Imagine this. A highly water resistant, hooded wind and shower shell sized large enough for layering and to cover your butt with a full-length zipper, massive mesh-vented torso pockets, and pit zips for a mere 9 oz? Feathered Friends has achieved this reality with their Jackorak in 1.9-oz EPIC by Nextec fabric. We’ve climbed, hiked, snowshoed, and skied with EPIC Jackoraks for more than a year now, and they have earned a regular position on our gear lists.
The EPIC used in the Jackorak is the lightest flavor of this fabric, is soft next to skin, and has a drying time that is probably unmatched by any fabric on the market due to its extremely low water absorption capacity. The Jackorak won’t keep you dry in a deluge, but it is suitable for most of the mist and drizzle you’re likely to encounter in the mountains. It is a terrific winter shell in dry, cold, snowy conditions.
But it’s the full length zipper, vented torso pockets, voluminous hood, and pit zips that sets this jacket apart from the crowd. Zip everything up and cinch down the hood and you can add several degrees of comfort to your layering system during a biting mountain wind. Or, unzip and ventilate to your heart’s content when you hit the up hills and deep snow drifts.
The Jackorak is not without its imperfections, of course. Lycra-hemmed cuffs and hem proved to wear quickly – we would have preferred backstitched EPIC cuffs with elastic. Also, contrary to claims that suggest otherwise, EPIC does lose its water resistance over time.
Our suggestions to preserve water resistance:
- Never – ever – use soap to wash the jacket. Just throw it in the washer on gentle cycle and dry on medium heat.
- Use a hydrocarbon-based water repellent such as Scotchguard or Rain-X to restore its water repellency. Skip the Nikwax and other water-based repellents. They do little for silicone-encapsulated fabrics and readily wash out (silicone blocks the adsorption of water-based repellents to fiber surfaces).
- Keep it clean.
The bottom line is this: The EPIC Jackorak may be the most versatile wind shell on the market. It certainly has a wider comfort range than anything we’ve tested.