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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Trabagon Jacket > Test Report by Andre Corterier

White Sierra Trabagon Jacket

Test Report by André Corterier
Initial Report: 22 May 2009
Field Report: 04 August 2009
Long Term Report: 29 September 2009

The White Sierra Trabagon jacket in 'Sage'on my balcony Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Gender: M
Age: 37
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Chest: 100 cm (39.5 in)
Waist: 84 cm (33 in)
Standard Clothing Size: M-L
Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
Home: Bonn, Germany

Backpacking Background:
I mostly dayhike and sometimes overnight by myself or in the company of one or both of my little daughters. I am getting started on longer hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock or tarp camper. I’ve been upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water) of less than 9 kg (20 lb) for three-season camping.

Year of manufacture: 2009 ?
Manufacturer: White Sierra
Colour: "Sage" (greyish green), also available in "Nautical Blue", "Black" and "Burnt Yellow"

No listed weight;
Measured weight, size L: 335 g (11.82 oz)

The Trabagon Jacket (henceforth Trabagon or jacket), on first glance, appears to be what I consider a prime example of the basic rain jacket. It has sleeves which can be tightened around the wrists with some hook'n'loop-style wrist bands, a zipper down the center and a hood. The two-way zipper (not itself especially water resistant) is covered by a storm flap, which is held over it by several patches of hook'n'loop type fastener. It has pulls to tighten down the hem as well as the hood, two zippered handwarmer pockets as well as two inside pockets, and a ventilation slit in the back. It has a few details that weren't immediately obvious from the website, which I describe below. Also, its colour is decidedly more green than the respective colour swatch on the White Sierra website (viewed with IE) led me to expect. I like it.

The material is given as "100% polyester Trabagon micro rip stop w/ DWR", and also as having been treated with Teflon for stain resistance. The DWR seems to be of a different kind than the sort of after-market types I'm familiar with, which require some heat exposure to become effective. The care instructions of the jacket state "Machine wash cold, gentle cycle, do not bleach, no heat, line dry, do not iron, do not dry clean". The jacket does not have any fuzzy fabric on it to make it feel nicer against the skin - it's clearly a shell jacket. It does, however, have a soft netting in the back which covers the area in which the ventilation slit opens. All the seams have been taped. Given the accuracy with which that job appears to have been done, I wonder why such broad tape was used. But I'm not complaining.

The White Sierra online Size Chart put me into the "L" range, which is what I'm used to from most jackets. It fits just right. I have a goodly amount of room underneath the jacket to allow for layering, without the jacket hanging on me like a sail. Being long-limbed, I often encounter sleeves that are a trifle too short for me, but the ones on the Trabagon fit just fine.

The cord arrangement at the face opening The Trabagon jacket has a number of details that aren't immediately obvious. The pulls on both sides of the hood are the first "single-handed" pulls I've seen that actually deserve the name. Both pulls attach to the same cord and feature, on each side, a semi-flexible bit of fabric that, once the cord has been pulled on, keeps it in the adjusted place. This is something I can actually do with one hand - easily, repeatedly and without looking (although to repeat it, I have to loosen it first, which does take two hands). I am inordinately impressed by this. Time will tell if this method is adequately secure in actual use and whether it holds up against repeated use.

The hood features a short band of hook'n'loop-style fastener to adjust the curvature of the hood. I'll certainly be using it and the adjustment pulls a good bit - as I wear glasses, I'm a bit fussy when it comes to how a hood works in the rain (particularly as I am now used to the somewhat greater coverage of a hat).

I like the inside pockets. They are formed from the handwarmer pockets so that when I put something into the inside pocket on my left side, while I have my left hand in the handwarmer pocket, I can feel the object between my hand and the outer shell of the jacket, without being able to actually touch it. I've seen this method of creating inside pockets before and am rather fond of it, as I consider it a way of adding much utility with little extra weight.

The rear vent is something I find a little odd. I am familiar with pit zips on other jackets I have, and have found those to be very good at adjusting my ventilation. The rear vent appears as though it may also work very well - as long as I don't have a backpack on. Only I usually do have a backpack on when I'm outside for any length of time ...

Summary So Far:
It appears a very serviceable jacket, with several well-thought-out details, at a low weight and price. So far, I'm impressed.


Field Experience:
The Trabagon has come along on all my walks and bicycle rides since I received it. Bicycle rides were mostly to and from work, in all sorts of conditions. Walks included a three-day hike with my daughters in the German-Luxembourg Nature preserve (no precipitation), a couple of dayhikes around the woods here with some light rain, a car camping trip to Sweden (LOTS of rain, but we weren't out in it), a two-day hiking trip in Australia (the Binna Burra area of Lamington National Park, some drizzle) and a three-day hiking trip on the Mount Mulanje Massif in southern Malawi (Southeast Africa), with a lot of rather cold rain towards the end of the second day.

Something I like a lot about the jacket is that it's both light and very compact to pack. I've had it in the body of my pack, in the top lid, in an outside mesh pocket and tied around my waist (flat enough not to interfere with my waistbelt). That's good.

Did I mention it's light? I should. It really is.

Well, on naked skin it wasn't all that nice to wear, as it clung to my skin and wind chill was easily being transmitted to my skin. It being a thin hardshell jacket, this was expected.

Of course, usually I wear it over another layer, several if it's cold. In those circumstances, it was a pleasure to wear. It easily slid over whatever I had on underneath, without creating static. It also had enough room for me to layer a pile vest over an insulating jacket over a base layer without becoming unduly restrictive, even though it appears to be cut rather slim. I like that.

I also found the hood to work rather well, and particularly like the fact that I can actually adjust the hood using just one hand. While the small brim doesn't keep all the moisture from my glasses, it's certainly a lot better than not having a hood and I think it gets good grades in that department (though being a wearer of prescription glasses, I don't believe it's going to put me off my rain hat in the long run).

Weather Resistance:
Well, it worked very well against wind. As long as there was an insulating layer between my skin and the jacket, it certainly appeared to block all the wind, thereby being a main part of my insulation.

Being a rain jacket, rain resistance seems more important. I have mixed results to report here. Drizzle and light rain were fine - most of it seemed to roll off, the rest darkened the surface a little, but did not penetrate. It was different one day with very hard, wind-blown rain mixed in with hail. It was, in point of fact, downright nasty weather. On that day (I was bicycling into the teeth of this), I returned home with wet shoulders - underneath the jacket. They weren't soaked or sodden or anything of the sort, just wet. Wetness also wasn't isolated to a single spot, which would have seemed to indicate a local failure of a seam seal. Rather, on both shoulders (the most exposed bits as I was moving into the wind, with hail and rain being propelled against it at high speed) the fabric seemed to have allowed a bit of moisture to penetrate the fabric.

Unfortunately (I believe only backpackgeartesters consider this a misfortune) I have not been caught out in weather like that again. The last instance in which I wore the jacket (on Mount Mulanje in Malawi two weeks ago), the (light) wind-blown rain did not penetrate the jacket anywhere.

The fabric appeared to allow internally generated moisture to escape reasonably well. I have not been in the type of humid drizzles that would create a stress test for a fabric's water vapour permeability. When it rained, it was usually cold as well.

The ventilation slit in the jacket's back seems like a nice idea, and the one time I was out in a bit of rain without a backpack on, no rain got in that way and I assume it contributed to good ventilation. Again, I wasn't sweating underneath it.

All other times, however, I was wearing a backpack, which kept that feature resolutely shut.


Field Experience:
While I've taken the jacket on a number of trips (including Singapore), none of these trips featured rain. Therefore, the only use the jacket has seen as rain wear has been a couple of times when bicycling to and from work. Temperatures have been roughly in the 15 to 20 C (60 to 70 F) range, rain was light or drizzly, with little wind.

The jacket has held up very well. It's been carried around stuffed into a compartment of my commuter pack a lot, and has been dragged out of and stuffed back into it a lot. It has not been worn under anything heavier than a daypack.

The jacket has held up very well. I've just given the jacket some close scrutiny and except for one spot where I seem to have rubbed against plaster and some fabric stuck in the hook-n-loop patches, it looks like new.

Lightweighit bit of insulation and weather insurance I can easily take along anywhere, at a very reasonable price. Bit of a question mark where hardcore inclement weather is concerned.

It'll stay in my pack for the foreseeable future - if I'm going on a long hike into the wilderness with a chance of really nasty weather, I assume I'll want to resort to a more substantial jacket. For the types of hiking I mostly due (and for the commuting I do), this is just right.

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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Trabagon Jacket > Test Report by Andre Corterier

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