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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Cedar Tree Industries The Packa > Test Report by Shelley LaClair

CEDAR TREE - PACKA
TEST SERIES BY SHELLEY LACLAIR

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Shelley LaClair
EMAIL: adkhiker (at) gmail (dot) com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Rensselaer , New York
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have been backpacking since 2000, hold a New York State Guide License and am also a "lean-to adopter" for the Adirondack Mountain Club. I have completed several long distance thru-hikes including the Northville-Placid Trail, New York; Long Trail, Vermont; the Cohos Trail, New Hampshire and the Wonderland Trail, Washington.


INITIAL REPORT

May 31, 2009

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Cedar Tree
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.thepacka.com
MSRP: US $110 + $5 shipping and handling
Size: One size - M/L
Listed Weight: 13 oz (369 g)
Measured Weight: 12.8 oz (363 g)
Color: Grey (Olive Green also available)

Other details:
    One Piece jacket/pack cover.
    33D nylon ripstop 1200mm Sil/PU fabric.
    Pit Zips
    Zipper Front
    Taped seams

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The gear arrived and was neatly folded and protected with a clear plastic bag. The Packa was folded inside its own mesh pocket.
Self PocketPacka Zipper Stowed
Mesh Self Stow Pocket
 
 
Packa stow
Pulling Packa out of self stow pocket.

The Cedar Tree Packa is a lightweight rain jacket and backpack rain cover that are attached together. The back of the jacket has a draw cord with a barrel toggle to tighten the pack cover around the backpack. The jacket, when not in use, tucks up between the backpack and the cover. The material is soft to the touch.

My initial impression was that the fabric smelled just like my tent. I have a Big Agnes tent and the material of the Packa is made from the same material, right down to the extra large noseeum mesh pocket for storage. The smell did fade as it was left out of the plastic bag for a while. The size is listed M/L and is very big on me. I like it though because it covers my upper legs well and easily protects my backpack. The manufacturer states that they do make the Packa large so it will vent easier.

The Packa is made with waterproof, 33D nylon ripstop 1200mm Sil/PU fabric and the seams are taped to further waterproof the Packa. The jacket's hood has a semi-stiff piece of plastic inside the bill area to help keep the water off the face. There is a draw cord with two toggles that allows the hood to be tightened as needed around my face.

A front zipper runs the length of the jacket with a flap to protect the zipper so rain will not seep in. Both sleeve cuffs and the bottom of the jacket also have draw cords with toggles to help tighten and keep the wind and rain out. There is only one pocket but it's a big one! It is also used to store the Packa when not in use and the website suggests it could also be used as a pillow once the Packa is stowed it its pocket.

The pack cover is attached in the back and there is a draw cord that cinches around the backpack to keep it secure and adjust to difference sized backpacks. Even though the Packa is large on me, I am able to use all of the cinch features and it fits comfortably.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

No instructions came with the Packa but the manufacturer's website had a video I reviewed. It was simple to figure out how to put the Packa on my backpack. It went on just as a regular backpack rain cover does. The only difference is that the jacket is attached too! The jacket needs to be unzipped before putting onto the backpack and then the jacket is tucked up underneath the backpack cover when it is not raining.

TRYING IT OUT

I received the Packa on a Friday and put it to use on a hiking trip of three days. Since there was no rain the first day, I just used it as a backpack cover. I currently have a 3650-4250 cubic inch pack (60 L - 70 L). It fit nicely on the backpack and I could snug it up with a draw cord to tighten it further.

Back
Pack cover

When I put on the rain jacket, the HUGE pit zips really helped me maintain my overall body temperature. I did not get as hot as I normally do when I wear a conventional rain jacket with my pack. The beauty of the Packa is that the pit zips are very large and the Packa goes over the backpack and my backpack straps. The rain jacket is not trapped under the straps therefore there is much more air circulation under the jacket which helps wick away moisture.

On Sunday it did rain and I was easily able to pull out the rain jacket from underneath the pack cover. It was wonderful putting on the jacket with my backpack still on and watching the rest of my party take off their backpacks, find their rain gear, put it on and then strap their backpack on. For the first time in my life, I was actually ahead of the gang and was waiting for them. That doesn't happen often!

When we hit the summit of Dix Mountain in the Adirondack Park, New York State, I had the pit zips wide open but the front zipped up. A strong wind blew into the pit zip area and I looked like I was a muscle man with over-sized arms. The guys had a good laugh at my expense and I easily zipped up the pit zips half way and I was no longer puffing up nor did I feel like I was going to blow away. I was immediately warmer and more comfortable in the cold wet wind. I have to say so far I really like the size of the pit zips for keeping me comfortable.

Packa on
Summit of Dix Mountain, Adirondack Mountains, New York, USA

Even with the rain I had no water down my neck or back as I usually do when I hike in a conventional rain jacket. The backpack stayed super-dry. At the end of the day I put the Packa on the backpack and wrapped the rain jacket portion over the front of the pack. It stayed nice and dry overnight. I didn't have to use the huge plastic garbage bag I usually carry to put over my pack at night to keep it dry.

SUMMARY

My initial impression of the Packa is that is is well made and thought out. The large pit zips seems to really help me from over-heating while wearing the jacket portion. My backpack should stay drier since everything including the straps will be protected from the rain.

I look forward to testing this further.


FIELD REPORT

August 9, 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

In early July 2009, I went hiking in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The terrain was fairly flat with gradual elevation loss and gains of approximately 800 ft (244 m). The weather was warm and sunny and temperatures ranged from 72 F - 76 F (22 C - 24 C) during the day. The day was interspersed with rain showers throughout the day.  One rain shower turned into a full out rain storm with heavy downpour for approximately 1 hour.

Also in early July, we hiked several Adirondack Mountains with elevations reaching 4200 ft (1280 m). The weather was wet and cool with temperatures ranging from 63F - 70F (17C - 21C). The trails were steep and there was a lot of rock scrabbling and grabbing of tree roots to get up and down the trails.

July 20 - August 2, 2009 was spent backpacking in Washington State, USA. We hiked the 93 mile (150 km) Wonderland Trail that circles the base of Mt. Rainier. The trails are in excellent and groomed condition and daily elevation losses and gains of over 3,500 feet (1067 m) are common. Now, we all know Seattle and Washington are rainy, right? Well, not for us. It was hot and sunny all the way with temperatures hitting 87 F (30 C) in the shade. We had only one afternoon of light rain showers and we were done hiking for the day.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During my hikes in the Adirondack Mountains I was able to really test the Packa. In preparation of the rain that was in the forecast, I had the Packa over my backpack with the jacket portion stowed under the pack cover portion. The rain showers came and went sporadically and I was able to pull the jacket out and wear it as needed. I had my husband time me from when I started to pull the jacket portion from under the pack cover to when I had it on and zippered. It took approximately 30 seconds to get the jacket on, zipped and the hood up.

My husband who had his rain jacket in his pack decided to go without wearing it. That turned out to be a mistake. The next rain shower that came turned into a deluge of rain. After about 30 seconds, I was snug and dry in my Packa while he was dripping wet and looking miserable.

With the heavy rain I tested how the Packa would function with the large pit zips wide open. I did find that water got into the jacket so I zipped the pit zips up most of the way just leaving a little ventilation under my armpit. This prevented water from getting into the jacket. My back and the pack stayed dry from the rain. It was a really nice treat to pick the pack up and not have the back and the straps soaking wet from the rain.

At one point the sun and rain were getting into a little cycle so I just left the jacket portion hanging outside of my pack to let the water drip off of the jacket while it wasn't raining. When I did stow the jacket under the under the pack cover portion of the Packa it stayed damp until I took it off the pack and hung it in the lean-to to dry. The drying time was good as there was a slight breeze.

During my hike when I backpacking in a full pack up and down the Adirondacks Mountains, I put it through a thorough "stress test". There was a lot of butt sliding down steep rocks where the Packa was abraded by the rock. A few tiny holes were formed during this on the bottom of the pack cover. I have not repaired them and it has not been an issue in keeping the contents of my pack dry. I also fought with lots of very close trails where pine tree and cedar tree branches were grabbing at our clothes. The Packa withstood the scratchy limbs very well.

During my hike in Washington State on the Wonderland Trail, we had sunny hot weather. I did not need to have the Packa on my backpack as I hiked. I stowed the Packa in my backpack by stuffing it in any available place I had. It compacted well and I felt it was light enough to carry even though I did not have to use it in the rain while hiking. At night I used the Packa by wrapping the entire thing around my backpack. This helped keep the dew off at night.

The one day that it did rain we were all set up in camp and I had the Packa securely positioned over my backpack that was sitting on the ground. My pack stayed perfectly dry and the Packa let the rain bead right off of it. I just shook out the Packa and hung it on a tree limb to dry. It did not take long to dry.

I also wore the Packa as just a rain jacket. It did not rain hard but it kept me dry. I won't be making a fashion statement in it but the Packa is functional. I put my sister-in-law's sweater in the big side pocket to keep dry. It worked very well.

SUMMARY

I like the Packa. I find although I don't look great in it I do LOVE the functionality of the combined pack cover/jacket. I would like to see a small patch kit come with the Packa just in case of abrasion holes or a small tear from rough wear. A tent patch kit will take care of any holes I might have.

Thank you to Cedar Tree and BGT for allowing me to test this gear. I expect that the summer and fall will continue to be rainy and there will be plenty more opportunities to test the Packa. Please check back for my final report in October.


 

LONG TERM REPORT

October 13, 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS 

During August, I took two multi-day trips to the lean-to my husband and I adopted in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, New York State. The trail is about 7.5 miles (12 km) one way. The trail runs through a valley with gradual inclines/declines, with lots of mud, rocks and wet areas to navigate.

The weather was temperate with daytime temperatures between 70 F – 74 F (21 C – 23C). On the first trip in early August, the weather was partly sunny with scattered rain showers. During the second trip, it was mostly sunny with no precipitation.

I was only able to test the Packa for the long-term report during my early August trip as the weather was just too nice for me to use it on the second trip.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the second week in August I was able to test the effectiveness of the Cedar Tree Packa. Although it did not rain hard, it was drizzling enough to make me wet. I had previously put the Packa on my backpack and I was ready in case of rain. It only took me about 30 - 40 seconds to pull out the jacket from under the pack cover and get it over my shoulders and zipped up.

I was hiking in an area of the trail where there is a long steady incline. The pit zips were halfway open and the ventilation was fair. I did find that my forearms got wet from sweating. The pit zips did not help alleviate this problem. I opened the cuff area a bit to try to get some ventilation but I was still pretty damp.

The material is totally waterproof and non-breathable. My torso doesn’t really get too wet from sweat because of the pit zips. With this being said, if I am walking in a downpour and cannot open the pit zips I do get damp from my own sweat.

The material held up fairly well during the entire testing period. The only damage came from sliding down on my behind on some rocky areas. The rock surface put small abrasion holes on the back of the jacket beneath the pack cover portion. 

SUMMARY

Overall I really like the Packa. I found it convenient to have the pack cover on and the rain jacket portion tucked up underneath the pack cover ready for use. When it rained I did not need to pull off my backpack but handily un-tucked the jacket and slipped it on. It felt pretty good to be the first one in my rain gear while my hiking partners scrambled to pull their pack off, put their rain jacket on, and then put the backpack on. Meanwhile, I waited for them to be ready. This is a rare thing for sure!

The material that is used is non-breathable but is totally waterproof. The extra large pit zips help with ventilation but my forearms got wet from the inside due to sweating. The BEST part of the Packa is that my back stayed totally dry during a downpour. No more rain getting the straps and backpack wet. With the Packa there is no separation between the jacket and the backpack so both my pack and I stayed dry.

I would recommend this to my friends with the caution that they look at the size of their backpack and determine if it will fit inside the pack cover. My husband’s larger backpack did not fit the pack cover.

I would like to see a patch kit included with the Packa to take care of small tears or holes due to harsh use. Finally, I would like to see the jacket in different sizes such as small, medium and large, and maybe different size pack covers for larger capacity backpacks.

This concludes the test series.

Thank you again to Cedar Trees and BGT for allowing me to test this great item.

 

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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