A waterproof jacket is essential backpacker gear, yet it need not weigh you down.
GoLite's Tumalo Storm Jacket is seriously light at 9 ounces (245 grams). It includes two waterproof, zippered pockets in the front, a fixed hood (which I prefer), and two zippers under the armpits which can be opened for ventilation.
But as nice as the jacket looks, the real test is in how dry it can keep you. So a few days ago, after hearing the crackle of thunder, I put on the jacket and stepped outside into a torrential downpour. Within 60 seconds, my shorts and shoes were soaked. The rain was coming down so hard, and the jacket is so thin, that I could feel the pressure of individual rain drops pelting my shoulders.
After a few minutes in the rain, I walked back inside and snapped some photos. Below, you can clearly see how well the jacket repels water by the way it is beading on the surface. Underneath, my t-shirt was perfectly dry.
The exterior of the jacket is 100% nylon, while the interior lining is a technology called Pertex Shield DS.
According to GoLite:
Pertex® Shield DS–Pertex® Shield DS combines a technically advanced face fabric with a proprietary bi-component polyurethane coating technology specifically engineered for unlined garments. This durable and extremely lightweight fabric has exceptional stretch and provides the optimum balance of waterproofness and breathability. The ” dry touch” hydrophilic PU coating reduces internal garment condensation and eliminates the sticky, clammy feel of other coatings.
That's a bit too much tech-talk for me, however one thing I can say for sure is the jacket is as effective at repelling water as any of the past North Face jackets I've owned over the years.
There is one feature of the jacket which I'd like to see improved. The cord closures for tightening the hood rely on a small piece of foam to keep the cord cinched. While I was standing in the heavy rain, I found myself fiddling around with them trying to get the hood tightened. I'd rather they sacrifice a few grams of weight and use a plastic widget, versus the foam which I found hard to get a handle on in the rain.
Otherwise, I liked everything about GoLite's Tumalo Storm Jacket – the fit, weight, and effectiveness. I'll be depending on it to keep me dry through Colombia's next rainy season.
GoLite gear is available at a variety of outdoor retailers, online and off, including REI.
- Retails: $150
- Available sizes: S-XXL
- Colors: Ocean Blue, Rust, Chili Pepper, and Black.
- GoLite Guarantee: They will replace any gear with a manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, for free.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary jacket to test and review on Go Backpacking.