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13113Red Ledge Thunderlight 6-month Report

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  • scouter_134
    Jun 4, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      Red Ledge Raingear
      6-Month Report
      David Harris

      1. Personal Data
      2. Parka Specifications
      3. Convertible Pants Specifications
      4. Test Results & Final Impressions

      Personal Data:

      For reference, I am 38 years old, 5'10" tall and weigh
      190lbs. I have been camping, hiking and backpacking for nearly 30
      years, primarily in Missouri where I live with my wife and three
      children. I spent two summers backpacking extensively in New Mexico
      while working as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch. The gear I have
      tested is the Parka, which can be seen at
      http://www.redledge.com/thunder/AO81_thunder.html and the Convertible
      Pants, which can be seen at

      Parka Specs:

      The parka is a size XL, and fits well with plenty of room for
      layering underneath. A Large would have fit just fine, but I wanted
      to size up for layering and so the jacket would hang long.
      Ordinarily I wear a long coat and gaiters, as I have never liked rain
      pants. The parka is made of a rip-stop nylon shell, and the interior
      is coated with TH-4, Red Ledge's waterproof/breathable
      treatment. All seams are double-stitched, taped, and in good order.
      The parka has a full front zipper. The zipper is protected with an
      interior storm flap and two half-flaps on the front. The attached
      (non-stowable) hood had a cord-locked drawstring but no visor. There
      are two large mesh breast pockets with plenty of room for storage.
      They have zip closures with an overlay that closes with Velcro.
      There is also a separate piece of Velcro that holds the overlay back
      and allows the pockets to ventilate. There are also huge, unlined
      pit-zips that zip from my elbow all the way to the bottom of my
      ribcage. The cuff of the parka is adjustable on both sides with cord
      locked elastic running through the hem. The sleeve cuffs are elastic
      and adjustable with a Velcro strap. One feature I like is that the
      Velcro strap does not dangle. It will attach to the sleeve whether
      it is opened or pulled tight.

      The parka weighs in at 14.2 oz, including the 0.6oz stuff sack. This
      is close enough to the "average weight" of 13oz as listed on
      prrfnbr=3192609&prmenbr=226) to satisfy me. When stuffed, it
      measures 8" long and 4" in diameter. The literature also
      claims that
      the parka will stuff into the left breast pocket, however, given the
      size of the pocket, I'd rather conserve space and carry the extra
      0.6oz. The stuff sack is made of part rip-stop nylon and part mesh,
      and has a belt clip attached.

      Convertible Pant Specs:

      The pants, like the parka, are made of a rip-stop nylon shell, and
      are coated with TH-4. Also like the parka, all seams are double-
      stitched, taped and in good order. I requested a size large to
      accommodate my 30" inseam (instead of the longer XLs), and hoped
      have enough roominess for layering. They appear to have plenty of
      space for me, and my clothes. The pants weigh 12 oz.

      The waist of the pants is elastic, with a cord-locked elastic
      drawstring. There is no fly. The pant legs zip off to convert into
      shorts with a 10" inseam, which come down to just above my knees.

      The pants have one back pocket on the right side, which allows for
      easy stuffing of the pants. Like the parka, the provided stuff sack
      (identical to the parka's) makes a more compact package of 8"
      by 4".
      There are also cargo pockets on both legs that measure approximately
      8" deep by 6" wide. The pant cuffs are a combination of
      elastic and
      a snap closure with two snap attachment points. A zipper rises
      roughly 10" up the outside of the leg to ease the process of
      the legs without having to first remove one's shoes.

      Test results & Final Impressions:

      Unfortunately, I have been unable to do a real re-test of the jacket
      since my last report. As a result, the questions I had about the
      parka remain. I do plan on an extended trip to Canada next month,
      and will report again following that trip.

      As a recap of my earlier test results, I have tested the suit as a
      water barrier twice in a rain, and once in the shower. I have also
      used it on multiple occasions as a light jacket.

      In all of my "wet" tests, the pants performed well. The same
      be said for the jacket. During one test, I found a considerable
      amount of moisture on the interior of the jacket. Personally, I felt
      this was due to a leakage problem, but I have had a number of people
      suggest that it was more an issue of condensation and inadequate
      breathing/venting of the jacket. Since I have been unable to do a
      good retest, this question remains unanswered. Hopefully I will get
      that answer in Canada.

      As a shell jacket, it performed very well. I was warm when I wanted
      to be and was able to vent adequately so as to not overheat.

      The following are a few final thoughts and suggestions regarding the
      rain suit:


      • I would prefer a stowable or detachable hood. I like to
      wear a
      full-brimmed hat for sun and rain protection, and a dangling hood
      tends to collect rainwater.

      • I found the pit zippers to be very awkward, especially
      them. Once opened, the vents are huge and terrific. Perhaps a
      slightly larger zipper would be less likely to stick and less awkward
      to close.

      • I am also concerned about the Parka's main zipper.
      leaking is a big issue. Also of concern is the ease of use. The
      zipper (like the pit-zip) is too small for the job. I personally
      would rather carry a little extra weight and have a smooth zipper. I
      have had a few snags with the interior flap, and am worried about
      potential long-term damage.


      • I would really like to see them add a fly. I had hoped to
      the shorts for general hiking. While I've not ruled it out, it
      less appealing without the fly.

      • Cargo pockets would be much more useful than the rear
      pocket in
      the pants/shorts.

      • Long term durability could become an issue for the pants
      It is not reinforced, and looks as if it would be prone to wear if
      the pants see a lot of action.

      • There is a nice flap covering the outside of the conversion
      zipper, but none inside. While it has not been an issue to date, I
      am concerned that the exposed zipper will rub uncomfortably on my
      legs if I wear the shorts for an extended period. I had some slight
      leakage at the zipper during my shower test.

      Generally speaking, I am thrilled with the weight savings and
      compactness of the parka and pants. Combined with the breathable
      fabric, the pit zips and pocket vents were wonderful for controlling
      heat inside the parka. The convertible pants fit well and were
      easily and comfortably converted without removing my boots. I am
      hopeful that further testing will renew my confidence in the
      performance in the rain.

      Thanks again to Red Ledge and Jerry for allowing me to participate in
      this test.
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