a bit of Utah, maybe Nevada or Wyoming, thrown in!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Hiking on Mt. Evans
Hiking on Mt. Evans
All of my testing during this reporting phase took place in Colorado, except for casual use in Michigan. Usage took place on 2 day hikes and one 2-nights/3 days trip.

November and December 2010 were incredibly mild and dry months for the whole of the Front Range of Colorado where I live and primarily play. While the west slope mountains of the Rockies got pounded with snow, the east side (Front Range) experienced record lows in precipitation. We had one snowfall measuring less than 6 inches (15 cm).

In order to find snow for our annual family Christmas Snowshoe, we had to drive into the mountains. Even on Mt. Evans, a 14K + foot (4300 m) peak, at 10K feet (3000 m), there wasn't enough snow! We ended up just hiking in winter boots.

Temperatures bounced all over the place from record highs to near-record lows. One day it would be 60 F (16 C) and the next day temperatures would plummet to single digits (-17 to -13 C). On a New Year's Eve night hike, it was 0 F (-18 C) which was the coldest outing.

I did spend 20 days in Michigan in November where it was seasonably damp and cold, but no snow.

(Yikes! Call the fashion police! My pants and hat clash with my jacket! )

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Alas, the weather so far this winter season hasn't been exactly wintery. I've spent more time outdoors with just a base layer on than bundled up in multiple layers culminating in a jacket. So, as far as hiking goes, I've worn the Kennedy jacket less than I planned. Casual wear fared much better as I wore it almost every time I went out at night for a total of about 20 wearings.

First off, this jacket is very pretty and stylish. I've actually had women - total strangers - come up to me and ask about it. Not something that usually happens to me, my style is, uh, not particularly stylish. The Kennedy is close-fitting but not too close as to make me look or feel uncomfortable. It looks neat and trim. With its color-coordinated side-sculpting panels and trim, the Kennedy is suitable for town wear. I'm now not sure white was the best color choice, but I do like it. It just got its first small real stain - hot chocolate - the other night so I'll be finding out just how easy it is to clean on my next trip to the laundry!

Not only does the cut of the jacket look nice, it works to keep me warm by snugging up to my body. With the powder skirt, the wrist guards, zipper wind flap and the stand-up collar, I have been able to thwart any icy blasts of wind that came my way. Even when just at tree line on Pikes' Peak when the wind gusts were over 105 mph (169 kph) at the peak, I didn't notice any sneaky air currents chilling my core. (We couldn't go any higher on Pikes' Peak as all access was closed due to the winds).

While wearing the Kennedy jacket, the coldest temperature I have encountered so far this season was on a night walk (can't really call it a hike) in Denver's Chatfield Park through their annual Trail of Lights. This is maybe a half-mile (0.8 km) trek through fields and trees decorated for Christmas. It was 0 F (-18 C) with no wind. When we started out, I was bundled in a light wool base layer, a synthetic mid layer and a light fleece under the Kennedy. I had a Thinsulate cap and gloves on, also. I wasn't uncomfortably cold, but I could definitely feel the frigid air's effect. My arms felt colder than my core. After a short distance and some brisk walking, I warmed up, forgot about the temperature and enjoyed the walk. That, to me, is what a good jacket is all about - letting me ignore not-so-pleasant elements and enjoy my outdoor activity, whatever it may be. This New Year's Eve night, the Kennedy excelled in that aspect.

Conversely, on other uphill climbs when I heated up, unzipping the pit zips and the front zipper generally worked to cool me down. However, as I hike hot and sweat easily, on long, steep grades or very vigorous hikes, I ended up stripping off the Kennedy in temperatures over 35 F (2 C). (This is my usual habit with any outerwear.) Unless it was windy, then the jacket was back on me and protecting me from chilling. I also greatly appreciated the Kennedy's warmth when the sun and/or my activity level went down.

Despite the close fit of the jacket, I found I have a good range of motion. I don't feel confined, even when I have the jacket zipped all the way up - which I don't really like to do with any jacket - I'm not choking. When hiking on Mt. Evans, because it was so cold, I had to keep the collar up and was very thankful the collar is lined with comfy fleece. I'm sure the fleece is what kept my chin from being rubbed raw as I was "turtling" a lot to avoid the icy air!

I LOVE the wrist guards which are attached to the lining of the jacket, but not really part of the lining. Stretchy material covers my hand all the way to my fingers and while the thumb loops keep the guards in place, the material isn't so tight as to pull my thumbs away from the rest of my digits. The wrist guards are thin enough to easily slide under even my slimmest technical gloves without bunching, too.

Silence in the wilderness is something I value, so an mp3 player is not a standard item on my outdoor gear list. However, in the interesting of testing, I have carried mine on several day hikes. I've found the interior media pocket to be perfectly positioned for this purpose and the ear bud pocket made it convenient to store and retrieve my ear bud as needed. Even with a backpack on, I was able to access my bud without too many contortions and more importantly, without unzipping my jacket all the way!

Though I can't really "prove it" in any way, I suspect using the interior pocket which is close to my body and its warmth, also aided in keeping my batteries from draining as quickly as I would expect due to the cold.

I'm not so crazy about the outer Napoleon pocket though as storing anything rigid in it causes it to jut out and be uncomfortable as well as odd looking particularly when wearing a backpack. And while, as I said, I'm not a fashion plate, I try not to look too "lumpy"!

All in all, I'm pleased with the Obermeyer Kennedy Jacket so far. Very pleased! I have some fun trips to Utah and Rocky Mountain National Park scheduled in the next two months, so am looking forward to REAL winter weather. Oh wait, it's snowy right now here in Canon City! I'm off for a hike in the white stuff! Later!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Up until February, I had been experiencing an unseasonably warm and dry winter. While the west slope mountains of the Rockies got pounded with snow, the east side (Front Range) experienced record lows in precipitation. We had one snowfall measuring less than 6 inches (15 cm). In order to find snow for our annual family Christmas Snowshoe, we had to drive into the mountains. Even on Mt. Evans, a 14K + foot (4300 m) peak, at 10K feet (3000 m), there wasn't enough snow! We ended up just hiking in winter boots but I digress.

In February, all that changed and temperatures plunged. Average highs (daytime) were around 15 F (-9 C). And then we did have a period of 4 or 5 days where the daytime temps never broke 0 F (-18 C). Truth be told, I wasn't outside much on those days! Brrrr!

I spent the last two weeks of February in Estes Park, Colorado where I did short (2-3 hours) dayhikes everyday. Estes Park is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, so the terrain is mountainous, heavily forested and begins at an elevation of 7522 ft (2293 m). While it was very sunny, it never hit the freezing mark and the winds were harsh averaging 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) with gusts up to 50 mph (81 kph). Humidity levels were higher than I'm used to in Colorado - about 41-45%.
RMNP in February
View in Rocky Mountain National Park in February

I almost forgot to mention - the Obermeyer traveled to Salt Lake City in January for the annual All Mountain Demo Days, held at Solitude Mountain Resort. With snow in the forecast, I was sure to pack the Kennedy jacket. It did get very snowy (the road ended up getting closed due to conditions) and cold.

Other than the two above listed trips, all of my outdoor activities have been in the mountains of Colorado, mostly south central Colorado in the Fremont, Cooper and Wet mountain ranges.

So, I'd venture to say, I've worn the Kennedy on at least a dozen occasions - day snowshoe or boot hikes and numerous other shorter hikes around our property, down the road to the mail box (5 miles/8 km round trip) and while sneaking treats to my neighbors' horses!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the last couple of months, I have continued to be impressed by the performance of the Obermeyer Kennedy jacket. I love all the nifty extras; such as the soft collar liner which keeps my chin from getting chafed when I wear it in the "stand-up" mode. This has saved my skin from getting a rash from rubbing on more than one occasion when I'm "turtling" against the wind.

When it comes to wind, Colorado winds blow with the best of them! It's been a mostly mild winter, but a very windy one and thanks to the Kennedy jacket, I have not had to suffer. As cold as it got during our coldest days, I never felt any penetration of wind through the Kennedy. I could feel the wind whistling right through my pants at times, but my core remained toasty. So much so, that at times, I needed to unzip the pit zips and the front zipper to cool down. Usually, that would be sufficient to lower my body temperature, but unless it was a very sharp, constant wind, in temperatures over 40-ish F (22 C), the Kennedy would be too warm for me during anything more than a walk through the park sort of excursion.

Unfortunately, I can't really comment on how the Obermeyer Kennedy holds up to the challenges of precipation as Colorado has been in a near drought situation for months. The only time I experienced any real moisture in the air was in Utah when it snowed like the dickens for part of the morning during the Outdoor Retail Show in Salt Lake City. I was quite pleased with how dry I stayed even when I couldn't see from the snow falling so thickly.

I have to restate (see above), the Kennedy is the most stylish of my jackets. I continue to have people comment on how attractive the jacket is and my daughter-in-law covets it openly.

Through no fault of the jacket, now that my testing is done, I probably will only wear it for casual use and snowshoe/cross country skiing trips. The reason for this is my choice of white fabric (because it was so cute) rather than going practical with a darker color. White just isn't for me when there is any possibility of getting dirty, 'cause I will get dirty!

I've washed the jacket very carefully a couple of times now; zipping up all the zippers, fastening the hook-and-loop cuff adjustments, turning it inside out and sometimes even remember to take out my ever-present tube of lip balm! I washed it separately in cold water, gentle cycle, using powdered laundry detergent, no bleach and no fabric softener. While Obermeyer indicated the Kennedy can be machine dried, I have opted to have it dry on a plastic hanger. Mainly the jacket looks good, but the cuffs just aren't as clean as I'd like.

No worry! Snowshoeing is a relatively clean venture and I can't wait to get in some more snow action in my Kennedy in the coming weeks!

SUMMARY

I've had a blast wearing the Obermeyer Kennedy jacket. It's warm, stylish, sheds moisture and has tons of neat features, like the "built-in" eye glasses/goggles' cleaning cloth. Generously-sized pit zips help to ventilate my core when my activity level and body temperature go up but when I'm taking a break or at camp, I now know I can count on the Kennedy to keep me from becoming a popsicle when outside temps dip below freezing. Even the strongest winds don't penetrate the jacket to chill me.

As I type this, I'm sweltering in 90 F (32 C) temperatures in Florida (have been for 2 weeks) but am looking forward to getting back to my beloved mountains in Colorado where the low this morning was 28 F (2 C). My son should have my Kennedy jacket waiting for me at the airport and I'll be ready for a snowshoe hike the following weekend. But first, he'll have to wrestle it away from his wife who has been wearing it to work in the morning when she rides her motor scooter into the city! She'll just have to get her own now!

Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Sport Obermeyer for the opportunity to try out the Kennedy.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

NOTE:

The Obermeyer Kennedy Jacket 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 Kennedy jacket has the reflectors sewn into the jacket.

I talked with a member of the Search and Rescue team at a resort in Utah and they 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.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Obermeyer gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters

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