Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market Report

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market Report

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    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana
    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    The Rab Demand pullover is a solid shell, 3-layer eVent, stripped down to the essentials and sits right around 9-10oz. Was this out of the scope of this article for weight purposes? I would say it is a good replacement to the Ozo.

    I've only had a chance to wear mine half a dozen times since I picked it up. I was pleased with how it functioned on a few snow runs this winter. Durability is very good, snagged several thorny acacia trees on a long run and thought for sure I would tear into the jacket, but it came our unscathed to my surprise.

    Nigel Healy


    Locale: San Francisco bay area

    Review from a TGOC 2011 podcaster extraordinaire Bob Cartwright

    Translation for USA of the UK phrase "everything on the tin" = "it does what it claims" from an old UK TV commercial

    OMM Cypher Smock

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    +1 on the Rab Demand. Very happy with it after 1 1/2 seasons. My go-to shell, for sure.

    I also own TNF Triumph anorak, which is great for weight and imo reasonably waterproof, but hardly breathes at all. I wouldn't want to climb a pass in tnf anorak.
    But I could see using it in summer on the jmt, for example, if you understand it's limits.

    Dan @ Durston Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    Haglofs Ozo, all sizes, $179 USD….kind of a weird check out though.

    Nevermind…it's a scam probably. The site was just registered 10 days ago so I highly doubt it's legit.

    Jim Sweeney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Yes, Dan, I ordered a jacket there a few days ago, but never heard from them. Seems like a lot of work to go to if they're just fishing for email addresses/ credit cards. Have tried emailing them, but one of their addresses came up empty. So far nothing on my credit card.

    Martin RJ Carpenter


    The quito might be Paramo's lightest jacket but its very compromised to achieve that – no real flap behind the non waterproof main zip, no double layer in shoulders vs pack pressure etc. They seemingly aimed at it at cyclists and the like where it'd probably do fine, but still can't help thinking it was a slight mistake in some ways.

    Rachel Frendrup


    They might may have replaced with with the LIM series, also paclite.I have both the LIM jacket and the pants and love them.

    I have quite a lot of Haglöfs gear and have never been disappointed in anything, usually very impressed.

    Nigel Healy


    Locale: San Francisco bay area

    Yep agreed Quito is very compromised, yep has many mistakes. However, I've yet to find better in some contexts. It is more of a walking than a cycling cut due to the excessively shortness at the rear, it is about 6" too short for cycling. However, if you're wearing waterproof pants then the short cut is not really that much of a problem.

    Paramo's waterproofness is not a function of zips, you'd be allowing water in via zips and aiming to be warm for baselayer to evaporate and the Quito liner to let that pass through, it might condense on the inside face of the outer layer but the inner layer won't let it pass back in, and then let body heat keep the moisture going in a generally outward direction.

    I biked today for an hour doing grocery shopping in the Quito in constant rain, I was dry.

    Compromised, yes, example of dumb designers, yes, ignoring customer feedback, yes, but it still can defeat the wet stuff if you know how the fabric works, and do it better than many alternatives. The key positive points are the fabric, the hood, sleeves and the pitzips.

    Martin RJ Carpenter


    Doubt it – they've always had the two together and a big weight difference. I think it must be active shell making premium paclite a harder sell.

    Still, the LIM jacket would have been a much easier target (basically total overlap with their Endo). There are notes about a (still?) planned Endo pullover online and maybe they didn't think they could sustain two smocks. Still its a lot heavier than the Oz(o) so not a replacement.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    These reviewed parkas are UL and a few MAY be durable enough for my uses.

    Right now I have two LIGHT parkas that have held up well in bushwhacking and working under pack harnesses. Namely:
    1. Cabela's Rainy River PacLite GTX (size XL, Tall, 1 lb.)
    2. REI Kimtah eVent (size XL)1 lb. also)

    Both are 'lite enuf' for now but as technology marches on I may be tempted by a UL parka that seems very durable. Will the new "Never Wet" DWR technology teamed with a tougher WPB laminate be The Next Big Thing in backpacking parkas??

    Stephan Doyle


    I, too, have the Rab Demand. Great hood, simple cuffs (elastic), and a clean aesthetic. I use it from desert backpacking to alpine climbing and mountaineering. I like to fiddle and tweak my kit, but this piece is here to stay and converted me to Rab in general.

    Tim Lawes
    BPL Member


    I contacted Haglofs about the OZO Pullover to ask if it is being replaced with a similar shell. They advised that the closest is the Endo and they will release an Endo pullover soon but it is significantly heavier. This is the reply that I got.

    We will not produce more OZO Pullover and I do not why , unfortunately.
    Endo II Pullover weighs more than OZO pullover, and it is explained to the membrane of Endo is heavier, but it breathes much better.
    The difference is 120 grams between OZO and Endo.

    Endo II Pullover ( size L ) : 300g
    OZO Pullover ( size L ) : 180 g

    David Colbert
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central, New York

    Great article and feedback. I've been looking for a new jacket for quite a while, so the timing was perfect for me as well.

    My question is, does anyone have any feedback on how long to expect the waterproofing to last before wetting out on any of these lightweight options? In particular, I've been considering the OR Helium II. (I was disappointed to read that the hood wasn't particularly good on this model.)

    Also, does anyone have suggestions for pants to complement these jackets?



    David Hankins
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Just a warning. There appear to be a lot of scam websites selling Haglof merchandise. I naively attempted to purchase an Ozo pullover from one of them for $179.00. Their secure payment webpage informed me that my purchase was refused due to "my bank's policy." So I called my bank only to find that the scam company had attempted to charge my credit card over one thousand dollars! Wow!

    Since I had provided both my credit card number and 3-digit security code via the purchase page, I decided that I'd better cancel my card. Ugh, what a pain.

    Anyhow, this is the site that fooled me:

    This site was created on 2/17/2012. Another website also created on this date:

    And finally there's this one:

    This was created on 11/8/2011 but is registered to somone in China.

    So if the price is too good to believe and if they've got every single piece of gear in stock, all sizes, even gear that's been discontinued, it's best to run a whois check on the domain. I foolishly did not.

    Arapiles .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Melbourne

    I have a 5 year old Rab Super Dru, which generally I love. Given the weather in Australia the last two years I've actually got to wear it in the rain. I noticed though on a recent bike ride in heavy rain that I did get quite wet, particularly on the arms. I dismissed it as condensation or water getting down the neck but then saw a post on another site talking about the same thing. I haven't been particularly assiduous in giving it washes, so I wonder if it had become dirty/contaminated and therefore ineffective, in the same way that early Gore-Tex did. Of course the whole point of eVent is that the membrane is supposed to be oleophobic so that it doesn't fail when contaminated, but that's not what I experienced. I have now given it a good wash and will see how it performs in the next heavy rain.

    I recently bought a Montane Air jacket – at $135 it was hard to say no – and walked home in the rain in it the other day. I had no problems with condensation or leakage but will keep an eye on it.

    It's worth saying that I had a succession of Gore-Tex jackets over the last 20 years that simply failed, PU coating or not. One simply stopped being waterproof, without any explanation, and the other delaminated and was replaced.

    If it's cold and raining I prefer to ride in my Paramo jacket but if the temperature is above 15C it's just too warm.

    Nigel Healy


    Locale: San Francisco bay area

    "If it's cold and raining I prefer to ride in my Paramo jacket but if the temperature is above 15C it's just too warm."

    I also migrated away from shells as primary form of waterproofness, I primarily use windproofs which are much cheaper, even two layers can be better than a shell, and Paramo. Although:

    "If it's cold and raining I prefer to ride in my Paramo jacket but if the temperature is above 15C it's just too warm."

    For me its about 11C and I'm bordering on too-warm if active, at 15C I'm having to seriously slow myself down to not crank up water consumption. At about 4C its perfect. Having given up on Goretex, and hearing rave review of eVent's breathability, I did own for a year a Rab Drillium thinking it would bring waterproofness into higher temps than the Paramo, I believed the hype but it didn't have pitzips and it was too warm easily also so sold it and got a waterproof with pitzips (happens to be a Marmot Aegis which has a terrible hood by the way). All my waterproofs have pitzips, Paramo having too-warm issues and all shells simply can't breathe enough unless you move slow. Backpacking on rough ground tends to make you slow as does descending steeply but climbing or good surface flat, the shell just gets wet inside. Pitzips help enormously as pointing downwards and you can close the side facing crosswinds. The ultalight shells don't have pitzips, they add probably 100g, but the shell is mostly useless many times without.

    jacob sullivan


    Locale: The Windy City (NZ)

    (long time listener, first time caller)

    So just to add to what was said above I've also been using a RAB super dru eVent jacket (~400gms from memory) for 3 years or so here in NZ. The cut in the body, shoulders, elbows and lower arms is/was superb and I guess reflects RAB's climbing lineage – certainly much better than a Macpac Traverse eVent jacket I picked up on sale recently. The breathability of both is of course terrific compared to various Goretex jackets I've had over the years.

    Alas the Super Dru's eVent layer has been delaminating steadily since it was under a year old, admittedly after very regular use (3+ hours every week) and only very occasional washing. The delamination started with the creases on the inside of your arms/elbows, which I noticed because water would "get through" there – not condensation either, we're talking moderate exertion, low humidity cold conditions here. Then other little bubbles appeared on the chest and then large sections around the hood and neck and shoulders where water would also get through and my shoulders would get quite wet.

    After observing my jacket change over the years my take on the possible eVent delamination causes is:(i) areas of repetitive creasing (arm creases); (ii)areas where sweat/body oils build up (neck/hood); (iii) areas of higher than average water pressure (shoulders).

    To be fair to Rab & eVent given my slackness on the washing front it may be that all three are body oil buildup related, but I'd have my doubts that would fully explain either the shoulders or the elbows/arms. That said, I'm not quite ready to go backwards on the breathability front so am giving Event another go, this time being a bit more diligent on the washing. Will see how we go!



    Locale: West

    Thanks Dave on an excellent write-up.

    I picked up a Rab Pulse as a result of this article. It came at the perfect time as I am in need of a new rain jacket.

    Bear in mind that the Pulse came out size-wise under its listed specs. Technically, the measurements for a Large are exactly my measurements. But when I got it to try on, I could barely fit my shoulders in the jacket at all, and it was tight through the waist. So, I sent it back to Campsaver, and they sent me an XL. The XL is just a hair tighter in the shoulders than I would rather it be, but nothing to be concerned about. Just know that Rab's shoulders are very much on the narrow side.

    For many on here, that's no problem. But for broad-shouldered guys like me, keep it in mind when ordering.

    (Also, the XL is 7.72 oz (219 g) on my scale. Very happy hiker.)

    Kathleen B


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I, too, bought a RAB Pulse based on this article. I returned it, because the cut was too tight in the hips. I hope RAB makes it in a woman's style soon, because the fabric did seem wonderful. As an aside, Campsaver is great to deal with.



    Locale: West

    +1 on Campsaver. This was my first time with them–very impressed.

    Cameron Lindsay
    BPL Member


    Locale: Huon

    I was suprised with the rating of the TNF Anorak of C for durability. These jackets are only held together by tiny welded seams which are not durable. I've had one split apart across the back between the shoulders whilst taking it off. I would only hope those rated equal or worse in this review do not hold up as poorly.

    Ian Clark
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cntrl ROMO

    No offense intended, but I purchased the Rab rain jacket after this review. I found that the fabric did little to keep me from getting wet. Even standing around in camp in a gently falling snow, I would find water would soak through the shoulders and get my down jacket wet. This is a jacket that was very lightly used in the Colorado Rockies, so typically not a lot of use due to not a lot of rain. Almost never used with a pack. So this was not a "worn out" jacket. No chance of internal moisture with just standing around in camp. The down jacket should of mimimized the internal and external temp differential, so I discount condensation specifically to the shoulders. I interpret that snow fell hitting my shouders. The snow would melt and the water would soak through to get my down jacket wet.

    In my uninformed opinion, I feel it is more important to have a rainjacket keep the external moisture out during times like camp or hunkering down waiting out a storm then it is to stay dry while on the move. For on the move, you can self generate heat to compensate for the internal moisture build up of condensation and sweat. When you are in camp or hunkered down or on the slow stalk, you are not generating the heat so it is more important to keep your insulating layers dry. So I am going back to a less breathable but more waterproof raingear, weight be d**mn.

    Nigel Healy


    Locale: San Francisco bay area

    "The down jacket should of mimimized the internal and external temp differential, so I discount condensation specifically to the shoulders."

    Huh? Insulation MAXIMISES differential inside vs outside, it is trapping heat so is making the outer side colder, by definition. A non-insulating item doesn't trap heat, lets the heat pass through so making the outside nearer to inside temperature.

    So down should force condensation if under a shell if you done enough to get to the condensation point.

    Not disagreeing your wider comment the jacket failed, regardless of why, it still failed.

    Agree on keeping insulating layers dry, but what most people do is use down for camp wear to not wear when it is raining, you'd swap to down once out of rain. If you put a shell over, you are trapping your own moisture and of course if the shell is leaking letting the rain in too.

    I can't wear down when moving above freezing, I get too hot, so my down is for stationary or moving in very cold.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    That's a vexing problem Ian. It's certainly possible you got a bad jacket, or that the Pulse is just not suited to you.

    I think it's also possible that the WPB outer layer was working as a moisture trap. PU is not especially breathable, especially when you use insulation under it, which lessens the ability of body heat to push moisture out.

    Probably not relevant in this case, but just because a jacket hasn't been worn much does not mean the DWR is still virgin. Dirt contamination can certainly take place while stuffed in the bottom of your pack.

    As a general update, the Ozo is still going strong, after having been used for every serious trip in the past 3+ years. I've been using a non-breathable OR jacket I picked up last year for less weight sensitive trips, to prolong the Ozo's life. Good WPB jackets are expensive after all.

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