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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Sherpa Adventure Vajra Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Sherpa Adventure Gear Vajra Jacket

Initial Report - May 20 2011
Field Report - Aug 2 2011
Long Term Report - Oct 4 2011

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.net
Age: 45
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)

Torso:

19" (48cm)

Waist:

34" (86 cm)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30lbs (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

Shirpa Adventure Gear

Year of Manufacture:

2011

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.sherpaadventuregear.com

MSRP:

Not listed on manufacturer's web site

Advertised Weight:

14.3 oz (404. g)

Measured Weight:

12.3 oz (350 g)

Product image
Image courtesy of Shirpa Adventure Gear

Product Description (from manufacturer):

When you don’t need a full-on parka, but you do need insulation that will deflect wind and cold even in wet conditions (where down won’t do), this full-zip jacket is ideal. Thanks to PrimaLoft® One insulation’s light weight and compressibility, you’ll take this cozy favorite on every outing.

Two zip handwarmer pockets and one zip chest pocket hold necessities
LYCRA® fiber binding at collar and cuffs traps body warmth within
A DWR (durable water repellent) coating gives the ultra-light, ripstop nylon shell its water shunning ability

Shell fabric: 100% ripstop polyester shell treated with DWR;
Insulation: PrimaLoft® One (60 gsm)

Initial Report

May 19 2011

Me trying the jacket onI received a size large in what they call "Rara Blue". I inspected the garment and it appears to be well constructed. I could see no obvious flaws. All seams and edges look to be well finished with no loose thread or edges.

I would describe this as a mid-weight insulating jacket (by weight I am referring to insulation amount not weight as measured by a scale). This looks to be a very basic jacket; no hood, no storm flaps over the zippers, elastic cuffs and hem, two fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, one chest pocket and two internal pockets (I will describe these in more detail later).
The inner and outer shell material is very thin and soft but appears to be of good quality. My experience is that one of the tradeoffs for this type of garment can be the weight of the shell material vs. its other features (e.g. durability, water/wind resistance) and this will be something I will be paying close attention during my use. The shell of this garment looks to be very lightweight but not overly delicate.

The chest pocket is about 6” (15 cm) square with a side opening (zipper closure). I was easily able to fit my phone (large smart phone) in this pocket but my sunglasses did not quite fit.

The two hand-warmer pockets are fleece lined on one side. I found the entire jacket can easily be stuffed into one of the hand-warmer pockets. The result is something like a small square pillow with fleece on one side.

Image of inner mesh pocketThe inner dump pockets are about 11” (28 cm) square and made from a very thin mesh material. The pockets have an elastic opening at the top (I call them dump pockets due to their large top openings with no closure: easy to dump items into… or out of). 

The jacket has simple elastic cuffs and hem. When trying it on I found them to be well designed. The cuffs are loose enough that they don’t constrict (even when wearing a thick long sleeve shirt under it), yet snug enough that they don’t seem to ride up and should block wind/snow. The same goes for the hem.

The overall fit of the jacket is hard to describe (and obviously subject to the wearers body size/shape). I find it to be slightly fitted. It is slim and formfitting enough that I would wear this as an outer garment to work and for casual outings. It easily fits under my rain shell, while being loose enough to fit over two layers (lightweight base layer and a thick shirt).
The insulation of this jacket is very thin. In fact, the jacket in thin enough to appear more like an un-insulated wind jacket. However, the specifications note they are using PrimaLoft® One (60 gsm) insulation. PrimaLoft comes in a few different versions, with PrimaLoft One being the one with the best insulation/weight/bulk ratio. It is said to be the equivalent of 500-550 fill down, while advertized to retain 97% of its insulation value when wet. PrimaLoft is also advertized to be very effective at wicking and dries quickly (Note: I own an older PrimaLoft jacket, and can attest to its wicking and drying properties). Living in Washington State, I tend to avoid down insulation. Due to the nature of the weather and my activities, getting wet (rain, snow, humidity, poorly built snow shelter, excessive perspiration, etc) occurs all too often. So insulation that has similar properties to down and retain those properties when wet is a huge positive for me.

Jacket stuffed in pocket next to a 1L water bottleAs a side note; as luck would have it, I received the jacket in my least favorite of the available colors. I found it to be just a bit darker than it looked on the manufacturer’s web site, and not the color I would have chosen. However this is a highly subjective item and nothing that will prevent me from wearing it around town and/or to work. I only include this for completeness and because so far I have found nothing even slightly approaching what I could refer to as a “Dislike”.











Likes:
  • Lightweight and packs down small (turns into a small pillow)
  • Well designed/constructed
  • Fits well
  • Wind/ water resistant
Dislikes:
  • Not a big fan of the blue color, but no real dislikes so far

Field Report

Aug 2 2011
Usage:Camped at treeline on Mt Adams
  • Intermittent daily wear at work, around town, and while traveling
  • 2 night solo hike in the Ancient Lakes area (central Washington)
  • Two 3 day climbs of Mt Adams

Upon seeing this jacket my first impression was that it would be just about ideal for my Mt Adams trips as well as for cool nights in camp. And so far this has been a correct assumption.

The jacket has proven to be warm and comfortable for use when at work (outdoors and in air conditioned offices) and in the evenings. I also found it well suited for travel to San Francisco where I wore it on two chilly nights, on one I walked a few miles in a light rain. The jacket did well in the cool damp conditions and shed the light rain with no problems.

For backpacking I have found this jacket to be outstanding in regards to its comfort range as well as its warmth to weight ratio and its compressibility.

My first overnight outing with the jacket was in the desert terrain of central Washington state. While the days were warm and comfortable, the temperatures dropped as soon as the sun went down and it got quite chilly. On one of the nights I ended up staying up till well past midnight chatting and playing games with some guys in an adjacent camp. I found the jacket to do a great job at keeping the chill off while sitting around camp in the evening.

On my first trip up Mt Adams this year I arrived just as a cold front was coming in. I hiked up to 7300’ (2225 m) and made camp just below the timber line. By the time I was making dinner the temperature was 60F/15C and dropping fast, also the wind picked up and so I put on my base layer, the Vajra jacket, gloves and a knit hat. I put a wind/rain shell over the Varja jacket when I ventured out into the worst of the wind, and I ended up sleeping in the Vajra jacket (I am a cold sleeper and was using my 15F/-9C bag that I use most of the year). It was cold in the morning so I got a late start to the summit hopping it would warm up and the winds would die down, but that was not to be. The temperatures remained a little above freezing and the wind continued to blow hard with even harder gusts. When I reached the false summit (11500’ / 3500 m) I was exposed to the full force of the wind. My fingers and toes became numb almost immediately and being alone I chose to not risk continuing to the top. After a short rest in a sheltered spot I headed back to camp where I spent a second, but warmer, night before heading home the following morning.
On summit of Mt AdamsThe jacket did an outstanding job at keeping my core warm and blocking the wind. In the worst of the wind I felt a bit of a chill, but was warmer than I would have expected in those conditions. When not in use I found the jacket easy to stuff into my summit pack where its compressibility and light weight was appreciated.

On my second trip we camped higher up the mountain but experienced almost ideal conditions. Day time temperatures were relatively warm (60-70 F / 15-21 C) during the day and a little below freezing at night. On the summit we experienced light to moderate wind and temperatures a little over freezing. As in the previous trip the jacket was warm and comfortable.

I have had only two small negative comments to report. First is that twice I had the shell material snag in the zipper while attempting to close one of the hand warmer pockets. In one case this was a bit of a problem as it was very cold and windy and I had to remove my glove in order to fix the zipper so I could get it closed (I had my camera in that pocket and did not want to chance losing it). The second item is the chest pocket. I have found it a bit small for some of the items I have tried to place in it, sun glasses, pen light, etc). The only good use I have found for this pocket has been for my MP3 player. I also am not real fond of the zipper being on the side rather than the top as I fear that if I forget to zip it, or maybe just partially zip it, the contents might fall out.

What I have been especially fond of is the wide comfort range of the jacket. I have found the jacket to be comfortable at a wide range of temperatures and comfortable under a day or multi-day backpack, with no binding, snagging, or chafing. I have brushed against branches, some with thorns, and other items without any damage to the shell, suggesting that this jacket is more durable than its weight would suggest.

To summarize my usage so far, I REALY like this jacket. It is comfortable, durable, and versatile. Light enough and packs small enough to become a standard part of both my day and multi-day packs in all but the warmest conditions. Being resistant to wind and rain extends its usefulness even further, and being comfortable in warmer conditions as well as during exertion making it unnecessary to remove/don the jacket as often. If I were to suggest any improvements to the jacket, it would be to make the chest pocket a bit larger and place the zipper on the top of the pocket. I would also include pit zips. However since pit zips would negatively impact the weight and possibly compromise the insulation value, I can understand why the manufacturer may have chosen to not include this feature.

Likes:
  • Light weight
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
Dislikes:
  • Small chest pocket with side zip
  • No pit zips.


Long Term Report

Oct 4 2011
The unusually cold and wet spring/summer we experienced turned warm and dry soon after I posted my Field Report. Record high temperatures combined with an injury to my Achilles tendon left me with very few opportunities to wear the jacket after my third and final trip up Mt Adams (2 days), where three of us lead a group of 15 first time climbers. The conditions and locations were almost identical to the previous trip. It was warm and sunny during the day, around freezing at night and a bit of wind on the summit.

In preparation for writing this final installment of my report, I carefully examined the jacket looking for any signs of wear or damage. One thing of note is that since receiving the jacket I have spilled food/drink on it a few times. I noticed that staining it, and getting the shell material wet both resulted in a similar slight discoloring of the material, it appeared a bit darker. However, a quick trip through the clothes washer removed all indications of the stains. I have not abused this garment, but neither have I gone out of my way to protect it from the normal hazards of the back country (branches, thorns, dirt, sharp rocks, bacon grease, etc), but even after close examination, the jacket looks as good as new. I can find no indications of wear, discoloration, snags or loose threads or seams. Upon my initial examination of this product I got the impression it would be durable, but it has exceeded all my expectations.

As I write this, the short but unseasonably warm weather we have had is quickly tuning into winter, and as such I wore the jacket twice last week when I had to work nights, and brought it along (but did not wear it) on a cool evening bike ride. I am really looking forward to having this jacket as a standard part of my gear especially throughout the fall/winter/spring. In addition, I expect to get lots of use out of it over the next few months and hopefully years, in town as well as in the backcountry.

This concludes my  Report. I would like to thank the folks at Shirpa Adventure Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this fine jacket.

 



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Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Sherpa Adventure Vajra Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes



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