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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Mens Covert Fleece Jacket > Eric Frank > Test Report by Eric Frank

Initial Report - Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket

Initial Report: November 14th, 2006

Field Report: January 12th, 2007

Long Term Report: March 27th, 2007

  • Name: Eric Frank
  • Age: 21
  • Gender: Male
  • Height: 6 ft (2 m)
  • Chest: 42 in (107 cm)
  • Arm Length: 33 in (84 cm)
  • Torso Length: 20 in (51 cm)
  • Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
  • Email address: franked (at) muohio (dot) edu
  • Location: Oxford, Ohio, USA

Backpacking Background: Growing up in a family that camps and hikes, I can not say for sure when I started backpacking. However in the last four years it has become my own passion, and now I spend as much time as I can on the trail.  I enjoy fast-packing, mountain biking, and rock climbing.  My favorite backpacking location is without a doubt Glacier National Park in Montana. My current style of backpacking is midweight, but I am gradually converting over to the ultralight movement.    


Product Information

  • Product: Covert Fleece Jacket
  • Manufacturer: Red Ledge
  • Year of Manufacture: 2006
  • Made In: Vietnam
  • URL: http://www.redledge.com
  • Listed weight: 23 oz (652 g)
  • Measured weight: 24 oz (680 g)
  • Size: Mens Medium Chest 41-43 in (107-114 cm), Neck 16.5 in (42 cm), Sleeve 34 in (89-91 cm) Waist 33-35 in (86-91 cm) 
  • Colors: My jacket is Orion Blue/Concrete.  The options are Black, Orion Blue/Concrete, and Pine Tar/Black
  • MSRP: US $89.99
Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket

Product Description

The Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket is made of "350 gram smooth non-pill fleece" with a "durable elastic softshell with DWR" on the shoulders.  The inside of the jacket features a "raised grid" texture. This jacket contains two hand warmer pockets as well as a left handed Napoleon pocket.  The hem as well as the neck contain drawcords that are adjustable with one hand.  

Warranty:  "All Red Ledge products are fully warranted to the original owner against defects in material and workmanship. If a product fails due to a manufacturing defect, we will repair or replace it at our option."

Initial Observations

After waiting for several weeks for the product to arrive, I was excited to finally get the box open. Inside I found the jacket and little else.   The product was different than what I had expected, but not necessarily in a bad way. First, the color is different than what I believed I was getting.  I had requested Orion Blue/Concrete, but my jacket looked blue and purple.  This is not a problem though as I am much more concerned with function than fashion.  This garment is much thinner and more streamlined than I had imagined.  While it is 350 gram fleece, the cut is very low profile.  The softshell material blends smoothly with the fleece, and all the seams are well constructed. I did not find loose threads anywhere on the jacket.  The cut of the jacket is short and tight.  The first day I wore it my T-shirt came below the bottom hem.  The sleeves are long, coming below the hem, and articulate well.  The cuffs are elastic and non-adjustable.  

From my minimal use of the jacket I have identified the following area that I want to examine more closely in future reports.  The cuffs on the sleeves are tight on my wrists.  Right now I do not like this feature, but they may become more comfortable with wear.  The drawcords around the neck is a good idea to seal out the cold.  However once tightened, it cuts into my neck and is uncomfortable.  The day that I got the jacket I spent several minutes tweaking the draw cords.  During this time I managed to tear out the drawcord in the hem.  I plan to feed it back into the hem and re-sew it into the jacket.  This short coming makes me question the durability of the rest of the jacket.  

 Broken Drawstring

Test Plan

Being from the Midwest I generally can not offer the diversity in test environments of some testers.  However, this jacket is going to get a chance to see the country.  Over the next few months I plan to wear this fleece daily to test its durability.  I have already expressed concerns with this aspect and want to make sure mine was a fluke accident.  I have several trips planned to the following areas

-Big South Fork, Tennessee
-Red River Gorge, Kentucky
-Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado
-Lake Superior Shore, Michigan

These areas represent a large variety of terrain and conditions.  The elevation will range from sea level to 14,000 ft (0 to 4267 m).  The temperatures that I expect to encounter will likely range from 60 F (16 C) all the way down to 0 F (-18 C).  Most of the east coast areas will be backpacking trips in late fall weather.  The trip to Colorado would provide the fleece with the most extreme conditions I can offer.

Items of Interest

Over the next few months I would like to evaluate the jacket on the following basis.

Will the cuff loosen up and become more comfortable?

How will the "softshell" shoulders shed precipitation?
 
Will the fleece pill and need to be worked out?

How well does the fleece washout?  

How much protection does the short cut offer from drafts?  

Does the jacket keep me comfortable in various situations?

Without pit zips will I sweat during activity?

Are the pockets easy to access with a pack on?  

How functional is the drawcord on the neck?  

Will this jacket compress to a reasonable size in a pack?

Will the zippers continue to operate easily?

Initial Likes
Streamlined Appearance
Softshell Shoulders
Ridged Texture

Initial Dislikes
Tight Cuffs
Broken Drawstring
Short Cut

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report . Please check back then for further information.

Thank you to BackpackGearTest and Red Ledge for the opportunity to test this jacket.  

Best,
Eric Frank

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Field Report- Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket

Date: January 12th, 2007

Test Area and Conditions

The testing of this jacket looked completely different than what I had originally projected.  It has also served different purposes than what I originally expected.  Of the four locations listed in my initial test plan I only made it to one, the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado.  Instead of traveling to the other locations, I took the Covert to the Smokey Mountain National Park for two consecutive weekends.  The conditions not typical of late autumn weather.  It was clear and sunny, with temperatures as high as 50F (10C) then dipping to around 30F (-1C) at night.  In early December I also took the Covert to Colorado.  I was in the mountains during first storm of the winter that shut down Denver, dumping over 22 inches (56 cm) of snow (Dec 21).  The conditions were blizzard with blinding winds.  The temps however ranged between 20F and
30F (-6 to -1C).  The elevation ranged from 820 feet above see level (250 m) up to 11,000 feet (3353 m).  


Test Plan and Assessment

In order to effectively evaluate my test plan I will make general comments about the durability, fit, and general performance of the jacket, but more importantly attempt to answer the questions I laid out in my initial report.  Following are the questions in black with my current response in red.  

Will the cuff loosen up and become more comfortable?
    - After two months the cuffs have become more comfortable, but remain notably tight.  There were times in Colorado where it was nice to seal out any type of draft, but I am still not a fan of the design.  They make too much contact with my skin and have pressure points from the elastic ripples.  

How will the "softshell" shoulders shed precipitation?
     - I have been very impressed with this jackets ability to be multi functional.  The softshell with DWR does a very effective job of stopping light drizzle and general wet conditions while remaining very breathable.  Anything more than that and a hardshell is necessary, but it is what can be expected from a softshell hybrid.  

Will the fleece pill and need to be worked out?
    - So far I have not seen any evidence of the fleece pilling.  Check back with the long term report for more comments.  

How well does the fleece washout?  
    - I hesitate to say this, but I have only washed this jacket once.  A few weeks after it arrived I went out mountain biking after a hard rain.  When I got back, the jacket was covered in mud.  I pre-soaked it in M-30 (fabric cleaner) and then ran it in a normal cycle.  The jacket came out totally clean except for two small spots where the mud had been ground into the fabric.  

How much protection does the short cut offer from drafts?  
    - The short cut is convenient for certain activities such as cycling, but in my mind that is where the advantages end.  I hardly ever wear this jacket out and around because it will not cover the bottom of any T-shirt I wear.  As far as a technical product when wearing a harness I can see advantages, but I think the cut should be more generous in length.  

Does the jacket keep me comfortable in various situations?
    - As I have already noted, I am impressed with the functionality of this jacket.  The comfortable temperature range is excellent and it works well in moisture.  

Without pit zips will I sweat during activity?
    - Several times I have wished that there were pit zips when I was sweating hard, but in general the jacket is breathable enough to compensate.

Are the pockets easy to access with a pack on?  
    - No, not at all!  I can open each pocket about an inch.  If I want to open them I have to take my pack all the way off.  

How functional is the drawcord on the neck?  
    - The drawcord on my jacket is not functional because it broke the first week I had it.  A drawcord is not absolutely necessary though due to the fitted cut of the fleece.  

Will this jacket compress to a reasonable size in a pack?
    - For being constructed of 350g fleece I think that this fleece compresses to a very reasonable size.  It fits nicely into one of the side pockets on my pack.

Will the zippers continue to operate easily?
    - So far, so good.  I have not had any issues with the zippers.  They are all in great working order.  

Overall, I have been impressed with this jacket.  It satisfies my desire of a mid layer for numerous situations.  The texture of the fabric allows it breathe well and still maintain an excellent amount of warmth.  Despite these impressions I have two major reservations on its purchase.  First, this jacket is downright ugly.  On the Red Ledge website the colors were not displayed very well and I expected my jacket to arrive in blue and gray.  Instead it is a dank purple and gray.  I know that our purpose is to test backpacking gear in the back country, but that is the limit for my jacket.  I would not want to wear it around town like some of my other gear.  Secondly, I think that this jacket may be over priced.  The price of $89US is comparable to other jackets in the 300 weight fleece range, but I am not sure that this jacket compares to those fleeces.  Quality outerwear, but I would rather spend a little more and get the true top of the line.  

I have numerous trips in the next few months to give the Covert a durability workout.  From my previous experience I expect that it will be up to the challenge.  Although I might not wear it out on Friday night, this jacket shines in the back country where it was meant to perform.  

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

Thank you to BackpackGearTest and Red Ledge for the opportunity to test this jacket.  

Best,
Eric Frank

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Long Term Report- Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket

Date: March 27th, 2007

Test Area and Conditions
In addition to the previously mentioned locations I have worn the Red Ledge Covert Fleece as a mid layer for the remainder of winter months.  The temperature range is similar to my previous report - ranging from 30F (-1C) up to 50F (10C).  The elevation of the testing has been much lower, limited to the eastern half of the United States.  The altitude varied between 850 feet (259 m) to 2200 feet (671 m).  

General Comments

In my previous reports, I have raised several important issues that I would like to lay to rest concerning this jacket.  Instead of focusing on specific details of the jacket, I want to give my broad feelings after four months of wear.  

The fit of the jacket has grown on me over time.  I had initial concerns with the comfort of the cuffs and neck, but with time these have loosened up and worn to a comfortable state.  I prefer garments that require less break in time, but the jacket is just fine now.  I would estimate that it took 35 wearings to reach this condition.  It is still a bit tight in the arms and shoulders.  If I wear a long sleeve shirt it occasionally catches on the waffle pattern inside the jacket.  I have also noticed that now during climbing season the forearms are getting tight, but that happens with all my clothes.  Ultimately I like the fit under a shell.  

The fabric is acceptable quality.  The patches of softshell material on the shoulders shed most of the precipitation when I first got the jacket.  Now that I have worn it for a few months the DWR is starting to wear off and they soak through easier.  The fleece fabric retains heat nicely, but does little to stop the wind.  I wear a windshirt over top if there is any chance of wind.  

I have been extremely impressed with the durability of the jacket.  I use gear very hard and it has stood up to my abuse.  In the last months it has functioned as a seat on wet, muddy ground, a mat to stand on before climbing, and rolled tightly and used as a rope around one of my packs when I accidentally tore it open (strange use, I know).  Through all of this use the seams have held tight and there is little evidence of wear on the fabric.  My jacket however is a lighter color and has attracted numerous stains.  Despite my best efforts they won't come out, especially around the cuffs.  

Overall, this fleece meet or exceeded my expectation on every level.  It is a nice mid weight jacket in a layering system, or an outer layer in a mild environment without much wind.  Coupled with a shell or windshirt and it is extremely versatile.  

This concludes my Long Term Report.  Again, thank you to BackpackGearTest and Red Ledge for the opportunity to test this jacket.  

Best,
Eric Frank

 










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