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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Mens Covert Fleece Jacket > James E. Triplett > Test Report by James E. Triplett

RED LEDGE
Men's Covert Action Fleece Jacket
Red Ledge Covert Jacket


Report by James E. Triplett

Initial Test Report Section
November 15, 2006

Field Test Report Section
January 31, 2007

Long Term Test Report Section
March 26, 2007





Personal Biographical Information

Name: James E. Triplett
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 2" (188 cm)
Weight: 190 lb (86.2 kg)
Chest: 42" (107 cm)
Shoulder circumference:
49" (124 cm)
Sleeve length:
35" (89 cm)
Email address: james_triplett@hotmail.com
City, State: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Date: November 15, 2006


Backpacking Background


I am an experienced hiker, backpacker, and camper, and am gaining more experience with winter camping every year.  I hike every day, and backpack when possible, which leads to many weekends backpacking and camping each year.  I try and take at least one annual week-long backpacking trip in addition to many one to three-night weekend trips.   My style can best be described as lightweight, but not at the cost of giving up too much comfort.  I generally sleep in a tent, and seem to be collecting quite a few of them to choose from.


Manufacturer Information

Manufacturer: Red Ledge
Phone: 1.800.722.7345
URL: www.redledge.com


Product Information

Year of Manufacture: 2006
Date Item Received: November 7, 2006
Product Name: Men's Covert Action Fleece Jacket
Model #: 91310
Color Choices: Black, Orion Blue/ Concrete, Pine Tar/ Black
Size Tested: XL
Sizes Available:
Small - 2XL
MSRP: $89.99 (on the tag attached to the jacket)
Listed Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (650 g)
Actual weight: 1 lb 6 oz (626g)

Additional Product Information
From the hang-tag on the jacket:

  • 350gm smooth non-pill fleece
  • Raised grid fleece backing for improved warm air movement
  • Durable elastic soft shell shoulders with DWR (Durable Water Repellant)
  • Two zip front hand warmer pockets for additional storage
  • Left chest Napoleon pocket
  • One hand adjustable drawcords at bottom hem



Initial Test Report
November 15, 2006

Exterior hang-loop

Upon Arrival
The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket arrived in perfect condition.  The color of the jacket for this test is Pine Tar and Black, which I find to be much to my liking.  Attached to the jacket was a hang-tag with the information shown above in Additional Product Information.  Additionally, the hang-tag mentions a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship (to the original owner), and shows the Suggested Retail Price of $89.99 US.  The jacket is made in Vietnam.

Red Ledge Hand Pocket Zip

Features
The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket has a full length (one-way) zipper down the front with a single interior wind guard.  The jacket sports two zippered pockets above the hem on each side in typical fashion.  There is also a zippered chest pocket on the left breast.  All zippers have small cords with tiny plastic fobs appropriately sized for their function.  The jacket does not have a hood but there is a drawcord around the neck opening to cinch the collar tight.  The cord-lock for this cord is at centered in the back beneath a little fabric flap.  A drawcord runs around the perimeter of the one inch (2.5 cm) hem with cord-locks located on each side.  These cord-locks are retained with a small fabric loop which is snapped around the cord.  There are two loops for hanging the jacket, one inside and one outside of the back of the collar.  Also, there are hang loops inside the sleeves, whose purpose has not yet been determined (see third, inside-out, picture below).

Covert sleeve views

Initial Inspection
I did not specify a color choice and received a Pine Tar /Black Covert Action Fleece jacket.  What immediately jumps out at me is the two-tone color, as the black areas of the jacket are the "Strategically placed water resistant softshell shoulders" mentioned on the website.  Red Ledge's website does not contain pictures of the Covert Fleece, but rather has sketches instead.  Because of this it is impossible to really tell what the jacket will look like, although the stitching pattern is clearly illustrated.  On the website (in the Men's Layering/ Thermal section) the Black jacket and the Pine Tar/Black jacket are virtually indistinguishable as they both appear to be a solid color.  In reality, the Pine Tar/Black jacket is an attractive two-tone.  The black DWR (Durable Water Repellant) fabric runs around the collar and all the way down each sleeve to the elasticized cuffs.  The remainder of the exterior of the jacket is green... or rather "Pine Tar".  The interior of the jacket is quilted with a waffle fleece pattern in a blue-grey color with about four squares of the pattern per inch (per 2.5 cm).  The instructional tag inside the neck area states that Shell 1 is 100% polyester, and Shell 2 is 6% Spandex and 94% polyester, and that the jacket can be machine washed (cold) and tumbled dry (low).

Red Lesge Cover Cord Lock

Initial Fit:
The Covert Action Fleece jacket is soft and cozy, and seems to fit quite well.  I wear a size 42-44 jacket, and the Covert Fleece (according to Red Ledge's sizing chart) is supposed to fit up to sizes 48-50 in the XL size.  The jacket I received offers no more room than that which I fill, so I wouldn't want to be any larger, or have the jacket any smaller, for a good fit.  That said, the jacket does fit my torso perfectly.  There isn't any excess material so my initial trial fit shows that I can move freely without any bunching or any other restrictions from the jacket.  The cut is rather straight, which in my experience lends itself to ease of motion, and easy layering under bulkier garments.  All this is just what I would hope for in a mid-layer fleece jacket.

The cuffs are elasticized over the full circumference and fit snuggly against my wrists.  With the elastic cuffs there is no need for a Velcro tightening flap, and in fact, the Covert Action Fleece appears to be Velcro-free!

Test Plan
I will use the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket daily as I go out for 2-mile (3 km) hikes in the woods each morning.  I also plan on taking several overnight backpacking trips during which I will use the Covert Action Fleece with various layering techniques as the temperatures change.  

This test series will be conducted primarily in Eastern Iowa at elevations of approximately 860 feet (262 meters).   Average monthly temperatures and precipitation data for the test period are contained in the table below.

Month Temp Range
degrees F
Temp Range
degrees C
Precipitation
(inches)
Precipitation
(cm)
November 29 to 47 -2 to 8 2.2 5.6
December 16 to 32 -9 to 0 1.6 4.1
January 10 to 28 -12 to -2 1.1 2.8
February 15 to 33 -9 to .5 1.0 2.5
March
27 to 47
-3 to 8
2.1
5.3


Initial Report Summary


The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece is an attractive jacket with the unique use of DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treated fabric on the areas facing upward toward the sky.  (Those areas being the collar, shoulders, and tops of the sleeves.)  All materials and workmanship appear to be first-rate, and there are no flaws in the garment whatsoever.  The unique waffle pattern on the interior of the jacket is visible from the outside through the outer fleece material, creating an unusual affect which is rather striking.  Another unique feature is the cinch-cord around the neck of the jacket for sealing in body heat.  A nice touch!  The only obvious thing missing is a two-way main zipper.



Field Test Report
January 31, 2007

Jet getting ready for a fire

Test Location and Conditions:
I have worn the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket consistently on day hikes and early morning hikes near my home throughout the test period.  Temperatures have ranged from -4 to 55 F (-20 to 13 C).  I have also used the jacket during three weekend backpacking/camping trips in Eastern Iowa.  The weekend trips provided no rain, and temperatures were between 40 and 55 F (4.5 and 13 C).  Winds were light, and humidity typical for Iowa winters (around 71%). 

On three separate occasions it rained on me while I was wearing the Covert Fleece.  On two separate occasions it snowed on me while I was wearing the jacket.

Fit and Comfort:
As stated in my Initial Report, the size XL Covert Action Fleece jacket fits me well, but without much room to spare.  My first impression was that it was a straight-down vertical fit; by which I simply mean it isn't puffy or bulky.  After some extended use, I have decided that there is actually more room in the jacket than I first perceived.  I had intended to use the Covert Fleece as a mid to inner layer due to the trim fit of the jacket.  As it turns out, I have used an outer layer over the Covert Fleece only a couple of times, and have been able to easily add layers underneath the Covert with excellent success.

The Covert Action Fleece does have an "athletic" fit which is textbook (at least for me) for backpacking.  I can articulate my arms in an unencumbered fashion, even with a pack on, which is what I look for in backpacking outerwear.  The fit and comfort of this garment are ideal for my size and shape.

Snow sticks to the green fleece

Actual Use:
The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket has green fleece on the main body, with black DWR (Durable Water Repellant) fabric running around the collar and all the way down each sleeve to the elasticized cuffs.  It is indistinguishable to me whether or not the green fleece breathes better than the black DWR, but the jacket over-all breathes nicely, which is what I expected.  In a stiff, cold, wind, I can feel the heat escaping my body.  But again this is as expected and simply helps me determine my layering techniques.  The pictures in this section of the report were all taken in below zero Fahrenheit (lower than -18 Celsius) with what I was actually wearing out on a hike.

In the rain the DWR coating seemed to work well for repelling water.  I haven't used the jacket in an actual downpour, but in the light to moderate rain I did experience I have no complaints.  In fact, it is my opinion that I was dryer due to wearing the Covert Fleece than I would have been if I had been wearing an all fleece jacket (of which I have several).  In the snow, the snow clung slightly to the fleece portions of the jacket while being almost totally shed from the black surfaces of the jacket. 

Elastic cuff

The sleeves of the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece are just long enough that I can slip the cuffs over all the gloves that I wear.  The elasticized cuffs work especially well with gloves with flared cuffs as that seems to help keep the jacket sleeves in place.  The only downside to the cuffs is that they are nonadjustable and thus can't be loosened when I surpass a comfortable body temperature.  They can be pulled back however, and that is what I tend to do as the step before removing my gloves.

The layering technique I have come to use during a recent period of temperatures between -4 and +18 F (-20 and -8 C) is described as follows.  My base-layer is long-sleeve wicking T-shirt, followed by a "Body Sensors" long-sleeve half-zip shirt, followed by my IBEX Scout Half-Zip wool jacket.  The Covert Fleece goes on last as the outer layer.  (This is supplemented by IBEX wool tights, Smartwool socks, various footwear, gloves, hats, and trousers from Eddie Bauer and the GAP.  On really cold trips I break out the Psolar.EX facemask.)  Through various gyrations of zipping and unzipping anything with a zipper, and tucking and un-tucking shirts, as well as removing or adjusting hats and gloves, I have been able to stay miraculously comfortable despite some rather frigid temperatures.

Broken draw-cord

Ordinarily I would cinch the draw cords in the hem of the jacket when starting out on a cold hike, and I was looking forward to evaluating the effectiveness of the draw cord in the collar of this jacket for blocking the escape of body warmth.  Unfortunately the draw cord in the collar failed after a couple of weeks of use, and before it got really cold (see picture above).  This happened under normal conditions with a firm, but not excessive, pull on the draw cord.  One of the ends anchored within the collar came loose resulting in an inoperable feature.  The draw cords in the hem, while still operable, have proved to be nearly useless.  I can pull about five inches (13 cm) through the cord lock on each side (see picture below), but after hiking about 100 paces the cords have returned to less than an inch (2.54 cm) protruding.  These cords and cord locks seem to be no more robust than the ones used on thin nylon Red Ledge rain gear, and they are inadequate for this garment made of heavier material. 

Cord won't stay at this length

The side pockets of the jacket work well for un-gloved hand warmers. I also fill the pockets with dog biscuits on a regular basis, zipping the pockets shut in this case, due to the low entry angle of the pockets.  The chest pocket works well for a phone or my iPod.  The only point of contention there is that the unstructured fabric allows some visible sag in the jacket due to the weight in the pocket, but it isn't a big deal.


Field Report Summary:

The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket has met my expectations for fit and comfort, and has also provided some uniqueness with the DWR coated areas, which work well at repelling water and snow.  The jacket is warm, comfortable, attractive, and well made.  The only issues are the insufficient cords and cord locks around the hem and the collar.



Long Term Test Report

March 26, 2007

Red Ledge Covert Fleece Jacket

Test Conditions:

I have continued to use the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket throughout the test period which started in November of 2006.  I have used the Covert Fleece on four weekend trips in Eastern Iowa, for a total of six nights in the field, and on about a dozen half to full-day day-hikes.  In addition to this I have used the Red Ledge jacket regularly for daily 2-mile (3 km) hikes, and as my jacket of choice for shoveling snow and splitting firewood while at home.  The temperature has ranged from approximately -12 to 64 F (-24 to 18 C), and the precipitation has come in the form of rain, sleet, and snow.

JET in the Covert Fleece

Test Results:
The Covert Action Fleece has performed commendably throughout the four month test period.  As mentioned in the Field Report section above, the draw cord in the collar failed shortly into the test period, but that has been the only failure noted.  Originally I thought the jacket didn't offer much extra room for additional layering beneath it, but I have been pleasantly surprised at just how much I can wear underneath it without causing excess bunching of material.  I have worn a wind blocking layer over the Red Ledge fleece a couple of times, but I have predominantly used the Red Ledge fleece as an outer layer.  As an outer layer the fleece jacket is comfortable, and the pockets are useful and convenient.  While backpacking the fleece holds my pack in place nicely as the jacket exterior is not slippery at all. 

The black DWR (Durable Water Repellant) fabric on the sleeves and shoulders has been effective at shedding snow and light rain.  Since the Field Report section, however, I have been caught in some heavy thunderstorms while wearing the Covert Action Fleece, and I was rather amazed to discover the ineffectiveness of the DWR in these conditions.  Hiking in some heavy rain, with large raindrops pelting down on me, I could actually feel individual raindrops striking my shoulders through the jacket.  This was in the areas of the DWR, much more so than the fleece areas, but it is hard to tell if this was due to the type of material, or the location.  Removing the jacket later showed that the areas of the DWR on the shoulders were indeed soaked.  There was some penetration of moisture through the fleece areas as well, however the fleece wasn't getting hit as directly as the DWR areas, and as expected, those areas were not as damp.  There was also detectable moisture inside the pockets which had been zipped shut at the time of the rain.

Hiking Near Indian Creek

Durability:
The durability of the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket has not yet come in to play.  Through some heavy use of the jacket, including various weather conditions, and hiking and backpacking, there is no visible wear on the jacket.  I have only washed the jacket once as it seems to wear-clean when it is merely dusty or dirty.  Washing the jacket in cold water and line-drying it, it suffered no ill effects.  When line-drying the jacket after washing, or after a hike in the rain, it seems to dry quickly, easily within 24 hours when inside the house.

Red Ledge Covert - Jet and Claire

Long Term Report Summary:

The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece jacket is comfortable and usable and has earned a place on my gear list.  The warmth for the weight is excellent, the layering options are endless, and it is attractive and durable.  My only disappointments were with the cords and cord locks, which either failed or didn't work sufficiently.  Otherwise I am very happy with the Covert Action Fleece and intend to use it for many more miles of backpacking.

Respectfully submitted,

-James T.





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