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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > REI Mens Ultra Light Jacket > Owner Review by Samson Phan

REI MEN'S ULTRA LIGHT JACKET
BY SAMSON PHAN
OWNER REVIEW
July 11, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Samson Phan
EMAIL: sphan007@ucla.edu
AGE: 26
LOCATION: Stanford, California , USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 147 lb (66.70 kg)

I started hiking when I was in high school in the foothills east of Fresno, CA over 6 years ago. Afterwards, I helped guide trips with a student group at my school, usually on weekends. These consisted of taking other students to the outdoors and making sure they had a good time (Read: lots of equipment). I've had a number of longer excursions, but never for more than a week. Most were in the Sierra Nevada. Iím the type of hiker who brings everything with me. I now do a lot of car camping, taking hikes from base camp (my car).

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: REI
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Manufacturer's Website: www.rei.com
MSRP: US$79.83 - US$119.00
Listed Weight: 16 oz (453 g)
Measured Weight: 14 oz (397 g)
Other details:
The REI Men's Ultra Light Jacket is a light unlined waterproof shell designed for light inclement weather. The following description was taken from the REI website (Fall 2006):

Waterproof, breathable 2.5-layer REI Elementsģ/nylon with microporous polyurethane coating is seam-sealed for complete protection
Inside of fabric features unique topo-map design; Copyright (c) 2002 REI, all rights reserved
Fully adjustable, zip-off brimmed hood stores inside collar; when you zip off the hood the neck flap covers the zipper for a clean look
Microfleece-lined collar provides added comfort
Underarm zippers allow adjustable ventilation
Chest pocket with water-resistant zipper holds essentials
Two zip handwarmer pockets give added storage space
Elastic-drawcord hem and elastic cuffs with adjustment tabs help seal out the elements
Double-layer front placket keeps wet weather and wind from penetrating; hook and loop closures secure placket
Includes a 4 x 9 inch stuff sack

IMAGE 1
REI Ultra Light Jacket (From REI website)


My description is as follows:
The outer nylon fabric has a ripstop pattern square pattern to it. It has the typical nylon feel to it. There is a polyurethane membrane on the inside with a distinct topographical-map design. Every zipper except for the one on the hood has a rubber tab on it to make zipping easier. The breast pocket has a heavy duty water-resistant zipper.
The hood has a 6 inch stiffened brim at the peak. There is a drawstring (to pull the hood back from the face) and goggle holder strap on the back. It can be removed via a built in zipper or tucked away into the collar.
The full length front YKK zippers can be unzipped from the top or bottom. For wind, there is a full length flap that can be secured by small islands of hook and loop patches.
The pockets are meshed lined and close with zippers. There are flaps for protection from the rain. In the pockets are the ends of the waist drawstring.

FIELD USE

I have used this jacket for just over a year under typical conditions associated with snowshoeing, hiking, backpacking and as street wear. I usually hike in mountainous terrain and high elevation 6000 - 8000 ft (1800 Ė 2400 m) ASL. The Sierra Nevada can range from the upper 90s F (30 C) to below freezing. I bought this jacket because my previous, GORE-TEX based jacket had been washed so many times and lost its coating, it seemed to absorb more water than shed. I wanted something that was light weight and could take more than a few washes. I bought the ďlizardĒ (olive green) version, though it comes in other colors as well. I wear a small North Face Denali fleece, but I bought a large jacket. That way, I can layer without being too constrained.

If Iím just wearing the jacket and a short sleeve shirt, the polyurethane coating might not be the best feeling fabric against my skin. It feels like one of those old yellow rain jackets. Especially during heavy exertion, the fabric will tend to stick.

I am a great fan of its watershedding abilities. I have been caught in hard downpours before and this jacket held up very nicely. A nice little touch is having the ends of the waist drawstrings go into the hand-warming pockets, which are zippered to prevent anything falling out. I donít have a bunch of loose cords that might snag onto things, especially when I pull the waist cord tight. Each zipper has an extra long and stiff tab that makes opening and closing easier when wearing gloves.

The jacket goes down to my hip joint and is the same length all around. When I bend over, it doesnít ride above my waist and expose flesh, which is a good thing, especially for the other campers. I know some jackets are longer in the back for this reason, but it isnít necessary for this jacket, unless the hem drawstring is pulled too tight.

The hood can be completely detached or tucked into the collar. The stiff brim prevents rain from dripping directly onto my face. It comes with a drawstring in the back that pulls it away from the face. The cord is hidden by a loop where goggles can run through so that they arenít lost.

The bulk of gloves worn during snowshoeing greatly adds to the cuff diameter needed. Fortunately, the cuffs have adjustable hook-and-loop straps. A nice little touch is that the straps are stiffened, making it easier to grab when my hands are gloved. The edges of the straps have frayed a bit from use.

IMAGE 2
A bit of fray on the sleeve


I would say my arm length is slightly longer than average, which is great for rock climbing, but not so much when trying to find clothing that covers my wrists. Either itís because I bought a large or REI makes their sleeves longer than usual, but I found them to be ample. The converse problem, the sleeves being too long and covering my hands, is avoided because of the elastic in the sleeves.

One of the improvements that could be made is integrating the small stuff pouch. Iíve already lost mine many times; I doubt I am the exception. Small circles of hook-and-loop straps are used to keep the zipper flap in front closed. The type of Velcro is really sticky to just about everything except for the microfleece, which is a good thing! A continuous line of Velcro would probably do a better job at keeping water and wind out. Having waterproof zippers like the one on the front pouch for all the zippers would be icing on the cake.

IMAGE 3
Front pocket zipper


I keep the underarm vents closed most of the time, which means the zipper tab is now dangling around my elbow. Reversing the zipper would be an easy fix to this minor problem. My final qualm with this jacket is the fit of the neck collar. When it gets cold, I like to wear a neck gaiter. However, this coupled with the bulk from the fleece, makes it very difficult to zip the jacket all the way up without strangling myself.

Overall, I am very happy with the performance of this jacket. In addition to surviving downpours and high winds, the REI Ultra Light Jacket hasnít lost its water shedding abilities after numerous washes. If only I knew where I put the stuff sackÖ

SUMMARY

Overall, I am very happy with the performance of this jacket. In addition to surviving downpours and high winds, the REI Ultra Light Jacket hasnít lost its water shedding abilities after numerous washes. If only I knew where I put the stuff sackÖ

SIGNATURE

Samson Phan

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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