Thursday, January 3, 2013

Product Review: Youth Rain Jackets

An adequate raincoat is a must at Woodcraft and in the vast majority of any outdoors situations. It can be the difference between a bad experience and a great one. An old soccer team jacket or windbreaker, while made of synthetic fibers, may not get the job done in sustained rainfall. At camp a raincoat is needed for trips, day hikes, and staying dry at activities when the weather isn't cooperating. Check the tag to verify that the jacket has some waterproofing technology.

Pictured above is the White Sierra Youth Trabagon jacket. It comes in male and female cuts. The one pictured happens to be a female jacket but the distinction seemed negligible. At $34.95, this jacket is a nice option for a young camper who may grow out of it in a year or two. This jacket is lightweight and does not have insulation. This can be viewed as a positive or a negative. On one hand it would require some layering to keep warm on a cool and rainy day. On the other hand, it won't give you excessive bulk when all you want is to stay dry.

The tag doesn't say so, but the Trabagon comes sealed with DuPont Teflon fabric protector to enhance its waterproof properties. The seems are taped with a synthetic adhesive to prevent moisture from breaching the stitching.

For what it's worth, the jacket can be stuffed into its own pocket. This feature proves that it can be compacted to fit into a pack. However, it is often more convenient to stow a raincoat without the hassle of zipping it up first.

The Resolve jacket, pictured above, is a more expensive option for a young camper. The one is the picture is the female version. The boys' Resolve comes it a separate set of colors and is cut slightly differently. At $65, The North Face brand mark up factors in a bit. This jacket does, however, offer more than its White Sierra counterpart.

The Resolve is slightly heavier and features a brushed fleece collar to keep warm around the neck and chin. The body of the jacket is lined with breathable mesh and the hood can be rolled up and snapped into the collar when not needed.

The North Face has a trademarked fabric called HyVent which the company uses to waterproof outdoor gear. Whether this is any better than the DuPont approach used by White Sierra is debatable. The HyVent fabric technology is indeed effective, but also contains an element of marketing.

For the older camper who wears adult sizes, the EMS Thunderhead offers many of the same features as the two youth jackets discussed above. It is lightweight, hooded, and easy to stow in a day pack or the top pocket of a frame pack. The zippered underarm vents are a nice touch for staying cool while hiking. It is markedly more expensive at $99. If bought for an older camper though, the risk of him or her growing out of the jacket is fairly low. The Thunderhead is well constructed and could last for years.

Like The North Face, EMS also has its own trademarked waterproof fabric technology. System 3 is a resins manufacturing company that provides waterproofing to EMS products.

As mentioned above, a good raincoat is a must but doesn't have to be a big ticket item. They can often be found on sale racks in outdoor supply stores.

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