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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Red Ledge Allegory Jacket > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

Red Ledge Allegory Jacket
Test Series


Initial Report: October 27, 2008
Field Report: January 8, 2008
Long Term Report: March 7, 2009

Personal Information:
Leesa Joiner 
leesaj@gmail.com
Southwestern Maine
46 yrs                                                                    
Female
5'7" (1.7 m)
150 lb (73 kg)


Background:
     My outdoor experiences include trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips.  Most involve my three children. While my style isn't as 'high adventure' as some, I do enjoy the time we spend outdoors.   My load used to be HEAVY - think pack mule.  Now that the kids carry their own gear, plus the two oldest help carry the food, etc, my load is lighter.  I go for durability over weight when selecting gear.
    While outdoors, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping. I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.  

INITIAL REPORT

Product Information:
Product Name: Red Ledge Allegory Jacket
Manufacturer: Red Ledge
Website: http://redledge.com
Year of Manufacture: 2008                                                                                                                            front shot of jacket
MSRP: $89.99                                                                                                                                                   
Size Tested: Large
Advertised Weight: 16.5 oz (468 g) (size medium)
Measured Weight: 18 oz (510 g) (size large)

Product Description:
Size Tested: Women's Large
Sizes Available: Women's XS - XL (Men's sizes also available)
Color Tested: Obsidian
Other Colors Available:  Cool Mint, Grey Vapor, Soft Blue and Delft.

Fabric:
Coating: T-CoreŽ waterproof/breathable coating.                                                                    Manufacturer's photo
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.
                                                                                                                                                                           
Features (taken from website)

• 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

The Red Ledge Allegory Jacket is constructed of Tactel nylon and reinforced with rip-stop nylon taffeta with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. The two fabrics are a slightly different shade of black (obsidian).   It has taped and/or sealed seams and zippers. It also features a breathable polyester mesh and a nylon taffeta lining.  The elasticized cuffs have Velcro closures, which allow for adjustment of the cuff's tightness.  
There is a draw cord at both the waist, and bottom hem to keep out wind and cold air. The draw cords for the waist are located inside the two front pockets. Both sets work well - easy to pull and secure.   The two pockets provide waterproof storage for carry along necessities.  

 pocket pull cord



The Allegory fits very well, with enough room to wear a couple of layers underneath.  I will be trying it with different combinations throughout the test period.  If I were testing in the spring/summer, I may have gone with a medium.  The sleeves are long enough (which isn't always the case with jackets I try on) and the cuffs adjust enough to wear with a bulky shirt, or bare wrists.  The jacket hits at the top of my thighs, which I really like so far.  The hood covers my head, coming forward past the fronts of my ears.  I am curious to see how it affects my peripheral vision when wearing it up while hiking.  

There are quite a few zippers on this jacket; the main front zipper, two pit zippers, the built in stuff pocket (double sided) zipper and 2 side storage pocket zippers.
   

front and pit zips


An unusual feature is the way the hood rolls down into a collar, and secures with a strip of fabric that has Velcro strips to hold it in place.  The hood can also be stored within a pocket inside the back, top of the jacket.  
  flap upflap down
The top inner part of the jacket is lined with nylon mesh, and the bottom section of lining is nylon taffeta as are the sleeves and inner hood.  


There is also a storage pocket inside the jacket that allows the jacket to be folded up and stored.  When stored, it measures approximately 9 X 6 X 4 in (23 X 15 X 10 cm). There is also a small loop of nylon that allows the jacket when stored in its sack, to be hooked onto a carabineer (or similar device) and attached to a pack, or within a tent.

The jacket's seams are sealed over the stitches with either seam tape, or with sealing glue.  Red Ledge appears to have paid attention to details on this jacket.  Everything is well finished.  The zipper pulls are finished with pull cords that are securely attached.  The front zipper flap has four pieces of hook and loop fasteners, to keep wind and rain away from the zipper.  There is a snap at the bottom of the zipper.

The jacket is what I expected from the advertising on the web page.  I am anxious to wear the jacket out in rainy weather.  November tends to be rainy in Maine, so I'm sure I won't have to wait long.  I am also curious to see how it does in windy weather - does it block the wind along with rain?  I had to reread the information about the breathability and waterproofness of the jacket.  From what I understand, the fibers are porous enough to allow warm air to escape, but not allow water to enter.   This is one area that I will definitely be looking at closely. It would be nice to have some breathability, so that perspiration doesn't become a problem.  Staying dry from inner or outer moisture is always a good thing.

Our weather is consistently inconsistent, but we can usually count on a wet November, along with blustery winds.  By December we are seeing snow, and usually the wet, heavy variety.  In January and February, as the temperatures drop, the snow tends to increase, but become much drier and more powdery.   I snowshoe quite a bit in the winter and plan on wearing this jacket as an outer layer to see how well it sheds snow and moisture.   I usually stay fairly warm while snowshoeing, but getting wet and then stopping for a break causes me to cool off too much.  


Field Report
January 12, 2009


Over the last two months, I have worn the Red Ledge Allegory jacket on 6 occasions while hiking, and once while snowshoeing.  I have also worn it around town many times.   It has impressed me as a very, versatile jacket.  I am able to wear it with different layering options.  It is loose fitting enough to wear over a trim, down jacket.

One trip in early November consisted of hiking 4 miles (6 km) along an overgrown path along the Maine/New Hampshire line.  There was little elevation gain, although I did have to climb over some small boulders and fallen trees.  The temperatures were in the mid 40s F (4 C) and sunny.   Along the hike I had to unzip all the zippers to keep from getting too warm.   As the sun was hidden as I went into a more tree covered area, I ended up zipping back up and stayed comfortably warm for the rest of time on the trail.  I really came to appreciate the zippers on this jacket for cooling and warming. Fall in Maine means changing weather - sometimes very rapidly changing.  

Another trip in southwestern Maine started out fairly nicely, and the weather forecast called for rain later in the day/ early evening.  Much to our surprise, it hit early and caught us about 2 miles (3 km) out.  The rain fell lightly but steadily.
The temperature was 48 F (8 C) and cloudy.  I pulled the Red Ledge out of my pack and put it on over my fleece.  I was able to make it back to the car without getting wet.  T  The rain hit the jacket and beaded up and rolled off, without soaking through.   I really appreciated that the jacket is long enough that the rain runs off the back, and not onto my pants.  When standing, the bottom hem sits at the bottom of my bottom, allowing the rain to run off and not onto the seat of my pants.  

On a snowy day in December, I wore the jacket over my new down jacket and went for a hike with my dog.  Because I wanted to try out my new jacket, I only wore a light weight base layer and long sleeve T-shirt under the down jacket.  I didn't plan on being gone long, and figured that would be enough. We traipsed along a trail for part of the time, and bushwhacked the rest of the time.  Chip (the dog) insisted he knew a short cut home.  Thankfully, he is not a tracking dog, and can't be blamed for a poor sense of direction.  I put the Red Ledge jacket on because we ended up being out a little longer than expected and by the time we got home, the temperatures had dropped to below 30 degrees F (1 C) and a light rain started to fall.  I never felt chilled, even though the sun had dropped, and it was fairly windy.   While hiking I had started with the jacket in my pack, and then on but unzipped.  Little by little I zipped up and remained comfortable.  I probably would have been fine with just the down jacket, but the Allegory really helped keep the wind from taking away my body heat, especially from my head and neck areas (that the down doesn't cover).

Although the other day hikes were dry, I wore the jacket on two occasions as a wind jacket.  I am happy to report that it served that purpose very well.   Temperatures were in the mid-30s F (approx 3 C) and the wind on a few occasions was gusting up to 20 mph (32 kph).   The jacket does very well as a wind breaker.  It allows me to wear a base layer and fleece under it, and still stay warm.  This cuts down on bulk and weight that I have to carry.  

I was able to wear the jacket snowshoeing on one occasion so far.  It was a wet, heavy snow and 36 degrees F (2 C).  My children and I went out on some local trails and covered about 5 miles (8 km).  Between the falling snow, snow kicked up on my back from my snowshoes and flying snowballs, the waterproofness got a good test.  The melting snow never permeated the jacket.  The inside stayed dry, and the water beaded up and rolled off the outer layer.   We stopped for some hot chocolate and snacks along the way, and I sat on what appeared to be a dry portion of a fallen log.   Because the jacket isn't quite long enough when I sit down, my bottom was not protected by the jacket.  When I stood up, the lower part of the seat of my pants was damp.  It wasn't a big problem once I started moving again, as my base layer protected my skin and the pants dried quickly.   I did learn that wearing rain or snow pants would be necessary with this jacket in the future in these conditions.

I also had many opportunities to wear the jacket to and from work and around town.   It was easy to keep in my work bag, and throw on if I had to run to a different building - whether it was raining or just chilly.  It looks good enough to wear to work, and gets frequent compliments.

The Allegory still looks new, showing no signs of wear.  The zippers and closures all work smoothly, without catching or binding.  The hood cinches enough to block out wind and driving rain.  The small bill on the hood keeps rain from falling on my face, which also increases visibility.   One thing that impressed me - and surprised me when compared to other, older rain jacket designs is that the hood does not block my peripheral vision.  I remember an older jacket I had, that if I turned my head, the hood stayed in place, hiding my face in the hood.   I really like that the Allegory not only moves with me, but the sides of the hood do not sit forward of my eyes.  I wish I had this during my daughter's soccer season.    I also like that the zipper cover really works well to block wind from entering through the zipper area.  

When I first received the jacket I was curious as to how the fabric's permeability allowed warm air to escape, but not allow moisture to enter.   I can attest that water has not entered through the fabric of this jacket.  I also have not experienced that 'warm clammy' feeling while wearing it during activities that require exertion.  Being able to avoid that hot and sweaty feeling makes hiking and snowshoeing more enjoyable, and really cuts down on chilling.  Sometimes when snowshoeing I find that I exert myself to the point of really perspiring, and then I stop for a break and get chilled, or have to pull out another layer of clothing from my pack to stay warm.  Not so with the Allegory jacket.   The pit-zips also help with the ventilation of the jacket - and me.  I like that they are easy to maneuver while the jacket is on and I am wearing my pack.  As a matter of fact, all zippers, closures and hood are easy to adjust while wearing a pack.   That in itself is a great feature, as I don't think there is much more frustrating than having to remove a pack to adjust a hood or zipper, while it is raining or snowing.  

I will continue to test the Allegory this winter watching it for signs of wear.  Please check back in two months for my long term report.

Long Term Report
March 7, 2009


Usage:
Two overnight (1 - two day trip, and 1 - 3 day) trips included snowshoeing along the Maine and New Hampshire border. 
The area is heavily wooded, with moderate elevation gain, starting at about 1000 ft (305 m). Most of the trails were unbroken, although we did come across snowmobile tracks a few times.  On the first outing, day time temperatures were between 20 and 30 F (-1 and -7 C).

I also took it on a few more snowshoeing trips, but found I didn't need to pull it out of my pack, since it didn't snow, and there were only light winds.

One hike consisted of hiking along snow packed trails in Norway, Maine.  The area is fairly open, with about 1200 ft (366 m) elevation gain.  The day I went, the winds were gusting up to 25 mph (40 kph) with temperatures in the mid 20s F (-7 C), but there was no snow or rain.  

Another trip consisted of hiking a loop around Rock Haven Lake in Parsonsfield, Maine.
There were light winds at the start of the hike, but it picked up mid-day, causing the wind chill to drop to 0 F (-18 C).  It was a clear, sunny day though, so when the winds dropped, it felt much warmer.

I also had the opportunity to wear the Allegory in Los Alamos, New Mexico for a short (2 hour) hike in February.  The elevation there is about 7500 ft (2286 m), which is about 6500 ft (1981 m) above my home area.  The temperature was 45 F (7 C) and it was very windy.  I don't know the speed, but it was kicking up huge amounts of sand and dirt, that made me thankful I had sunglasses on to protect my eyes.  The trail was semi-improved.  There were sections that were clear, and others that were overgrown with weeds.

All of these times, I wore it over either a trim fitted down jacket, or over a fleece pullover, except in New Mexico.  While there, I wasn't very prepared and just wore a long sleeve t-shirt and a sweater. 

Summary
On the snowshoeing trips, I put it on primarily to keep my other layers from getting wet from falling and melting snow.  I appreciated that it could keep me dry, while also helping to keep me from getting too warm.  The pit zips worked great in these cases.  The breathability in general was a huge plus in my eyes.   The jacket also works well at blocking wind, contributing to my body's ability to hold a constant body temperature.  

While hiking on some snowpacked trails, the jacket again served as an outer layer.  On these trips, it primarily served as a wind break.  I can normally tolerate some fairly cold temperatures, but find that the wind really does give me a problem in trying to stay warm. The Allegory does a great job though of blocking the wind.  

I have come to appreciate the versatility of the Allegory jacket.  It keeps me dry, blocks the wind and stores in my pack without taking up much room.  It also looks good enough to wear out.  The zippers still work smoothly, and there are no signs of wear.   I washed it after wearing it in New Mexico, and it came out looking very clean and like new.   I am very impressed with the breathability of the jacket.  I find I don't become overheated when wearing it.   I really like that I can wear it with my packs and still zip and unzip, and adjust the hood as needed.

My only concern about the jacket, and it is not a huge one, is that the Velcro is almost 'too good'.  It sticks to everything - other pieces of Velcro, my socks when I go to tie my shoes, other pieces of clothing, and anyone I may hug while wearing it.  The front pieces (along the zipper) are only a problem if the jacket is unzipped, and the front is open.  The pieces at my wrist seem to catch on more things because to close the cuffs up so they are snug on my wrists, means a bit of velcro hangs over the end of the cuff.   Once the test is over, I may try to alter that area and remove some of the velcro.  I think it may be due to me having small wrists, in relation to the size I needed.   Other than that, the jacket is great, and I am looking forward to wearing it for a long time to come.  Especially once spring arrives in Maine, along with the rainy, mud season.

Thanks to Red Ledge and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test the Red Ledge Allegory jacket.









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