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Red Ledge Thunderlight Rainwear - Comprehensive Report.

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  • Ron Martino
    First an apology for the lateness of this report - I returned from vacation to frozen pipes and a flooded home. I m trying to get caught up during lulls in
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 2, 2002
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      First an apology for the lateness of this report - I returned from
      vacation to frozen pipes and a flooded home. I'm trying to get caught up
      during lulls in fixing the mess.


      Red Ledge Thunderlight Rainwear
      Parka & Full Zip Pants
      Comprehensive Report
      by Ron Martino

      First Field Test

      It turns out that an excellent way to create unseasonably nice weather
      is to get a new set of rainwear that you are dying to try out. The rain
      finally returned, however, so I could test out the parka and pants in
      actual walking conditions. As expected, the shell shed the light
      sprinkles just fine, although the hood's lack of a brim insured that my
      face did not escape the drops. I tend to heat up fairly quickly when
      walking, so it was no surprise when I started to get warmer than
      desired, but I persevered, in order to see how well the fabric breathed.
      After the circuit around my neighborhood, my shirt felt somewhat damp,
      but certainly less so than with non-breathable gear. Still, my walk
      could hardly count as heavy exertion, so I'm a bit concerned as to how
      the outfit will fare under more strenuous hiking.

      Returning home, I added a brimmed hat to my ensemble, and after drying
      out, repeated the walk, this time with the under-arm zippers open and
      the flaps over the pocket zippers velcroed back so that I could gain
      some ventilation through the mesh pockets. This time, I had no problems
      with overheating, and the rain was light enough that I did not worry
      about it sneaking in through the slight gap at the pockets. Under heavy
      weather conditions, I think that they could be closed without a major
      loss of ventilation.

      Follow-up Tests

      In order to test the Thunderlight suit's ability to handle more
      strenuous exercise, I then tried wearing it during a cold, driving rain.
      My route included both level and hilly sections, and covered
      approximately two miles. My pace was a fast as I could comfortably
      maintain for that length of time - faster than my normal hiking speed.
      Once home, I found that my shirt was wet where the parka had touched it,
      especially over my shoulders and back. Further, there was quite a bit of
      moisture inside. In contrast, the rain pants were dry within, as were my
      hiking pants. During the hike I experimented with the underarm zippers
      and pocket vents, but may not have adjusted them sufficiently for the
      amount of perspiration I was generating.

      Since I am hoping to find a jacket that is versatile enough to handle a
      varied of uses, I also want to see how the parka would be as a light
      shell for winter activities. Accordingly, I set out on a winter hike
      through the snowy hills around town. Once again I tried for a fast pace
      to push the limits of the fabric's breathability. After a couple of
      miles I was warm enough to be walking along with the parka unzipped and
      thrown back. Despite this, my shirt was definitely damp from
      perspiration across the back of my shoulders.

      Christmas allowed me the chance to pit the Thunderlight against coastal
      weather, when I hiked the 9 ½ mile Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park,
      where our pace was much more typical of my normal hiking speed. During
      portions of the beach section of the loop, the wind and mist was
      sufficient to encourage the use of the parka on sections, providing much
      appreciated protection. The rain began in earnest shortly before we
      reached the three mile boardwalk back to the ranger station. The
      Thunderlight proved quite good at shedding the rain while the various
      vents were adequate at keeping my perspiration at a minimum when my pace
      was unhurried.


      While I have not had the opportunity to test the durability of the
      Thunderlight parka and pants to their limits, during normal fall and
      winter trail use they have held up perfectly well, showing no wear at
      all. I look forward to seeing how well this continues over the long


      It appears that the TH4 fabric does in fact breathe adequately, but it
      may not be able to keep up with perspiration under conditions of heavy
      exertion (or people who sweat heavily). The underarm zippers do an
      admirable job of controlling the comfort level during walking, and
      should be able to cool down overheated hikers with judicious use. I did
      note a couple of problems - with the hood alone, when I turned my head,
      the hood did not turn as well. If I tried to cinch it down more closely,
      I ended up covering my face. Closing up a sleeping bag hood until only
      your nose sticks out is fine while sleeping, but is not very useful in a
      jacket when walking. Adding my hat solved my dilemma, however. With it,
      I could adjust the hood enough that turning my head caused it to turn as
      well, and still keep it out of my face. My second concern is perhaps a
      minor one - while the underarm zipper as easily opened, I found them
      somewhat awkward to close again while wearing the parka. I could do so,
      but with more fumbling than I preferred.

      Overall, the Thunderlight raingear impresses me by being exactly what
      it claims - lightweight rainwear for the backpacking crowd. I would be
      quite happy to recommend this gear to anyone seeking an answer to the
      quandary of adequate protection at a minimal number of ounces.

      Tester Information

      I'm a 40 year old student in computer science, living in Missoula,
      Montana. My earliest backpacking and hiking trips started with the Boy
      Scouts; then I began regular outings 20+ years ago, with my school
      backpacking club. Over time I have covered sections of the Appalachian
      Trail & the Continental Divide Trail; and have taken numerous trips in
      the Northeast, Midwest, northern Rockies, desert Southwest, and the
      Pacific Northwest. My most common backpacking areas these days are in
      western Montana, including Glacier NP. Trip lengths vary from overnights
      to multi-week expeditions. Some of my other outdoors activities have
      included cross-country skiing, orienteering, canoeing, kayaking,
      rafting, horseback riding.

      Ron Martino


    • Jerry Goller
      That s right Ron, just use any little excuse to be late....LOL. Good report. Sorry to hear about the pipes. Jerry
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 2, 2002
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        That’s right Ron, just use any little excuse to be late……..LOL. Good report. Sorry to hear about the pipes.



        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BackpackGearTest : the most comprehensive interactive gear reviews and tests on the planet.

        -----Original Message-----
        Ron Martino [mailto:yumitori@...]
        Wednesday, January 02, 2002 3:24 PM
        Subject: [BackpackGearTest] Red Ledge Thunderlight Rainwear - Comprehensive Report.


              First an apology for the lateness of this report - I returned from
        vacation to frozen pipes and a flooded home. I'm trying to get caught up
        during lulls in fixing the mess.



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