REI SHUKSAN JACKET
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
April 03, 2012
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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thefishguy AT hotmail DOT com
5' 11" (1.80 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment, Inc.
|Photo Courtesy of Manufacturer|
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: www.rei.com
MSRP: US $299.00
Listed Weight: 20 oz (567 g)
Measured Weight: 19.9 oz (564 g)
Color Tested: French Poppy (orange)
Other details (Courtesy of Manufacturer):
* eVent fabric has a unique membrane structure that allows sweat vapor to easily escape to the outside of the fabric
* No matter how hard you work, overheating is unlikely due to this Direct Venting™ Technology
* And because you remain dry on the inside, the likelihood of an uncomfortable, post-exercise chill is eliminated
* eVent technology works so efficiently, no pit zippers are needed; all seams are sealed for complete waterproof protection
* Embedded Recco® detector enhances radio signals from search-and-rescue Recco detectors for quicker acquisition of position in an avalanche
* Integrated, helmet-compatible hood is drawcord adjustable to provide unhindered peripheral vision; drawcord system also ensures a good fit to a bare or hatted head
* New 2-way, water-resistant front zipper operates smoothly and lets you adjust fit and venting
* Features adjustable hem drawcord and snow-resistant rip-and-stick cuff tabs
* 2 mesh-lined front pockets are placed to clear hipbelt; also features 2 mesh-lined chest stash pockets that double as vents
* 2 inner stretch-mesh pockets are large enough to comfortably hold skins or a water bottle; 1 has an earphone cord port
* Shuksan is windproof to 60 mph
* Please note: to keep weight and bulkiness to a minimum, this backcountry jacket does not include a powder skirt
* Care instructions: machine wash warm with detergent, rinse twice; a warm dryer will rejuvenate the water-repellent finish
The REI Shuksan Jacket arrived with three hang tags, one providing general information about the jacket, another providing basic information about the eVent waterproof fabric, and another describing the Recco avalanche location device embedded in the jacket.
My first impression was that the jacket formed a good compromise between light weight and robustness. While I have a number of very lightweight waterproof-breathable jackets they don't feel robust enough for me for bushwacking. My heavier jackets I've used for off-trail trips and climbing are rather heavy and bulky. The Shuksan seemed substantial enough that it would hold up well to the rigors of off-trail trips, while still being relatively lightweight and packable.
The fabric is not unpleasant against the skin, and while I wouldn't call it limp, it is definitely not what I would consider stiff. The jacket uses a plastic YKK zipper for the main zipper (with a storm flap behind it) and water resistant zippers for the chest and hand pockets. Overall the materials seem to be very high quality, and all exterior seams are taped. Workmanship appears to be excellent.
A few key features about this jacket really excite me. First is the pockets. All the pockets are backed by a stretchy mesh, which allows me to vent the jacket by simply unzipping the pockets. There are two interior stash pockets that are large enough for a water bottle each, two handwarmer pockets, and two chest pockets. The chest pocket on the left has an inner compartment with a hook and loop closure, and has an earphone cord port.
The other key feature about this jacket that excites me is the hood. It is super-roomy (easily roomy enough to accommodate any helmet I own), but has adequate adjustment (using elastic cords and toggles) to render the hood useful and comfortable even without headgear.
The jacket also features an elastic drawstring waist cord with toggle, and hook and loop wrist opening adjusters.
The color (French Poppy, an orange) is not as obnoxious as hunter orange, but is still quite bright. I don't find it unpleasant, but I can see where some people might find it a bit loud.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The care instructions included state:
"For optimum performance frequent washing and drying is recommended. Before washing secure all zippers and closures, Wash separately. Machine wash warm with detergent. Rinse at least twice to ensure removal of detergent from fabric surface. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Tumble dry low or use warm steam iron to rejuvenate water repellent finish. Do not dry clean."
I have to say I'm pretty excited to try a jacket that suggests frequent washing and drying!
TRYING IT OUT
I've had the chance to wear the Shuksan around for over 5 days, including in winds up to 60 mph (97 kph) and heavy rains. So far, it has shown exceptional wind and rain repellency (I didn't notice any infiltration of water or wind, and the hood, while large, stayed on even in the wind once properly adjusted for my head without a helmet.
On one occasion, I wore the jacket while running stairs in the rain. While I was sweaty (which is to be expected) I was surprised to find when I got done that there was no condensation inside the jacket . . . all the moisture was against my skin, which isn't usually the case with other waterproof breathables I own.
The fit of the Shuksan is good. The jacket is very fitted through the waist (designed for an athletic build I would say), and while a Large might have fit me better in arm length, the XL fits me better through the chest and waist, and the sleeves aren't unduly long.
Overall, the REI Shuksan jacket seems to be a comfortable, very well made jacket that uses high quality components and is well designed. I enjoy the pocket configuration, excellent water repellency, breathability, and generous hood, and look forward to using it in the field.
I would like to thank Recreational Equipment Incorporated and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Shuksan jacket. My field report will be appended to this report in approximately two months. Please check back at that time for additional information. This concludes my initial report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn the REI Shuksan Jacket almost every day so far during the test period. It has seen use in temperatures ranging from 20 F (-7 C) to approximately 55 F (13 C). Precipitation conditions have ranged from dry to heavy rain, snow, sleet, hail, and freezing rain. We had some wild weather a few weeks ago, and it afforded me the opportunity to try the jacket under a variety of weather conditions. I have also worn the jacket in winds up to 55 mph (89 kph), experiencing driving rain and snow.
Activities have included backpacking (4 nights), running, stair climbing with a pack, day hiking, cross-country skiing, and general daily wear. The jacket has been worn with a variety of base and insulating layers.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The REI Shuksan Jacket has performed very well during field testing.
I find the fit of the Shuksan jacket works relatively well for me. It is relatively fitted through the waist, which I prefer for vigorous activities, but not so much that it limits layering or mobility. The sleeves are a bit longer than I expect in an XL, but I actually see that as an advantage in that I can draw my hands up most of the way into the sleeves in bad weather, but can tighten the wrists with the hook and loop tabs when I need the sleeves back out of the way. The hood is roomy and comfortable with a helmet, and easily adjusts for use without a helmet with one hand. Overall, I would describe the fit as being "average" for me for an XL, with the sleeves being slightly longer and the waist slightly more fitted than I would normally expect in that size.
VERSATILITY & BREATHABILITY
The Shuksan has proven to work well for a variety of activities. In wet conditions, when I am engaged in vigorous effort, I find it relatively easy to overwhelm the Shuksan's ability to vent my perspiration (even when I'm only wearing a baselayer under it). Opening the pocket zippers allows me to vent the jacket to some degree, but I can still overwhelm the jacket. Below freezing, and when effort levels are more moderate, I find the jacket is easily able to keep pace with my normal level of perspiration.
The Shuksan works well for a variety of activities, and I find it very well-suited for wearing with a pack. The fitted waist lessens the amount of excess fabric bunched up under my hip belt, and the chest pockets are located far enough to the front that they are easily accessible even with my pack on. While many of my jackets tend to bunch up or just seem bulky when used with a pack, the Shuksan is fitted very well in this regard. Even the extra sleeve length comes in handy, as I often find that my sleeves ride up when wearing a pack.
The handwarmer pockets are adequately sized, and even fit my bulky gloves well. The smaller media pocket in the left side chest pocket fits my large smartphone well, and the chest pockets are also adequately sized to carry a bulky item like a knit cap or heavy gloves.
Bombproof. So far, nothing has gotten through the jacket in terms of wind, rain, sleet, hail, or snow. Even leaving the chest pockets unzipped I haven't had any significant problems with moisture, and the jacket does allow for some air movement when the pockets are open on a windy day, which can be welcome for ventilation.
If I had to pick one negative for this jacket, it would be packability. The jacket is a bit bulkier and heavier than other jackets I own, but the Shuksan also feels more robust and less likely to tear, so this may be a fair trade depending upon use.
Despite a ton of use, the Shuksan is still as clean as the day I received it, so I haven't had the need to launder it yet, but I look forward to doing so during long-term testing.
The Shuksan jacket has proven so far to be an exceptionally waterproof and windproof jacket with decent ventilation options, a pack-friendly fit, that is very durable. The only down side I have experienced is that it isn't as packable as other waterproof-breathable jackets I've owned, which seems to be a trade off for improved durability.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've used the REI Shuksan Jacket on 4 additional nights of backpacking during the test period, about 10 days of day hikes/snowshoe trips, and just about every day as my day-to-day jacket around town to better assess long-term wear.
Weather conditions have included rain, snow, sleet, hail, and occasionally sunshine. Temperatures have ranged from 55 F (13 C) down to about 15 F (-9 C). Warmer wet conditions occurred on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State including both Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest. Colder and snowier conditions during long-term testing were found above Paradise on Mt. Rainier in Washington State (Mt. Rainier National park). Winds have ranged from calm to almost 60 mph (97 kph), with two days of use in sustained 30 mph (48 kph) winds.
I wore the jacket under packs ranging from about 10 lbs (4.5 kg) to 65 lbs (29.5 kg), and used it a couple times without a pack.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Shuksan Jacket continued to perform exceptionally well during long-term testing. It has continued to be completely waterproof, and has proven windproof as well up to the 60 mph (97 kph) or so that I've encountered.
About the only additional comments I can make relate to durability and laundering. I've finally laundered the jacket, and I haven't noticed any change in performance (which is a good thing, since it continues to perform well). I didn't notice any appreciable change other than the fabric seems perhaps a bit more relaxed (less stiff). This might also simply be the result of additional use, though, as I wasn't really attentive to that until after I laundered it.
Relating to long-term durability, the jacket has proven itself very durable. I've worn it for bushwhacking through thorny salmonberries and for self-arrest practice on Mt. Rainier, and you'd never guess to look at it. Stuff that might have destroyed some of my lighter weight jackets the Shuksan endured like it was nothing.
The REI Shuksan Jacket is an exceptionally waterproof and wind-resistant shell with a good variety of large pockets that works well under a broad range of conditions. While I can overwhelm the jacket's ability to vent my perspiration under extreme exertion situations, it is equal or better in that performance aspect to any other jacket I've ever used. While it is a bit bulky to pack, it more than makes up for that limiting factor with its amazing durability.
I will likely continue to use the Shuksan Jacket for many years to come, though it will primarily be used for off-trail use (where I like a more durable jacket) and for climbing (for the same reason). I'd probably use it more, but the fit has become an issue since I've lost over 20 pounds during testing, and a large would probably fit me better now.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
I'd like to thank Recreational Equipment, Incorporated and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Shuksan jacket. This concludes my report.
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