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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > EMS Thunderhead Rain Jacket > Owner Review by evan cook

December 04, 2007


NAME: Evan Cook
EMAIL: evan.cook AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 20
LOCATION: Gunnison, Colorado
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)
ARM LENGTH 28 inches (72 cm)
CHEST 33 inches (84 cm)

Backpacking Background: I have been backpacking for about 5 years. My past experience with hiking has been in the Adirondack mountains and currently in the Colorado Rockies. I mostly go on weekend hikes with the occasional week long trip in the summer. The terrain I cover is mostly mountainous. I usually day hike with a light pack carrying rain gear, water and food. When I go on longer overnight to multiday trips I carry a pack weighing 35-60 lbs (16-27 kg)


Manufacturer: Eastern Mountain Sports
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website:
Model: Thunderhead Rain Jacket
Fabric: EMS System Three
Size: Small
Available Sizes: s,m,l,xl
Color: Russet
Available Colors: Russet, Black, Orion, Vineyard
-Made in China
MSRP: $99.00
Listed Weight: 12.1 oz (343 g) for a large.
Measured Weight: 11.1 oz (315 g)

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This is EMS's summer backpacking/casual use rain jacket. This jacket has two large side pockets that are great for storing extra energy bars or whatever else I may want. There are pitzips which are great for core venting when things heat up. The hood has two drawstrings which are great for adjusting the hood, which can be used with a helmet. The brim of the hood is a nice extra. It helps keep the rain off my face. This jacket can be stuffed into one of the side pockets which is a nice feature. All the seams are taped and the zippers have storm flaps. There is also a drawstring for the waist which helps keep the wind out.

Size: I have a size small jacket and it fits snug. I can layer a midweight fleece under this jacket comfortably, but anything more than that is too much. My chest size is 33 inches (84 cm) and there is enough room in that area for movement. My arm length is 28 inches (72 cm) and the sleeve length of the jacket is 34 inches (86 cm), so the sleeves are a bit long, but this just allows for a greater range of movement.
Fabric Care: Machine wash cold, drip dry in shade. Low iron if needed.

My Camping Locations

Colorado Rockies
Mt. Elbert: I hiked Mt. Elbert with this jacket in May 07. The elevation ranged from 10,000 feet (3,048 m) to 14,433 feet (4,400 m). The temperature ranged from 20 F to 50 F (-7 C to 10 C). The winds gusted up to 20 mph (32 kilometers per hour). There was a rain snow mixture falling for about an hour. I was on the mountain for a day hike, and camped at the base for one night.

Mt. Crested Butte: I hiked Mt. Crested Butte in September 07. The elevation ranged from 9,375 feet (2856 m) to 12,162 feet (3,707 m). The temperature ranged from 30 F (-1 C) to 60 F (16 C). There was about two hours of light rain followed by a strong thunderstorm with brief heavy rain. I was on this mountain for a day hike.

Currently I do most of my hiking in the Gunnison Valley of Colorado. Here I do both day hikes and overnight trips.

Moab, Utah: I camped in and around Moab, UT for two weeks in May 07. The elevation was around 4,025 feet (1,227 m). The temperature ranged from 45 F (7 C) at night to 75 F (24 C) during the day. The average rain fall in Moab for May is .7 inch (1.8 cm).

Field Use

I have used this jacket many times hiking over the past year, but one of the most demanding was on Mt. Elbert in Colorado. The day started off with a wet rain/snow mix. I was hiking with a day pack on and traveling towards the summit. The light rain and snow lasted for about an hour. This jacket kept me bone dry. Then once we got above the tree line the wind began to pick up and the temperature dropped to about 20 F (-7 C). With this jacket on I only needed a light fleece on underneath to stay warm. This jacket blocked the wind and kept me warm and dry the whole time.

On Mt. Crested Butte I hiked in a light rain for two hours. During this time I had my day pack on. The jacket kept me dry, but I had to open the pitzips because perspiration began to build up inside my jacket. Around the summit a thunderstorm moved in. This was a brief, but intense storm. The rain fell hard for about five minutes. The jacket performed very well. I cinched down the hood and kept on hiking. The brim of the hood kept the rain from dripping on my face, which is a nice feature. This jacket held up and kept me dry and warm the whole time.

I also used this jacket when I camped in and around Moab, UT in May 07. I kept this jacket in my daypack for thunderstorms. During at least 5 of the days a thunderstorm rolled through camp just before dark. The rain only lasted a few minutes and then passed. This jacket worked well at keeping me dry. Every time I put this jacket on during this trip I had the pitzips open. This allowed me to vent and keep as cool as I could with a jacket on.

I used this jacket as a backup rain jacket on summer backpacking trips, as well as on some cold fall and spring days as a wind shell. I have been in some short bursts of rain, but no extended rain falls. For my use, this jacket has kept me warm and dry for the most part. The only thing I don't like is that if I wear this shell against my skin in warm weather, I get a clammy feeling. I believe this is because the jacket doesn't breath that well. To fix this problem I just open the pitzips. This seems to help control the climate inside the jacket and take away most of the clammy feeling.
The durability of this jacket is great so far. I have owned this jacket since April 07' and hiked with it about 20-30 days. Since then I have climbed a few mountains in Colorado with it along with some multi day hiking trips. I also use this jacket for around town wear when it is raining out. Overall I haven't noticed any major wear on this jacket.


Overall this jacket performed well. It does what a $100 rain jacket should do. I was impressed with the durability of the fabric, especially in cold weather. I think this is a great recreational rain jacket.


This Jacket performed very well. One of the useful features are the pit zips to control the temperature. The waterproofing on this jacket does its job and keeps me dry. This jacket also packs down into its own pocket so it's easy to stow in my pack.

Things I Don't Like

The zippers on this jacket get snagged a lot and are light weight. They could stand to be a little more user friendly. Also, this jacket doesn't breathe very well. It doesn't take much activity to get that clammy feeling under the jacket, but that's why there are pitzips.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > EMS Thunderhead Rain Jacket > Owner Review by evan cook

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