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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Trabagon Jacket > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

White Sierra Trabagon Rain Jacket

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Trabagon jacket



INITIAL REPORT - May 11, 2009
FIELD REPORT - August 2, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 28, 2009



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness of Canada. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
May 11, 2009

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: White Sierra
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: www.whitesierra.com
MSRP: USD $55

Size tested (Men's only): L (Other sizes available: M-XXL)
Color tested: Sage (Other colors available: Nautical Blue, Black, Burnt Yellow)

Listed Weight: not provided)
Measured weight: 335 g (11.8 oz)

ITEM DESCRIPTION

The White Sierra Trabagon Rain jacket is a lightweight rain jacket designed "for a hike or downpour in the city". It is made from 100% polyester Trabagon micro ripstop with DWR (Durable Water Resistant) treatment. The jacket also comes with a Dupont Teflon tag indicating it has stain repellent properties. It is not clear to me if this represents a separate coating, or if the ripstop material is made from a Teflon-based product. The polyester fabric is soft, flexible, and lightweight.

Trabagon front

As shown in the photo above, the front zipper has a 2-way zipper so that the zipper can be unzipped from the bottom even when the main zipper is pulled up. The zipper has a rubberized grip to facilitate use. The zipper track can be covered with a flap of fabric held closed by 5 strips of hook-and-loop closures that run the length of the zipper. Additionally, there are plastic snaps at the top and bottom of the zipper track for extra closing security. The zipper goes all the way up the neck providing this jacket with a rather high collar. The outside of the jacket has large pockets on either side. The opening of the pockets is vertical and runs 8.25 in (21 cm), although the entire pocket is rectangular, measuring 11 in (28 cm) in vertical height and 7.25 in (18.4 cm) in width. Both pockets have zippers with fabric zipper pulls. The right pocket actually has a double-sided zipper, and the inner fabric pull reads "packable". With this prompting, I inverted this pocket and stuffed the jacket inside to make a handy package of 9 x 6 x 3 in (22.9 x 15.2 x 7.6 cm), although it could easily be squeezed smaller in a pack.

packed into a pocket

On the back of the jacket, there is a reflective "W" logo on the back of the right hip area. The only other feature of the back is the vent, which crosses the back of the jacket just below the shoulder area.

Vented back

On the inside of the jacket, the back and shoulders area is lined with mesh fabric which connects to the vented back. There is a small fabric loop for hanging the jacket just above the care instructions tag.

inside of hood

There are also large pockets measuring 7.5 x 11.5 in (19 x 29.2 cm) on each side. Note that these do not connect with the pockets on the outside of the jacket. The lower border of the jacket has a "quick draw" hem with a small cordlock that can be pulled to tighten the bottom hem to prevent water or wind from entering. This is located on the inside of the jacket's bottom hem, as shown below. The other striking feature of the inside of the jacket is that all of the seams are tape-sealed, as can easily be seen in the photos of the inside of the jacket.

Inide the Trabagon

The hood is of a generous size, and has small cordlocks on either side to allow the rim of the hood to be pulled close. The front of the hood has a semi-rigid bill measuring 2.75 in (7 cm) in the center, tapering off to the sides.

Trabagon hood

The sleeves of the jacket have a hook-and-loop closure loop at the end to allow the sleeves to be snugged over the wrists (or gloves) and prevent water from coming in that way.

INSTRUCTIONS AND WARRANTY

The Trabagon arrived with no instructions to speak of. The tag in the jacket indicates that the jacket can be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle and line dried. The jacket should not be bleached, ironed, dried (in a clothes dryer) or dry cleaned. The jacket came with a tag stating "All White Sierra apparel is guaranted against defects in materials and workmanship". No details are provided, although a phone number and website are provided, which is where I would start if there were a problem.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS and TRYING IT OUT

The Trabagon seems to be a fairly simple rain jacket, with minimal features for minimal weight. I tend to run between a size L and XL, but I decided to get the Trabagon in size L. From my experiences trying it on, it seems plenty roomy for someone of my size. On the second day I had the jacket, I took it to work for a forecast of rain. The weather cooperated by providing some mild showers, and the Trabagon kept me nice and dry under these mild conditions. Walking around in the jacket with a short-sleeved shirt underneath, I could tell that this unlined jacket will likely get hot and sticky on my skin if I wear it without a long-sleeved shirt during exertion. I also noticed that I had a little bit of trouble getting the main zipper to start. Once I had the zipper on track and started it was fine, but I had to be extra careful to make sure the zipper was pulled all the way down, otherwise it just would not budge.

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TRABAGON

I expected the Trabagon to be small and lightweight rain jacket that will keep me dry on the trail. The jacket seems well-made and quite waterproof so far, but I am a little concerned with it being too hot, especially during a summer rainstorm. I'll be using the Trabagon quite a bit during spring and summer in Ohio, so I expect to test its durability and its ability to keep me dry and comfortable.


THE STORY SO FAR

    Impressive
  • Simple, with well-thought out features
  • Nice big pockets.
  • Packs easily into pocket
    Concerns
  • Will it be too hot to wear during rainstorms on the trail?
  • I hope the main zipper loosens up a bit with further use.


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FIELD REPORT

August 2, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

During the Field Report, I have worn the Trabagon mostly for canoeing activities.

On June 10-11, I went for an overnight canoe trip to Dillon Lake State Park, near Zanesville, OH. The temperature was warm but it rained on and off while we were on the water, and rained extensively afterwards while we were setting up camp and cooking/eating.

I also took the Trabagon with me on a 10-day backcountry canoe trip to the Quetico Provincial Park (Ontario, Canada) and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Minnesota, USA). The temperature on the trip was between 60 and 65 F (15.5 to 18 C) most of the time during the day, which included about 4 full days of rain, and another 3 days when it rained on and off during the day (and 3 days of partly cloudy/sunny weather). The total trip covered 101 miles (163 km), including 34 portages covering 7.8 mi (12.6 km).



FIELD EXPERIENCE

The overnight trip was a gear shakedown for the longer trip, and I was glad that it rained to I could test out the Trabagon for its rain-worthiness. I did a short test portage carrying a 55 lb (25 kg) pack on top of the rain jacket. I did not notice any problems, and the jacket kept me dry, including doing a nice job keeping the rain out of my eyes. I wore the Trabagon part of the time when I was on the water paddling. Again, I stayed nice and dry under the jacket. Although I wore it over a short-sleeved shirt, I did not feel any skin irritation or excess sweating from the jacket. As shown in the photo below, the rain beads up nicely on the outside of the jacket, leaving me comfy on the inside.

when will the rain end?

With this positive experience under my belt, I took the Trabagon as my rain jacket to the backcountry. We had a nice day and half at the beginning of the trip, followed by 4.5 days of fairly steady rain. During this time, I wore the Trabagon pretty much non-stop as my outer layer on top of a long-sleeved shirt. During the first few days of rain, I wore my personal floatation device (PFD) outside of the jacket; however, I later realized that the PFD would provide some insulation, so I changed to wearing it under the rain jacket.

For the first 2-3 days of rain, I carried a gear pack (about 90 lbs/43 kg) for the portages. In order to save time, this was always carried on top of the rain jacket. For the rest of the trip, I carried a canoe (75 lb/34 kg Alumacraft canoe) for the portages.

Because of all the rain, I feel that I learned a lot about the Trabagon. First, it did an excellent job of keeping me dry. I never felt any rain getting into the jacket, and the seams were watertight. When the rain was heavy, I zipped up the zipper all the way over my chin, and this prevented rain from running down the front. The hood was also watertight, and I was able to cinch down the cord to prevent the hood from blowing off my head.

Second, the jacket dried quickly. Unless it was actively raining, the jacket dried quickly to the point where the only wet parts of the jacket were the ends of the sleeves, caused by proximity to the water when I was paddling. If it had stopped raining when I was off the water, the jacket typically dried within 30 minutes if I hung it out. The only exception was the bottoms of the pockets, which tended to stay wet longer. If I inverted them, they also dried quickly. The photo below shows me drying out the Trabagon on the trail, with the help of a handy pine tree.

Trabagon drying

Third, the Trabagon did a good job as a warmth layer. It kept the wind out and kept my body heat in. This was particularly important as the weather was quite cool for most of the trip, and I was concerned about hypothermia. I had one brief episode of hypothermia which occurred right before a portage. After lugging the canoe up and down to the next lake, I was fine.



WEAR AND TEAR

Despite wearing the Trabagon full time for nearly 7 days in total, it seems to have tolerated the heavy usage without much trouble. There are no obvious marks or tears in the fabric. The hook-and-loop closures still hold fast at the wrists. As I noted in my Initial report, the zipper still can be a little tricky to start, although I have gotten much better at this. The photo below shows me struggling to close the zipper at the Dillon Lake trip. After returning from the Minnesota trip, I washed the Trabagon with no problems noted.

struggling with trabagon zipper

FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To date, the White Sierra Trabagon rain jacket has done an awesome job under difficult conditions. It kept me warm and dry despite the weather. Without the Trabagon, my backcountry canoe trip would have been a real disaster!


This concludes my Field Report on the White Sierra Trabagon Rain Jacket. Please check in back in about 2 months for my final report on this item.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
September 28, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

The past 2 months have not included good weather for testing a rain jacket. I packed the Trabagon on a weekend trip for whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it did not rain at all, and the jacket never made it out of my pack. I did have the chance to wear the Trabagon while biking around town on 2 occasions, when I was caught out during a downpour. Temperatures at the time were around 75 F/24 C, with high humidity. Both bike trips were fairly short, on the order of 5 miles (8 km). I also have worn the Trabagon as a regular rain jacket to and from work, although these last 2 months have really been fairly dry.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

As noted above, my usage of the Trabagon has been limited over the Long-Term testing period. However, my experience with the Trabagon for biking has not been great. Both times, I was out riding when it began raining. By the time I got the jacket on, I was already slightly wet. I was also wearing a short-sleeve shirt. After putting the jacket on and starting to ride again, I rapidly became uncomfortable because the jacket retained a lot of body heat under these conditions. I have noticed this same issue with other raingear, unless it is specifically designed with pit zips for venting Also, the jacket felt rather sticky on my bare arms. The hood was big enough to accommodate my biking helmet, but I quickly moved the hood underneath the helmet to prevent it blowing off, which also made my head feel quite warm.


SUMMARY

Overall, I found the White Sierra Trabagon jacket to be a reliable piece of raingear. It comes in at a moderate price and a moderate weight, and I predict that I will continue to bring it with me on future backpacking trips. I have to say that I beat the heck out of this jacket on the backcountry canoe trip described in the field report, and it tolerated the abuse with no trouble. Because of the lack of venting, I do think it is better in the cool weather than the warm weather, particularly for high energy activities like backpacking or biking.


Things I liked about the Trabagon:
  • Waterproof
  • Packability (either in its stuff sack, or just crammed in a corner of the backpack)
  • Durability
  • Good inside and outside pockets
  • Bill of hood kept water out of my eyes
Things I disliked about the Pawnee:
  • Better venting for the heat would be helpful
  • Bottom zipper still a little tricky to get started

This concludes my report on the White Sierra Trabagon Rain Jacket. My thanks once again to White Sierra for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.


-larry kirschner



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