RED LEDGE ALLEGORY JACKET
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
March 17, 2009
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bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
Denver, Colorado, USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
42 in (107 cm)
35 in (89 cm)
33 in (84 cm)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
OCTOBER 25, 2008
Manufacturer: Red Ledge
|Image courtesy of Red Ledge|
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.redledge.com
MSRP: US$ 89.99
Sizes Available: S - 2XL
Sizes Tested: XL
Listed Weight: 20 oz (567g) for size Large
Measured Weight: 20.4 oz (578 g) tested XL
Colors Available: Boston Fern, Platinum, Navy and Obsidian
Color Tested: Boston Fern
Other details Provided by Manufacturer:
Coating: T-CoreŽ waterproof/breathable coating. Seams: 100% taped.
Shell: Combination of DuPont Tactel nylon and reinforcement rip-stop nylon taffeta with DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
Lining: Breathable polyester mesh and nylon taffeta.
- Exterior and interior storm flaps
- Waterproof pit-zips for ventilation
- Attached hood with visor, peripheral vision adjustment and roll down function
- Two waterproof zip pockets for secure storage
- Elasticized cuffs with adjustable VelcroŽ closures
- Adjustable draw cord at waist and bottom hem
- Packable into interior pocket
- Center Back Length: 31.5 in (80 cm)
The men's Red Ledge Allegory rain jacket is a nylon rain jacket that incorporates several technologies to keep the rain out while allowing perspiration to escape. The Allegory arrived with a whopping 6 hang tags attached to the main zipper, four of which advertised some of the features. One simply stated "waterproof / breathable." while the final one listed various features of the Allegory.
The shell is 100% nylon but is a combination of DuPont's Tactel nylon and a ripstop nylon taffeta that has a DWR (durable water repellant) finish. The majority of the exterior is constructed with the Tactel nylon, with the ripstop nylon covering much of the arms below the elbow as well as lowest portion of the jacket, tapering from 3.5 to 7 in (8.9 to 17.8 cm). The shell backing has a 100% micro-porous polyurethane (PU) T-Core coating, which is applied in multiple layers and provides the foundation of the jacket's waterproof capability and breathability. This feature works by limiting the pores, or spaces in the fabric, to half-way between the size of a liquid water molecule and gaseous water molecule. As perspiration evaporates, the force of the heated water vapor pushes the molecules through the pores and out of the jacket shell where it can escape into the air. Because liquid water molecules are larger, they cannot easily move through the micro-pores. The DWR treatment further reduces that possibility.
There are a number of seams on the jacket, but each seam is factory sealed with either seam tape or seam-sealing glue along the stitch lines. There are two exterior pockets with 8.5 in (21.5 cm) zippered openings. These zippers are also waterproof and have a cord with a knotted end for easy gripping. The interior of the pockets are lined on one side with a micro-fleece fabric that will likely help keep my hands warm in colder rains. The other half of the interior is made of a solid nylon fabric, as opposed to mesh. There are also waterproof pit-zips that measure 10.75 in (27.3 cm) to provide additional ventilation when necessary. There are two zipper pulls on each, however only one has the knotted cord pull. The storm flap running the length of the front zipper can be secured by four 3 in (7.6 cm) Velcro strips evenly spaced from top to bottom as well as a snap at the bottom.
|Waterproof Pocket Zipper|
The interior of the jacket is lined with a 100% nylon mesh from the shoulders down to the waist. The sleeves and lower portion of the interior below the waist are lined with 100% nylon taffeta. There is a zippered and reversible pocket in the center of the back to stow the jacket away when not in use. When stored this way, there is a 1.75 in (4.45 cm) nylon loop to hang the jacket from. The stuffed pouch with jacket is approximately 10 x 7 x 4 in (25.5 x 18 x 10 cm). At the base of the neck there is a pocket with that holds a strip of fabric that can secure the hood in a rolled fashion. This fabric flap has one side made of DuPont's Tactel nylon and the other of the same micro-fleece lining in the pocket.
The hood is a good size for my head and provides adequate room for a hat. It has a stiff but flexible bill to direct the water away from my face and eyes. There is a draw cord sewn into the opening that is secured at both ends, but comes out and can be held in place with a neoprene tab. I found this a bit interesting because every other draw cord uses a toggle instead. There is also a draw cord and toggle at the rear of the hood that can adjust the bill forward and aft. This toggle is tethered to the hood for one-handed adjustment, which I love! When fully zipped and drawn, I noticed that the front zipper is also protected and covered with the same soft micro-fleece fabric used in other areas.
|Padded top of zipper|
|Fabric flap securing hood|
In addition to the hood adjustments, there are a number of other areas that can be tightened up for a closer fit and to keep water out. The cuffs are both elastic and have Velcro closures to keep them snug. The bottom of the jacket also has a draw cord with a toggle that can be adjusted. This toggle is tethered and has a bead on the draw cord to make it easy to operate one-handed as well. In the interior of the pockets there is another draw cord that can adjust the fit just above the waist. This draw cord is knotted at both ends and the toggle is also tethered to the jacket.
While I had some idea of the Allegory from the website, I was a little concerned about the lack of a sizing chart on the website. Most jackets I wear a size XL, especially for an outer shell, so I can wear multiple layers underneath if I need to. I was pleasantly surprised at the fit! The sleeves are a great length for my arms, and I like that the jacket is cut well below the waist. I am also impressed with the visibility even with the hood fully tightened.
This seems to be a well thought out jacket with a lot of convenient features. One of the gripes I have had with other jackets has been the comfort, or lack thereof, of the front of the jacket when fully zipped. The micro-fleece covering folds over the top of the zipper to prevent any uncomfortable rubbing. Having an extra draw cord above the waist should cut down on any drafts, especially in the fall and early winter weather I will be using the jacket in. The micro-fleece lined pockets also seem to be a great feature to keep my fingers warm in cold rains!
|Allegory jacket stuffed in pouch|
One thing I did notice was that there is an abundance of seams with this jacket. I am glad that they are factory seam-sealed! I spotted another potential concern as I was inspecting the jacket The Velcro strips have a tendency to catch on the nylon mesh lining as I fold the jacket around. I have noticed that this causes snags in the mesh lining, but they are small and I can make them go away by gently pulling the fabric taut. This seems to be more of a nuisance than a concern, but I will be sure to monitor this. When I did inspect the construction, I could find no flaws or loose threads. Red Ledge makes a well constructed jacket from what I can tell.
There are two places that I could find references to laundering and care. The primary instructions are on the interior label. The manufacturer states to "hand wash or machine wash gentle cycle cold water, mild soap. Do not bleach. Tumble dry, no heat. Do not dry clean." There are also a number of universal laundry icons below the instructions for those who cannot read English.
The other reference to laundering is on the hang tag for the T-Core Waterproof Breathable Coating. Here it states "water repellency will continue to be at least 80% effective after 10 home launderings." I do admit that reading this made me pause. I will be careful to watch how often I wash this jacket and monitor any change in performance as the testing progresses.
Things I dig:
- Many adjustable components
- Really easy to pack away
- Micro-fleece in all the right places!
Things I don't:
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
January 13, 2009
Pike National Forest Colorado - Devil's Head - November 10 - 11, 2008
Elevation: 8,950 - 9,748 ft (2,728 - 2,971 m)
High temperature: 45 F (7 C)
Low Temperature: 25 F (-4 C)
Terrain: rocky and dry.
Weather Conditions: foggy turning to partly cloudy with some gusty winds at times.
Arapaho National Forest, Colorado - Warren Gulch to Chief Mountain Trail- November 23 -24, 2008
Elevation: 8,250 - 11,709 ft (2,515 - 3,569 m)
High temperature: 50 F (10 C)
Low Temperature: 30 F (-1 C)
Terrain: somewhat rocky but loose soil.
Weather Conditions: sunny with moderate winds.
Bandelier Wilderness, New Mexico - Yapahi Ruins Loop- December 27 - 29, 2008
Elevation: 5,900 - 7,500 ft (1,800 - 2,290 m)
High temperature: 55 F (10 C)
Low Temperature: 20 F (-6 C)
Terrain: hard packed dirt and with some rocks.
Weather Conditions: a little rain on the first day, but otherwise sunny and cool.
Other Activities: I have also worn the Allegory on five day hikes, four days of snowboarding and a number of days around town. I have worn the Allegory through rain, sleet and snow as well as in temperatures from -10 to 75 F (-23 to 23 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Red Ledge Allegory has been my constant companion on my fall and early winter activities. With the winter season in full swing, I am now wearing the jacket over several layers, which usually consists of a base layer as well as a fleece jacket and occasionally a sweater. The loose fit of this jacket has been able to accommodate all of these, although it can get a little restrictive if I need free movement. I was snowboarding in -10 F (-23 C) weather in December and had 3 layers underneath the jacket. While I was comfortable, I did notice that twisting was a little tough.
I am really impressed with the weatherproof nature of the Allegory so far. I haven't experienced any hard, driving rains, but rather the long drawn-out variety and the jacket has shed water very well. It has also worked exceptionally well as a windproof layer. The picture at the right is of me hiking to the top of Mt. Sherman, elevation 14,036 ft (4,278 m) during a break from the wind. I was glad to have a good shell on this hike! The ventilation seems to be just right with this jacket. The armpit zips can extend pretty far up and down, although they are a little difficult to operate with a gloved hand. The zippers are waterproof and the teeth fit very tight (see initial report). While the zippers move freely, I found that I need to pull the jacket taught in order to get the zipper to open up past the halfway point.
|Wearing the Allegory in windy conditions|
Because much of my use has been in colder conditions, I have found the fleece-lined pockets to be a great feature. There have been a couple of times wearing this jacket around town that I did not have gloves and I was able to remain comfortable with my hands in the pockets. My only complaint is that the nylon flap over the zipper does have a tendency to catch the fabric as well as the zipper teeth. No damage has resulted that I can see, but it is a minor inconvenience to fix.
One of the concerns I have with jackets and shells is that my peripheral vision can get obstructed. This has not been the case with the Allegory. I have experimented with the adjustment straps and I feel I have found an optimal setting for my preferences. The extra fabric that covers my backside has been a good feature as well. I appreciate that it extends a little farther down so that the water doesn't have a chance to run in my pants. I did find the fabric to be a little short to use as a seat, but if I am leaning back against a log, the length is just fine.
|The snagged fabric is seen in the center|
The fabric and seams are holding up quite well so far. I have worn the Allegory on four separate days snowboarding. I like to go in the trees from time to time and have brushed up against some pine trees inadvertently. So far I haven't seen any problems with the integrity of the fabric as a result. As I noted in the initial report, the Velcro tabs stick extremely well. I have noticed some of the mesh liner material begin to fray. The image to the left shows this deterioration.
Storing the Allegory jacket couldn't be any easier, in my opinion. The zippered pouch in interior of the jacket easily accommodates the jacket. If anything, the pouch could be made a fraction smaller and still have room to stuff the jacket inside. Additionally, I have utilized the storage feature for the hood when I didn't need it. Rolling the hood and using the Velcro tabs to tuck it in place is a handy feature as well.
I am very pleased with the Red Ledge Allegory so far. It has been able to meet my needs in warm and cold weather situations. It is also stylish enough to wear around town as well as in the backcountry.
Things that I like:
- Excellent water and windproof capabilities
- Microfleece lined pockets keep me warm
- Easy to store in self contained pouch
- There is room enough to layer underneath it
Things that could be improved:
- Velcro sticks to just about everything, including itself
- Pocket zippers catch on the adjacent fabric
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have continued to use the Allegory on two additional overnights; the first was in the White River National Forest outside of Vail, Colorado. This was a 2 mi (3.2 km) snowshoe hike up to approximately 9,600 ft (2,971 m) to view Booth Falls. Temperatures ranged from 15 to 45 F (-9 to 7 C) and the sun was shining almost the whole time! I used the jacket as an outer shell as part of my layering system.
My second trip was an overnight in another part of the White River National Forest, this time south of Breckenridge, CO on the Quandary Peak Trail. I hiked about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) in and spent a cold night with the temperature when I went to bed at 5 F (-15 C). Temperatures exceeded 40 F (4 C) as the day progressed making it a warm hike, despite the windy conditions. Elevations were from 10,875 to 13,145 ft (3,315 to 4007 m).
I also used the Allegory on two separate snowshoe day hikes. The first was an 8 mi (12.9 km) round trip in the Rocky Mountain National Park up to Ouzal Falls, elevation 9,450 ft (2,880 m). Temperatures were between 20 and 40 F (-7 and 4 C) with clear skies. The second snowshoe hike was in the Eagles Nest Wilderness to Lily Pad Lakes, a 3 mi (4.8 km) round trip from the trailhead. The temperature was about 40 F (4 C). Additionally, I have worn this jacket snowboarding an additional five days.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I continue to be impressed with the versatility of this jacket. It has kept me dry through rain, sleet and snow and also works well as an impressive wind barrier. Most recently, while climbing Quandary Peak, I encountered wind gusts above 30 mph (48 kph). I was impressed with the ability of the Allegory to shrug off the elements yet not flap around like a sail (my snowboard was performing that function just fine, thank you). I found that tightening both cinch straps helped to keep the jacket close to my body. This was easily accomplished with one hand with each strap.
The construction of the Allegory has held up remarkably well. While I have not set out to intentionally abuse the jacket, it has been through a lot between snowboarding and hiking in the winter elements. As the snowboard season has progressed, I have taken more risks in the trees as well as the steeps. While I would like to say I handled them with perfection, the reality is that I have taken some good tumbles with this jacket. This has not been a problem yet with this jacket at all. I would have anticipated some wear spots on the backside and elbows but the Allegory shows no signs of deterioration. My only complaint about the integrity of the jacket is the amount of snags on the mesh lining. Fortunately, the mesh is intact and there are no holes in the lining whatsoever. The picture below shows the Allegory in action on the slopes.
|Snowboarding in the Allegory|
I am also impressed with the breathability of the jacket. While the conditions I experienced so far have not approached the summer heat, I have had some strenuous climbs in unseasonably warm conditions. On one hike, I kept my sunglasses in my pocket for a good portion of the hike. When I finally needed to pull them out, there was no moisture built up in glasses at all. I think that the armpit zippers would be easier to operate with another pull tab or cord attached to the second zipper. It would definitely make adjusting the ventilation easier.
The fleece-lined pockets are well placed and comfortable. Having warm pockets in the winter is definitely a plus in my book. With both my backpack and my daypack, the pockets are still easy to access between the straps.
Storing the Allegory is very convenient. The jacket fits comfortably in the pouch and is small enough to easily store in the outer compartments of my backpack. I have also had the chance to launder the jacket according to the manufacturer's specifications I outlined in my initial report. I did not notice any deterioration of the fabric nor its performance in the field.
I am extremely pleased with the overall performance of the Red Ledge Allegory. My favorite attributes are its weatherproof feature and ease of use. I also like the way it looks. This is a jacket that I can just as easily wear around town as in the backcountry. The fleece-lined pockets and ease of storage round out a great product.
I wish the mesh did not get snagged on the Velcro tabs, but that has been a minor nuisance overall. From time to time, the zippers on the pockets have gotten stuck on the nylon flap over the zipper, but I have always been able to get them unstuck easily.
The Red Ledge Allegory will continue to be my primary outer layer all year long. I feel confident that it has plenty of life left in it and will continue to keep me dry on my further adventures.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank Red Ledge and the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
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