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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Jakpak > Test Report by Lori Pontious
I backpacked, camped and fished all over the lower 48 states with my family as a kid, and then life happened. I restarted these activities about four years ago - I dayhike or backpack 2-6 times a month. I am between light and ultralight. I have a hammock system and own a Tarptent. I am a side sleeper and typically use a NeoAir on the ground. My base weight depends upon season and where I go.
The Jakpak (or, the jacket, the tent, or the sleeping bag) is a unique piece of gear that provides a shelter and rain jacket all in one.
Per the manufacturer's included tag, the Jakpak is intended for spring, summer and fall camping and backpacking. The front of the jacket is waterproof breathable ripstop nylon, as is most of the sleeping bag and the tent. The bottom of the sleeping bag is waterproof ripstop nylon. The sleeping bag is more of a bivy and has no insulation. The sleeping bag also has a full length zipper. Both sleeping bag and tent are detachable, so they can be removed from the jacket. The tag further specifies that the tent can be used as a pack cover. As there are pictures on the manufacturer's website showing the tent fully deployed, and videos demonstrating how to set it up, I will highlight a few other things about the JakPak that I notice.
As you can see from the pictures, the Jakpak has some features that set it apart from an ordinary rain jacket. The suspenders attached to the inside seam of the shoulder of the jacket are intended to fasten to my belt or my pants to assist in holding up the weight of the combined jacket/tent/sleeping bag. The suspenders do not detach, so if I remove the tent/sleeping bag and no longer need them there, I can't also remove them. There are hook and loop strips to close the pockets for the tent and sleeping bag. The tent poles bend easily and it's not difficult to get the tent back into the pocket. I set up the tent and used the strap provided to keep the sides from falling flat, and inserted my 32 oz (907 g) Nalgene to give perspective on just what my claustrophobic tendencies are up against.INITIAL REPORT
The Jakpak I received appears to be well made, with no obvious flaws in workmanship. Putting on the jacket, I note that the sleeves are a little too long. This isn't upsetting to me as it's a rain jacket and needs to fit over insulating layers if necessary, and also, it has hook and loop fasteners on the cuffs to close the sleeves tightly on my wrists. The jacket fits fairly well otherwise.
I notice immediately the lump across the back that is the sleeping bag, rolled up in its pouch. I think that with a daypack this would work; considering that the Jakpak is also supposed to be my shelter, I may be able to overnight with a daypack, and may attempt just that. I will also be interested to test the jacket on a hike to observe how the tent, folded and packed along my shoulders, will cooperate (or not) with a pack of any kind. Since this is intended to be raingear as well, I feel that it is important to have a jacket that will work with my usual pack for long dayhikes or weekend overnights. But without the pack I do not notice the Jakpak's tent at all, other than the weight of it on my back. I am curious about how I will set this up - whether it will be necessary to remove the jacket, and how this would impact setting up in the rain.
Given the rain that we have been getting in California this spring, hopefully I will come back with at least a few nights out and a rainy hike or three to put the Jakpak through its paces as jacket and tent.FIELD REPORT
April 24 - 25, 2011, Henry Coe State Park, California. Elevation Range: 1,000 - 2,500 feet (305 m). Temperature range 45 - 55 F (7 - 13 C). Overcast, misty, light rainfall.
May 13 - 15, 2011, Ventana Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest (Monterey District), California. Elevation Range: 2,100 - 4,853 feet (640 - 1479 m). Temperature range: 30 - 50 F (-1 - 10 C). Variable cloud cover, with rain, hail, snow, and mist, breaking off at times to partial blue sky/sunshine.
July 1 - 4, 2011, Yosemite National Park, California. Elevation: 8,500 feet (2621 m). Temperature range: 40 - 80 F (4 - 27 C). Clear skies.
OBSERVATIONS: I took the Jakpak on a solo overnight trip to put it through its paces. In Henry Coe on a Sunday afternoon, with rain clouds on the horizon, I had the park to myself. Therefore I felt no qualms about filtering enough water and finding a spot on a ridgetop road with a little shelter from the wind, and just setting up for the night. I threw down a ground sheet, got out the Neoair, and went about putting it all together with the Jakpak. I took the jacket out of my pack, pulled out the tent, deployed the sleeping bag, and added my insulation and the Neoair.
I took the Jakpak on a solo overnight trip to put it through its paces. In Henry Coe on a Sunday afternoon, with rain clouds on the horizon, I had the park to myself. Therefore I felt no qualms about filtering enough water and finding a spot on a ridgetop road with a little shelter from the wind, and just setting up for the night. I threw down a ground sheet, got out the Neoair, and went about putting it all together with the Jakpak. I took the jacket out of my pack, pulled out the tent, deployed the sleeping bag, and added my insulation and the Neoair.
It immediately became obvious to me that there was no way the Neoair would fit inside the Jakpak with room for me and the loft of the quilt, so it clearly had to be underneath the Jakpak. (As a cold sleeper I am not about to try sleeping out in just clothing, no matter what, unless it's guaranteed to be well above freezing.) The quilt I use, a down Jacks R Better 3 season with 2.5" (6.35 mm) of loft, fit inside the sleeping bag but the jacket would not zip closed over the quilt without smashing the loft nearly flat. So I slept with the jacket wide open, and my arms inside the quilt. And since I had no way of zipping up the jacket without having my arms in the sleeves, while inside the quilt and the Jakpak, it next occurred to me - what happens when it rains? Well, at 2:30 am, I found out - it started raining. I had been sleeping with the bugnet thrown back and my head inside the tent on my pillow, and woke when a drop struck my cheek. After a moment's consideration, I put on my insulated jacket, shoved the entire quilt into the sleeping bag (which comes up to about my waist) and pulled on the Jakpak, zipping up the jacket. The problem then was the different temperature zones - all the high quality down packed into the sleeping bag was roasting my legs, and my torso was adequately warm but feeling cool by comparison.
After a bit the rain stopped. I lay there wide awake for a while wondering if it would start to rain again, and if the drybags and the things in them were as secure as they needed to be, because I had no shelter for them. After some tossing and turning, I discovered that the sleeping bag had separated from the jacket in such a way that the zipper had jammed. The tent wasn't quite at the height it should have been - there was barely any clearance over my nose - because the retaining strap had separated at the hook and loop and the sides of the tent were sliding apart. I had to unzip and sit up and try to figure out how to get this resolved by headlamp, getting colder for my efforts. And then I realized I was so awake that I probably wouldn't be going back to sleep for a long time. So I got up, packed, and hiked in the dark as it began to sprinkle. I arrived at Mississippi Lake in the dark, feeling a little more like sleeping, so threw down the gear in a picnic area and after brief consideration set up the tarp I brought as backup and slept under it with all my gear, using only the Jakpak's sleeping bag over my quilt instead of fighting with the zippers and tent in the dark. When I awakened it was nearly nine in the morning, the ducks and loons were happily cruising the lake in the rain, and it didn't look like it was letting up any time soon. So after a leisurely breakfast and coffee, I wore the jacket of the Jakpak down to the shoreline for filtering up some water, and packed up and headed back to the car.
Before departing on my second outing with the Jakpak I gave the matter of the zipper separation and the quilt and jacket issue some thought, and decided on a divide and conquer tactic - rather than keep all the parts of the Jakpak connected, I would try to use the components without the zippers. This did away with the issue I think was in play on my first outing - I believe I was shifting in my sleep and moving the sleeping bag one way while the jacket went another, and this tore the teeth of the zipper apart. Also, I decided that the jacket could be draped rather than zipped over me, as it provided adequate coverage for the part of the quilt remaining exposed over my torso. When we set up camp at Pat Springs on a ridge campsite, with a forecast of thunderstorms and showers, I set up my backup tarp as well to provide coverage for my gear.
The Ventana Wilderness being on the California coastline, and it being spring, of course, a mist blew in after the sun set, and somewhere in the night I woke to the constant drip drip drip of the condensed moisture falling out of the trees. The Jakpak kept me warm and dry despite the mist and the tarp kept my gear mostly dry. In the morning, I detected no condensation on the inside of the sleeping bag.
For the three nights I spent base camping/dayhiking in Yosemite National Park, I used the JakPak mostly as a windbreak - it was warm enough at night that I could have gone without it, but a chilly breeze coming off the snowbanks still present around our campsite was seeping through the seams of my quilt. I can't sleep with cold wind across my face, so the tent was useful to block it. Unfortunately, on this trip I couldn't sleep without tossing and turning, either, and could not manage to keep my head and shoulders in the tent portion of the JakPak. It had to be adjusted several times throughout the night. And while the bug netting is convenient and easy to use to keep mosquitos at bay, there isn't anything to stop crawling insects from making their way into the JakPak, since the tent sides and bottom are not attached. I returned from the trip well rested and not having suffered from sleeping out in the wind, but with legs itching from a dozen bites that I knew I hadn't gotten during the day since I would have noticed myself being bitten. I suspect one of the three kinds of ants present at the lake to be the culprit.
So far, I have found the JakPak to be waterproof, windproof, and easy to pack, whether I'm wearing it or carrying it in my pack. With a pack, the JakPak feels different and I have to confess that I removed sleeping bag and tent from the jacket to store it in the pack, rather than alter the fit of my backpack. As a rain jacket the JakPak has been working well, and I appreciate the pit zips that provide ventilation. I believe the sleeping bag combined with a quilt is a good combination; it adds a few degrees of warmth and protects the quilt while I am sleeping in the open. So far, I haven't noticed condensation, except for a little moisture inside the tent on humid nights; the closeness of the walls guarantee that I (a side sleeper) am breathing directly on them. The tent is the one thing I am definitely not liking, since it is too easily knocked askew when I toss in my sleep and I am then awakened by my head in contact with the fabric or the tent leaning in my face. The fix that I can identify is to add two loops to the grommets on the front corners and two tent stakes to stabilize it more than the elastic strap can do. I am not convinced this will help with the claustrophobic nature of the tent, however. As to how it works with my NeoAir, I have not had difficulty with slipping off while asleep, or while shifting positions.LONG TERM REPORT
July 8 - 9, 2011, Florence Lake, Sierra National Forest, California. Elevation: 7,327 feet (2233 m). Temperature range: 40 - 60 F (4 - 33 C). Clear skies.
August 20 - 21, 2011, Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, California. Elevation range: 8,000 - 9,400 feet (2438 - 2865 m). Temperature range: 38 - 70 F (3 - 21 C). Clear skies.
I took the JakPak on two Search and Rescue events, spending a night out each time. On a search near Florence Lake, we bivouacked near the ferry to begin our search the following morning. I attempted to use the JakPak without insulation other than my clothing. My heavy nylon pants, heavy wool socks, insulated midlayer jacket and the JakPak were not enough for me. I slept very little, and spent most of the night tossing and turning and watching the moon rise. I felt cold enough to be uncomfortable but did not turn hypothermic.
For our summer mock search I carried the JakPak cross country and camped with my team on a bench overlooking the Dinkey Lakes basin. We chose our site to stay out of the creek bottom, thus out of the cold that seeps downhill at night. This time I packed my 20 F (-7 C) down quilt and slept comfortably warm. I deployed the tent to combat mosquitos, but once night had fallen and dusk was done, the pesky insects departed and I was able to throw back the netting for a clear view of the stars.
The JakPak looks as new as the day I received it, despite my stuffing it into the pack repeatedly. I had feared that I broke a zipper when the sleeping bag and jacket separated in my initial use, however, it went back together without difficulty. The JakPak remains intact with no tears, broken seams, or obvious wear.
I have had no issues with leaking or condensation. I have not used the JakPak as a rain jacket on every trip, but have used it for warmth as well as rain protection. The jacket fits over my other layers easily. The sleeping bag worked sufficiently well with my down quilt, though I did not spend a night below 30 F (-1 C) so I do not know whether there might have been any compression of the down (based on loss of warmth; in the past I have been five degrees lower with the same quilt). I did not find the sleeping bag restrictive, since it moved with me as I turned from side to side.
Though I find no fault with the JakPak's construction or function as a shelter, I do find that a bivy is not the best solution for me personally. It's not the JakPak's fault that I did not appreciate the tiny space in the tent, or that I use it in such low temperatures that I need more insulation. I also prefer having a shelter I can sit up in, and change clothes in; most of my trips are with men and I prefer a little more privacy than a bivy can give me. Also, my tents weigh the same or less than the JakPak.
I do not think I will find a use for the JakPak in the future, however, I may find a purpose for it - our Search and Rescue team is made up of volunteers, not all of whom can afford quality gear. If new recruits find a shelter beyond their means and the size small will work for them, I will loan the JakPak to them.
Thanks again to JakPak and to BackPackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the JakPak.
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