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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Outdoor Research Celestial Jacket > Test Report by Rebecca Stacy

OUTDOOR RESEARCH CELESTIAL RAIN JACKET
TEST SERIES BY BECKI STACY


INITIAL REPORT July 25, 2007
FIELD REPORT October 4, 2007
LONG TERM REPORT December 3, 2007

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG TERM REPORT


TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Becki Stacy
EMAIL: becki_s_19 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Metro Detroit, MI
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 3" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)
WAIST: 35" (89 cm)
BUST: 39" (99cm)
Arm Length: 18" (46 cm) (armpit to wrist at 90 degrees from body)

I got bitten by the backpacking bug in 1994 when I was a volunteer at the Grand Canyon. My first backpacking trip was the same week I arrived, with gear borrowed from trail crew supplies. My husband and I enjoy backpacking (using a double-wall tent), mostly in Michigan. Our trips have run from overnighters to 12 nights on Isle Royale. We've pared down our pack weight a little, and we are continually re-working our gear list to cut weight without giving up the luxury items we enjoy (such as food that involves more than boiling water).


INITIAL REPORT
Date: July 25, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

full jacket (50K)



Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.orgear.com
MSRP: US$250.00
Listed Weight: (Women's M) 8.9 oz. (252 g)
Measured Weight (Women's L): 9.5 oz (268 g)
Color: retro Red
Waist (relaxed position): 48" (122 cm)
Sleeve Length, pit to cuff: 10.5" (27 cm)
Cuff Opening (max circumference): 9" (23 cm)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Celestial Jacket arrived in good condition on July 17. The jacket had a couple hang-tags attached that goes over the features of the jacket and Gore-Tex PacLite fabric.

I was impressed with how light the jacket is, especially for a breathable fabric. The material feels very thin, sort of plasticy on the inside and sort of like ripstop nylon on the outside. The jacket has three logos embroidered in grey thread; an "OR" on the front bottom left of the jacket, a flower on the left shoulder, and "GORE-TEX PACLITE" above the cuff of the left sleeve. All three logos have been waterproofed by the addition of a tape-like material that looks to have been chemically bonded to the fabric. This same tape is used to seal the inside seams.

The jacket has several hang tags, with a 2.25"x1.5" (6 cm x 4 cm) tag on the back of the neck area that has the Outdoor Research logo, name and website, with a smaller size tag on the bottom left of the large tag and a "made in China" one to the bottom right. The large tag is sewn into the fabric, but the two smaller tags could be easily cut off. A webbing loop about 1.5" (4 cm) long is at the top of the large tag, so I can hang the jacket on something. On the bottom left front of the inside of the jacket is a 2.5" x 2.75" (6 cm x 7 cm) tag detailing the care of the fabric. This tag could also be easily removed. On the back left inside of the jacket are two smaller tags, one detailing that the shell is 100% nylon, and the other stating the OR Infinite Guarantee with a customer service phone number, both of these tags could also be cut off.

The instructions state that the jacket can be machine washed (separately), not to use bleach, that they can be tumbled dry on the 'warm' setting, a warm iron can be used, and instructions on dry cleaning.

jacket zippers (43K)

All the zippers on the jacket are water-resistant. The main zipper is 27.5" (70 cm) long, and is designed to reach above the neckline (to about lip-height on me). This main zipper has two sliders, so I can adjust the jacket to be open at the top and bottom at the same time. The top slider has a piece of rubbery material attached to help me grasp the slider. On the inside of the top right of the zipper area a piece of thin, felt-like material is sewn in, about 1" (2.5 cm) average width by 8.25" (21 cm) long.

On both the left and right side of the jacket is another zipper, with slides at the top and bottom. The top of the zippers are 2.25" (6 cm) from the armpit seams, and both the top and bottom pulls have the rubbery material attached. I can adjust these zippers to ventilate my armpits and/or so I can pull the front of the jacket over my pack's hipbelt to help overall ventilation.

The jacket has two pockets, on the left and right breast sides, with off-vertical openings close to the main zipper. The pockets aren't quite square, but they are approximately 10" tall by 9.5" wide (25 cm x 24 cm), with a 6.75" (17 cm) opening.

The cuffs have elastic encased on the "out" side of the sleeve, with an adjustable hook-and-loop type fastener system on the "in" side of the sleeve.

cuffs (38K)

A piece of shockcord runs along the bottom of the jacket between the left and right side zippers, and has a small plastic cordlock so I can adjust the tension along the bottom of the jacket.

hood (40K)

The hood also has shockcord, running along the edge of the hood and though small foam pads on the left and right side act to adjust the tension instead of the plastic cordlock. Another piece of cord runs from about ear-to-ear through the back of the hood, with a plastic cordlock on the outside back. When I tighten this cord, it allows the hood to move with my head. A 9" (23 cm) stiff brim is at the top of the hood, and extends about 1" (2.5 cm) farther than the rest of the hood.

When I put it on I found that the Celestial Jacket fits me quite nicely, there is enough room for me to comfortably wear a shirt and my microfleece jacket under the rainjacket. The sleeves are a little long on me, but with the cuff setup they lie comfortably on my wrist and the slack isn't noticeable.

I am impressed with the Celestial rain jacket. So far, they fit well and keep the water out. Testing over the next four months will tell if they also do a good job breathing and allow my sweat out.

I would like to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Celestial Jacket.

This concludes my Initial Report.



FIELD REPORT

Date: October 4, 2007

So far, I have taken the Celestial Jacket on a 3-night trip to North Manitou Island in Michigan, on two overnighters in the Pinckney Recreation Area (near Metro Detroit, MI), two more dayhikes (with my full pack), and some additional walks in the neighborhood when we had a rainy day. On all these occasions I have used the Celestial Jacket in conjunction with the Celestial Pants. All the terrain I have used it on is relatively flat, with some mildly hilly sections.

Unfortunately, I did not encounter rain on any of my backpacking so far (though there was a good chance of storms on two of my trips, the weather didn't cooperate when it came time to hike), so for the most part, the jacket was safely stored inside my backpack for anything longer than a dayhike. At night it helped add bulk to my stuffable pillowcase. That the jacket stores well, stuffs to a fairly compact size, and the light weight make it an asset to my pack and my goals to reduce pack weight. On my trips I usually bring along a microfleece jacket in addition to my raingear, but I think that I could probably get by with just the Celestial Jacket in warmer climates, or for mid-summer trips in Michigan's Upper Penninsula (where it could still get a little chilly at night).

Two mornings on North Manitou Island were rather chilly (about 45 F / 7 C when I woke up), so for a couple of hours I wore the jacket over a long-sleeve wicking shirt for a little added warmth. It worked well to help insulate me, and I quickly warmed up. Though the trails I took were pretty well-maintained, the jacket held up nicely on the couple areas where I did encounter some non-thorny branches.

My dayhikes were in parks within 20 miles (32 km) of my home, and these hikes (about 4-7 miles/6.4-11.3 km), along with walks (about 1-2 miles/1.6-3km) around the neighborhood (sans backpack) were in temperatures ranging from the low 70's F (about 21 C) to high 80's F (about 31 C). On all the dayhikes and local walks I wore a short-sleeve shirt under the jacket. Most of the rain came on the cooler days, so I didn't have a *really* hot muggy rainy day to test the jacket in.

I am impressed by the breatheability of the fabric. No matter how hard and fast I hike or walk, the only area where I'm not completely comfortable is along my back when wearing my REI Ridgeline backpack. I consider this more of an issue with the ventilation of the backpack since I'm a bit warm there whether I'm wearing raingear or not. When using the jacket in conjunction with the Celestial pants and my waterproof boots, I've managed to keep nice and dry in everything from a light mist, to rain coming in at a near 45 degree angle, to a heavy downpour.

The adjustable hood lets me cinch the opening way down, and between the built-in extended brim and the hood set to a very small opening, I only got a minimal amount of water on my glasses, even in moderate rain at a 45 degree angle. If I weren't wearing glasses, I don't think I would notice the rain that came in much at all. When I encountered light rain I didn't have to cinch the hood much at all, and had a really good field of vision. From wearing and looking at other rain jackets, I know that no jacket by itself can keep those little splashes off my glasses unless I cinched it down to a hole so small I would risk tripping with the severely restricted field of view. When I wore my baseball-style cap under the hood (which I always wore with my previous jacket), my results were a bit better.

I really like the huge Napoleon-style pockets, and have stored Trails Illustrated maps, smaller printed maps, my GPS, facial tissue, and energy bars in them during my hikes. The bulky items don't bother me too much when hiking. Another feature I really like about the jacket are the full side zippers, which allow me to wear the front of the jacket over my hipbelt. When I placed the front of the jacket over the hipbelt, it did feel like I had better ventilation. Although I haven't tried it yet, it looks like I'd be able to carry a digital camera case hooked to my hipbelt (close to the buckle) under the flap of jacket and have it remain dry. I love to take pictures, and it's a little easier for me to retrieve a camera from my hipbelt than digging around trying to remember which pocket I put the camera in and which one has the GPS.

The only thing I've had a problem with so far is the front zipper. There seems to be a knack to thread it correctly (since I'm trying to thread 2 pulls simultaneously) that comes and goes for me. Occasionally I will have a similar problem with other double-pulls, so part of this may be me, and that I don't take the time to make sure everything is properly aligned. On my worst days I spend maybe a minute trying to figure it out, and then sometimes I'll get it on the 1st or 2nd try for a few uses in a row. So far, I haven't used the bottom pull to create an opening at the bottom of the jacket. With the side zippers, I don't really need the second pull and since I seem to have problems figuring it out, this feature isn't really useful for me.

Overall, I am really pleased with the Celestial Jacket's performance. Even though I am at the upper end of the recommended sizing for the Women's Large jacket, it isn't tight anywhere and my movement is not restricted at all.

This concludes my Field Report.




LONG TERM REPORT

Date: December 3, 2007

On the Trail

Since the Field Report, I have taken the Celestial Jacket on several more day hikes and another overnighter at Pinckney Recreation Area, where I was lucky enough to finally encounter rain on a backpacking trip. As before, on all occasions I have used the Celestial Jacket along with the Celestial Pants.

On the first day of my overnighter at Pinckney Rec Area, I encountered a mist that turned to a light drizzle for most of my 7 mile (11.3 km) hike. The temperatures ranged from about 35 F (2 C) to 40 F (4 C). At first I wore my microfleece jacket under the Celestial Jacket, but after lunch I was warm enough to hike with just my long-sleeved shirt and the Celestial Jacket. Even with the microfleece on I didn't build up a sweat, but I was only carrying about 30 pounds (14 kg) which is light for me, and taking my time since I was hoping the rain would quit before I reached camp.

The side zippers worked well, and I like that I can pull the front of the jacket over my hiking belt when wearing a pack. On this trip I ended up storing my digital camera in one of the jacket pockets, since the trip was planned at the last minute (in order to catch the rain) and I couldn't locate my camera bag to clip to the hipbelt as I had previously planned. In a later dayhike I fastened the camera bag under the front jacket 'flap', and this setup seemed to work well.

I was able to carry my GPS and printed map in one pocket, and my digital camera and cell phone in the other quite comfortably, and with plenty of room for more stuff should I wish to have instant access to it. The weight and bulk of the devices didn't really bother me at all, and nothing seemed to bounce around when I was hiking.

The Celestial Jacket is large enough to fit over my microfleece jacket comfortably, and when the weather turned colder for the last of my dayhikes and neighborhood walks, this setup worked quite well for me.

pulltab

I still have a problem with the double front zipper, and with the side zippers for ventilation I haven't used the second pull on the front at all. The only wear on this jacket is on the fabric zipper pull, from my tugging probably a bit too hard on one of the occasions when I just couldn't get it working. The picture on the right shows 2 of these fabric tabs; the one on the left is from the front zipper, the one on the right is from another zipper.

The front zipper is really the only thing I would change about the jacket, since I don't always manage to thread the double pull correctly all the time. Everything else about this jacket works great for me, and if anything happened to it I would not hesitate to get a new one because the light weight and breatheability far outweigh the problems I have with the zipper.



CONCLUSION

The Celestial Jacket is a lightweight rain jacket with very good breatheability. The hood works well to keep most of the rain off my face/glasses, and the addition of my baseball cap (which I've had to wear with other rain jackets) under the hood keeps just about all precipitation off my glasses. The pockets are large, easy to access when I have my pack on, and store quite a bit of gear comfortably. The only thing I would change about the jacket is to have just a single pull on the front, since I sometimes have problems threading the double pull.

This concludes my test series. I would like to thank Outdoor Research and Backpack Gear Test for the opportunity to test this jacket.



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