The Tumalo line is GoLite’s most affordable WPB rain gear, yet only gives up a little weight on their top-of-the-line offerings. Using Pertex’s newest 2.5 material, Shield DS, it tries for a balance of breathability and good water protection. Upping the ante for interior moisture control, it uses pit-zips and mesh pockets for further venting options.
Design and Features
GoLite’s Tumalo Storm Jacket and Pants uses Pertex Shield DS to provide breathable protection from foul weather. Although the stock photography from GoLite shows a drawstring on the outside of the pants, it is actually located inside.
The GoLite Tumalo Storm Jacket and Storm Pants are the most affordable offerings of GoLite’s waterproof-breathable line of rain gear. Both are made with Pertex Sheild DS, a version of a 2.5-layer material.
A quick primer on 2.5-layer fabrics. In the past few years many companies have come out with 2.5 waterproof/breathable fabric. The two and a half layers are as follows: First is the shell material of the garment, usually some type of breathable nylon. Denier (think thickness) can vary greatly. A waterproof/breathable membrane (in this case the Pertex Shield DS) is laminated to one side (that will be the inside of the garment). Over the membrane the “half layer” is actually a raised pattern made by printing a polymer onto the membrane. This saves the weight of a true liner and is suppose to aid in transferring moisture away from the skin and to help alleviate the plastic clammy feeling of the membrane.
Here is what Pertex has to say about their Shield DS. “Pertex Shield DS combines a technically advanced face fabric with a proprietary bi-component polyurethane coating technology specifically engineered for unlined garments. This durable and extremely lightweight fabric has exceptional stretch and provides the optimum balance of waterproofness and breathability. The ‘dry touch’ hydrophilic PU coating reduces internal garment condensation and eliminates the sticky, clammy feel of other coatings.” (More on this later.)
The numbers as far as breathability and waterproofness (is that a word?) are as follows:
- Waterproof – Hydrostatic head – 10,000mm (JIS-L 1092)
- Breathability – MVTR – 7,000g/m/day (JIS L 1099/A1)
The outer shell is made of 15 x 15 denier mini-rip nylon (55 g s/m). To aid in water shedding, a DWR has been applied to the nylon’s outer surface. While not a soft-shell material, the nylon does have a noticeable amount of stretch to it.
Starting at the top, the Storm Jacket has a fixed hood with a small reinforced brim. Thin elastic shock cord runs around the hood and ends on either side with a plastic pull. When pulled close around the face, the cord is held by gasket-type cord locks.
The nylon YKK front zipper is a two-way style, allowing the zipper to be adjusted to a myriad of positions.
The sleeves are gusseted at the arm pits to give an unencumbered range of motion. The material there is grey in color, but does not seem to be any different than the black of the rest of the jacket. The sleeves end with elastic cuffs. The best part of the sleeves, for me, is what is found underneath them. Nine-inch (23-cm) zippers under armpit area open the jacket to the great outdoors, helping hot hikers like me ventilate the interior. The pit-zips are not waterproof but are protected by a small storm-flap.
Waterproof zippers are used on the hand pockets located on the lower sides of the body. These interesting pockets help with ventilation too, as they are made of mesh. Commonly, one layer of mesh is used inside, which is attached to the shell, creating the pocket. GoLite used two layers of mesh, making kind of an envelope. Then by not attaching it to the shell at the top, it makes a large inside pocket too. The inside pockets have no way to close them off, so care must be taken when bending over so as not to lose stuff.
Finally, at the bottom of the jacket there is another elastic shock-cord running through the hem and going through two tethered cord locks. This lets the jacket be cinched tight around the user when conditions call for it.
Left: The Tumalo jacket uses a two-way zipper, which is nice when not wearing a backpack. Right: The mesh pockets are actually two-in-one as seen here. The small North Country Trail map is in the outside pocket while the Chippewa State Forest map is in the inside pocket. Unfortunately heavy or bulky things in both tend to drop to the bottom, where they interfere with my hip belts.
The Tumalo Storm Pants are pretty basic in their design. The same thin elastic shock cord used on the jacket is run around the waist of the pants. A tethered cord-lock sits front and center. There is no fly, nor are there any front or hip pockets. There is a vertical waterproof zipper on the right thigh that accesses a small cargo pocket. A key clip resides inside. You can stuff the pants into the mesh-backed pocket for compact storage.
To facilitate easily getting into the pants, the legs have an 11-inch (28 cm) ankle zipper at the bottoms. The zippers are protected by a large storm flap with Velcro closures. The cuffs have a half section of elastic in them too.
Both the jacket and the pants are completely seam taped.
Top: Elastic shock-cord, like found in tent poles, is used as the drawstrings for the pants, as seen here, as well as in the jacket’s hood and hem. Bottom Left: The legs have a short zipper to make getting the pants on an easier chore. A Velcro tab lets the ankle cuffs be pulled tight if so desired. Bottom Right: The thigh pocket converts to a stuff sack for the pants. The jacket has no provided storage.
Spring of 2010 was the wettest I have ever seen. Hiking the southern sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, I saw my rain gear fail miserably, and I jumped at the chance to test the new GoLite Tumalo Storm Jacket and Pants with its highly touted Pertex Shield DS fabric. Unfortunately, by the time I received them it was summer and I hardly saw any more rain. I used them more as a wind block than rain gear, but here is my take on them.
Top: Hiking on the NCT in Itasca State Park right as the rain started. Bottom: Snowshoeing in snowstorm. The Tumalo gear works fine in winter as long as I don’t need to get the pants off, for the ankle zippers are too small to pass my big boots. (And no, I did not forget to remove my snowshoes first!)
The only sustained rain that I was able to use them during was in Itasca State Park. I spent three hours hiking in solid rain. After having two other brands of 2.5-layer rain gear wet out and actually pass water through the membrane earlier in the year, I was expecting that this could happen with the Tumalos also. I didn’t need to worry. They did an excellent job shedding the water, and, examining them later in camp, I could find no spots that looked as if the fabric was wetting out.
The rest of the summer and fall I only had very short periods of rain during trips in California and Minnesota. This past winter I used them in snow storms in Minnesota where they worked fine too.
I am a very hot hiker, and I sweat a lot. The idea of waterproof breathable fabrics has always been of great interest to me, and I have had many types and brands of them over the years. They have all left me less than awed. From my first use of the Tumalo, I could tell that it could not keep up with moisture transfer for me. I was wearing it on a very cold morning in Mississippi Headwaters State Forest as a wind-breaker. Within 30 minutes I was feeling moisture build up on the arms. The same happened on trips in the Sierra Nevada when I would have to don it because of imminent showers. BUT it was noticeably better than all the other rain gear I have used over the years.
While the numbers for vapor transfer are all well and good, it is very hard to actually notice it for me. But one instance made me take notice of the Tumalo’s Shield DS. I hiked an unmaintained and very poorly marked section of the North Country Trail near White Earth Indian Reservation. As it had rained earlier, the extremely overgrown trail had me soaked right away, my pants looked like I had waded through a pond. I belatedly put on my rain gear. I went back and forth with the jacket, only wearing it in the heaviest brush areas, but left the pants on for about five hours. When I did take off the Storm Pants, I found that my hiking pants were pretty much dry. That meant that my body heat while hiking was able to drive all the moisture from the soaked nylon through the Pertex Shield DS. I was amazed, and it really leant credence to the numbers for me.
The pit zips, of course, help a lot for venting the jacket and personally I won’t buy (or even test) a rain shell without them. To be honest, the Tumalo’s pit zips could be a little longer. They are the shortest ones of any of my shells.
Another thing that could help with venting the jacket is to replace the gathered elastic cuffs with a Velcro strap as that would let it be opened wide, allowing air to travel up my arm.
I really like the slight stretch of Tumalo’s nylon outer layer. The give at the elbows and knees is quite noticeable, especially in the evenings when I wear them in camp as a warmth/wind block layer.
The hood fits well too. When pulled in to my face in heavy rain or snow it still allows good vision, and the brim, while only lightly reinforced, works well to keep my eyes protected.
Pertex mentions the inner layer, claiming it “eliminates the sticky, clammy feel of other coatings.” It does a very good job with this, but does still have the “plastic” feel of most 2.5-layer fabrics. Besides the Tumalo, I have four other brands of 2.5-layer rain jackets as I write this and it feels better than all but one brand. (Believe it or not, an OmniTech shell from Columbia.)
The only problem I have with the Tumalo’s comfort level is the drawstring of the pants. The thin shock-cord they use is very weak, and I found it difficult to get it tight. I would rather see a regular non-stretch line that will let the pants stay put.
I have been pretty impressed with the durability of the Shield DS fabric, considering its low weight. Two of my trips saw bushwhacking through some heavy brush. The pants especially have seen a lot of abuse but they have not shown any signs of wear from it.
Another instance in which damage could occur is from my shoes while putting the pants on in a hurry. The short ankle zippers are just long enough for me to get over my size 11 (US) trail runners, but I still catch the soles on the interior. I found that in winter there was no way I could fit them over my boots, so they only saw winter use on day-hikes that I put them on right from the start, leaving them on until I got back to the trailhead. A longer ankle zipper would make them more useful to me.
I came away from this review with Tumalo becoming my favorite pieces of rain gear for three-season use. While still not breathable enough to keep me from getting wet inside, under exertion it does better than anything else I have used to date.
There is some room for improvement as far as my likes. Besides the aforementioned pants drawstring and jacket cuffs, I would like to see the jacket’s pockets placed a bit higher on the body. This would let them be much more usable and accessible when a pack’s hip belt is in play.
If GoLite were to offer the Storm Pant in a full-zip style, I would be all over it for winter use.
|Models||Tumalo Pertex 2.5-Layer Storm Jacket and Pants|
|Fabric||Pertex Shield DS|
|Jacket Features||Storm flap, waterproof zip hand pockets, two-way center front zip, pit zips,
fully taped seams, fixed hood with cord lock closures, shock cord closure
on bottom hem
|Pants Features||Fully taped seams, elasticized waist with draw cord, self-stowing cargo
pocket, calf zips with storm flap, Velcro ankle closure
||Jacket (M): 10 oz (285 g)
Pants (M): 7 oz (189 g)
|BPL Weights:||Jacket (XL): 10.5 oz (298 g)
Pants (L): 7.5 oz (213 g)
|MSRP||Jacket: US $150.00
Pants: US $100.00
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.