Sherpa Adventure Gear Vajra Jacket
lb (89.40 kg)
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).
|Shirpa Adventure Gear
|Not listed on manufacturer's web
14.3 oz (404. g)
|12.3 oz (350 g)
courtesy of Shirpa Adventure Gear
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
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)
May 19 2011
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
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.
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.
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”.
- Lightweight and packs down small (turns into a small pillow)
- Well designed/constructed
- Fits well
- Wind/ water resistant
- Not a big fan of the blue color, but no real dislikes so far
|Aug 2 2011
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Light weight
- Small chest pocket with side zip
- No pit zips.
|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.
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
I would like to thank the folks at Shirpa Adventure Gear
for the opportunity to test this fine jacket.