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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Jakpak > Test Report by Mike Curry

JAKPAK
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 31, 2011

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Curry
EMAIL: thefishguy@hotmail.com
AGE: 41
LOCATION: Aberdeen, Washington
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)

I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
JakPak Front View
Manufacturer: JakPak
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: jakpak.com
MSRP: US$249.99
SIZE TESTED: Large
Listed Weight: Small 2lbs/13oz (1.28 kg), Medium 2lbs/15 oz (1.33 kg), Large 3lbs/1oz (1.39 kg), X-Large 3lbs/3oz (1.45 kg)
Measured Weight:
Sleeping bag - 1 lb, 0.6 oz (0.47 kg)
Tent - 14.4 oz (0.41 kg)
Jacket - 1 lb, 8.6 oz (0.7 kg)
TOTAL MEASURED WEIGHT: 3 lb, 7.6 oz (1.58 kg)
Other details:

From Manufacturer's Website:
IMAGE 2
JakPak (Tent Stows at Top, Bag Below Inside)


Waterproof/Breathable and Waterproof combination

*All-in-one patent pending revolutionary design featuring a waterproof breathable rain jacket with integrated tent (shelter), mosquito netting and sleeping bag
*3 season design (spring, summer and fall)
*3.1 oz urethane coated ripstop nylon (112t*95t/70d*70d) polyester (54T*52T/250D*250D) body fabric
*Breathable/Waterproof construction, fully seam taped
*Entire product meets CPAI-84 flame retardant standards for tents
*DWR finish (Durable Water Resistant)
*2 Layer W/P non-breathable Clear, Milky or 2.5 layer printed
*2 Layer W/P Hydrophilic Clear, Milky, or 2.5 layer printed 10000mm, MVT 5000g

IMAGE 3
Tent Stows in Upper Back
JACKET

*3 total pockets (2 exterior, 1 interior)
*12” (0.3 m) 5 coil Pit zips
*26.5” (0.67 m) 5 coil Reversible center front zipper
*Integrated hood and collar with drawcord and visor
*1” (2.5 cm) Elastic Integrated suspenders help distribute shelter and sleeping bag weight evenly
*Storm flaps over pockets and zippers keep water out of garment
*iPod loop

TENT/SHELTER

*Integrated tent provides shelter over the head, neck and shoulders
*Curved tent pouch on back of jacket has mesh along bottom, allows debris or water from storing tent to fall out without having to clean out the pocket
*.0625 x .129 (1.5 x 3.3 mm) Rust resistant metal tent rods
*Attached no-see-um netting deters small no-see-um size insects, while maintaining good visibility
*Quick and easy setup with no hassle, added 22L silver/non-nickel
grommets can be used for staking
*Detachable tent can be removed and stored separately
*Detachable tent can also be use as a pack cover

SLEEPING BAG

*Integrated sleeping bag folds in/out of jacket for quick and easy access
*5 coil zipper removes sleeping bag
*Elastic at top of bag for snug fit
*Waterproof and Waterproof/Breathable fabrics used, Waterproof on bottom for laying on wet ground and breathable on top for comfort
*5 coil angled full length Two-way zipper allows for ease of entry/ exit, also allows you the choice to zip your feet free for easy access for walking around, hook and loop to help from dragging on ground
*Roomy fit and capacity allows winter clothes inside the bag and jacket

WARRANTY

*The JakPak is covered under a 90 day customer satisfaction limited warranty and one-year manufacturer’s workmanship warranty.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 4
Bag Deployed - Note Suspenders
The JakPak arrived with a hang tag that provided an overview of the features and deployment of the jacket.

My initial impression was that the material was heavier than I was expecting, and reminded me more of a coated nylon material throughout than a waterproof-breathable material on the front. That said, the jacket was more robust than I was expecting which is great for my off-trail rambles, and the materials and construction seem to be of good quality.

The features of the JakPak were actually far simpler than I was expecting. Everything looked pretty straightforward, and a panel sewn inside the front of the jacket gave basic instructions on deploying the tent and sleeping bag portions.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions sewn inside the jacket give the basic idea for deploying the sleeping bag and tent. There is also a video available at the manufacturer's website. Both the written instructions and video clearly show how to use the JakPak.

Laundering instructions were on the hang tag and stated not to machine wash or dry clean, but rather to wipe clean with a damp cloth.

TRYING IT OUT

IMAGE 5
Zipping up the Jacket, Tent Behind my Head
I started out trying a size XL as my measurements fall between a Large and an X-Large according to the manufacturer's website. The XL turned out to be too large for me, and was exchanged for a Large, which fits well. For additional information on this, see the next section "Customer Service Experience."

As a jacket, it was roomy enough for 3-season layering but not so roomy as to be unusable with just a t-shirt. The jacket was comfortable, the zippers and hook-and-loop closures all worked well, and the adjustable suspenders worked well to balance the extra weight on the back of the jacket.

Deploying the sleeping bag and tent was as simple as opening their respective compartments and pulling them out. They can also be unzipped from the jacket. The sleeping bag has a zipper that runs diagonally almost its entire length making it easy to get in and out of. The tent portion pops up easily on its own, and is quite intuitive. The tent portion includes an elastic strap with hook and loop fasteners that can be put under my body to keep it in place. I would describe the overall size when deployed as cozy . . . not too roomy, and not confining. I've not yet tried it with any kind of insulation (e.g., sleeping bag) but may find, as we're moving into our milder time of year, that I may simply opt for fleece pants and jacket rather than a sleeping bag when using the JakPak.

Putting the tent back into its pocket requires some finesse, as the tent poles are wanting to spring back into place, but all-in-all, it seems quite easy to use, and I can't wait to try it out as an overnight shelter.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE

IMAGE 6
Inside, Before Expanding Tent Fully
My size falls between the Large and X-Large ranges at the manfacturer's website, and ultimately the Large was the right choice for me. Even with significant layering I still have plenty of room.

After realizing the X-Large would be too large for me I called customer service. This was just after 5:00 PM on a sunny Friday afternoon and I ended up leaving a message requesting a return call (and didn't expect to hear from anyone until Monday). Imagine my surprise when I received a call back within minutes! The caller explained that the JakPak is cut generously to allow for plenty of layering, but that they would send out a Large right away, along with a return shipping label. The caller was very courteous and pleasant. I received the Large the following Tuesday afternoon.

It was an excellent customer service experience.

SUMMARY

Overall, my initial experiences with the JakPak are very positive, and I look very forward to testing this innovative piece of gear.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have used the JakPak as a shelter 3 nights and as a jacket on four days of backpacking and 3 additional day hikes. One night was along the coast in Olympic National Park, one was on the dry east slope of the Cascade Mountains, and one in Olympic National Forest, all in Washington State. The three day hikes included two in the temperate rainforest of Olympic National Park and one in the eastern Olympic Mountains.

Weather conditions during hiking included light drizzle, clouds, and sunshine. Weather conditions when using the JakPak as a shelter were generally mild nights without precipitation. Temperatures ranged from overnight lows approximately 45 F (7 C) to daytime temperatures ranging from 50-65 F (10-16 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
My usual configuration (I can pull net down over my torso)
The JakPak has performed pretty well so far, though there are some things I haven't enjoyed as much.

WATER RESISTANCE/BREATHABILITY:

I have no complaints so far about the JakPak's water resistance. Even in a soaking all-day drizzle on a dayhike, I stayed nice and dry. Both the fabric and the seams appear impervious to water so far. Breathability doesn't seem quite as good as other "waterproof breathable" fabrics I've used, but it seems better than a coated nylon product. On one of the warmer days, in the drizzle, I felt a bit clammy, but the jacket provides enough ventilation options I wasn't totally miserable. I'm more than happy to trade a bit of breathability for better water resistance, though, so it isn't a major issue for me as a jacket. I've not yet had the pleasure of it dumping rain on me while sleeping, but look forward to encountering such conditions.

FIT AND COMFORT:

The overall cut of the JakPak makes it generally comfortable as a jacket, at least when not wearing a pack. The suspenders help distribute the weight so that the weight of the bag and tent don't pull the jacket back constantly. I was actually surprised at how quickly I got used to the unusual weight distribution of the jacket when dayhiking without a pack.

When worn with a backpack of 20-25 pounds (9-11 kg), with the tent and bag stowed in the jacket, I found the JakPak to be rather uncomfortable with the pack I was using (though I tried it with another pack and it didn't seem quite so bad). After about a half-dozen miles, though, I got smart and removed the bag and tent from the jacket and stowed them in the pack (yes, I'm a bit slow sometimes). After doing so the JakPak was quite comfortable to wear, even with the pack. That's how I've used it since, with both backpacks and daypacks, and I haven't had any additional discomfort problems.

PACKABILITY:

The JakPak is probably the least packable raincoat I own, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's inconvenient. It takes a bit more room in my pack, but certainly no more than a smaller shelter and raincoat would individually. The integrated poles for the tent limit my ability to just cram it in my pack, but that's just the way it is, and it isn't anything I find bothersome.

USE AS A SHELTER:

As a shelter, I have mixed feelings about the JakPak. I'm a big fan of tarp shelters and bivy sacks, so it isn't that I'm having a hard time adjusting to a minimalist shelter. I'm just having a hard time adjusting to this particular minimalist shelter. The bag portion works well and it feels much like a bivy sack from the waist down. The jacket works well as a ground cloth for my upper body, and can actually be worn as a coat when it's deployed. The tent portion, while small, seems fairly well-designed and functional. The three pieces can be deployed fully independently, which allows some great freedom of movement (I tend to sleep on my side, and like the fact I can move pretty freely in the JakPak). For the most part, it works well as a shelter.

The down side, as a shelter, is again the breathability. I found myself getting warm, and clammy, pretty quickly the first night I used it. It effectively trapped heat and perspiration, and I found myself having to unzip the bag to keep comfy (which wasn't a problem as it was a mild night with no rain in the forecast). I thought to myself, though, on more than one occasion, "how comfortable would I be if I had to button this up for rain?" I haven't had a chance to find out yet, but I hope to. I suspect for summer use from this point forward I'll not use a sleeping bag but just some warm layers, as it definitely traps heat well (so this could be a positive feature as well).

One other negative as a shelter is that the tent portion feels very, very small to me when I put it over my head. Luckily, the netting is so long I can put the tent above my head and simply drape the netting over my face, and could easily pull the tent down over me in the event of rain. I suppose it wouldn't bother me while sleeping, but I somehow expected it to feel roomier (but I found it to be much like my bivy sack).

The final negative is that I have had all sorts of problems keeping it still on my sleeping pad, to the point to where I don't bother trying to use it with a pad anymore. I keep sliding around on the pad. In the JakPak's defense, however, my pad is very slippery and I have similar problems with my bivy shelters.

SUMMARY

Overall, the JakPak is a very water resistant jacket that doubles as a functional one-person bivy-style shelter. It is reasonably comfortable when worn with a pack if I stow the tent and bag portions in my pack, and with the suspenders is reasonably comfortable when worn compete as a jacket without a pack. The only potential downsides I've seen so far is a clammy feeling (that may have had more to do with me being overdressed than anything else), it slides around on my sleeping pad, and the "tent" portion is fairly small. None of these potential downsides, however, have caused me any real concern.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have used the JakPak on two additional trips resulting in an additional 5 nights of use, for a cumulative use of 8 nights (plus three days of day use) during testing.

Three of the new nights were along the wilderness coast of Olympic National Park, including one night with substantial rainfall. The remaining two nights were on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Overnight low temperatures these nights ranged from 47-62 F (8-17 C). I encountered sand fleas and mosquitoes on both trips.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The JakPak has continued to perform well in the field. It shows no signs of significant wear and has sustained no damage. Soiling has been easily removed with a damp cloth. My new observations since field testing primarily surround three areas: waterproofness as a shelter, use without a sleeping bag (just clothing for insulation), and use around insects.

Waterproofness as a shelter:

One night on my coast trip I fell asleep with the shelter portion of the JakPak above my head with just the mosquito netting covering my head, with the jacket on and zipped to my chest, and the bag portion zipped over my lower body. Sometime in the middle of the night I felt rain start pounding my face (an interesting way to wake up) and simply reached up and pulled the shelter portion down to cover my face.

After some adjustment of its position, I was able to get the shelter positioned over my head so that it was fully sheltered, and found it only needed minor adjustment if I switched sides (I'm by nature a side sleeper, so this was a big plus).

Use without a sleeping bag:

Oh, my, how I wish I never would have tried using any kind of sleeping bag in this! After switching to wearing just shorts or (on the coldest night, when it dipped to 47 F (8 C)) thin nylon pants, I no longer felt nearly as confined or as clammy. The fabric can feel damp against bare skin, but with thin pants on the clamminess all but disappeared. The coldest night was my threshold temperature for sleeping comfortably. I awoke at dawn at the lower level of my comfortably cool (and I tend to be a warm sleeper). I was wearing a light fleece top and thin nylon zip-leg pants. I'm pretty certain that I could comfortably go a little cooler with fleece pants and a heavier top, but any lower with what I had on and my sleep would have been disturbed. That said, I'm quite certain I could have gotten through a cooler night or two, just with disturbed sleep.

On warmer nights, I sleep with just my feet in the bag portion (with it mostly unzipped), the jacket open and down as a ground cloth, and the mosquito netting covering my face and chest (all ready to button up should it rain).

Use around insects:

While I had first wondered why the netting was so long, I now understand from having spent a few nights with the bugs . . . the ample material allows me to pull the netting over most of my upper body and protect my exposed arms and chest if I have the jacket portion open. Works great, and keeps the bugs mostly at bay (though a few persistent mosquitoes got me through the netting where it touched my skin).

SUMMARY

Overall, my thoughts on the JakPak are this: It is a very waterproof jacket/shelter that is effective in both uses. It errs on the side of waterproofness over breathability, which in my climate is a plus. I don't find it quite as comfortable as using my regular bivy and a lightweight jacket, but it does solve the problem of carrying the bivy if I don't want a pack. All in all it's a good execution of a great and interesting concept, and I'm happy with it.

CONTINUED USE

I'm not entirely sure what kind of use the JakPak may see in the future. I don't anticipate using it for planned backpacking trips, but could see myself wearing in on dayhikes in sketchy weather where I might be considering an overnight bivouac. I might also be inclined to use it on quick overnights in really foul but mild weather, since it is more waterproof than most of my lighter weight jackets. While I'd normally just carry a bivy, it might be fun to bivouac without a pack for a change, so I don't think it will be put away for good, but it probably won't be something I reach for regularly.

I'd like to thank JakPak and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the JakPak. This concludes my report.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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