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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Womens Covert Fleece Vest > Marie-Noelle Augendre > Test Report by Marie-Noelle Augendre

Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Vest

The Red Ledge Vest

Initial Report Section - November 8, 2006

Reviewer information

Name Marie-Noëlle Augendre I started backpacking nine years ago, day-hiking in Ile-de-France all year round, and doing several one or two-week trips in more mountainous regions (Corsica, Pyrénées, Cévennes, Lubéron, etc.) each year.

In the past three years, I have gradually lightened my pack load as I changed to a hammock, an alcohol stove, a light pack and running shoes instead of boots.

After living the most part of this year in Quebec (Canada), I'm just back to France and currently settling right in the middle of the Cévennes, an area that is positively criss-crossed with hiking trails.
Age 49
Gender Female
Height about 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg)
Email address
St André de Valborgne (Gard),

Product information

Zoom on the top front
Manufacturer Red Ledge
MSRP USD 69.99
Size XL
Weight listed : 13.9 oz (394 g)
actual : 15 oz (425 g)
Back length 26.4" (67 cm)
Shoulder width 17.7" (45 cm)

Product description

All seams well overlocked or hidden (left) / the back collar with the concealed drawcord toggle and a hanging loop (center) / hem drawcord prevented from dangling (right)The Covert Action Fleece Vest is made of "350gm smooth non-pill fleece" with a shoulders-and-collar yoke of "durable elastic soft shell with DWR" and a backing of "raised grid fleece". It features "two zip-front hand warmer pockets" and a "left chest Napoleon pocket", and one hand adjustable drawcords at bottom hem. There are also another adjustable drawcord around the neck and two hanging loops at the neckline: one inside the vest and the other outside.

But the most striking feature of this Red Ledge vest is its top quality finish; here are a few details among the most obvious:

  • all flat seams are very well overlocked or rib-covered
  • the ends of the front pockets zip are cleverly hidden, and the Napoleon pocket would be invisible but for the zip tongue
  • the front sides, collar and armholes binding edges are faultless
  • each drawcord is fitted up with a convenient stopper, so it won't go out the toggle
  • a snapped grosgrain tab keeps each hem drawcord from inelegantly trailing at the bottom of the vest
  • the collar drawcord toggle is concealed behind a little trapezoid yoke

One of the front hand warmer pocket (left), and the well hidden Napoleon pocket (right)This is a really lovely garment, and I already cannot go outside without putting it on. I will have to watch it closely: my brother found it so nice, that he asked me where he could buy one as soon as he has tried it on; and I guess he won't be the last to ask.

Testing plan

During the testing period, I will wear the Covert Action Fleece Vest as an insulation layer on an every day basis, whether at home or in any outdoor activity I might undertake. Depending on the temperature, it'll be used over a base layer only, or with a fleece pull-over or jacket. Weather permitting, it'll be my outer layer as often as possible.

In the future reports, I intend to specifically address the following issues:

  • fit, comfort, ease of use
  • efficiency: insulation capability, breathability, protection against the wind and water resistance
  • durability: pilling, abrading marks, zip sturdiness

In addition, I will report on anything else I might observe that could be useful for a potential user / buyer of the Covert Action Fleece Vest.

All along the next four months, I'll be regularly hiking in the Cévennes, a rather hilly area in the south-east of the Massif Central (France) and intend to do at least one multi-day backpacking trip in the same area. The deep and steep valleys are mostly covered with chestnut, beech and pine forests, and the summits are rather bared, with granite boulders scattered over the moor. Elevations are between 1100 ft (350 m) and 5600 ft (1700 m), and I expect temperatures will mainly remain between 23°F and 60°F (-5°C / +15°C). Weather can be almost anything between sunny and dry, fog and/or drizzle, or steady rain, and snow during in the colder weeks, probably January-February.

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.

Top of the Initial Report

Field Report Section - January 15, 2006

Testing conditions

During the past two months, I have worn the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Vest on an everyday basis, whatever I was doing outside and especially when day-hiking. I have walked or hiked twice a week on average, most often in the Cévennes valleys between 820 ft and 2950 ft (250 m - 900 m), where steep paths amid holm oaks or chestnut trees look more suitable for goats than hikers; and sometimes on the higher plateaux-like areas, around 3600 ft (1100 m), with larger transhumance trails winding between moors and pine forests. The weather has remained almost summer-like, almost always sunny, with temperatures sometimes up to 66°F (19°C) in the sun, and barely getting as low as 41°F (5°C) in valley recesses hidden from the sun all day long. During that period, we had only a few days of heavy showers in the area, and I avoided hiking on those days so the vest has only been exposed to either drizzles or to heavy rains, but for very short times. It has never been really wet.


I did wear the vest everyday not especially for the purpose of the test, but because I found it very convenient and comfortable. It fits well, the zip-front hand pockets are just in the right place to keep the hands warm when walking, and big enough to accommodate my mobile phone, car keys, purse, tissues, etc. so most of the times I didn't bother to carry a handbag. And even when I carried a day-pack for real hiking, the pockets remain handy to get access to some paraphernalia without having to take the pack off.

The vest provide good protection and insulation; in the past two months, I have usually worn it as an outer layer over a Capilene-style base layer and a light fleece, and hardly needed to add any other insulation. In fact, I often had to take it off and carry it on my pack because I was too warm and sweating, especially when going up steep trails. Even on windy days, the vest gave enough wind-protection so I didn't seem to need an additional windproof garment.

The Covert Action Fleece Vest has very well withstood two months of intensive wear and no special care; it shows absolutely no wear signs and is still as pristine as when I unpacked it on the very first day. I am very satisfied with it, and will certainly go on wearing it almost every day, though I will probably wear only a base layer underneath when the temperatures get milder. My only criticisms regard the little gizmos I have no use for, and that sometimes pester me:

  • I cannot put anything in the Napoleon pocket because it is located just at the right place where, as a woman, I need as much room as possible for myself! This pocket would be better located about 4 inches (10 cm) lower, so whatever I put in it would rest under my bust versus over it.
  • I have no use for the adjustable drawcords at the bottom hem: the vest is long and tight enough so that I never felt the need to cinch it further around my hips.
  • Same thing for the drawcord around the collar, as the collar itself goes high enough to give an adequate protection against chilly drafts. But the drawcord and particularly its adjusting toggle can be very uncomfortable when putting the neck against a head-rest or any cushion; and my glasses strap gets forever entangled with the drawcord loop and its stopper.
  • My last remark is about the way the zip opening works: I know that female garments "usually" have the slider on the right front panel; nevertheless all my other jackets and vests have the slider on the left panel, as it is customary on garments intended for men, so it is quite irritating to have only this vest working the other way.

These minor criticisms apart, I find the Covert Action Fleece Vest is a very nice garment, and I intend to wear it on a regular basis for a long time.

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.

Top of the Field Report

Long Term Report Section - March 20, 2006

Testing conditions

During the past two months, I have kept on wearing the Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Vest on an everyday basis, when day-hiking or doing anything else outside. As usual, I have hiked twice or three times a week on average, depending on the weather conditions. The ground surfaces and elevations have remained the same as during the previous period (see the Field Report section above), and the temperatures range have even increased, from 35°F (2°C) on a day I was snowshoeing in a windy fog to 70°F (21°C) when hiking on sunny day. As before, I made sure to avoid heavy showers (the area is renowned for its autumn and spring downpours), so the vest got really wet only when being washed.


This new two-month testing period didn't bring any additional information. As before, I feel the Red Ledge Vest is very comfortable and convenient, to the point I keep on using it even when it is too warm; the side pockets are usually full of things I need whenever I venture outside (mobile phone, car keys, money, etc.) and I'd rather wear the vest than carry a handbag or a pouch.

Though having been worn on almost every day of the past four months, the vest looks as brand new as on its first day, without any pilling or any other wear signs. In fact, my only real criticism is about the collar drawcord and its toggle, that seem to bother me forever; and now that this test is finished, I will remove them promptly. I might remove the bottom drawcords too; they don't bother me so much, but I don't use them and it'll lighten the vest a bit. As for the Napoleon pocket, I cannot use it either because of its poor location (right over the breast), but it'll remain as it is.


On the whole, the Covert Action Fleece Vest is a very well-built and high-quality piece of apparel. It'll be probably too warm to be worn during the summer months, but I'll enjoy wearing it as a three-season everyday garment.

Top of the Long Term Report

I would like to thank Red Ledge and for giving me the opportunity to test the Covert Action Fleece Vest.

Read more reviews of Red Ledge gear
Read more gear reviews by Marie-Noelle Augendre

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Red Ledge Womens Covert Fleece Vest > Marie-Noelle Augendre > Test Report by Marie-Noelle Augendre

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