JakPak All-In-One Garment Review

Is this the "Three Musketeers" of backpacking gear (all for one, one for all!), or does it leave Chris feeling cold?

Overall Rating: Average

This rating is for products in categories where better performance/weight and performance/value can be realized in several other competing products. For certain activities, like hunting, the current JakPak performs well, but for the most part, its performance was lackluster – especially for backpacking.

About This Rating

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by Chris Murphy |

Introduction

Active Engineering LLC, a Washington based company, manufactures the JakPak that it describes as a jacket with a 3 season tent and sleeping bag. A more accurate description of the JakPak is a raincoat weighed down with:

  1. A half-length bivouac (which combines with the jacket to form a full length shelter);
  2. A tarp with mosquito netting;
  3. A suspension system.
 
 
 

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 1
The half-length bivouac folds up against the interior back of the coat, where it is held in place by three Velcro straps.

 
 

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 2
To facilitate access to the bivy, there is a zipper with storm flaps that runs half the length of the bag.

 
 

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 3
For this review, the bivy was used in conjunction with a 0 degree Sierra Designs down sleeping bag.

 
 

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 4
The tarp with mosquito netting folds into an exterior pouch that spans from the shoulders to the lower back. The pouch seals with a Velcro flap. The tarp connects to the jacket with an YKK 5C zipper and, if desired, it can easily be removed from the jacket, which is critical for backpacking. There are two thicker gauge wires/poles in the tarp and when carrying a pack, they dig into back flesh.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 5
The tarp also has two elastic straps that connect to each other with Velcro. These straps ensure that the tarp maintains a peak. Without the straps, the edges of the tarp would slide out and it would lie flat.

The suspension system ensures that the JakPak rides comfortably. The suspension system consists of two 1.5-inch wide elastic suspender straps. These straps connect to the interior of the jacket near the shoulder blade. The suspenders have clasps at the end for connecting to one’s waistband. There are also sliding buckles for tightening and loosening the suspension system (see first photo).

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 6
The JakPak includes other standard jacket features like two kangaroo flap pockets, a zip-up waterproof pocket located at the interior front left, a bungee cord drawstring for the waist that can be adjusted on the right and the left, a bungee cord drawstring for the hood that can be adjusted from the right and left sides, adjustable Velcro wrist straps, interior and exterior storm flaps along the front zipper (exterior storm flap seals with Velcro).

Specifications

  Camouflage Yellow Blue
  Jacket / Tent / JakPak Jacket / Tent / JakPak Jacket / Tent / JakPak
Weights (oz) Med 30 / 13 / 44 40 / 15 / 55 29 / 13 / 42
Weights (oz) Large 33 / 14 / 47 44 / 16 / 60 31 / 14 / 45
Weights (oz) Ex-Large 36 / 15 / 51 48 / 18 / 66 38 / 15 / 53
Material Waterproof 100% 70D ripstop nylon fabric with 1.5-oz urethane coating 100% 250D polyester fabric with 1.5-oz urethane coating
Temperature (F) +45
Fire Meets CPIA84 Flame Retardant Standards for tents.

During the month of October 2009 I tested a yellow, medium size JakPak in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness, which straddles the border of Montana and Idaho.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 7
Testing the JakPak in Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.

October had typical fall weather with cool temperatures and mild precipitation (for exact temperatures and weather descriptions see the Analysis & Testing section). Activities included trekking and manual labor, like fencing and construction.

Quantitative Gear Rating

I contrasted the JakPak with the traditional combination of tent and rain coat. In this case, the tent used was the 2009 Black Diamond First Light, and the raincoat was a 2004 Marmot Precip.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 8
Black Diamond First Light at Rhoda Creek Camp.

Categories 2004 Marmot Precip 2009 Black Diamond First Light
Weight (lb) 0.75 3.3125
Cost $100 $320
Material Shell: 100% Nylon
Coating: 100% Polymide
Seams: 100% Polyester
EPIC by Nextec Fabric
Temperature NA 4-Season

The JakPak and the First Light/Precip were evaluated according to ten specific items critical to quality, or CTQ. Each CTQ was assigned an importance value. Importance values are from 1 to 3, where 1 indicates low importance and 3 indicates high importance. Then the JakPak and the First Light/Precip were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates poor and 5 indicates excellent. The rating was then multiplied by the importance, thereby yielding a final score. The importance, ratings, and scores for the JakPak and the First Light/Precip are presented below.

Importance, Rating, and Score for JakPak
CTQ Importance (1-3) Rating (1-5) Score (1-15)
Weight 3 3 9
Durability 2 2 4
Breathability 2 1 2
Water Resistance 3 5 15
Storage (pockets, straps, etc.) 1 5 5
Fit (suspension system, draw cords, etc.) 3 1 3
Shelter (tent, bivy, etc.) Comfort 2 3 6
Appearance 1 1 1
Ease of Use 2 4 8
Cost 3 3 9
Normalized Total
8.45

 

Importance, Rating, and Score for First Light/Precip
CTQ Importance (1-3) Rating (1-5) Score (1-15)
Weight 3 2 6
Durability 2 4 8
Breathability 2 4 8
Water Resistance 3 3 9
Storage (pockets, straps, etc.) 1 4 4
Fit (suspension system, draw cords, etc.) 3 4 12
Shelter (tent, bivy, etc.) Comfort 2 4 8
Appearance 1 4 4
Ease of Use 2 4 8
Cost 3 2 6
Normalized Total
9.95

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 9
Pareto chart score comparison of the JakPak and the First Light/Precip combo.

Analysis & Testing

Analysis

The rating values assigned to each CTQ for the JakPak were formulated while using the JakPak for approximately one month. Presented below is the qualitative reasoning for the ratings assigned. The testing is detailed later on in this section.

  1. Weight: The yellow JakPak weighs 3.5 lbs. This is not overly heavy or super light so it received an average rating of 3. However the JakPak should probably be lighter considering that the First Light is a two person tent, and it only weighs 3.3 lbs.
  2. Durability: The polyester material is tough, but the elastic suspenders have already started to snag and fray after one month of use, which is most likely the start of rapid progression to catastrophic failure. This is clearly a below average performance and warrants the rating of 2.
  3. Breathability: There is no breathability with polyester – as anyone who has ever purchased a thrift store seventies garment can confirm => rating of 1.
  4. Water Resistance: The JakPak with polyester material and urethane coating is waterproof, thus a high rating of 5.
  5. Storage: The JakPak has ample pocket/storage space. It has a large waterproof pocket for valuable items and easy access kangaroo pockets in the front. The easy access kangaroo pockets with their flapped covers are especially desirable in that they securely house items without frustrating zipper fiddling.
  6. Fit: The JakPak does not fit well. A jacket that needs suspenders to adjust fit inherently will not fit well. The weight of the bivy and the tarp hang heavy on the back of the JakPak so that the front zipper winds up gouging into the larynx. To remedy the situation, a pair of poor quality suspenders, which are extremely frustrating to adjust, are provided => rating of 1.
  7. Shelter Comfort: It’s average, so rated a 3. It’s warm, but cramped and damp, and you can’t even comfort yourself in that you are saving on weight.
  8. Appearance: Horrendous. Every time I put it on I felt like I was about to get rescued by the Coast Guard, and all my friends loved to rip on me about it (see below). It really deserves a score of 0 for appearance.
  9. JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 10
    Playing JakPak.

  10. Ease of Use: Fairly easy to use, and it comes with instructions on the interior, near the waterproof pocket => a rating of 4.
  11. Cost: The JakPak, including shipping, costs approximately $199.00. This is a modest sum that compares favorably to the $420.00 for the First Light and the Precip. However the price is not a “deal” either, so it received a rating of 3.

Testing

As mentioned previously, testing occurred in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. The two primary tests were a:

  1. Two-day, 26-mile trip up the Selway River
  2. Three-day, 45-mile loop to North Moose Creek and Isaac Lake

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 11
The 26-mile trip up the Selway occurred on 9/29 and 9/30.

Tango Creek camp is located right along the Selway River at approximately mile 18 of the trip. The night I spent there it rained/drizzled intermittently. I was concerned that the JakPak would not hold up to the weather, so I set up the JakPak beneath a large grand fir tree and also erected the BD First Light in case I had to bail on the JakPak. Fortunately, the JakPak performed well in the rain, and the First Light was not needed. The only major problem was a gap between the waist of the jacket and the top of the bivy where the rain soaked into the sleeping bag. Minus the wet patch in the sleeping bag and rattlesnakes, the JakPak experience at Tango Creek surpassed my expectations.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 12
Rattlesnake on the Selway River Trail.

The following morning was damp, so I continued to wear the JakPak for the hike. With the tarp removed, the JakPak is relatively comfortable with a pack. However, it quickly had to be stowed because the zero-percent-breathability had me sweating bullets.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 13
Hiking the Selway River Trail.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 14
Our approximate route: 45-mile loop to North Moose Creek and Isaac Lake. The second trip was much cooler and at higher elevations.

The first camp was located in a small stand of large cedars at the confluence of North Moose Creek and Rhoda Creek. It was damp and rainy at Rhoda Creek Camp, and the JakPak again performed favorably, keeping me warm and relatively dry. The second camp was at Isaac Lake, where wolves joined our camp. The wolves put up two good howling sessions around 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. I wished at that point for some sort of clear plastic window in the tarp so I could watch. Instead there was only the glow of yellow neon that magically is still visible in the dead of night.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 15
Hiking Up to Isaac Lake.

It was much colder at Isaac Lake, by approximately 20 to 25 F degrees. At these lower temperatures, the JakPak/0 degree bag combination kept me from freezing, but I was not warm. Chilled, I woke several times and had to burrow deep into the bag for greater warmth.

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review - 16
Isaac Lake Camp.

During the nights out with the JakPak the following details were recorded:

  1. Morning and evening temperatures
  2. Weather description
  3. Qualitative reaction

JakPak Performance Appraisal

Date Morning Temp (F) Evening Temp (F) Weather Notes
9/29/09 50 60 Overcast with occasional drizzling. Evening - Surprisingly warm in bivy and fly. Fly is real kicker. Real warm. Probably because of little volume. Very cramped though. Can barely move. Rolling over will be a nightmare.
9/30/09 50 55 Sunny, clear and dry. Morning - Warm, but sleeping bag twisted like pretzel. Mild precip on bag. How well does this thing breathe?
10/8/09 40 50 Sunny, clear and dry. Evening - Damp, cramped, and warm.
10/9/09 40 25 Clear with occasional snow showers. Morning - Warm with precip on bag again. Probably not the best bivy for down bags like mine.
Evening - Cold. Good thing this thing is warm - although not near as warm as it was on previous nights
10/10/09 20 50 Sunny, clear and dry. Morning - Fairly warm, but a sheet of ice on my down bag. Definitely not the bivy to use with a down bag.

All other impressions for deciding ratings for the JakPak were garnered from experience using it as a rain coat on the trail. As a rain coat, the JakPak works fairly well simple because one stays dry, but it is stiff, has zero breathability, and is heavy and bulky because the bivy cannot be removed like the tarp. The weight and bulkiness restricts movement, which proves frustrating with active jobs like fencing and construction. The ratings for the First Light/Precip were determined from approximately 70 days of use in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.

What I Liked

The worst part about the JakPak is also the best part: the bivy. The JakPak is not well suited for backpacking because of the weight, fit, and breathability issues discussed above. However it is advantageous for hunting. The weight and fit issues are not as prominent when hunting, and it is great to have a bivy that you can easily unfurl from your jacket when spending the pre-dawn hours sitting in cold snow. It keeps water out and warm air near the body. The tarp and netting, which sit close to the ground, also helped keep warm air near the body. They also kept rain off your head and were easy to setup, but the best part about was that they could be detached, thereby relieving some of the weight and fit issues. Overall, the bivy and tarp combo, minus the lack of breathability, performed quite well. At times, however, there was a gap between the bivy and the jacket. This was irritating in that it let in some rain that left a wet patch on the sleeping bag - this wet patch, however, was barely discernable from the dampness caused by the captured moisture.

The JakPak pocket system is praiseworthy. I liked its design for the simplicity. On the front of the jacket are two kangaroo pockets located at the easily accessible belly region. These pockets were designed with a pocket flap that keeps articles secure without an irritating zipper. For items that absolutely have to remain dry and secure, there is an internal waterproof pocket with a large zipper that is easy to grasp and operate.

What I Disliked

The primary problems with the JakPak are the excessive weight and the fit. Even when the tarp and netting is removed, the JakPak is excessively heavy, weighing in at 2.5 pounds, which is huge when compared against a typical backpacking raincoat that weighs approximately 12 ounces. This weight could be tolerated if it at least rested comfortably on the body’s frame… but it doesn’t. Much of the JakPak’s weight is due to the bivy that hangs heavy on the back, and this causes the collar and jacket zipper to dig into your neck - which is extremely uncomfortable. Granted there is a suspension system to help the JakPak ride comfortably, but the suspension system is of low quality. The suspenders are hard to adjust, the clasps on the suspenders readily and constantly detach, and the elastic material is shoddy. After only one month of use, the suspenders have already started to fray. The JakPak’s fit is further aggravated by the fact that it is entirely made of polyester, making it stiff and bulky. (Note that the blue or camo JakPaks may not have this problem, since they are made of nylon.)

It is unfortunate that the extra weight and poor fit are primarily due to the bivy, considering that it's the bivy that's the JakPak’s main selling point. If the bivy was made of some lightweight rip-stop material, like a tent or traditional bivy, perhaps the weight and fit issues would be alleviated. If the weight and fit issues were improved, the JakPak could be a highly desirable product for backpacking. Hopefully Active Engineering remedies these problems with subsequent JakPak models.

The other major gripe with the yellow JakPak is the complete lack of breathability. A heavy and non-breathable material like polyester is an extremely poor material choice for backpacking gear. Each night spent in the JakPak started out well because I was so pleased with the speedy set-up time, but in the morning, when I found my sleeping bag sopping with captured moisture, only frustration and irritation remained. Again, perhaps the blue and camo JakPaks have better breathability since they are made of nylon.

Final Comments

The JakPak is not designed for backpacking - at least I don’t think it was designed with backpacking in mind. It is a product more suited to disaster relief or a handy item to have under an airplane seat in the case of a crash. It might also prove popular as a shell for sports fans watching games in tundra-like country such as Lambeau Field and Buffalo, NY. Hunting is the only outdoor recreation activity for which I’d recommend the JakPak. It’s great to have a bivy in your jacket that you can slide into while hunkered down in wet snow, waiting for the sun to rise. However, make sure to purchase the camouflage JakPak - otherwise you’ll wind up a gleaming yellow beacon on the hillside.

For backpacking, the JakPak is like the baseball hat that comes with an umbrella. It’s a reasonable idea in conversation, but when it reaches the product stage, you realize it was best left as a conversation. Its functionality is mediocre, its fit is terrible, and the appearance is atrocious. It’s that camping item you buy at Walmart because it combines two critical needs and saves on cost, but only proves non-functional in both areas and winds up costing you more money when you buy the right tools for the job.

The manufacturer provided this product to Backpacking Light at no charge, and BPL has returned or will return this product to the manufacturer upon completion of the review. The author/Backpacking Light have no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"JakPak All-In-One Garment Review," by Chris Murphy. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/jakpak_all-in-one_garment_review.html, 2010-03-16 00:05:00-06.

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JakPak All-In-One Garment Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
JakPak All-In-One Garment Review on 03/16/2010 18:56:24 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

JakPak All-In-One Garment Review

William Johnson
(Steamboat_Willie)
Thank you on 03/16/2010 21:43:52 MDT Print View

Excellent review. Thank you for the time and effort you put into writing this.

Michael Richey
(beaverboymike) - M

Locale: Southern Utah
mark it off the list on 03/16/2010 23:26:35 MDT Print View

One product that I can completely mark off my "to buy" list.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
good review but on 03/17/2010 01:07:26 MDT Print View

looks like the product is updated and a lot of the reviewed iteration's aspects have been changed. For one, it now has a breatheable top/front material.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: JakPak All-In-One Garment Review on 03/17/2010 11:38:16 MDT Print View

Nice review. I've heard of the JakPak and wondered about its usefulness for backpacking. Thanks for your enlightenment.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Right again on 03/17/2010 22:44:56 MDT Print View

So it has been a couple of years now. I am amazed that Jakpak is still in business. I am not surprised that they dropped the homeless angle and are going after the outdoors folk with money.

Man I get tired of getting flak and then later am proved correct.

Edited by kthompson on 05/11/2012 06:18:18 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Ken's JakPak on 03/17/2010 22:53:13 MDT Print View

But Ken, we all chipped in and got you one for your birthday!

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
. on 03/17/2010 23:03:55 MDT Print View

.

Edited by kthompson on 03/19/2010 23:30:48 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: JakPak on 03/17/2010 23:06:26 MDT Print View

Carhartts and a black hoody will get me high?

Sweeeet.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
I do find it a bit ironic on 03/17/2010 23:20:11 MDT Print View

that a product intended in part for the homeless (who need it) needs to be improved in quality/performance for those who don't really "need" it in order to sell well enough to be provided as intended to those who do.

I think it's a pretty cool idea. If I were at all good at sleeping on my back, I'd consider it as an option. or is it not necessary? I couldn't tell from the review it is possible to sleep on side in this?

"Our first shipments of six JakPaks were shipped last week to Salvation Army national headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia— the first step in what we hope will be a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with The Salvation Army. The JakPak began with President Terry Jensen’s many years of working with homeless people in Seattle, and it is our hope, over time, to enable the Salvation Army to distribute JakPaks to those ‘who need it most.’ Active Engineering’s long-term goal is to be able to donate a percentage of sales to Non-Profit organizations to distribute to the thousands around the world without a jacket/shelter. We are very excited about this new step and will keep you all posted on how things progress."

Connie Dodson
(ConnieDodson) - F

Locale: Montana
Huh? Kidding, right? on 03/18/2010 17:34:39 MDT Print View

Homeless who need it and want to stand out like a highway roadsign?

The last thing a homeless person sleeping out wants is to be discovered. It is dangerous living out like that, in an urban area. It is absolutely essential they be hidden and discreet.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
. on 03/18/2010 17:40:25 MDT Print View

.

Edited by kthompson on 03/19/2010 23:29:21 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: JakPak All-In-One Garment Review" on 03/18/2010 18:13:11 MDT Print View

"Plus the first time that they pass out and soil themselves in it into the dumpster or worse it goes. Too bad vagrancy is no longer illegal.. Get some help, get to work. I've never seen a Latino pan handling.. WTF."



Wow. This discussion just took a pretty bigoted turn.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Re: JakPak All-In-One Garment Review" on 03/18/2010 18:45:21 MDT Print View

yes, suggest moving to chaff.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Huh? Kidding, right? on 03/18/2010 19:53:27 MDT Print View

"Homeless who need it and want to stand out like a highway roadsign?"

That's not so bad to make them extremely visible. It used to drive me crazy when vagrants in Albuquerque would cross dark streets wearing dark clothing. I probably would've hit one by now if I still lived there, so I welcome anything that makes them more visible.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: JakPak on 03/19/2010 11:45:44 MDT Print View

When I head out solo and sport all my SUL gear, my girlfriend always tells me I look like I'm homeless...maybe this really is a product for us!

Eric Krumland
(Eric_K) - F

Locale: The northwest is the BEST
Off topic (In defence of homeless on 03/19/2010 13:15:21 MDT Print View

After spending three years in chicago and spending a lot of time with the homeless communities there, working with them try to get IDs and places for them to stay so they can have jobs, I can say they do not deserve all the crap people give them. They obviously made bad choices in life, but once you have fallen that low it is near impossible to pick yourself back up. Everyone is against you, gangs beat you up, cops throw you in jail and take anything you have, and the few handouts you do receive do amount to much. So don't judge so quickly next time.

Eric

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
. on 03/19/2010 15:11:57 MDT Print View

.

Edited by kthompson on 03/19/2010 23:31:19 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: JakPak on 03/19/2010 15:36:30 MDT Print View

I was actually being serious. My girlfriend really does say that. Ever seen a guy wearing a cuben poncho, cuben backpack, and cuben chaps....:)

Anyway, the product is a step in the right direction. It is integrating several pieces of gear which is what many of us try to do, but in this case it is not quite as usable as we would like, and not light enough.

But, good for them for thinking outside of the box. Maybe a few revisions will bring a more desirable product.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Neat Idea! on 03/19/2010 21:17:35 MDT Print View

I think the JakPak is a great idea that could fly once the issues with weight, fit, and breathability are addressed.

I like the idea of it for homeless. And Eric Krumland is right about the homeless. I have to say that some of the nicest people I've met have been homeless people. I have never had a homeless person NOT thank me for helping them; on the other hand, I've held doors for people who were in better situations, or have motioned people to cut in front of me on the highway, and never once did they say "thank you."

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
2-in-one? on 03/20/2010 21:46:16 MDT Print View

Is the Jak Pak a 2-in-one product or can it also serve as a pack cover?

Joe Novak
(jnovak6) - MLife
Ratings Insight on 04/19/2011 17:38:15 MDT Print View

Hi Chris,
I realize that I'm coming to the party VERY late on this discussion and I hope this post finds it's way to you.

I found your quantification for attribute ratings interesting and I have a question.
The only thing that I can't quite come to terms with is how you derived the "normalized" value at the end of each evaluation.
Figures for both have a common factor of roughly 7.33 (achieved by dividing the normalized value into the score total for each product/system review).

Can you shed some light on this for me?

Thanks,
- JVK