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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Trabagon Jacket > Test Report by Edwin L. Morse

WHITE SIERRA TRABAGON RAIN GEAR JACKET
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 31, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 23, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 23, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 71
LOCATION: Grawn, Michigan USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Late last summer I did a 2 week hike on Isle Royale. My starting pack weight was 32 lbs (14.5 kg), including 10 days of food and 3 qt (2.8 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: White Sierra
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: White Sierra
MSRP: US$ 55.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 11.5 oz (326 g)
Other details: I requested and received a size medium in the color sage.
There are many very nice details in the Trabagon rain jacket. Two important features to me are fit and function.
Trabagon jacket fits
Trabagon jacket fits
I already know the fit is good. The three images at the left show the fit. The hood fits nicely with a baseball cap or with my Tilly hat. I won't know about function until I can get some actual experience.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The White Sierra Trabagon Rain Gear Jacket arrived neatly folded in a clear plastic envelope. The tag inside the neck line states it is 100% polyester. A hang tag on one sleeve states it is "waterproof, breathable, taped & fully seam sealed". I will learn for myself in the months to come if the waterproof and breathable statements are true. The jacket seems to be very well constructed. I could find no dropped or loose stitches.
INSIDE DETAILS
INSIDE DETAILS

I combined pictures so I could show more details. In the left image I folded the jacket so the two inside pockets are visible. I think these will be very useful since I have similar pockets in an older and much heavier jacket.
In the center image the top of the zipper is shown with several nice features. There is a storm flap that can be held in place with a snap at the top and bottom as well as five hook and loop fasteners. The left side one handed hood tightener is also visible in the top left of this image.
In the image on the right the bottom snap and two of the hook and loop fasteners are shown. The two way zipper is shown with the top zipper pulled up a short distance.
outside details
outside details

In the far left the back vent is shown partly pulled open. It is a nice features but I do not expect much ventilation from it when I'm wearing a back pack.
The next image to the right shows the hook and loop adjustment of the cuffs. I like this feature since in a hard rain I can tighten the sleeve cuffs over the cuffs of waterproof gloves or mittens.
The next image to the right shows the back of the hood with the hook and loop size adjustment.
The image on the far right shows the one handed hood tightener.
stuff pocket
stuff pocket

The image on the right shows the right hand pocket held open to show the inside zipper pull and the pull tab at the top inside the pocket.
The image on the left shows the jacket stuffed in the pocket beside a one liter Platypus bladder. I like this loose stuff sack so I can stuff it into any shaped space in my pack.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The only instructions were the required care (washing) instructions on the back of a tag at the neck line:
Machine wash, Gentle cycle, Wash with like colors, No heat, line dry, Do not iron, Do not dry clean.

TRYING IT OUT

My experience with the Trabagon Rain Gear Jacket is minimal at this time. I have examined the jacket to find all the features. I've tried it on several times and stuffed it in the pocket stuff sack.

The day after I got home I had to go to town for shopping and bill paying during a springtime rain. The jacket was nice light weight rain protection in conditions from heavy wind blown mist to driving rain. I am looking forward to wearing the jacket on the trails for more serious rain protection.

SUMMARY

This summary was completed May 31, 2009.
The White Sierra Trabagon Rain Gear Jacket is a feature rich and light weight jacket. At this time it looks very impressive. Only field experience will tell if looks live up to reality.

Pros:
* Easily adjustable hood
* Two way zipper
* Easily adjustable cuffs
* Large inside pockets
* Taped seams
* Built in pocket stuff sack

Cons:
* No pit zips - on the other hand, I've never thought pit zips were of great value anyway.
* At this time I don't see much negative about the jacket.
I'm sure I can find a few things with some field time.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've been on three trips, which totaled four nights out, since the initial Report. I've carried and used the White Sierra Trabagon Rain Jacket on each trip. I've also worn the jacket several times for day hikes and shopping trips. This has been one of the coolest and wettest summers I can remember.

The first was June 13 through June 15, 2009 on South Manitou Island. This island, part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is in Lake Michigan, about 7 miles (11 km) west of the nearest point of land in Michigan. During the first night we had a light rain for about an hour. All three days were bright, sunny and warm. The low temperature each morning was about 50 F (10 C) and the high each day was about 65 F (18 C). Our group camped in an open forest area about 1000 feet from the shore. The terrain on the island varies from flat along the south and east shore to hilly forests inland to 300 foot (91 m) high dunes on the west side.

The second, June 30 and July 1, 2009, was an overnight hike in the Manistee National Forest in northwest Lower Michigan. The purpose of this hike was to get some exercise and more specifically to test some gear in rainy weather. The weather prognosticators predicted nearly constant rain for the next four days. I started hiking at 11:15 with a temperature of 50 F (10 C) and dropped to 47 F (8 C) by the time I got to my chosen camping area. The rain quit for the last 2 miles (3 km) of my hike in and started again soon after I got the tent set up. I camped in a small stand of red pines in a low flat area known as Lietch Bayou. Except for the bayou, this area is the hilliest part of the Manistee National Forest. The rain started again during the night and did not quit until after I got home. It rained hard and steady while I hiked back to the car. During this trip I wore the jacket most of the time I was outside the tent, except when I was under the tarp eating or packing. I wear a broad brimmed Tilly hat when I'm hiking. On this hike I pulled the jacket hood up over the hat. This kept my hat and head dry but limited how much I could turn my head. I was wearing a Patagonia silk weight tee shirt and a Back packing Light Thorofare Trekking Shirt under the Trabagon rain jacket. Neither of these shirts is especially breathable.


The third, July 15 & 16, 2009, was an overnight hike in the Pere Marquette State Forest, east of Traverse City, Michigan. The 9.5 mile (15.3 km) hike to where I camped was a little hilly with mostly sunny skies and pleasant temperature holding at 68 F (20 C). A light rain started during the night. It was 47 F (8 C) when I started hiking in the morning and did not change. The weather on the day I hiked back alternated between hard rain and periods of just dark threatening clouds. This time I pushed the hood down inside the back of the jacket and depended on the Tilly hat to keep my head dry. This gave me more head mobility but my hat and the top of my head got wet.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the first outing, to South Manitou Island, I only wore the jacket for a short time each morning as a wind breaker over two shirts. It served this purpose very well.
breakfast on South Manitou Island
breakfast on South Manitou Island

The White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket had me wondering if it is not water proof or not breathable at the end of the second hike. When I got back to the parking lot my shirts were very damp in several places. On the other hand, I sweat so much anyway that nothing I wear hiking can stay dry. The outside shirt I was wearing is definitely not breathable and the inside shirt is not warm when sweaty. I was warm enough until I took off the rain jacket.

The third trip I wore a very light weight Back packing Light Beartooth Merino Wool Hoodie. The first day was mostly bright and sunny so the jacket stayed in my pack. The next morning I put the jacket on over the BPL hoodie before I got out of the tent. While I was eating or packing under the tarp I used the jacket to sit on. I put the jacket back on when I was ready to take the tarp down and finished packing. I took it off once when the rain stopped for a short period. I soon put it back on. When the rain started coming down hard I put my cell phone in one inside jacket pocket and the camera in the other inside pocket. When I got back to the parking lot I took off the jacket. The Back packing Light Hoodie was sweaty wet. Some areas inside the Trabagon jacket were wet and some areas were dry. The wet areas generally correspond to areas where I sweat the most. The cell phone and camera were both dry.

SUMMARY

I think the White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket is waterproof. I also think it is as breathable as a waterproof jacket can be. No rain jacket, or even any shirt I own, can stay dry when I'm hiking. I sweat hard when I'm hiking and I cool off quickly when I stop. If my rain gear keeps me warm I feel it is doing the job it should. I would prefer the jacket to be about five inches (13 cm) longer. This would make the two way zipper more necessary and more useful.

Positives:
* Adjustable hood
* Useful pockets
* Two way zipper
" Easy to layer over shirts

Negatives;
* Ventilated back useless for hiking
* Shorter than I prefer

I would like to thank White Sierra and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to use and test this jacket.

This concludes my Field Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the last two months I've carried or worn the White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket on three day hikes, seven trail work days and two backpacking trips. I've also worn the jacket on several rainy days in town or around home.

Two of the day hikes were in the Manistee National Forest with clear skies and temperatures between 60 F (16 C) and 66 F (19 C). The other day hike was from my home on trails through the woods to the nearby village of Interlochen, through the Interlochen State Park and around roads back home. This six mile (10 km) hike started with a misty drizzle that soon evolved into a steady downpour. The temperature held at 68 F (20 C). I was wearing the Trabagon rain jacket but not rain pants or waterproof shoes. I got very wet.

I work with two Chapters of the North Country Trail Association volunteering for trail building and maintenance. Three work days were in the Pere Marquette State Forest, south of Traverse City, Michigan. The other four were in the Manistee National Forest, southwest of the village of Baldwin. The project, in Sterling Marsh, is to build over 1200 feet (366 m) of boardwalk. We will get about 500 feet (152 m) done this year. A few hours before the following picture was taken it rained lightly for nearly an hour. Most of us put on our rain jackets and took them off as soon as the rain quit. Two jackets can be seen hanging on the fence.
boardwalk
boardwalk

The next work session replaced the log bridge with boardwalk. High leather boots are required for trail work in the National Forest. The existing trail through the marsh floods every spring. We dug through more than a foot (30 cm) of wet muck to put in at least half of the posts.

The first overnight hike, in late August, was also in the Manistee National Forest. It had rained the night before I started so the trail and all wood structures were wet. I hiked 10 miles ( km) the first day with sunny skies the temperature holding close to 62 F (17 C) all day. The trail was frequently muddy between or on steep hills. I hiked 11.4 miles ( km) the second day under cloudy skies and the temperature slowly rising from the predawn 47 F (8 C) to 58 F (14 C) when I finished. The second day I hiked on high and dry trails with frequent hills.

The third backpacking trip was planned for six days along the shore of Lake Michigan from just north of Ludington to the village of Leland. A hiking buddy has the idea (almost an obsession) that this would be a good hiking trail with many possibilities and options. I agreed to go along just because it was a backpacking trip. He planned to average about 15 miles (24 km) each day. The idea of a beach hike was not especially appealing. The first day was ideal hiking, clear and sunny with a high temperature of 68 F (20 C). There was mostly hard sand to walk on near the water, although it was a steeper slope. Here is a typical view of the beach, with my hiking buddy on ahead.
Lake Michigan beach hike
Lake Michigan beach hike

The second day was similar weather with the addition of a strong wind from the northwest. This caused the bigger waves to push farther up on the beach in turn making us walk in softer sand or at times getting wet feet. There were also a few obstacles the second day where property owners had built sea walls down into the water. The weather stayed about the same with mostly clear skies, lows at night of about 40 F ( C) and highs around 68 F ( C). The second night we camped in a marina camp ground in the village of Arcadia. I wore the Trabagon jacket at night for a windbreaker.
Trabagon jacket as windbreaker
Trabagon jacket as windbreaker

The third day of hiking on the constant slope was too much for my right hip and it started to hurt more with every step. We camped in the Plat River Campground, in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, the third night. The next morning my buddy hiked back to the beach and continued north. I took a different trail and then a road walk to the village of Honor where I called for a ride home. I only hiked seven miles (11 km) to where my wife picked me up. Fortunately hiking on a trail gave my hip no problems. The road hiking was pain free as long as I hiked on the right side with the slope down to my right.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I did not get as much hiking in the rain with the White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket as I had hoped for but I did get enough to form some opinions. The jacket kept the rain on the outside, or to say it another way it is waterproof. On the other hand, I do not think the jacket is especially breathable.

When I hike hard with a pack on my back I get sweaty wet all over. Perhaps breathability depends too much on the ventilated back. No rain jacket will keep my back dry when I wear a pack. My back gets sweaty wearing the lightest of shirts with no jacket. When I'm hiking hard with a backpack and wearing the Trabagon rain jacket my shirt gets wet (probably sweaty) all over. If I wear the jacket around camp or to town I stay dry and the wet stays outside the jacket.

In my opinion breathability is an over rated term. I think the Trabagon is as "breathable" as any of the other four rain jackets I presently own, three of which are supposedly breathable and one is just waterproof.

SUMMARY

Overall I think the White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket is a very good rain jacket. It also functions well as a windbreaker. While it does not keep me dry when I'm hiking I also would not be dry wearing just a long sleeved tee shirt. My shirts are generally sweaty wet back, front and under my arms when I'm hiking.

I will continue to carry the Trabagon for day hikes and trail work. I will probably not carry it for backpacking for more than an overnight.

My likes:
* Waterproof jacket
* Good usable pockets
* Hood is good rain protection

My dislikes: really, not much
* Prefer a rain jacket a little longer
* inside is not comfortable on bare skin

This concludes my Long Term Report. I would like to thank Backpackgeartest.org and White Sierra for the opportunity to test the Trabagon rain jacket.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of White Sierra gear
Read more gear reviews by Edwin L. Morse

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