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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Royal Robbins Field Vest > Test Report by Brian Hartman

ROYAL ROBBINS FIELD GUIDE VEST
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 03, 2009
FIELD REPORT - June 29, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - August 18, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 41
LOCATION: Noblesville, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been hiking and camping for over 20 years and enjoy backpacking solo and with my kids in Scouting. I especially enjoy fall and winter backpacking and camping. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 40+ lbs (18 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Photo courtesy of Royal Robbins


Manufacturer: Royal Robbins
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.royalrobbins.com/
MSRP: US $85.00
Listed Weight: 1 lb 2.8 oz (533 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 3 oz (538 g)
Sizes Available: Small to XXL
Size Tested: Men's Medium
Colors Available: Khaki and Jet Black
Color Tested: Jet Black

Other details provided by Manufacturer:
Fabric: 100% Supplex Nylon.
Padded neck and shoulder
D-ring/ key clip
Chest pocket with key lanyard
13 exterior pockets and 4 interior pockets
Snap tab at back neck
Fully mesh lined
Two way center front zipper
Adjustable waist tabs
13 exterior pockets and 4 interior pockets
28" back length in size Large





The Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest is a lightweight vest made of Supplex nylon with a full mesh lining. The Supplex fabric is touted as being quick drying as well as wrinkle and odor resistant. It is filled with pockets, 17 total, and incorporates a number of other features for outdoor enthusiasts.

Care instructions on vest tag: Machine wash cool. Wash color separately. Tumble dry low - remove promptly. Cool iron if needed. No fabric softener. Non-chlorine bleach only.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Royal Robbins Field Guide vest is not only good looking but it seems to be very well constructed. My initial impression upon inspecting this vest is that the manufacturer has paid a lot of attention to details. Besides the myriad of pockets, there are a number of other handy features built into this vest. I will be reporting on these features in more detail throughout the test period.

SIZING: This vest is well proportioned without appearing baggy or oversized. It fits easily over my T-shirt or long sleeve shirt and there is plenty of room around my armpits so that the vest doesn't pull or bind as I move my arms. Of course the real test will come when I load up my pockets and head out on the trail. I will be checking to see how many items I can move from my daypack into this vest. Who knows, I may be able to eliminate my pack completely for shorter hikes.

FABRIC: This vest is made from 100% Supplex nylon. From my initial observations, it is soft and drapes well. It is also a very quiet fabric which may be advantageous for nature photographers or even hunters. The Supplex nylon is described as being windproof and breathable. Over the next few months I will test to see just how windproof and breathable this vest is in varying conditions. Part of my long term testing will be to see how well this vest handles rain showers and how quickly it dries out. I am also interested to see how comfortable it is in hot weather.

CONSTRUCTION: As mentioned above, this vest appears to be very well made with no loose threads or stitches. The zippers function well and the snaps perform as expected. Over the next few months I will evaluate how well this vest stands up to bushwacking and general abuse.

FEATURES: Its hard to examine this vest and not be amazed by the vast number of pockets it contains, 17 in total. Royal Robbins has done a great job of integrating these pockets into the vest in such a way that they don't overwhelm the vest. Rather the vest appears sleek and stylish. Unless I had read the manufacturer's tag saying it had 17 pockets, I would not have known otherwise. As the main focus of this vest is its pockets, I will describe all of them in detail:

(2) exterior zippered chest pockets (8 in x 9 in) (20 cm x 22 cm)
(1) exterior zippered chest pocket (6 in x 7 in) (15 cm x 17 cm)
(2) exterior zippered front pockets (7 in x 8 in) (17 cm 20 cm)
(3) inside front pockets (1 in x 4 in) (2.5 cm x 10 cm)
(2) exterior snap closure front pockets (7.5 in x 5.5 in) (19 cm x 14 cm)
(2) exterior side pockets with elasticized open tops (5 in x 5.5 in) (13 cm x 14 cm)
(1) exterior zippered back pocket (11 in x 14 in) (28 cm x 35 cm)
(1) interior zippered chest pocket (7 in x 6 in) (17 cm x 15 cm)
(3) interior 'hook and loop' chest pockets (3 in x 4 in) (7 cm x 10 cm), (5 in x 6in ) (13 cm x 15 cm), (6 in x 9 in) (15 cm x 22 cm)

In addition to the pockets, there is a plastic D-ring on the right shoulder and a horizontal strap secured by hook-and-loop closure on the left shoulder. There is also a vertical strap in the middle of the upper back which is secured by a snap closure. The shoulders and neck are padded.

SUMMARY

This vest seems to be well thought out with a lot of convenient features. I have already begun thinking of all the items I can stash in its pockets but also wonder how I will keep track of all of them. Several of the zippers are tethered with nylon cord which makes it easy to operate them. Regarding workmanship, it appears well made and I couldn't find any flaws or loose threads on this vest.

This concludes my Initial Report for the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest. I will post a field report in approximately two months. Please check back then for further information. I would like to thank Royal Robbins and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test the Field Guide Vest.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the past few months I've worn the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest while backpacking, hiking, camping and fishing. My testing has taken place in southern Indiana and northeastern Ohio in state parks and on private land. Weather conditions during this Field Test period ranged from sunny and clear to overcast and rainy. Temperatures have been mild for the most part ranging from 54 F to 78 F (12 C to 25 C). The details of three trips are highlighted below:

Trip One: (3 days, 2 nights)
Location: Oldenburg, IN
Elevation: 615 ft (187 m) - 842 ft (256 m)
Temperature: 72-78 F (22-25 C) day, 60 F (15 C) night
Weather Conditions: Mostly sunny with light breeze. No rain.
Length of Trip: 3 miles (5 km)
Brief Comments: I wore this vest while hiking, collecting firewood in the woods and while performing general tasks around the campsite.

Trip Two: (2 days, 2 nights)
Location: Brookville, Indiana
Elevation: 748 ft (228 m)
Temperature: 70 F (21 C) day, 54 F (12 C) night
Weather Conditions: Cloudy and breezy.
Length of Trip: 8 miles (13 km) total
Brief Comments: I wore this vest the entire trip, although it was layered underneath a jacket a few times.

Trip Three: (6 days, 5 nights)
Location: Ashtabula County, Ohio
Elevation: 896 ft (273 m)
Temperature: 76 F (24 C) day, 65 F (18 C) night
Weather Conditions: Mostly sunny for 1st 4 days, off-and-on showers the last 2 days
Length of Trip: 14 miles (22.5 km)
Brief Comments: The vest proved very useful while both hiking and fishing.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have enjoyed wearing the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest during the past few months. It is an excellent hiking vest; it provides more convenience than a small backpack for short hikes and easier access to essentials. In addition, it is lightweight, dries quickly and is comfortable to wear. With additional layering, this vest has been comfortable over a wide range of temperatures. I've worn it over T-shirts and long sleeve shirts, and have used it as a mid-layer underneath a jacket when the weather turned cool.

Comfort and fit: The Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest is soft and comfortable to wear. It is very easy to slip on over a T-shirt or long sleeve shirt. There is plenty of room in the arm pit and chest area for times when I need to extend my reach or stretch out. The collar is comfortable whether the vest is zipped or unzipped and I have not noticed any rubbing or chafing of the seams against my body or neck.

IMAGE 1

So far, the vest has not been too warm to hike in although I have yet to wear it in temperatures of 80 F (26 C) or more. During warm days, I was able to regulate my body temperature by simply unzipping the front zipper. I found that on cool, windy days when temperatures were below 65 F (18 C), my long-sleeve shirt and the vest were not enough to keep me warm. Although the vest provided little warmth, it did help to block wind against my torso. In addition to wind protection, the vest did a good job of shedding light rain and dried quickly.

Durability: So far I have had no problems with durability. The seams are tight and the material edges have not frayed. There is no deterioration of the fabric or any loose threads or pilling. The stitching and workmanship are still fine. In addition, this vest has shown no signs of fading or other color changes. It cleans well, dries quickly after laundering and does not appear to shrink.

While backpacking off-trail there were plenty of opportunities for the vest to get torn on briars, tree branches or rocks. Luckily I have yet to snag the fabric or tear a seam. The vest shows no sign of wear from any of my adventures. The pockets and zippers still operate as they did when the vest was brand new.

Performance: The design of the vest is well thought out and it has performed well over the past couple of months. I have found the pockets to be very useful for storage. The external pockets are in easy-to-access locations and are large enough to hold a variety of items. I have mainly used the chest pockets to carry my survival kit, matches and sunglasses. The side pockets have come in handy for carrying water bottles while the front pockets provide plenty of room for snacks. The inner chest pocket is zippered and has been a perfect place to stash my car keys and ID on all of my trips.

SUMMARY

The Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest is well-designed and well-constructed. It is a great addition to my wardrobe for hiking, camping and fishing. It is usable over a broad range of temperatures and conditions from spring to fall in the Midwest. Although it does not provide considerable warmth when temperatures drop, it does provide some wind and rain resistance. It breathes well and dries quickly. The fabric is durable and after several months of use it looks brand new. It has a simple, clean design that looks good when venturing around town. It exhibits an attention to detail that is apparent and appreciated every time I put it on. Everything seems to have been well thought out.

TEST STRATEGY

I'll continue to use the Field Guide Vest for all of my outdoor activities over the coming two months. This includes a week-long backpacking trip to Brown County State Park in southern Indiana in July. My day-time activities will include backpacking, hiking, fishing, gathering firewood etc. During this trip I will be watching to see if there is a temperature at which the vest becomes uncomfortably hot to wear.

This concludes my Field Report on the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest. Please check back in two months for my final report.

Thanks to Royal Robbins and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this vest.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the past two months I've worn the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest on several backpacking trips and two camping trips. Below are details on two of the trips I went on during this time:

Testing Locations:

Brown County, Indiana: This was a three day camping trip to visit my son and his Boy Scout Troop at Ransburg Summer Camp. Ransburg is situated on 634 acres in the Hoosier National Forest. The campground butts up to Lake Monroe, which is the largest lake in Indiana. The area is heavily wooded with hardwood and pine forests and the terrain is quite hilly due to the fact that the glaciers, which flattened most of Indiana, stopped just to the north. I wore the vest every day from morning till night. Temperatures were generally in the mid 70's F (24 C) with highs near 80 F (26 C). I hiked several miles each day with my son to his merit badge stations, as well as back and forth from our campsite to the dining hall. While he attended merit badge classes, I found time to explore the area and even brought along a few books to keep occupied.

Brookville, Indiana: I wore the vest throughout this backpacking trip, which included a visit to Brookville Lake in Southeast Indiana. Brookville Lake is a 5,260-acre man-made lake/reservoir designed and built by the Army Corp of Engineers to provide flood control along the Whitewater River. It is situated inside a 16,445 acre State Park. Temperatures were mild during this weekend adventure with highs in the mid 70's F (24 C) and generally overcast skies.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
During my trip to Brown County, the Royal Robbins Field Vest doubled as a small backpack, carrying all of the supplies I needed throughout the day as well as a few non-essentials. This included the following items:

a. small first aid kit
b. fire making supplies
c. pocket knife
d. water bottles
e. compass
f. map of area
g. cell phone
h. snacks
i. sunglasses
j. flashlight
k. small notebook and pen
l. wallet
m. car keys
n. walkie talkie
o. books



Each of these items was able to fit inside the vest and/or be secured to the plastic D-ring and horizontal strap which are located at the shoulders on the vest exterior. Although it was wonderful to have a separate pocket for every item, I sometimes felt like Peter Falk in the classic TV show 'Columbo', when he patted his trench coat trying to find his notebook and pencil. With 17 pockets, I sometimes found it tricky to remember the correct pocket to open or unzip to retrieve an item. The fact that the front pockets are layered made the search that much more complex as sometimes I could feel the item I was searching for, but not the exact location. One solution would be to assign each item to a particular pocket and always return it to the same spot. However, I found that my needs changed throughout the day and so I ended up moving items to different pockets based on how frequently I needed to retrieve them. The issue of finding an item quickly is a minor inconvenience given the ample space that Royal Robbins provided with this vest.

The temperatures were warm enough during this trip that my only layer of clothing under the vest was a short sleeve shirt. Despite the warm, humid days and my constant activity, I never felt uncomfortable in the vest. It was breathable and allowed sufficient air circulation so that I never had a problem with sweating.

The vest has held up remarkably well, given the abuse I have subjected it to during long-term testing. While backpacking in Brookville, I went on several bush-whacking expeditions and encountered locus trees, briars and lots of tree limbs. Late one afternoon, while navigating down a steep hill on my way back to camp, I lost my footing and ended up on my back for several yards. Unlike my forearm and elbow, the vest was no worse for wear. After brushing myself off and making it to the bottom of the hill, I realized that several items fell out of the vest, including my water bottle and sunglasses. It's for this reason I keep critical items like my car keys and wallet in zippered pockets.

IMAGE 2 IMAGE 3

SUMMARY

The experiences I had during the long-term test phase reinforced my earlier impressions of the Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest. For fit, durability and performance during this test period, this vest exceeded my expectations. It is easy to slip on over a shirt and fits comfortably without being too tight or too baggy. It is lightweight and breathable in hot weather and can be layered over a long sleeve shirt or under a jacket for cooler conditions. In summary, it has a wide comfort zone. It is durable and has handled bushwhacking as well as several cycles of washing very well. Finally, this vest offers a convenient way to carry a multitude of items for times when one does not want to lug a backpack or need to carry extra clothing, bedding or cooking supplies.

CONTINUED USE

I plan to wear the Royal Robbins Vest on many hiking, fishing, and backpacking trips in the future. Its light weight and generous storage capacity make it an ideal replacement for a small backpack on day hikes.

I would like to thank Backcountry.com and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this pullover.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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