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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Mens Covert Fleece Vest > Ryan Christensen > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Red Ledge Men's Covert Action Fleece Vest

RedLedge
logo from Red Ledge website

Test Series by Ryan Christensen
Last Update -- March 13, 2007

ACCESS THE MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THE LINKS BELOW:

INITIAL REPORT FIELD REPORT LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT
November 13, 2006

Covert (Front View) Covert Back View)

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen

Age:  42

Gender:  Male

Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

Weight:  235 lb (102 kg)

Email address:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com

City, State, Country:  Idaho Falls, ID, U.S.A

I began hiking, camping, backpacking at twelve, and continued until 25.  After a long hiatus due in part to a bad back, I resumed hiking and camping four years ago.  I share my love for these sports with my teen-age boys.  The past several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round.  We vary our experience: desert, forest, meadow, and mountain; spring, summer, fall, and winter; sunshine, rain, wind, or snow.  We began backpacking together last summer.  I am a lightweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Red Ledge website, product hang tag, and product tag.

Covert Action Fleece Vest

Manufacturer:

Red Ledge

Manufacturer website:

http://www.redledge.com

Place of Manufacture:

Vietnam

Year Manufactured:

2006

Shell Material:

(from hang tag)

 

Shell 1:

100% Polyester

Shell 2:

6% Spandex, 94% Polyester

Colors Available:

Black, Orion Blue/Concrete, Pine Tar/Black

Sizes Available:

 

Men’s

S, M, L, XL, XXL

Women’s

XS, S, M, L, XL

Warranty:

(from product tag)

"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.

This warranty does not apply to products we deem have been damaged by improper care, negligence, or natural breakdown of materials over extended time and use."

MSRP

$69.99 USD

 

Product Specifications

Manufacturer’s Specifications

 

Listed Weight

1 lb 1.1 oz (485 g)

Tester’s Measurements

 

Weight

15.9 oz (451 g)

Body Length (back)

28 in (71 cm)

Body Length (front)

23 in (58 cm)

Collar Height

3.75 in (9.5 cm)

Size Tested

Men’s XL

Color Tested

Pine Tar / Black

Product Description:

The Red Ledge Covert Action vest is a two-tone vest made from two distinct materials.  The majority of the vest is 350gm smooth non-pill fleece with raised grid fleece backing. Accenting the collar, shoulders, armhole edging, and zippers is a stretch woven softshell with DWR. The vest has three zippered pockets: a Napolean pocket on the left breast and two hand-warmer pockets. Both the collar and bottom hem have adjustable drawcords with cordlocks. On the back of the vest, an external sleeve conceals the cordlock and keeps it from snagging.  Additionally, on the inside of the vest near the bottom hem, there are snapped stays on each side to secure the drawcords, thereby keeping the cordlocks and drawn cord from dangling below the hem.  The interior lining is a raised grid fleece backing best described as a waffle pattern.  The zippers are YKK Vislon that have molded plastic sliders, pull tabs, teeth, insert and box pins, retaining boxes, and top stops.  The full-length zipper extends all the way up the collar.  Additional details include an embroidered logo above the Napolean pocket; zipper pulls with nylon cord and molded plastic grips; armhole edging, pockets to conceal the pocket zipper sliders when closed, the flap behind the full-length zipper, a hang loop, on the back along the yoke, and the interior portion of the bottom hem made from the softshell material. 

Covert (Lining) Covert (Zipper Pull)
Covert (Collar Cord) Covert (Hem Cord)

Initial Impression:

The Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Vest arrived via UPS.  The first thing that I noticed was that the color (Pine Tar) was lighter than what I had expected it to be.  The next thing I noticed was the unique waffle pattern of the “raised grid fleece” lining of the vest.  This waffle pattern shows through to the outside of the vest.  As I took the vest out of the box, I noticed the fleece pile, which is soft to the touch, is somewhat shorter than other fleece products I own.  I was very impressed with the overall appearance and finish of the product.  The seams were tight; the French Seams, edge stitching, and seam binding appeared to be high quality.  One small imperfection that I noticed was the inside seam running along the bottom hem of the vest was not even.  However, this is unnoticeable from the outside, especially since the hem has a drawcord running through it.  The 350 gm (12 oz) fleece has some elasticity, but not as much as the softshell material.  I was quite impressed with the overall appearance and quality of the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Vest.

Initial Testing:

My initial test was to try-on the vest.  The fit was a bit snug around my 49 in (124 cm) chest, but not uncomfortable.  I was able to move freely, with no binding in the underarms.  I zipped the front zipper the full length.  There was adequate room for my 18 in (46 cm) neck in the collar even when fully zipped.  All zippers worked smoothly.  The drawcords at both the collar and hem were easy to adjust and worked smoothly too.  The “350gm smooth non-pill fleece with raised grid fleece backing” is smooth to the touch and comfortable next to the skin.  Based on this brief examination, I am excited to test this particular vest.

Proposed Test Plan:

Not knowing when it would arrive, I proposed wearing the Covert Action Fleece Vest, temperature permitting,  as my primary outerwear.  That still may be possible on given days, but the temperature in southeastern Idaho has dropped and we are getting snow.  Nevertheless, temperature permitting, I will wear the vest to work and on all my outings as my primary outerwear.  As the temperatures continue to dip, I will wear it as an insulating mid-layer under my outer shell.

During the test period, I plan to test the following: Fit / Comfort, Function, and Quality / Durability while hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and kicking around.

Fit / Comfort:

Does the Covert Vest fit me comfortably?  According to Red Ledge’s sizing chart an Extra Large (XL) fits chests 48-50; waists 40-42; and necks 17.5.  I typically wear extra large.  However, my waist is only 38 and my neck is 18.  Will there be gaps around the waist or is the draw cord sufficient to cinch the Vest snugly to me?  Can I run the zipper all the way up the collar, or is the neck too tight?  Does the Vest extend beyond the waist?  Does it ride up with or without the draw cord cinched?  Is the Vest roomy enough through the chest, or does it bind in the pits when I raise my arms?  Does the 350 gm (12 oz) fleece feel comfortable next to the skin?  Is the overall fit comfortable with or without a pack on my back?  Although I have initial answers to several of these questions that were included in my application, I will retain my response until I have I have more fully tested the product. 

Function:

Does this lightweight Vest made from 350 gm (12 oz) fleece keep me warm?  What are the temperature limits of the Covert as a single layer?  At what temperature do I find it necessary to add either a base layer or another outer layer?  At what temperature is this Vest too warm to wear comfortably?  How well does the strategically placed water resistant soft-shell material repel moisture?  Are the non-softshell areas hydrophilic or hydrophobic?  When backpacking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, I sweat a lot even in cold weather.  How well does the raised grid fleece backing aid warm air movement inside the Vest?  Does the Vest breathe well, does it wick moisture away from the body?  How quickly does the lining and shell dry once wet?  How well does the fleece keep the wind out?  Is there material behind the front zipper to keep the wind out?  Do the drawcords remain tight once cinched up or do they loosen with activity?  Can one easily cinch the draw cords with gloved or mittened hands?  Do the zippers work smoothly?  Are the hand pockets roomy enough or do they feel small?  Is the chest pocket large enough and does the zipper secure the pocket well enough for me to carry my iPod in it?  How compressible is the Covert, does it take up much space in my pack? 

Quality / Durability:

How well made does the Vest appear?  Are the seams straight and tight?  Are there loose or fraying threads?  Do the zippers operate smoothly?  Is the shell material truly non-pilling? How well does the material on the shoulder areas wear?  Does it resist abrasion, pilling, and tearing under pack straps?  Does it retain its water repellency over time?  How resistant to abrasion is the rest of the Vest?  Does the material retain its softness, or does it lose it over time?  Does it retain its size, or does it shrink or grow with use and launderings?  Does the material hold its color over time and multiple launderings?  Do the colors bleed onto other clothes when wet (i.e. in the laundry or while wearing)?  Does the material resist staining and odors?  Does the Vest clean easily?

I will address these and other pertinent issues which may arise during the test period. 


FIELD REPORT
January 8, 2007

Me Wearing Covert On Yurt Trip
Night Hiking In The Covert Action Fleece Vest

Field Locations and Conditions:

Southeastern Idaho has been my primary testing area. I have worn the Red Ledge Men's Covert Action Fleece Vest kicking about, to work, on a hiking trip into the Catamount Yurt in the Portneuf Range southeast of Pocatello Idaho, and cross-country skiing in Tie Canyon along the Pine Creek Pass between Victor and Swan Valley Idaho. The trip into the Catamount Yurt is 2.25 mi (3.6 Km) and a vertical gain of 816 ft (249 m) across mainly open and rolling terrain. Based on the amount of snow on the ground in Idaho Falls, we did not expect to encounter snow. However, there was approximately 6 in (15 cm) which made walking a bit difficult since we did not take snowshoes or cross-country skis. In addition, we received another 4+ in (10+ cm) of snow overnight. Tie Canyon is approximately 6400 ft (1951 m) above sea level. Thus far during the test period, temperatures have ranged from the mid 30s F to low 20s F (2 to -6 C). Furthermore, I have seen light to strong winds, light rain and snow, and clear to extremely overcast skies.

Me in the Covert Fleece With Two of My Sons
Me In The Covert Fleece Vest On Yurt Trip With Two Of My Sons

Testing:

My test plan called for me to assess the Fit / Comfort, Function, and Quality / Durability of the Covert Action Fleece Vest.

Fit / Comfort:

[RESULTS] Although a bit tighter around the chest than I thought preferable, the vest with its athletic fit really fits me comfortably. It does not bind under the arms or other places. Not only did it not bind, the vest material stretched nicely when hiking and cross-country skiing. No gaps, the draw cord cinches the vest nicely around my waist. The neck fits comfortably whether fully zipped up or not. I like the way the vest extends below the waist in the back as this helps prevent it from riding up my back. The outer fleece and the raised-grid lining feel comfortable next to the skin. The tighter fit of the Covert Vest enables me to easily slip on another layer without feeling bulky.

Function:

[RESULTS] The 350 gm (12 oz) fleece keeps me plenty warm. On my yurt hiking trip, the temperature was 26 F (-3 C) when we began hiking. I wore a base layer, non-insulated waterproof ski pants, the Covert Action Fleece Vest, and a fleece beanie. Although the temperature dropped several degrees as we hiked to the yurt, I was plenty warm; I was sweating in fact. I attribute a portion of the insulative properties of the Covert Action Fleece Vest to the raised-grid inner lining. I believe the grid helps create dead-air spaces thereby enhancing the insulation provided by the vest. In addition, although not windproof, the vest seemed to keep the wind out quite well, even along the zipper. The fleece breathed somewhat, but the inside of the vest was quite wet before we arrived at the yurt. It may wick moisture somewhat away from the body, but not sufficiently to keep me dry. This was true on my yurt hike, but was especially the case while cross-country skiing in Tie Canyon. Because of the heavy snowfall, I was forced to put on a so-called breathable waterproof shell. The inside of the shell was soaked by the time I arrived back at my vehicle after a 4 mi (6.5 Km) trek. However, the fleece material seemed to repel the moisture from the falling rain and snow. The vest dried within about 15 minutes when hung by the wood-burning stove inside the yurt. The draw cords are easy to cinch with gloved hands and remained secure while hiking and cross-country skiing. The hand pockets are roomy enough for my un-gloved hands, but not quite large enough to accommodate gloves. The chest pocket adequate for carrying sunglasses, MP3 players, wallet, etc. The zippers are easy to operate; the pulls help ease zipper operation with gloved hands. The Covert Fleece Vest does not compress overly well, but it is light weight. The Covert Vest has been perfect for the temperatures I have experienced to date.

Quality / Durability:

[RESULTS] The Covert Vest seems to be well manufactured. The seams are still tight, there has been no pilling of the fleece or the water-resistant soft-shell material. There is no noticeable wearing or abrasion on the shoulders from carrying my pack. The zippers continue to work smoothly. To date, the Covert Action Fleece Vest is holding up very well.


LONG-TERM REPORT
March 13, 2007

Field Locations and Conditions:

Me in the Covert atop Paisly Cone
Atop Paisley Cone - Craters of the Moon National Monument

During the Long-Term Test phase, in addition to wearing it to work and kicking about, snowshoeing in Craters of the Moon National Monument and two cross-country ski trips in the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area provided my final test opportunities for the Red Ledge Men's Covert Action Fleece Vest.

Craters of the Moon, located 84 miles (135 km) west of Idaho Falls, is a 750,000-acre (3,035 km2) National Monument and Preserve with lava flows and cinder cones. The elevation of Craters of the Moon National Monument ranges from 5,330 ft (1,625 m) to 7,729 ft (2,356 m). For snowshoeing/cross-country skiing, the park provides a groomed trail approximately 5 mi (8 km) in length that is one of the best to be found anywhere in Idaho. In addition, there are several cinder cones which provide an exciting challenge, such as Paisley Cone 6,107 ft (1,861 m) shown in the photo above. The weather was perfect, clear skies, no wind, and temperatures in the upper 20s F (-3 C). As shown in the picture above, I wore the Covert Action Fleece Vest over a baselayer. The vest provided the right amount of insulation on this snowshoe outing.

The Kelly Canyon Nordic Area (shown in the photo below) is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest, near the South Fork of the Snake River. It starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations as high as 6,700 ft (2,042 m). The Kelly Canyon Nordic Area includes 24 miles (39 km) of cross-country ski trails, and approximately 5 miles (8 km) of snowshoe trails and a variety of backcountry skiing experiences. Both cross-country ski outings into the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area began at night. We started skiing around 7:00 pm and skied a couple of hours to the warming hut, spent the night, and skied out the next day. The temperature at the time we started each night was in the low 20s F (-7 C) and dropped to around 0 F (-18 C) during the night. I wore the Covert Action Fleece Vest as a mid-layer over a base layer and under a fleece jacket. Part way into the night ski, I had to remove the fleece jacket as the vest provided ample insulation for me at that temperature. When we skied out, the temperatures were in the upper 20s to low 30s F (-3 to -1 C). On the trips back from the warming hut, I wore the vest over a base layer. Again, this was adequate for me.

Me in the Covert in Kelly Canyon Nordic Area
Kelly Canyon Nordic Area

Fit / Comfort:

[RESULTS] The vest continued to fit comfortably, without any binding. It stretched nicely when snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. After multiple launderings, the outer fleece and the raised-grid lining feel comfortable next to the skin.

Function:

[RESULTS] As stated in the description of my outings during the long-term test phase, the 350 gm (12 oz) fleece keeps me plenty warm. I wore a base layer, non-insulated waterproof ski pants, the Covert Action Fleece Vest, and a fleece beanie. On each of the outings, I was plenty warm; I was sweating in fact. Although not windproof, the vest continued to keep the wind out quite well, even along the zipper. The fleece also breathed somewhat, but the inside of the vest was wet before we arrived at our destination. It may wick moisture somewhat away from the body, but not sufficiently to keep me dry. The Covert Fleece Vest does not compress overly well, but it is light weight. The Covert Vest has been perfect for me at the temperatures experienced during the test period.

Quality / Durability:

[RESULTS] The seams remain tight, there is no pilling of the fleece or water-resistant soft-shell material. There is still no noticeable wearing or abrasion on the shoulders from my pack. The zippers continue to work smoothly. The Covert Action Fleece Vest has held up very well during the test--I expect it will wear for a long time. I am so pleased its performance, that I am considering purchasing the Covert Action Fleece Jacket.


This concludes my Red Ledge Men's Covert Fleece Vest Test Series. Thanks to Red Ledge and BackPackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of Red Ledge gear
Read more gear reviews by Ryan Lane Christensen

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Mens Covert Fleece Vest > Ryan Christensen > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen



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