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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Integral Designs eVENT Cruiser Jacket > Jim Sabiston > Test Report by Jim Sabiston > Test Report by jim Sabiston


Integral Designs eVENT Cruiser Jacket 
Cruiser Jacket - mfg

Photo courtesy Integral Designs

Date: November 2, 2006

Reviewer Information:

Name: Jim Sabiston
Age: 52
Height: 6' 3" (1.90 m)
Weight: 210 lb (94 kg)
Email address: JimSabis(at)aol(dot)com
State: New York
Country: USA

Backpacking Background:

I've been camping since my teens. My outdoor activities include backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking, snowshoeing, mountaineering and cross country skiing. I have expanded my backpacking to include winter mountaineering, back country skiing and ski backpacking. I have received winter mountaineering training with Chauvin International Climbing Guides. I actively study ways to backpack lighter and more efficiently. During the summer months, my style tends toward very light, but not quite ultralight. I use a hammock or tarp for warm weather, and a small four-season tent for winter trips. Most of my other gear is very changeable, as I am constantly experimenting with gear and techniques.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Integral Designs
Year of Manufacture: 2006
URL: www.integraldesigns.com

Manufacturer’s Specifications:

Construction: 40 denier soft textured nylon eVENT fabric
Weight: 355 grams (12.5 ounces) - Size Large

MSRP:          

$ 200.00 US


Initial Impressions:

The Integral Design eVENT Cruiser jacket is a bit of a departure from what I normally see in a backpacking jacket. The short blurb on the Integral Designs website backs this up by stating that the Cruiser Jacket "will meet your needs whether at work or play." Most backpacking jackets are designed like portable fortresses, ready to protect one from the worst. The Cruiser Jacket seems more casual in design and resembles a common light jacket or windbreaker at first glance. But a closer examination belies this first impression.

The construction is detailed and, while simple in features, shows good attention to detail. The jackets signature feature, of course, is the eVENT fabric used in its construction. This version of eVENT is similar to other 3 layer laminates, having an outer layer of nylon, a middle layer of the actual eVENT membrane and an inner light scrim to protect the membrane from abrasion. The jacket is constructed of several shaped panels and all seams are taped with a .75 in (19 mm) tape. The main zipper is of the nearly ubiquitous waterproof type. The zipper has a 'pull' made of a bit of nylon tape with the words "Integral Designs" sewn into it. The jacket has a high, stand up collar, but no hood. The inner collar is finished with the same 40 denier nylon as the body of the jacket.

There are two 'hand-warmer' pockets. The pockets are formed by a large panel on either side of the jacket, making them very roomy. The pockets can be secured with regular zippers (not waterproof). There are no other pockets either inside or outside the jacket.

The jackets hem and cuffs are finished with a Lycra edging tape, which is attached under a bit of tension, so there is a slight puckering effect. This helps seal the sleeves and hem when the jacket is worn. In a break from more common practice, there is no shock cord in the jacket hem. Instead, the Lycra tape provides some stretch  and pulls he jacket close around my waist when I put the jacket on. The jacket hem has a curved shape, with the back cut longer than the front.

The eVENT nylon fabric has a pleasant, supple feel to it, unlike most waterproof jackets which tend to have a somewhat crisp hand. The eVENT fabric is far more pleasant to the touch. The nylon is NOT a rip-stop material. The result is a cleaner appearance which does not suffer from the somewhat 'industrial' look of rip-stop fabrics.

The result is a jacket which seems to have all the detailing needed for a good weatherproof shell, but which benefits from a more casual styling. This would invite the jacket to be used as much around town as for backpacking.

Overall quality and construction appears to be top notch.

Fit:

My size is a pretty standard 44 Long. This simply means that I can take a 44 Long jacket off the rack and expect a pretty good fit. The Cruiser jacket is not a 'Long' size, but in keeping with my experience of most jackets targeted for backpacking use, the cut is longer than might be considered standard. This is one of the reasons I prefer backpacking or climbing jackets, as I have long arms (size 36/37 US) and the longer arm cut of this type of jacket fits me well. With the jacket zipped up, I can just feel the jacket start to pull up when I extend my arms fully upward, making this a good fit for me.

The fit overall is on the loose side, much like a windbreaker, and should allow considerable layering if desired. The length is cut short, approximately hip length, more typical of a windbreaker or casual sports jacket, with the back cut much longer than the front. I can actually pull the back down to the point that it very nearly covers my rear end. I like this, as it assures my backpack hip belt will ride fully on the jacket without overlapping the hem. 

The two pockets are well located for comfortable hand warming, but I suspect they will prove to be a bit low for a backpack hip belt. The collar stands tall when fully zipped and actually presses up against my chin to the point that it is more comfortable when slightly unzipped. The net result is that the collar will give good neck protection when needed.

General Comments:

The Cruiser Jacket is a real departure from what I have come to expect in a backpacking jacket. It is clearly intended as a dual purpose jacket, combining top notch waterproof/breathable technology and construction with a design and styling more typical of around town casual wear. This will make it particularly interesting to test.

What I like:

1 – Excellent quality.
2 – Stylish good looks.

What I don’t like:

1 – Expensive, but this is no ordinary casual jacket.

Field Report:

January 15th, 2007

The last two months have been one of the mildest Fall/Early Winter seasons on record in the Northeast. The temperatures have generally been around 50 F (10 C) during the day and 40 F (4 C) during the nights. We have seen no snow at all, except for a brief flurry a week ago which did not stick. There has been a fairly average amount of rain, mostly on the weekends! The Cruiser Jacket has proven to be ideal for these conditions. 

The Cruiser Jacket is positioned as a dual purpose jacket, meaning it is appropriate for both around town use as well as backpacking use. My experience has proven this to be true, with only one exception of note. The jacket has seen virtually non-stop use when I'm around town running errands. It has also seen much use on various dayhikes and backpacks in Harriman State Park and the Catskills. It has served admirably in all uses and conditions to date. 

The Fabric: The eVENT fabric has an unusually soft feel for a laminated waterproof fabric. If anything, the fabric seems to have softened with use. The DWR (Durable Water Resistant) treatment works very well. The jacket has been exposed to numerous extended periods of light to moderate rain exposure and the rain has never failed to bead up and roll off. I have yet to see any part of the fabric wet out or leak

Breathability is supposed to be one of the strong points of the eVENT fabric and my experience backs this up. I gave the jacket its most intense physical  workout during a backpacking trip to the Western Catskills, investigating some potential ski backpacking areas. The trip started with a steep climb up a series of ledges to the top of the wooded ridge we were going to follow at about 3200 ft (975 m). Temperatures were about 35F (2 C) (one of the few cool days!) and there were only a slight breeze. I started with a synthetic tee and Arc'Teryx Katabatic windshirt layered under the Cruiser Jacket. By the time we reached the first major ledge I was ready to strip off the windshirt. I spent the rest of the day in just the tee and Cruiser Jacket in perfect comfort. During periods of hard exertion, I could feel some dampness building up in the jacket, mostly in the arm and side areas. Whenever I checked, however, I was never able to find any actual condensation inside the jacket. The sensation would pass almost immediately when the exertion level eased. This would seem to indicate a very breathable fabric. I have to admit to being concerned over the lack of pit zips, but the jacket vented easily by just opening the zipper. I suspect the high breathability of the eVENT fabric plays a large part in this. I have not missed the pit zips at all. 

My other backpack was been in Harriman State Park with my wife. The terrain is easier than the Catskills and the pace is much slower, so I do not get the same level of exertion. In these conditions, the jacket has never felt damp or humid at all. This also holds true for the local dayhikes which are strictly on flat terrain.

Function: There are not many bells and whistles on the Cruiser and I like the simplicity. It also means there is not much to report here! The stand-up collar is a winner in my book. I like the protection it gives from wind and rain and it is comfortable in any position. When fully zipped, the collar fits perfectly along the line of my neck and chin. This gives a pretty good seal from the moderate rain I've experienced to date. A good, wide brim hat, a Tilley T6 in this case, has proven to be a happy and effective combination with the jacket in these conditions. I expect high winds would compromise the effectiveness somewhat, but this has not happened to date. I wanted to try a jacket that had no integral hood, and I am very satisfied with the results. The open ventilation, unblocked hearing and vision are wonderful.

The hand pockets are perfectly positioned for around town or a daypack. It is only when I wear a backpack or a technical daypack with a hipbelt that the pocket position does not work. The low (spelled comfortable!) position of the pockets puts them right in line with a pack hipbelt. This means they are effectively covered when wearing any pack with a hipbelt. Accordingly, I just forget about them when backpacking. Given a choice of a higher pocket or the 'dual nature' of the jacket, I would keep the current position. I have plenty of 'technical' jackets, and I prefer the Cruiser for general use and dayhikes. Not using the pockets when backpacking is worth the other advantages the jacket offers.

The black color fits perfectly into the 'Manhattan Black' chic so common to NYC. I have even worn the jacket to work on casual Fridays. The color is very forgiving as is the material. Any dirt has just brushed off so far!

Stowing the jacket is easy. I simply fold it lengthwise into thirds and then roll it. The resulting package disappears into my pack or under the bungee cord on the front of my backpack where I can get it quickly when needed. I have not used the supplied stuff sack at all as the design does not lend itself to my style of stowing the jacket.

Durability: There is no wear and tear to mention yet. The jacket has seen some light bushwhacking and otherwise typical trail use. The Lycra cuffs and hem had caused my some concern, but there is no hint of wear here either. The jacket appears no different from the day it arrived.

Summary: The Cruiser Jacket is an interesting concept, rather different from the gear I normally use, which has a clear backpacking application. This jacket really is dual purpose. The only compromise in practice is the positioning of the pockets, and this is only an issue with a hipbelt and easily adapted to. This jacket is well on its way to becoming a favorite.

Long Term Report

March 20, 2007

Cruiser Jacket with pack

With the arrival of real winter around here, the Cruiser jacket has seen a bit less daily use, as an insulated jacket is just more convenient around town. I have continued to use it on various dayhikes and it really excels here, provided the terrain is generally non-technical. Think typical trails or flat terrain. For winter backpacks or technical hikes, which often involve deep snow, climbing and/or skiing, I prefer to use a shell that was designed with those uses in mind, with longer cuts and a hood for better weather protection in extreme conditions. That said, the Cruiser has become a favorite for pretty much everything else!

The shell works really well when combined with thinner insulating layers, such as a windshirt as described in the Field Report section. I often go for pre-sunrise walks on Fire Island and the jacket has seen much use here. This means a combination of wide open beaches (brrrrrrrr-windy!!) and inner swale, which offers a bit of protection in some areas with dunes and some scrub pine. It is not unusual to experience early morning temperatures hovering around 10 F (-12 C) with much lower wind chills here. I would add a light synthetic insulated liner jacket (a removable liner from a Lowe Alpine jacket) under the Cruiser when going for these walks and the combination was surprisingly effective. The Cruiser is absolutely windproof. Add a decent insulation layer and I have a comfortably snug combination with a minimum of weight and bulk. I suspect the lycra hem and sleeve cuffs have something to do with this, as they tend to seal in the warm air rather well. The colder temps have had no discernable effect on the front zipper.

I still find the loose cut of the jacket extremely comfortable. The same is true for the feel of the fabric, including the high cut collar. It just seems to get softer with time. It is possible that this is just in comparison with the more typical technical hardshell jackets I use for more rugged or technical work, but the Cruiser shell really has a much more pleasant feel. There are no indications of wear anywhere.

I love the pocket location for comfortable hand warming, but as can be seen in the photo above, a hip belt pretty much puts them out of commission, as it covers the opening. I just pretend that they are not there when using a pack. This is no real hardship, as none of my 'backpack ready' have pockets in this location either. Unfortunately, there are no other pockets in this jacket to fill in when these pockets are covered. Aside from the pocket issue (understandable given the dual-purpose design) the jacket is very comfortable when wearing a backpack.  A small beltless pack would not effect the pockets at all.

Summary:

The Integral Designs Cruiser Jacket has earned a permanent, and prominent, place in my gear kit. It will be my primary 'go-to' jacket for three season use. This includes backpacking as well as dayhikes. This flexibility also makes it an ideal travel jacket, as it is fashionable enough for casual around town wear, but technical enough for most outdoor trail travels as well. Winter use will be only occasional, but it works quite well in cold weather when combined with appropriate insulation. I have not missed the hood at all and actually prefer the jacket without one. Various hat options offer plenty of weather protection when needed and this combination offers superior ventilation and visibility. 

The Cruiser is a clear winner in my reckoning!

  






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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Integral Designs eVENT Cruiser Jacket > Jim Sabiston > Test Report by Jim Sabiston > Test Report by jim Sabiston



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