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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > REI Kulshan or Shuksan Jacket > Test Report by Andrew Buskov

REI Shuksan Jacket
REI's windproof, waterproof, eVent jacket .
Andrew Buskov
Initial Report: November 22, 2011
Field Report: January 29, 2011
Long Term Report: April 19, 2012

REI Shuksan FrontTester Biographical Information:

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 36
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 218 lbs (99 kg)
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky  USA

Backpacking Background:

I’ve been backpacking for 20+ years, and have slowly started developing my ideal style. I’ve gotten my pack weight down to roughly 20 - 25 lbs (9.1 - 11.3 kg) before water, and am whittling it down every hike. Day hiking is nice, but getting out over multiple nights is really what I enjoy. I like to take my time and enjoy the scenery as opposed to hiking hard. I also like being comfortable and insist on an air mattress. I usually tent or hammock, but stay in shelters when needed.

Product Information:

Item: Shuksan Jacket
Manufacturer: REI
Website http://rei.com
Year of Manufacture: 2011
MSRP: $299
Listed Average Weight: 20 oz (567 g)
Actual Weight: 20.2 oz (573 g) : Size X-Large

Product Overview:
(From Manufacturer's documentation & Website)

REI Shuksan BackREI's Shuksan jacket is made of eVent fabric which has a unique membrane structure that allows sweat vapor to easily escape to the outside. Because of this breathability, no matter how hard one works they're not likely to become overheated and uncomfortable. This allows the wearer to remain dry on the inside, thus preventing post-exercise chill no matter how wet it is on the outside. There is an embedded Recco detector in the right sleeve to enhance the radio signals from search-and-rescue Recco detectors. This provides for a quicker acquisition of the wearer's position during avalanche situations. The hood is rather large to allow for capability with helmets and includes multiple drawcords to provide for tailoring to suit various needs in different environments.

There is a two way, water-resistant zipper on the front of the jacket. Matter of fact, all zippers on this jacket are water resistant and each has its own zipper hood to keep rain away from the pull itself. There are two mesh-lined pockets mid-stomach level to keep the waist area clear for a hipbelt. There are two Napoleon chest pockets on either side of the main zipper that are also mesh lined. Inside the jacket are two mesh lined stretch pockets, one including an earphone cord port.

The Shuksan is touted to be windproof to 60 mph (100 km), but does not include a powder skirt due to REI's desire to keep the Shuksan as light weight as possible. The outer shell itself is made of ripstop nylon blend. Standard care instructions are to machine wash with warm water and detergent, rinsing twice. Use of a warm dryer is said to rejuvenate the water-repellent finish.

Initial Impressions:

The Shuksan arrived to my door in good condition, inside a standard box with no other packaging. I was surprised that it wasn't inside some sort of plastic bag, but it wasn't. It wasn't until I removed it from the box and tried it on till I found the hang tags. There were three hang tags; a standard REI tag touting the features of the jacket, an eVent tag explaining how eVent fabric 'lets the steam out', and a Recco tag that explains the benefits of using the Recco system in high risk avalanche environments. There are no 'pit zippers' on this jacket as REI says that the breathability of the eVent fabric negates their need.

When I tried on the jacket, I immediately noticed the oversize hood. I felt like I could fit a space helmet inside this thing. As I don't wear helmets much, I was curious how it would look fitted after I got the cords adjusted to my liking. In zipping up the jacket I realized how nice the fabric felt against my skin. It wasn't scratchy at all; nothing like I expected. Even the mesh was soft to the touch. The zipper hoods protected my neck from being pinched by the main zipper as well, a nice feature. Each wrist had a hook & loop style strap that allowed for adjusting the size to an individual's wrist. On the lower left hand side of the jacket is an REI logo.

Each of the elastic drawstring retention clips was sewn to the jacket with a small strap. This allows the me to grasp the drawstring single-handedly and tighten it without needing to hold the clip in place with another hand. This also means that it only takes one hand to release the clip pressure and adjust the drawstring for a looser fit. The main hand pockets are nice and large allowing for storage of medium sized equipment like a GPS or small camera, while the interior pocket is bigger and would nicely hold a folded topo map.

The fit of the jacket is very nice. I ordered the extra-large and it fit very nice. Although the chest size was about 3-4 inches larger than I needed, this extra little bit of room is something that I would prefer over a snug fit. Even though it was a bit large, I didn't feel like it was draping off of me, nor did I feel like I was swimming inside it due to there being too much material. The sleeve length was just past my wrist, and a nice length to keep my hands warm and dry during rainy days.

In all, I am well pleased with the fit, feel, look, and design of the REI Shuksan jacket. Now all I need is a bit of rain and colder weather to test this out to its fullest.

Field Report: January 29, 2011

Testing Locations:

During this testing phase I was able to get two nights worth of testing, 6 day hikes, and about 15 days of use around town during inclement weather. All of this use was in the Western Kentucky area, with the hikes being in the Land Between the Lakes recreational area. All elevation was near the 500 ft (150 m) mark. As this is primarily a rain jacket, it goes without saying that I tested this whenever it rained. However, I was able to use this as more of a wind jacket on days when it was warm enough that I didn't need an insulating jacket.

Performance:

Water BeadingThroughout this testing period the weather has been sickeningly mild. By now in the winter season I would have expected at least one good snow day, with a number of icy rain days. However, as it seems with most of the country, I've been cursed with weather that is displeasingly hot and mild. In short.... I miss my snow & rain. That being said, I was able to use The REI Shuksan jacket on a few days where the weather decided to cooperate. Hopefully more of these days will come in the next testing phase.

I had mentioned in my previous report that the jacket has an integrated Recco system. While I wouldn't necessarily want to test this out personally, I wouldn't mind seeing how this works. Being in the Midwest though, there really isn't any reason to fear avalanches. I was able to get a few pictures of the receiver though in an effort to show how unobtrusive the item is. It is actually seam sealed into the left sleeve near the shoulder in the same bright orange as the jacket itself. The only way one would know it was there was by the slightly glossy name on the patch or the feel. However, it is not something that is easily felt while wearing.

Headphone PortOne of the items that did get a lot of use was the headphone port. As with most electronics, my phone doesn't like water too much. My previous phone had a water resistant 'box' that protected it from all but complete immersion. However that was not an option with my new phone and as such, I need to protect it from water and rain as much as possible. I found that my device was a bit too large for the small hook & loop pocket inside the zippered left pocket; however, the zippered left pocket itself was large enough to fit most items of my electronics. This allowed me to keep my stuff safe and dry while still listening to music or taking a phone call via the headphones. I did note though that inserting and retrieving my phone from the pocket was a bit difficult due to the fabric 'sticking' to the rubberized case for my device. This is definitely something I can live with though for the protection the jacket provides.

Pull & Cinch LockAll of the adjustment pulls are designed in such a way as to provide single-handed operation. The cinching devices themselves are sewn directly to the jacket. Because of this, the cinch lock stays in place while the user pulls the elastic cord through. This is something I've had on a lot of previous jackets, but they never seemed to operate as they were designed; they offered single-handed cinching, but I often needed two hands to loosen them. This is not the case with the Shuksan. I am able to easily cinch up the jacket when I need to block out more wind or rain using only one hand, but am also able to easily loosen them with only one hand. This makes it easier for me to get comfortable while holding a set of poles or a water bottle.

All of the zipper pulls are nice and smooth. Even the water resistant zippers on the exterior of the jacket slide with ease. All of the zippers operate from top to bottom, or at a slight angle as with the hand pocket zippers, and all have a zipper hood at the top to protect the wearer from water that often seeps through the zipper pull area. Each has a cord with an ergonomic rubber piece on the end.

The jacket itself works wonderfully. I'd seen some eVent equipment before, but never have I had the opportunity to test it out. The water just beads off this jacket like nothing I've tried before. Most other 'breathable' jackets I've tried end up 'wetting out' after a bit of wear or extended time spent in the rain. This is not something I've yet experienced with the REI Shuksan. When I arrive back to my vehicle after a long walk in the rain I'm still nice and dry on the inside of the jacket and rarely am I ever sweating due to the breathability of the jacket. After I arrive home, while sitting in the jacket the whole time, the interior of the jacket is still nice and dry. This has never happened with other jackets I've tried as they all have wetted out when driving home with them still wet.

So far, the REI Shuksan has lived up to all my expectations. I look forward to continued testing and can only hope for some poor weather so that I can use this jacket more.

Long Term Report: April 19, 2012

Testing Locations:

During the final testing phase I was able to get another 2 nights worth of testing 8 day hikes, and around 15 days of use around town. All of these hikes were again in the Western Kentucky area, with most being in the Land Between the Lakes recreational area. All elevation was near the 500 ft (150 m) mark. Once again, if it was raining, I was wearing this jacket. While we saw quite a bit of rain, approximately 4 inches spread over 11 days, and a lot of wind during that time. It was one of the most used pieces of clothing during this time. Temperatures were wild this time of year and spanned anywhere from 30 - 85 F (-1 - 29 C) so it got a lot of use in all temperature ranges.

Summary:

Sealed SeamsAs with the previous testing period, I would have liked to see a bit more cold white precipitation, but alas snow was not in the forecast. I did see quite a few days of rain though, even if that rain was only in limited quantities throughout the month. I found myself wearing this jacket over everything from heavily layered clothing to t-shirts. I was able to test the warmth during the colder, windier weather, as well as testing the venting capability during the warm, yet still wet, weather.

During my testing I found out exactly how well the eVent fabric worked. There were many occasions where I was constantly exposed to the rain while hiking. During these times the jacket remained warm and dry without wetting through anywhere under my pack straps or around the seams. I firmly believe that this is true due to the construction of the jacket and the seam sealing that REI uses for this jacket. you can see on the right how heavily seam taped this jacket really is.

I was also able to test this jacket a number of times where I was in and out of the truck running errands. Again the eVent material breathed really well and allowed excess body heat to escape without trapping it inside the jacket. This was a nice welcomed change from the past breathable rain jackets I've tried. The REI Shuksan actually kept me dry inside, even though the seat of my Jeep was soaking wet from the rain that was on the exterior of my jacket.

I continue to be quite impressed with both the quality of materials as well as the quality of construction that REI uses in the Shuksan. None of the components have failed yet and all zippers, hook & loop material, cord pulls, and cord locks continue to work very well without showing signs of wear or degradation. Even the earplug hole, which gets a lot of use due to my constantly listening to music & phone calls, has remained well kept.

Pros:

Well designed & manufactured.
Warm & dry even during the wettest of weather.
Light in weight when compared to its function and usage.
Comfortable on my bare skin without causing blisters.
Fashionable in a hunting sort of orange.

Cons:

Rather expensive in my opinion.
Limited color choice.

In all though, even with the above pros & cons, I consider the REI Shuksan to be well worth the money. I will definitely continue to wear this jacket long after the testing period has ended. I'd like to thank REI & BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in testing the REI Shuksan.


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Read more gear reviews by Andrew Buskov

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > REI Kulshan or Shuksan Jacket > Test Report by Andrew Buskov



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