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Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market Report
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Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
OMM Cypher Smock on 03/24/2012 11:18:59 MDT Print View

Just outside the weight cut-off, but the eVent OMM Cypher Smock is worth a look.

John Topping
(JohnT) - MLife

Locale: Peak District
Foresaken moors on 03/24/2012 15:15:13 MDT Print View

Great write up Dave and this has likely convinced me to catch a Haglofs Ozo while I still can.

James, your proposal for a "foresaken moor in pelting downpour" test has been enacted a fair few times by me in the company of my hiking partners over the years although I haven't managed to assemble a group of ten at any one time (typically max four)! My observations as follows using the following garments over the last 6/7 years (lots before that with around 6 years of using Buffalo pertex/pile clothing in winter with no WPB shells at all):

* Montane Quickfire/(other similar Event jackets from Montane worn by others but unsure of name) - more breathable than Goretex Paclite but simply doesn't keep enough water out to be considered an all day waterproof jacket (not just a bit damp but serious and chilling with water running down my skin). This happened very quickly with all the jackets the various members of the group (the face fabric on mine is still in very good condition) and I should have returned mine but didn't get round to it. I now use this as a beefy wind jacket in winter when I don't expect much rain just to get some value out of the garment. Personally I have completely given up on Event based on our collective experience.

* TNF Triumph - this was cheap and I bought it primarily for the weight. It is taken along mainly on trips to places like the Alps/Pyrenees/Sierras in summer when I don't expect to wear it much but my observations chime with Dave's - great construction, average fit (baggy and short), breathability poor, weatherproofing pretty good. Bought at the right price this is a good summer choice.

* OR Zealot - Hood could be better and jacket slightly longer but this has worked over a greater range of conditions than any of the others. Getting very tired now and sadly discontinued which is why the Ozo is looking favourite. I understand that people feel that Goretex advertising is overblown but if I ignore that Paclite delivers the best blend of breathability v waterproofing for me (and I wear a windproof when it is not actually raining). Going back to a non-breathable garment for a short while ~ 2000/2001 reminded me that Goretex does actually let some moisture out.....

* Paramo Quito - lots of rave reviews and I bought a Quito as the lightest garment of the "waterproof" range. Fit through the chest and arms is okay but it is far too short (for me) and is unsatisfactory for that reason alone but again this doesn't keep enough water out to be of any use to me and it didn't even with the factory DWR. Yes, it is breathable and can be considered an all day garment for conditions cool enough to wear it (absolute max 10degC but better below 5degC) but is no better than an R1 with a windshirt in that respect ( a combination which also fits far better, is more flexible and is lighter). Short showers are okay but prolonged rain results in cold water running down my skin. Relegated to short dog walks only! The hood also suffers from "ski skins" syndrome (or velcro head as my wife prefers to call it!), rotating around my head to cover my left eye, due to the nature of the lining fabric. Very annoying all round really, although Paramo has a cult following in the UK.

Actually having gone through that process, I need to get online to order one of the last discounted Ozos....

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Foresaken moors on 03/24/2012 17:06:11 MDT Print View

Oh dear John sorry to hear you've had so many failures. The most typical cause of eVent "leaking" is still the fact that the most breathable fabrics still aren't breathable enough and its condensation, although in your case it sounds like actual garment failure as condensation is usually in colder spots like in the arms.

Paramo Quito, yes its short, annoyingly and needlessly short like they kept taking a bit more off the length to hit a magical weight number, but I've not found it fail, and I've been out for hours in heavy rain. It does need one to be a little too-warm to work though as gives the outward pressure required, otherwise it gets progressively sodden and eventually fails, so you have to carry an overlayer to keep yourself warm if its cold. It is often too-warm so solves its own needs mostly. There is NO DWR, it simply needs to be clean and kept clean properly, I hand-washed wearing gloves mine in the sink using Techwash a few days ago for example. Paramo is not superlight but its not meant to be packed its meant to be worn continuously with high breathability you keep it on when its not raining so in that sense its a waterproof with zero backpack weight, BUT temperature management is the problem to work out.

Mica delamination, well I own a Mica and I wear as little as possible, I can tell it won't last many days of use under a backpack but I knew that when I paid for a relatively low cost shell.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market on 03/24/2012 18:42:36 MDT Print View

The more I read on this and other sites on this subject, the less I'm inclined to replace the rain gear I have. Too bad about the problems with the light weight eVent covers (OMM, Montane). Not about to double my weight by trying a heavier US eVent item, like the REI jacket, when it might not even keep me dry. A whole lot less bloviance and a lot more work on product development would be a good start in this area.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Ozo replacement on 03/24/2012 18:46:00 MDT Print View

Sorry to see that the Ozo has (it would seem) been discontinued. Looking around there are still some in stock, though medium and large look to be scarce.

If you're willing to deal with a bit more weight there are a number of still light Paclite jackets to be found. Montbells new Torrent Flier is 8.6 oz, and has pitzips. I would worry that the hood is the same as the Versalite. The Arc'teryx Alpha SL jacket and anorak compare favorably to the Ozo. I had the anorak, and the fabric is very similar. The Arc'teryx hood isn't as good, and the various zips and pockets add weight, but I found it to be very good in very bad weather.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Rab Demand pullover on 03/24/2012 19:00:06 MDT Print View

The Rab Demand pullover is a solid shell, 3-layer eVent, stripped down to the essentials and sits right around 9-10oz. Was this out of the scope of this article for weight purposes? I would say it is a good replacement to the Ozo.

I've only had a chance to wear mine half a dozen times since I picked it up. I was pleased with how it functioned on a few snow runs this winter. Durability is very good, snagged several thorny acacia trees on a long run and thought for sure I would tear into the jacket, but it came our unscathed to my surprise.

Edited by Eugeneius on 03/24/2012 19:03:18 MDT.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
OMM Cypher Smock on 03/24/2012 19:17:23 MDT Print View

Review from a TGOC 2011 podcaster extraordinaire Bob Cartwright

Translation for USA of the UK phrase "everything on the tin" = "it does what it claims" from an old UK TV commercial

OMM Cypher Smock

Edited by nigelhealy on 03/24/2012 19:20:20 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market Report" on 03/24/2012 20:50:42 MDT Print View

+1 on the Rab Demand. Very happy with it after 1 1/2 seasons. My go-to shell, for sure.

I also own TNF Triumph anorak, which is great for weight and imo reasonably waterproof, but hardly breathes at all. I wouldn't want to climb a pass in tnf anorak.
But I could see using it in summer on the jmt, for example, if you understand it's limits.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Ozo sale on 03/24/2012 21:36:25 MDT Print View

Haglofs Ozo, all sizes, $179 USD....kind of a weird check out though.'s a scam probably. The site was just registered 10 days ago so I highly doubt it's legit.

Edited by dandydan on 03/24/2012 21:48:16 MDT.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Ghost site on 03/24/2012 21:55:52 MDT Print View

Yes, Dan, I ordered a jacket there a few days ago, but never heard from them. Seems like a lot of work to go to if they're just fishing for email addresses/ credit cards. Have tried emailing them, but one of their addresses came up empty. So far nothing on my credit card.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Quito on 03/25/2012 02:28:47 MDT Print View

The quito might be Paramo's lightest jacket but its very compromised to achieve that - no real flap behind the non waterproof main zip, no double layer in shoulders vs pack pressure etc. They seemingly aimed at it at cyclists and the like where it'd probably do fine, but still can't help thinking it was a slight mistake in some ways.

Rachel Frendrup
Re: Haglofs Ozo on 03/25/2012 02:44:12 MDT Print View

They might may have replaced with with the LIM series, also paclite.I have both the LIM jacket and the pants and love them.

I have quite a lot of Haglöfs gear and have never been disappointed in anything, usually very impressed.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Quito on 03/25/2012 03:07:32 MDT Print View

Yep agreed Quito is very compromised, yep has many mistakes. However, I've yet to find better in some contexts. It is more of a walking than a cycling cut due to the excessively shortness at the rear, it is about 6" too short for cycling. However, if you're wearing waterproof pants then the short cut is not really that much of a problem.

Paramo's waterproofness is not a function of zips, you'd be allowing water in via zips and aiming to be warm for baselayer to evaporate and the Quito liner to let that pass through, it might condense on the inside face of the outer layer but the inner layer won't let it pass back in, and then let body heat keep the moisture going in a generally outward direction.

I biked today for an hour doing grocery shopping in the Quito in constant rain, I was dry.

Compromised, yes, example of dumb designers, yes, ignoring customer feedback, yes, but it still can defeat the wet stuff if you know how the fabric works, and do it better than many alternatives. The key positive points are the fabric, the hood, sleeves and the pitzips.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
LIM on 03/25/2012 03:26:36 MDT Print View

Doubt it - they've always had the two together and a big weight difference. I think it must be active shell making premium paclite a harder sell.

Still, the LIM jacket would have been a much easier target (basically total overlap with their Endo). There are notes about a (still?) planned Endo pullover online and maybe they didn't think they could sustain two smocks. Still its a lot heavier than the Oz(o) so not a replacement.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
UL and merely light on 03/26/2012 22:27:58 MDT Print View

These reviewed parkas are UL and a few MAY be durable enough for my uses.

Right now I have two LIGHT parkas that have held up well in bushwhacking and working under pack harnesses. Namely:
1. Cabela's Rainy River PacLite GTX (size XL, Tall, 1 lb.)
2. REI Kimtah eVent (size XL)1 lb. also)

Both are 'lite enuf' for now but as technology marches on I may be tempted by a UL parka that seems very durable. Will the new "Never Wet" DWR technology teamed with a tougher WPB laminate be The Next Big Thing in backpacking parkas??

Stephan Doyle
Re: Rab Demand pullover on 03/26/2012 23:49:31 MDT Print View

I, too, have the Rab Demand. Great hood, simple cuffs (elastic), and a clean aesthetic. I use it from desert backpacking to alpine climbing and mountaineering. I like to fiddle and tweak my kit, but this piece is here to stay and converted me to Rab in general.

Tim Lawes
(Tim.Lawes) - M
OZO Pullover on 03/27/2012 05:36:48 MDT Print View

I contacted Haglofs about the OZO Pullover to ask if it is being replaced with a similar shell. They advised that the closest is the Endo and they will release an Endo pullover soon but it is significantly heavier. This is the reply that I got.

We will not produce more OZO Pullover and I do not why , unfortunately.
Endo II Pullover weighs more than OZO pullover, and it is explained to the membrane of Endo is heavier, but it breathes much better.
The difference is 120 grams between OZO and Endo.

Endo II Pullover ( size L ) : 300g
OZO Pullover ( size L ) : 180 g

David Colbert
(adkphoto) - M

Locale: Central, New York
Great article on 03/27/2012 10:09:40 MDT Print View

Great article and feedback. I've been looking for a new jacket for quite a while, so the timing was perfect for me as well.

My question is, does anyone have any feedback on how long to expect the waterproofing to last before wetting out on any of these lightweight options? In particular, I've been considering the OR Helium II. (I was disappointed to read that the hood wasn't particularly good on this model.)

Also, does anyone have suggestions for pants to complement these jackets?



David Hankins
(hankinsohl) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Scam websites on 03/28/2012 04:40:00 MDT Print View

Just a warning. There appear to be a lot of scam websites selling Haglof merchandise. I naively attempted to purchase an Ozo pullover from one of them for $179.00. Their secure payment webpage informed me that my purchase was refused due to "my bank's policy." So I called my bank only to find that the scam company had attempted to charge my credit card over one thousand dollars! Wow!

Since I had provided both my credit card number and 3-digit security code via the purchase page, I decided that I'd better cancel my card. Ugh, what a pain.

Anyhow, this is the site that fooled me:

This site was created on 2/17/2012. Another website also created on this date:

And finally there's this one:

This was created on 11/8/2011 but is registered to somone in China.

So if the price is too good to believe and if they've got every single piece of gear in stock, all sizes, even gear that's been discontinued, it's best to run a whois check on the domain. I foolishly did not.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
eVent failure - Rab Super Dru on 03/28/2012 06:57:02 MDT Print View

I have a 5 year old Rab Super Dru, which generally I love. Given the weather in Australia the last two years I've actually got to wear it in the rain. I noticed though on a recent bike ride in heavy rain that I did get quite wet, particularly on the arms. I dismissed it as condensation or water getting down the neck but then saw a post on another site talking about the same thing. I haven't been particularly assiduous in giving it washes, so I wonder if it had become dirty/contaminated and therefore ineffective, in the same way that early Gore-Tex did. Of course the whole point of eVent is that the membrane is supposed to be oleophobic so that it doesn't fail when contaminated, but that's not what I experienced. I have now given it a good wash and will see how it performs in the next heavy rain.

I recently bought a Montane Air jacket - at $135 it was hard to say no - and walked home in the rain in it the other day. I had no problems with condensation or leakage but will keep an eye on it.

It's worth saying that I had a succession of Gore-Tex jackets over the last 20 years that simply failed, PU coating or not. One simply stopped being waterproof, without any explanation, and the other delaminated and was replaced.

If it's cold and raining I prefer to ride in my Paramo jacket but if the temperature is above 15C it's just too warm.