by the Product Review Staff | 2004-03-05 03:00:00-07
At 11.8 oz (335 g) the GoLite Phantom is one of two Gore-Tex jackets in our reviews to break the 12 oz (340 g) barrier. It is the only Gore-Tex jacket with both pit zips and large mesh-backed front pockets for ventilation. For high aerobic activity, our reviewers believed the combination of breathable PacLite III fabric and excellent ventilation features make the GoLite Phantom the best jacket at minimizing moisture buildup of any we've reviewed. With additional finishing touches such as a wide, wire stiffened hood brim, lightweight waterproof zippers, and dual single hand cord-locks on both hood and hem, the Phantom might be considered a feature-rich bargain at its $229 price. Part of the Phantom’s low weight is due to the new PacLite III fabric, which is 2.6 oz/yd2 (88 g/m2), or about 12% lighter than the previous generation of the lightest PacLite. The rest of its low weight comes from careful design and addition of features that offer plenty of function for little weight. It’s hard to find fault with the Phantom, and its primary limitation lies in its hood: while the hood has a nice wire stiffened brim, it lacks a rear adjustment, and it is not helmet friendly.
Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
The GoLite Phantom has four large core vents: two dual slider pit-zips and two large mesh-backed chest pockets. In addition, it has a full-length front zipper and elastic and Velcro cuff closures, a drawcord hem, and roomy hood opening. Can you ask for much more than that?
The GoLite Phantom’s hood has face aperture elastic draw cord with single-hand operated cord locks on either side. The brim is large with a nice wire stiffener- a boon for eyeglass wearers. There is no secondary rear adjustment on the hood. Fortunately, the hood is snug and fits quite well without it. A Velcro tab stows the rolled hood effectively at the back of the jacket’s collar, and is not difficult to use while wearing the jacket. The Phantom has two large mesh-backed chest pockets with water-resistant zippers, solid fabric storm flaps (rear), and zipper garages. Pockets are strategically positioned to miss both the shoulder straps and hip belt on a pack. A single inside storm flap backs the single slider, water-resistant front zipper. The jacket’s hem has an elastic draw-cord with single-hand operated cord locks on either side. We found the PacLite III fabric to be a bit stiff and crinkly, relative to the more supple 2-layer polyurethane garments available.
Climbers may want a trimmer fit, but backpackers rejoice: the GoLite Phantom has a roomy fit suitable for layering over a lightweight high-loft synthetic insulating jacket without compressing that loft - even in the sleeves. The jacket has a medium to short hem that comes to between the belt and crotch on our 5’8” reviewer. The hood fits a bare head well and layers effectively over a beanie cap or thin balaclava but was a little confining when layered over an insulated parka hood or a 200 weight fleece balaclava. The hood does not have enough room to accommodate a climbing helmet.
The GoLite Phantom’s hood has good head-turning mobility while wearing a pack. Surprisingly, the understated single aperture draw cord was sufficient for adjustment and has given us cause to rethink some of the more complex hood adjustment designs on the market. The Phantom's sleeves are long enough, and the hem did not lift, nor were our writs exposed, when raising our arms above our head. There is ample room to withdraw the hands into the sleeves. There was no binding in the shoulders when crossing our arms across the chest when the jacket was layered over a mid-weight fleece sweater.
Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
With all zippers and pit-zips locked down we had no problems with leaks in the Phantom, even in heavy sustained rains. The water-resistant chest zippers on the mesh-backed torso pockets have a solid fabric “storm flap” backing to minimize leaks. The zipper garages prevent leakage at the zipper slider. Obviously there is a bit of room for water to leak in around the side of the hood in a driving rain and if you fully open the pit-zips to vent you’re liable to get some water in at your elbows and along your sides. The dual sliders on the pit-zips allow one to partially close them and still vent during heavy rain.
With all zippers and vents closed, the Phantom proved to be breathable enough for moderate exertion but not enough for sustained high aerobic activity. We hiked uphill with a pack on for an hour at 32 °F (0 °C). We were breathing hard for much of the hike. At the end, our baselayer was fairly wet. It was drier than with most polyurethane laminates we’ve tested, but not as dry as an eVENT or Propore shell. At moderate exertion levels, hiking with a 20 lb pack on level ground at 3 mph at 40 °F (5 °C), we stayed comfortable, with minimal moisture buildup.
With all zippers and vents open, the GoLite Phantom provides excellent ventilation for more aerobic activities. Our reviewers felt that it accumulated the least moisture of any jacket we've tested. We hiked uphill with a pack on for an hour at 40 °F (5 °C). At the end, our baselayer was damp but not soaked - and much drier than with most polyurethane laminate jackets we’ve tested. On examining our baselayer, we could clearly see the drying effect of both the pit-zips and vented front pockets. At moderate exertion levels, hiking with a 20 lb pack on level ground at 3 mph at 45 °F (7 °C), we stayed comfortable, with minimal moisture buildup. Most of this was due to the backpack limiting breathability and ventilation of the back and not the jacket's fabric.
With its 2.6 oz/yd2 (88 g/m2) fabric Gore-Tex PacLite III the GoLite Phantom offers reasonable durability for rain jackets we test. It sufficiently dealt with scraping while bushwacking, sitting on rocks and logs and the usual abuses of moderate off-trail travel. It may not be up to heavy duty bushwhacking or long scrapes against granite. We’d have some hesitation on taking the Phantom on a serious climb.
At $225, the GoLite Phantom is no cheap raincoat, at least when compared to similarly featured polyurethane jackets like the Marmot Precip. However, the GoLite Phantom offers excellent storm resistance and its resistance to moisture buildup during aerobic activity is second to none. Other Gore-Tex jackets typically cost more and do not offer the ventilation of the Phantom for this weight class. With a list of almost every feature one would want on a rain jacket the Phantom should be considered a high-performance bargain with an oustanding performance:price ratio.
We wish the hood on the GoLite Phantom’s was a bit larger to accommodate a climbing helmet, or at least the hood of an insulating jacket like a GoLite Coal. A second rear/crown adjustment for the hood might need to be added in response to address the greater volume and improve fit. An inch or two more of hem length would be nice for those of us that leave rain pants at home for our summer trekking adventures. Finally we'd like to see a dual slider for the front zipper so we can unzip the bottom for increased ventilation.
"GoLite Phantom Rain Jacket REVIEW," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00336.html, 2004-03-05 03:00:00-07.