13113Red Ledge Thunderlight 6-month Report
- Jun 4, 2002Red Ledge Raingear
1. Personal Data
2. Parka Specifications
3. Convertible Pants Specifications
4. Test Results & Final Impressions
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
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
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"
There are also cargo pockets on both legs that measure approximately
8" deep by 6" wide. The pant cuffs are a combination of
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
I would prefer a stowable or detachable hood. I like to
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
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
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
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