A number of ultralight waterproof breathable jackets were introduced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2004, ranging in weights from 6.6 oz to 10.2 oz.
Patagonia Specter Pullover
Reigning king atop the large mound of so-called lightweight raingear is the rehauled Patagonia Specter. At 6.6 oz, the Specter beats out the Montane Hydra-Lite Smock by an ounce to be the lightest ultralight woven fabric jacket on the market.
The lightest waterproof breathable shell using woven fabric: Patagonia has reduced the weight of their Specter Pullover to 6.6 oz. The new pullover has the same simple design as last year’s model (which is actually this year’s model, since the model reviewed here is next year’s model: make sense?) except that the mesh chest pocket has been replaced by a more useful zippered pouch pocket.
Patagonia cut weight by using a lighter 1.9 oz/yd2 15d ripstop nylon fabric and reducing seam weight. The seams are sonically welded with very narrow, 7 mm seam tape. Added advantages of these seams are that there is no thread to absorb water and they are less prone to abrasion.
Patagonia claims that the fabric used in the Specter is very breathable for a Polyurethane (PU) membrane fabric, especially for high activity.
Backpacking Light reviewed the Spring ’04 Specter Pullover
Integral Designs Ultralight eVENT Rain Jacket
We are especially excited about the Integral Designs eVENT Rain Jacket. At 9.5 oz, it shatters the eVENT jacket weight barrier formerly held by the Montane eVENT Superfly by 5.5 oz (almost 40%). For the first time, the most breathable fabric in the industry is on weight parity (at 3.0 oz/yd2) with less breathable fabric technologies and more durable than Gore-Tex PacLite. For more on eVENT’s performance see: “Waterproof Breathable Fabric Technologies: A Comprehensive Primer and State of the Market Technology Review.”
A high performance sub-10 oz rain shell: the Integral Designs 9.5 oz eVent Rain Jacket. A minimal shell with the superb breathability of eVENT. It has a single chest pocket and elastic hem and hood aperture, with wide and comfortable Velcro/elastic adjustable wrist closures. The fit is just about right for active layering – trim with good sleeve length and arm mobility.
We found the non-adjustable elastic hood aperture surprisingly usable. It would work especially well in conjunction with almost any billed hat.
Outdoor Research Zealot Jacket
The lightest Gore-Tex based jacket introduced at Outdoor Retailer is the Outdoor Research Zealot Jacket, which uses a 15 denier version of PacLite, and knocking the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket off the coveted Gore-Tex ultralight throne by more than an ounce.
The lightest Gore-Tex Jacket? The Outdoor Research Zealot weighs a paltry 7.7 oz (men’s size medium). It is a minimal affair with one chest pocket, no ventilation zips, elastic cuffs and single drawcord adjustments for the hem and hood. Remarkably, it has a full front zipper. It is available in unisex sizes.
Need a few more features? The Outdoor Research Celestial Jacket, at 10.2 oz (men’s med) adds “TorsoFlo” side zips for ventilation, two chest pockets, and Velcro/elastic adjustable cuff closures. The Celestial is available in both men’s and women’s models
Sub-Three Ounce Tyvek Jacket
Just what we’ve been waiting for: a Tyvek jacket! For shower protection, nearly waterproof and somewhat breathable Tyvek makes an ideal material for a cheap, light, and simple rain shell.
Ryan models a top-secret Tyvek rain jacket at the BackpackingLight.com global mobile communications center (GMCC) at an undisclosed location north of Salt Lake City.
A new company called Sporting Innovations Group has come out with a simple full zip, hip length jacket without a hood. It is made of recycled Tyvek, a non-woven plastic fiber fabric, with a size medium weighing less than three ounces. Lack of features and sealed seams are offset by a surprisingly good fit and exceptionally white styling with white on white color blocking accentuated with a navy blue tooth zipper. Jackets can be ordered by e-mailing the company directly at email@example.com. Tell ‘em you saw it at BackpackingLight.com!