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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Rab Bergen Jacket > Owner Review by STEVEN DENTON

RAB (Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd.) BERGEN JACKET
BY STEVEN DENTON
OWNER REVIEW
October 14, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven Denton
EMAIL: op4u@live.co.uk
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Bedale, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.00 kg)
CHEST 38 in (97 cm)
WAIST 32 in (81 cm)
TORSO 19 in (48 cm)
SLEEVE LENGTH 31 in (79 cm)

My average pack weight varies between 5 kg and 25 kg (11 lb - 55 lb). I go hiking in the North Yorkshire Moors and Dales as well as mountaineering regularly in the Lake District, mostly solo and with youth groups. My hikes include day trips lasting 5 to 10 hours as well as 3 to 5 day expeditions and wild camping. I enjoy exploring off the beaten track and in all types of weather including winter conditions. The Lake District is my favorite arena and is typically wet and windy. My favorite hiking partner is Pepsi, my dog, she is the greatest companion.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

IMAGE 1

Manufacturer: RAB (Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd.)
Year of manufacture: 2007
URL: http://www.rab.uk.com
MSRP: None
Tested Size: Large
Tested Colour: Darkshark (an olive green colour)
Listed Weight: 17.6 oz (500 g)
Actual Weight: 18.7 oz (530 g)

I bought the men's large size which is 43 in (109 cm) chest, 34 in (86 cm) waist and 35 in (89 cm) sleeve.
Men's Sizes: The jacket is also available in small, medium, extra large and extra extra large. The manufacturer listed the weight at 17.6 oz (500 g) but did not state what size jacket this weight refers to.

IMAGE 2

Myself and Pepsi on Barton Fell in the Lake District last winter.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

I purchased the large size jacket, although it seems it may be too big I found it to fit fine, as it can be tightened when using a base layer and is big enough to be worn over a good layering system in the cold weather. The RAB (Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd.) website describes this jacket as 'lightweight all year mountain jacket' and I could not agree more. In hot weather it can be worn effectively with just a base layer and is light enough not to cause overheating. In the cold, it is just as effective with base and mid layers and keeps out the cold winds and rain. The 3-layer eVent lining performs great, keeping out wet and allowing the jacket to breathe. The cuffs are neat which tighten with hook-and-loop attachments; they are secure and feel good. The hood is also a good feature with three areas of adjustment including an elastic cord on each side of the face and a hook-and-loop adjuster on the top, it can be worn over a beanie hat and the wired peak is extremely effective in high winds. What I really like about this jacket is how light it is and how it can be stuffed into a rucksack taking up little room. The front zip storm flaps work well keeping rain away from the main zip and the draw cords also work well drawing the jacket close to the body. I was really disappointed with the claimed 'sealed outer pocket', I found my pockets susceptible to leaking, which is annoying.

IMAGE 4

The pockets that look waterproof, but leaked.

FIELD USE

LAKE DISTRICT

IMAGE 5

Rain, wind and mountain fog, I had it all at once in the Langdales.

Location: 3 day expedition wild camping in Langdales area of Lake District.

Location Description: The Langdales is in the heart of the Lake District and contains some of the highest and most challenging mountains in England. The terrain is varied and can be rocky, grassy, steep and extremely isolated. The weather conditions are extremely changeable making the area challenging to both hikers and their gear. Most of the 3 days I was averaging 600 m (2000 ft) rising up to 750 m (2500 ft), with the weather preventing summits being reached.

Weather Conditions: This was one of the most challenging expeditions to date, the weather was persistent heavy rain, low cloud and gale force winds for all 3 days.

The Trip:
On Day 1 the jacket was great. I wore a base layer and fleece with the jacket on top; with good use of draw cords and hook-and-loop attachments, the jacket was a nice snug fit. With carrying heavy backpacks I needed a jacket that was going to be light with good resistance to rain and high winds and the Bergen lived up to its lightweight and storm proof reputation. Straight out of the transport and on the mountain I encountered a gale force wind with horizontal rain and this jacket had some work to do. The temperature was about 6 degrees C (42 degrees F), and with a heavy backpack weighing 25 kg (55 lb), this made me sweat and the rain was pounding the outside of the jacket. So the jacket needed to get rid of sweat and resist the rain all in one go. The jacket performed brilliantly, I could not have asked for a better jacket to be honest, if I were blindfolded and wore ear defenders I would not have known it was raining. The hood and wire peak worked really well and not once the wind affected the hood. There is an adjustment on top of the hood, which works with the elastic adjusters each side and fits the head securely, and the wire peak is adjustable to suit my needs. The cuffs are secured tightly with the use of hook-and-loop attachments and the storm proof flap is also secured with hook-and-loop attachments. My clothing underneath the jacket was bone dry (apart from the sweat). The two sealed outer pockets were a weak area that I did not like, which is why there is a drainage system. They have these nice, what look to be waterproof zips, but were not very resistant to the rain. I found this frustrating, as the pockets are the few points available for stashing things without removing the jacket. They are a nice height above the rucksack waist belt and this would have been great had they been waterproof. It did not take long for the pockets to start leaking, with things becoming extremely wet in the pockets.
After wild camping, all my gear was still wet from day 1, but surprisingly the Bergen was not wet on the inside at all, but still wet on the outside. This was great and allowed me to throw on the jacket without the worry of being cold. I was now isolated in the mountains hours from civilisation, had the jacket not performed I might not have made my journey. Day 2, there was no let up in the weather and the rain was persistent for 12 hours of hiking. I could not believe how much rain had come down; this really tested the jacket to the limits. Unfortunately, the jacket eventually began to show signs of weakness with the cuffs, pockets and main zip area leaking, or seeping. This may have been partly my fault as I should have treated the jacket with a water-proofing agent before encountering such a wet journey. By 8 PM my mid-layers were damp, not wet, which was uncomfortable for a cold night ahead. I was disappointed, as I wanted this jacket to be good, having paid good money.
By day 3, to be fair, everything I owned that claimed to be waterproof was damp, this was a true test for gear and the only thing that survived was my trusty tent. The final day was uncomfortable and would be unfair to judge the jacket because the heavy rain and gale force winds had managed to penetrate my backpack, so even the clothes under the jacket were damp along with the jacket. A good hard trek sorted out the problem of being cold and damp, now I was warm and damp. At the end of day 3 I can honestly say this was the worst 3 day hike, weather wise, and would doubt that any gear could take the pounding without leaking. To be fair once we finished and sat down the jacket dried out quickly, which was impressive and allowed me a more comfortable ride home.

NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS

IMAGE 3

The beautiful North Yorkshire Moors in winter.

Location: 3 day expedition in North Yorkshire Moors

Location Description: The North Yorkshire Moors is moorland in Northern England with beautiful scenery, rare wildlife and unpredictable weather. The terrain is varied and can be rocky, grassy, steep and thick of bracken and heather. This expedition was about navigating point to point over a 3 day period and included overnight stays at camp sites.

Weather Conditions: Weather was extremely varied experiencing sunshine, high winds, sleet and hail, with temperatures dipping to -5 degrees C (23 degrees F).

The Trip:
Day 1 was bright sunshine with cold winds, so a good base layer and mid layer were worn under the jacket. The jacket was great, due to being lightweight, I did not overheat in the sun and the jacket was great at keeping out the wind. There was never a need to remove the jacket, as there was never a time when I felt I was overheating. The main feature was its durability after being dragged through heather and bracken, no rips and no signs of tears at all, a credit to a lightweight jacket.
Day 2 was a much colder day with driving sleet and hail, with a bitterly cold wind. With the correct under clothing, there were no issues at all and I felt warm for the whole trip. The jacket resisted all forms of weather including a bitterly cold wind, it also stayed dry inside. As the pockets are useful and easy to access with a rucksack attached I made sure this time that objects were in plastic bags as they did leak again, this sorted out my main issue with the leaking pockets.
Day 3 was pretty much cold but dry and again there were no issues, with the jacket keeping out the bitterly cold winds and being comfortable and easy to trek in.

I have used this jacket on many occasions over the last few years and it is a part of my kit list for every trip. It is showing no signs of wear and tear and is truly a fantastic buy. The conditions this jacket has been through is varied from driving rain to heavy snow, as a result of this I am now a big fan of eVent linings.

SUMMARY

I bought the Bergen as I am a fan of RAB (Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd.), and although the field conditions might seem to be critical of the jacket it was exceptional circumstances where the jacket was pounded with continuous persistent driving gale force winds and persistent heavy rain for about 36 hours in the open. I have used this jacket on many day hikes and have been really impressed, it has always kept me dry on day hikes in the rain and is great for keeping out cold winds. I do not go anywhere without the jacket and its lightness and size are great for stuffing into a rucksack when not in use. The main issue is the pockets, I cannot see the reason to even having pockets if they are susceptible to major leaking. In conclusion, this is still one of my favorite bits of kit and still goes everywhere with me, I love my RAB Bergen and would highly recommend.

THINGS I LIKE

I love the fact that the jacket is very light yet so weather proof. It performs great both in wind and rain, and wicks brilliantly. It is easy to pack and can be worn with minimal under clothing or many layers.

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

The main problem is the leaking pockets, it was disappointing and the pockets do actually look waterproof.

SIGNATURE

Steve Denton

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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