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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Hi-Tec Sports Cloud Chaser Shell > Test Report by Lori Pontious

Hi-Tec Cloud Chaser Shell
Test Series by Lori Pontious

INITIAL REPORT - March 24, 2012
FIELD REPORT - June 5, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - July 31, 2012


Tester Information

NAME: Lori Pontious
EMAIL: lori.pontious (at) gmail.com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Fresno County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5'7" (1.7 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (75 kg)

I've backpacked, camped and fished all over the lower 48 states with my family as a kid, and then life happened. I've restarted these activities about four years ago - I dayhike or backpack 2-6 times a month. I am between light and ultralight. I have a hammock system and own a Tarptent. My base weight depends upon season and where I go.


Product Information


IMAGE 1
image courtesy of Hi-Tec Sports Ltd
Manufacturer: Hi-Tec Sports Ltd
Manufacturer URL: www.hi-tec.com
Listed Weight: not listed
Actual Weight: 14 oz (397 g)
Color: Dover
Size: medium
Sizes Available: small, medium, large, XL
Colors Available: Black, Dover, Haze/November, Sprout/November
Material: 100% Polyester Ripstop
MSRP:
$109.95


Initial Report

Product Description

The Hi-Tec Cloud Chaser Shell (also "the shell," or "the jacket") is advertised to be a waterproof/breathable rain shell made of 2.5 layer 100% polyester ripstop. The jacket is also seam sealed. There are two hand warmer pockets with zippers and a chest pocket with a waterproof zipper. Two zippers in the armpits (pit zips) provide ventilation for the torso; there are two zipper pulls on each zipper, letting me unzip them from top or bottom. The hood rolls away into the collar.

IMAGE 1 IMAGE 2

The jacket is well constructed with no visible flaws in the material or the seams. There are drawcords at the waist and neck. The hood has an elastic cord and a short shank of what feels like wire in the brim. The back of the hood features a strip of hook and loop to adjust the hood further to the contours of the head. As you can see in the above pictures, the hood can be rolled or folded then fastened into the back of the collar by means of more hook and loop strips. Down the front zipper, there are additional strips of hook and loop at regular intervals to keep the storm flap closed over the zipper. The cuffs have a hybrid elastic and hook and loop closure, to keep them snug around the wrists.

FIT:

Trying on the jacket, I find that it fits snugly when I adjust the cuffs and fasten all the hook and loop closures. It is comfortable to wear, and lightweight. The fabric of the jacket, Hi-Tec's proprietary waterproof, breathable laminate, feels rough to my touch. The interior of the jacket is a dark shiny gray.

CARE:

The tag instructs me to machine wash cold gentle, and tumble dry low; the jacket should not be dry cleaned. The manufacturer's website further recommends that powdered detergent free of bleach be used on all Dri-Tec apparel and to rinse well, and to dry on medium heat in the dryer. The website further mentions that care should be taken when using commercial dryers to not melt the jacket.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

The Cloud Chaser Shell fits me well and so far meets my expectations for quality and construction. I note that on a sewn-in tag there is further information informing me that it is waterproof to 3,000 mm and breathable 3,000 g/m. This doesn't tell me a lot and there's no literature with the jacket to help me understand it, so I turned to my friend Google, and referenced some fabric websites to glean further awareness. From my reading I found that a jacket's waterproof rating is for the fabric, not the jacket as a whole, and refers to the amount of water a garment can withstand in 24 hours before it leaks. So the 3,000 mm refers to the Dri-Tec fabric of the Cloud Chaser being able to take 3,000 m of water (or, 10 feet of rain) before it leaks. Zippers and seams are weak points in the jacket, thus the seam taping becomes necessary. As for the breathability rating, 3,000 g/m refers to the amount of vapor a square inch of the fabric will allow to pass through it in 24 hours. How does that translate into my comfort? Heck, I'm not even sure after finding out what the numbers mean, but I anticipate that it means I should be able to stay dry in precipitation while not getting soaked with sweat due to hiking with it on.

FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions

Henry Coe State Park, Morgan Hill, California, USA, March 30 - April 1. Temperature Range: 40 - 60 F (4 - 15 C)

Pinnacles National Monument, Paicines, California, USA, April 27 - 28. Temperature Range: 45 - 75 F (7 - 24 C)

Laurel Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, USA, May 5 - 6. Temperature Range: 45 - 80 F (7 - 27 C)

Kibbie and Eleanor Lakes, Yosemite National Park, California, USA, May 26 - 28. Temperature Range: 30 - 52 F (-1 - 11 C)

Jennie Lake, Sequoia National Forest, California, USA, June 2 - 3. Temperature Range: 40 - 80 F (4 - 27 C)

Field Report

I took the jacket for four overnight outings totaling two nights of car camping and six nights of backpacking. On my trips to Henry Coe and to Kibbie Lake, I wore the jacket while hiking due to ongoing rain and snow.

At Henry Coe we trekked up and down steep hills while the rain fell and clouds drifted over the ridge tops as we hiked on them. I unzipped the pit zips but zipped the front of the jacket. This did not keep my clothes dry. By the time we got to our camp for the night, my shirt was soaked. I was warm, however, and that was important as we were definitely out in hypothermia weather. The hood was snug and yet fit over the top of my big-brimmed hat, letting me keep my hat on to shield my face somewhat in the heavy rain.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went with some of my backpacking group to Kibbie Lake, and then to Eleanor Lake. The weatherman lied, and instead of breaking off, it continued to snow on us for most of our first day out, until we turned and went to a lower elevation. Then it rained. I wore the Cloud Chaser all day and had less difficulty with damp clothing than before, probably because I was not hiking as hard and because the temperatures were significantly cooler than at Henry Coe.

While in motion I found that the jacket did not restrict my movement at all. I thought that the adjustable cuffs were beneficial for keeping rain out of my sleeves. The jacket did keep me warm while temperatures dropped, and when less active it keeps me dry.

While on my last outing with the jacket, I was packing it and noticed a tear on the inside of the jacket. It's an unusual place - where the pocket is sewn to the jacket, part of the inner layer has torn free.

IMAGE 3

I'm not sure how this happened, other than to guess that being stuffed into the full pack without being tucked into its own pocket may have stressed the area. I haven't carried a lot of heavy items in the pocket or done anything else that might have pulled at it in such a way to cause this.

I've gotten the jacket a little dirty on my last trip; there are smudges from when I brushed up against a burnt tree, and some scuffs here and there. I will wash it this week before my next outing.

IMAGE 4
Wearing the jacket at the start of a rainy day at Henry Coe State Park

I will have to wait and see whether the small tear affects the waterproofness of the jacket. I don't believe it will cause me too much trouble, unless it gets bigger.



LONG TERM REPORT

Field Conditions

John Muir Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Park, Central Sierra Nevada, California, USA, July 21 - 29. Temperature Range: 40 - 80 F (4 - 27 C)

Long Term Report

The good news: the small tear has not become a problem during this phase of testing.

I took the jacket on many day hikes and all overnight trips during this period, but the above nine day outing was the only trip on which I experienced significant rain to result in my needing to wear the jacket. It's been warm, so I have not needed the Cloud Chaser as an outer layer.

While camped in Evolution Valley, my friends and I experienced a downpour of significance. We were out in a meadow when it struck, and rather than pile in the tent (and taking in a gallon or two with me) I stood under a pine tree and watched nature's show. The lightning and thunder were awesome - at one point all three of us jumped off the ground when the thunder cracked, thinking trees were falling or rocks coming down. It poured and hailed for an hour straight, and two of us braved the downpour to dredge trenches around our tents out of concern that the water running down the hill into the campsite would swamp them! I had a stream running beneath one end of mine that must have been two inches deep.

At the end of the show, the clouds broke off and the sun came out to give us a beautiful sunset. And then I had to change into my dry base layer. All my clothes were soaked completely - despite having worn the Cloud Chaser. Which was also soaked! It weighed a lot more than when the rain storm started. I was dismayed and puzzled. My backup plan for the trip was making a rain shirt out of a trash bag I'd been using to line the backpack. The Cloud Chaser was one of many items we dried on the rocks the following day (there was more hail and rain in the morning) and I packed it in the bottom of the pack for the rest of the trip, frustrated that what I had thought was a rain jacket was now dead weight.

Once home I re-read the care instructions and could not understand. Had I washed it wrong the week before the trip, destroying the waterproofness of it? I didn't think so. I'd used a very mild soap, washed it on gentle, and hadn't even put it in the dryer for fear the tumbling would tear the jacket further. I am at a loss. However, it is unlikely that I will be taking it out with me again, since I need something to keep me dry. Had I been hiking at the time I might have mistook the wetness for sweat - except that the jacket itself was heavy and sodden.



Likes:
* Comfortable
* True to size
* Light weight

Dislikes:
* Using it at warmer temperatures results in damp clothing
* Soaked through when I really needed it

Thanks to Hi-Tec Sports Ltd and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to try out the Cloud Chaser Shell. This concludes my test series for this jacket.



Read more reviews of Hi-Tec gear
Read more gear reviews by Lori Pontious

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Hi-Tec Sports Cloud Chaser Shell > Test Report by Lori Pontious



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