The author on a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in cold and questionable weather.
The Isis Vivian is a lightweight waterproof/breathable jacket with excellent ventilation. It’s not the lightest jacket on the market, but it caters to a female market looking for better fit and on-trail fashion without a huge weight penalty. At 11.5 ounces (326 g, size 10) it weighs only slightly more than the comparable Sierra Designs DT Tech (11.2 ounces) and the Marmot Dart jacket (10 ounces), but significantly more than the Patagonia Women’s Specter jacket (8.3 ounces).
I like this jacket. It has a comfortable stretch nylon ripstop fabric with outer Entrant DT10K coating and inner “half” layer of polyurethane that allows a freedom of movement that other jackets, especially those sized for men, cannot replicate. Since it is designed from the ground up for women, it fits. The arms are the right length, the shoulders are the right proportion, and the mesh hand pockets are at the right angle. No small bonus; it is a fabulous color and looks great on me!
- Nice women’s fit
- Great ventilation
- Reasonably breathable fabric
- Three ounces heavier than the lightest women’s jackets
- Not approaching the weight of men’s ultralight rain shells (6+ ounces)
• Garment Style
|Waterproof/breathable women’s jacket|
• Fabric Description
|Stretch 2.5 oz/yd2 (85 g/m2) ripstop nylon with outer Entrant DT10K coating and inner half layer of Polyurethane coating|
• Other Features
|#5 YKK zipper with double (inner and outer) storm flaps, snaps to fasten outer flap|
|11.5 oz (326 g) as measured women’s size 10|
• Model Year
Features and Fit
The well-fitting hood with functional brim is one of the best features of the Vivian.
Two roomy zippered, mesh hand pockets – each over half the length of the jacket – rest at your lower torso providing ample space for food, gloves, and hats. A non-waterproof #5 YKK zipper with both inner and outer storm flaps seals out the elements and is a nice change as most manufacturers are moving towards harder to slide water-resistant zips. The hood on the Vivian is one of the best features of the jacket. It has a large brim that stands on its own, keeping well away from the face. A rear Velcro hood adjustment (glow-in-the-dark) keeps the hood from falling forward. I found the hood fit quite comfortably over a wool hat without any adjustment. There’s a dual-draw cord at the base of the hood that uses a friction cord lock (rubber) to adjust the opening.
The bottom hem is adjustable with two single-handed cord locks to seal out drafts. There are 13-inch zippers from the armpit down the length of the sleeve for ventilation. The material of the jacket is a 2.5 layer waterproof/breathable fabric, where the half layer is a textured inner surface.
The fit of the Vivian is well suited to the female body. The dimensions of the bodice are well proportioned, the arm length is correct and the length of the jacket is just right (unlike other female jackets which sometimes fall just above the waist leaving a gap between rain jacket and pants). Stretch 2.5 oz/yd2 nylon fabric lets the jacket extend with your movements, allowing for a trimmer and more flattering fit and making the jacket easier to move in than other rain jackets I’ve used.
I tested the Vivian in two hurricanes this fall. It was subjected to blinding rains and 50 mph winds. It kept me dry. More impressive was its ability to breathe throughout both storms keeping me reasonably dry inside while hiking at a brisk pace.
The zipper treatments were the main features that kept me dry. The front zipper and both of the front pockets have double storm flaps. The snap closures batten down the outer storm flap for the front zipper extremely well. The snaps are a welcome relief from the fleece and wool snagging Velcro found on other rain jackets.
Breathability and Ventilation
Adjustable Velcro cuffs, a draw cord hem, 13-inch underarm zippers and two big mesh hand-pockets all allow plenty of ventilation opportunities. This extra ventilation wisks moisture away from your body. A full zip in front that can be alternated with the snap closures provides adequate ventilation options in drier weather. And a not-too-snug hood, keeps your head cool while hoofing it in sloppier conditions
At $160, the Vivian is not a great deal but it is in the range of other jackets in its league (the non Gore-Tex league). Comparable women’s jackets include the Sierra Designs DT Tech (11.2 ounce) at $99.95, the Red Ledge Thunderlight (16 ounce) at $70, the Cloudveil Women’s Drizzle (14 ounce) $235, the Moonstone Storm Jacket (14 ounce) $130, and the Marmot Dart Women’s Waterproof jacket (10 ounce) $125. But these jackets do not have the color, style and attractive fit of the Vivian.
Recommendations for Improvement
I have a few recommendations for improving the Vivian but they are slight. First, the zipper is 4 inches short of the bottom hem. Extending the front zipper to the bottom of the front hem would provide more storm resistance. Second, the sleeve zips are not pit zips. Other women’s jackets replicate the arm zip idea and it is neither as useful nor as functional as true pit zips. Putting the zippers back where they belong, directly under one’s arm would improve ventilation on this jacket. Finally, for more stylish town wear, a way to roll up the hood and stow it when not in use would be nice.