INTEGRAL DESIGNS EVENT RAIN JACKET
TEST SERIES BY JIM HATCH
March 20, 2007
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
5' 9" (1.75 m)
180 lb (81.60 kg)
18 in/46 cm
44 in/112 cm
36 in/91 cm
38 in/97 cm
I've been backpacking and camping for 30 years (ever since I was a Boy Scout). I'm out once a month for a weekend or more and for 5 nights or more, 2 or 3 times during the year. Most of my backpacking is done in the mountains of the East Coast (Appalachians, Whites, Berkshires, Adirondacks) but I will occasionally camp as far south as the Florida Keys or as far west as the Grand Canyon. Having tired of 60 lb (27 kg) loads, I caught the lightweight bug about 5 years ago and am currently carrying a base pack weight of less than 10 lbs (4.5 kg) before food and fuel and rarely venture out with more than 20 lbs (9 kg) anymore. I am now trying to develop a low-volume style to go with the lightweight nature of my gear.
PRODUCT INFO & SPECS
Manufacturer: Integral Designs
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: Integral Designs
MSRP: $200.00 US
Listed Weight (Size L): 12.5 oz (354 g)
Measured Weight (Size L): 11.4 oz (323 g)
Other details: Includes zippered "Silcoat StuffSack" (0.4 oz/11 g)
Size: Large 42 - 44" (107 - 112 cm) chest
Colors: Black, Dark Green (I've got the dark green)
The eVENT Cruiser Jacket is from Integral Designs' (ID) "Fast + Light Gear" line of products; in this case the Wind & Rain Gear. According to ID's website, the Cruiser is a "practical, comfortable and stylish eVENT jacket" with a "full length waterproof front zip", 2 zippered hand pockets, no hood, and made of seam taped eVENT fabric.
The jacket has "raglan sleeves". This is a sleeve construction method where the sleeve reaches all the way to the neck rather than ending in a seam at the shoulder. This gives the jacket a looser fit than a traditional "inset" sleeve which makes it free-flowing without being baggy. They're pretty common in other sportswear like baseball style (3/4 length sleeve) T-shirts. A raglan sleeve is easier to sew than the typical sleeve as it is only one piece with a seam that runs straight from the underarm to the neck rather than curving around an armhole. The Cruiser uses a modification of this style that has the sleeve panel's lower seam run nearly straight across the body of the jacket meeting its mate in the center of the back (or the zipper on the front).
|Raglan sleeve construction|
Easier to sew usually means "cheaper" to make, but in the case of the Cruiser, the other benefit of this sleeve type is probably why Integral Designs selected it. The looser fit provides a wider underarm area which allows freer movement of the arms and room for layers worn comfortably underneath. This is a key feature in a multi-season rain jacket. The jacket fits nicely over a shirt for warmer weather while also fitting well over a sweatshirt or fleece...or both at the same time.
This fit allows the jacket to be used as a standalone jacket or as the top layer of a layering system. Fortunately (?) it began raining for two days right after the jacket arrived so I've already worn mine in temps down to freezing (0 C) and in light rain in the mid-40s F (7 C) without being cold (or wet). Being waterproof, it is also windproof so it makes a fine windbreaker.
In addition to the raglan sleeve design, a couple of other construction features are somewhat different than I expected. The eVENT fabric is a new "tri-laminate breathable" nylon. This is supposed to allow the jacket to breathe without letting water & wind in. The seams are all taped inside to prevent air/water leakage at these potentially vulnerable points. The seam tape is 3/4" (1.9 cm) wide centered over the lapped (flat) sewn seam and appears to be fused to the jacket lining.
The lining itself is a silvery material that is itself fused to the outer layer of the 40 denier nylon fabric. The breathable layer is sandwiched in between. There is absolutely no slippage between the inner & outer layers which bodes well for its continued waterproof performance.
|Lining and seam construction|
The outer shell is a soft and smooth dark green without a noticeable sheen or fabric texture. Five panels of this material are used to make the jacket - 1 for the back, 2 sleeves, 2 front panels three-quarters the length of the front. This results in only a half-dozen seams on the jacket body (plus one each forming the bottom of the sleeve). This reduces the potential places where water might leak in. The zipper too, is fully waterproofed and when closed has a near-invisible seam between the two sides. The pockets, while using standard zippers have a placket over each to shed water. The front zipper tab has a fabric pull attached that is 2" (5 cm) long - long enough to grasp easily with gloves (yes, it's been that cold here already).
Unfortunately, this is all topped off by a flat collar without a hood. Without a hood it's possible for rain to run down the neck and into the jacket. This can be prevented by wearing a full-brimmed hat -- no baseball caps need apply. However, I do like the complete coverage of a hood; but only when I'm using it. When the skies are clear, I hate having a hood flap on my back and prefer the type that roll into the collar. Oh well, call me conflicted.
The wrist cuffs and body hem of the jacket are Lycra bound cuffs. These are ribbed fabric bindings like those used on T-shirts or other sports shirts. They aren't terribly elasticized so there is some looseness between the sleeve cuff and my wrist -- about 1 finger's thickness the width of my wrist. The problem with these is that they allow water to run down my hand into the jacket and then down my arm if my hands are raised and holding something wet (like a branch). Once they get wet, the cuffs tend to stay wet for hours which is somewhat uncomfortable. Likewise the hem is loose and does not cinch with a drawcord as there's no drawcord.
The rear of the jacket is cut about 3" (7.6 cm) longer than the front. This insures that the back stays covering my butt without getting in the way in the front. It keeps the jacket tucked behind my pack without riding up and lets me bend over without exposing my belt and pants waistband to water incursion. Nice feature.
TRYING IT OUT
I've been wearing the jacket for nearly a week now. I figure since the manufacturer says that this jacket will meet my needs "whether at work or at play", I'd start out with the work part. It will also expose the jacket to more wear and tear than the dozen nights I'll likely use it on the trail over the next few months. I also find that I tend to wear my "backpacking" clothes in my everyday activities too. So anything I wear on the trail is going to get worn during the week anyway. I expect I'm not alone in doing this.
As I noted, it rained for the first couple of days. Since I was basically going from the house or office to the car and back as well as wandering the occasional parking lot looking for my car, the rain exposure wasn't enormous but it did provide some initial confidence in the waterproofness. Rain just beaded right up on the fabric of the jacket. Nothing soaked through.
A little chilly last night so I wore a fleece underneath the Cruiser. That let me check the fit and feel of the jacket over a fleece. Even with a little wind, I didn't feel chilled despite the 40 F (4 C) temps. While I was "playing" I figured I'd check the fit over my Marmot Down Sweater. This is a fairly puffy "sweater" with full sleeves and front zipper (I hate pullovers). Again the Cruiser fit well. One nice thing is that even though there's plenty of room for layers underneath the jacket, when I'm wearing it alone, it's doesn't look or feel like I'm swimming in it. I take that to be a result of the raglan sleeve construction.
A brief overnight trip into the woods gave me a chance to give a quick check to the breathability claims. A short 5 mile (8 km) hike and high 60s F temps (20 C) left me warm but not sweaty. I unzipped the jacket, took it off in fact for the climbs, but put it back on at the top of the ridges (1,500 ft/457 m). The windproofing of the jacket was really appreciated then. I took another face plant coming down from the ledges (did that last week too - gotta remember the poles next time) onto leaf covered granite rock outcroppings but everything except my knee and forehead came out okay. No abrasions, no tears.
I did find during some drizzly rain at night that the wristcuffs could really use a bit more elastic. As I mentioned, there's a bit of looseness there and sure enough, reaching overhead pushing aside some rainy wet branches led to a stream of water running down my arm into my pits. Yuck! Cold too!
The jacket alone was good at turning aside the rain and wind but at temps below 40 F (4 C) I was glad to have the fleece underlayer. It got cold at night, right around freezing based on the frost and light ice in the standing water in the morning, but once I got moving, I was warm as toast. A quick couple mile (3 km) hike out to the road and another 4 (6.4 km) on the road got me back to the car and on my way home warm but not wet.
So far I'd say the jacket's a nice piece of work. The fit and finish are excellent and the construction lends itself to comfortable use whether I'm hiking or working around the house so far. I'm a little disappointed about the sleeve cuffs and the lack of a hood, but on the whole I'm impressed. We'll see what the next four months of use bring. I'm an inveterate winter camper (no bugs, fewer people, quiet environments) so I'll be using it as my primary top layer. When it's cold I'll use a fleece or down jacket underneath so it should see lots of exposure to the elements. When forced to occupy the "real world" I'll be using it as my primary jacket for most of the next couple of months; at least until it gets to be routinely sub-freezing.
Things I'd like to see on this jacket:
2) Elasticized cuffs
3) Pit zips
Things I like so far:
1) Waterproof & windproof
2) Light weight
3) Fit & finish
4) Longer tail of the jacket back
FIELD LOCATIONS & WEATHER
Since my Initial Report on this jacket in November, I have been wearing the Cruiser Jacket pretty much nonstop in my daily "real life", two dayhikes, and two overnight backpacking trips. All of these have been in the Connecticut and Massachusetts Berkshire areas where terrain ranges from flatlands at 500 ft (152 m) to mountainous peaks up to 2,346 ft (715 m). A couple of months ago I was thinking about how it got cold early (freezing) but then El-Nino or something kicked in and we've had nothing but warmer than normal temps.
That has proven to be beneficial in two respects - no snow (none, not a trace...we're a couple of feet/60 cm below normal) and relatively warm weather that has allowed me to wear the Cruiser everyday. Until this last week, our lows weren't often much below freezing and our high temps have reached 72(!) F (22 C). What should have been several feet (nearly a meter) of snow has been rain instead. This has proven perfect weather for testing this jacket.
Although I haven't worn it yet in the snow, it has seen more than a dozen rainstorms of varying intensity as well as the daily grind of casual outerwear.
So, how has the jacket performed after more than 40 days of wear?
Without a doubt, I am impressed by this jacket. It shows no signs of wear and has not been damaged in a couple of falls onto rocky ground (so who invented gravity anyway?). Nor has it gotten snagged and suffered any fabric pulls or tears from a number of encounters with pricker bushes I have encountered in the woods. Also, although I haven't washed it (does wearing it in the rain count?), there is no discernible dirtiness to the fabric. The cuffs & waist bindings have not pilled, pulled or stretched out. Basically, it looks and wears pretty much the same as when I got it. Maybe a little softer & more flexible, but that could just as well be my imagination.
I did find a good reason for the slightly open wrists I commented on earlier -- when wearing light gloves or glove liners, the sleeves fit nicely over the glove without binding or chafing. With gloves on wet cuffs don't seem to bother me and water won't run down my arm as it did in my earlier experience - the gloves stop the water.
I am now ambivalent as to whether I'd prefer a more snug fitting wrist for all the time or the looser fit for when I wear gloves. Both alternatives have benefits so I appreciate the dilemma the designer faced.
When it has gotten cold (freezing or below) I have been wearing the Cruiser over my Marmot Down Sweater. The combination provides a perfect water and windproof shell with a warm inner layer. I have been comfortable wearing this both from a movement/binding perspective as well as a warm/dry one. The Cruiser/Sweater combination has kept me warm all the way down to today's 20 F (-6.7 C) windy (25 mph/40 kph speeds) weather-I wasn't chilled in any way so I expect this combination has more downward range to go. Winter has finally arrived but I'm taking it in stride.
I have to echo my previous comments about this jacket. I like the weight (light), the long tail, the water & windproof fabric and the fit & finish. Its performance has been top-notch. The things I had an earlier issue with haven't really been much of a problem since - I'm more careful when raising my arms in the rain and I haven't seen any real need for pit zips. I'd still like to see a hood that rolls into the collar but understand the weight that would add - weight I wouldn't necessarily mind.
I really like the fact that I can stop carrying my rain jacket. I have traditionally tried to make rain jackets do double-duty as a windshell but have found lightweight ones to have durability problems when worn on a frequent basis. The Cruiser has none of the durability problems I've had with my other lightweight rain jackets and is a remarkably sturdy piece of gear.
Fundamentally though, it all comes down to the fact that despite showers, mists, and downpours I've had NO LEAKS! That's really what it's all about for me. Raingear that performs.
LONG-TERM TEST CONDITIONS
Since my last report, winter arrived with a vengeance...well maybe a fit of pique. But it did arrive. We've had 3 snowstorms (really not that much considering) including one that preceded my annual dogsled race outing. We went out after the snowfall and temps were in the low 20s F (-6 to -5 C) with a brisk wind but sunny skies. The Cruiser accompanied me as my shell over my down sweater. Perfectly comfortable for the daytime events - but replaced later that night by a bulkier down jacket and a mug of cocoa clutched in my hands. Later that night the temps went down to 8 F (-13 C) as I snuggled in my mummy bag.
Two other overnight trips, and a couple of day hikes brought sun and cold weather (the cold became a fixture from mid-January onwards) that rarely made it above freezing during the day and routinely flirted with nosehair freezing temps at night (that would be temps below 10 F/-12 C). On a couple of occasions we had rain that hit the ground as sleet & ice as it made its way from warmer temps at cloud level down to the sub-freezing temps on the ground.
All the trips this year were confined to the foothills of the Berkshires in Connecticut and southern Massachusetts.
Whether snow or rain/sleet/hail, the Cruiser has kept me dry from external precipitation induced wetness. Now it's been four months without washing so I've been watching to see if body oils, sweat, or general grime had compromised its water & windproof qualities. I'm happy to report that it still (as recently as this weekend) sheds rain as it did when I first got it. It also still sheds snow (again as recently as this weekend when we picked up 8 in/20 cm of snow and a reported 1 in/2.5 cm of sleet).
It may be the jacket, or it may just be the amount of time I've spent out in the rain, but the fabric is still crisp and clean. It hasn't needed (and still doesn't) any washing so I've not done that. In addition to my camping experiences, I wore this jacket daily around town until the first week of February and then pulled it back out for my last camping trip at the beginning of March so it's definitely gotten a lot of miles on it. The green color seems to be perfect for either hiding or shedding dirt and the eVENT fabric doesn't seem to hold smells (like body odor or campfire smoke).
Some other things I have been watching but haven't been an issue were the wrist cuffs - they've not stretched any larger than when I first got the jacket and I'm not getting water in my armpits either (probably because I don't hold my arms above my head without gloves on so the water doesn't run down my arms anymore). The zipper tabs are still sturdily attached and were no problems with the gloves I wore.
The only nit I can pick is the main zipper. On occasion it is difficult to zip all the way up. The very close tolerances and the waterproof coating sometimes combine to make it a rough pull. Simply pulling the slider back down below the point it became difficult to pull upward is generally sufficient to restore smooth zipping action.
So what's my overall impression after wearing this jacket for the past several months? All thumbs up so to speak. The jacket does exactly what it advertises. It is windproof, rainproof, and a fine addition to my gear closet. Although to be honest, it doesn't spend much time in the closet. It is an excellent piece of crossover gear that has found a place in my daily activities as well. I no longer carry a separate shell or rain jacket when backpacking and wear it around town without looking like a refugee from a campfire. All in all, I am very pleased with the Cruiser.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
What do I like best?
1) The performance - keeps me dry from external wetness and seems to breathe so I don't bathe in my own sweat.
2) The comfort - the soft feel of the fabric with a hint of crispness keeps its shape while being ultra-comfy.
3) Wind/waterproofness - did I mention the performance of these features?
4) Snagless, tearless fabric - after 4 months still no abrasions, tears, or fabric pulls!
What am I less happy about?
1) Lack of hood...but I like the weight without a hood...I really am conflicted.
2) Sometimes sticky or rough pulling (on the up pull) main zipper.
3) Wrist elastic - yeah, the cuffs are a little looser than I'd usually prefer but after my first couple of experiences with water running down my arms, they've not really been a problem.
This concludes the test series (but not my use) of the eVENT Cruiser jacket. I want to thank Integral Designs and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test it.
Read more reviews of Integral Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by Jim Hatch