Outer shell jackets
Hi-Tec sent me a Hi-Tec Hard Rain Shell Docker to try out. Rain coats are an interesting item when it comes to hiking. They can be a survival item in certain cases, especially when doing a light pack day hike.
The first observation I had on this jacket was that it is very light. As a fan of difficult day hikes – doing over 20km with around 2km of altitude gain in a day – this is vital. Every 100g you can shave off your pack could be the difference between success and failure on these routes.
It also has 2 features that I really like – zips under the arms and a secondary collar. By “secondary collar” I mean that there is a traditional collar in addition to the hood. This means that you can protect your neck from the sun when using the jacket as a windbreaker without having to put the hood on.
Another aspect that I really like is the shape of the hood. Generally jackets designed for use in mountain conditions have some form of a visor and side walls to protect your face. This jacket does not. This may sound odd – but I find that I am forever taking off my hood on a raincoat due to the restricted visibility of the hood. When it’s pouring with rain I still need to see where I’m going to plan the best line when doing off trail hiking. So for me this is a great design.
The jacket does have the standard issue that all its competitors have – breathable raincoats tend to be uncomfortable if worn with a short sleeve shirt. The material doesn’t feel good against your skin – but in most cases where you would need a raincoat, you wouldn’t be wearing a short sleeve shirt anyway. I personally hike in a long sleeve shirt even on hot days – mostly to prevent sunburn on my arms.
I recently took this jacket on a 13 day Grand Traverse of the KZN Drakensberg. The hike included 5 consecutive days of bad weather, including the worst weather I have ever hiked in – a gale force wind with driving rain and thick mist. Practically every item of clothing I had was soaked by the end of the second day of bad weather. The only waterproof item that never let me down was my jacket. I was equipped with various items that have stood up to difficult weather in the past, so I cannot understate how impressed I have been with this raincoat.
I would highly recommend this jacket.
The jacket doesn't 'breathe' too well however, but for my purposes it has been perfect. For longer hikes or where weight is not such an issue I do still tend to take a heavier and more 'bombproof' shell from 1st Ascent. I would say that the Mac-in-sac is a very useful jacket to throw in for most missions.
Coeta wrote: Hi guys
I'm in the market for a rain shell.
Have been looking at these:
I saw we have a few Plasmic users, anyone have an opinion or experience with FA?
Based on brand alone, I'd choose Mountain Hardwear. First Ascent technical gear seems to have deteriorated in recent years.
However, make sure you are comparing like for like. Find out more about the plasmic's waterproofing and breathablilty ratings.
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
I have another recommendation though.. In 2009 I was in the USA and bought a Marmot Aegis jacket which is outstanding value. It was voted gear of the year by Backpacker magazine and best hiking jacket by Gearlab.
If you can bring in a jacket via Amazon or Moosjaw, Marmot is in my opinion the best value in the US Market. Marmot has a range of lightweight mountain jackets with their Nanopro membrane that rates more breathable than gore-tex and have excellent features. My Aegis weighs 330 grams and their recent products are even lighter. I really like the new Artemis which is made with a stretch fabric and the comfort of a soft shell.
Have a look at www.marmot.com
Hoping it will help.
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Lots of their raincoat hoods fold into the collar (a rather gimmicky feature as it makes the collar massive), but this looks like it might be something to do with a "jacket folds up into its own pocket" kind of feature (something I have never figured out the point of, or how to do).