My gear list is always being refined. While looking at a spreadsheet I use for planning what to pack and where I can improve my pack weight, one area that has stuck out recently is my rain jacket. I have been using a GoLite rain jacket for several years and have been very pleased with the performance. I have a criteria a rain jacket “needs” to have for fit my hiking/camping style. The GoLite jacket has them all, but it is relatively heavy at 11.9 oz. I have been looking at alternatives. I experimented with the cheap Frogg Toggs jacket. Although the Frogg Toggs Rain jackets are very light (5.5 oz.), they don’t have one of my main criteria for a rain jacket: pit zips (zippers in the armpits). Unzipping these while hiking allow me to stay relatively dry but vent out body heat so I won’t get too hot while wearing the jacket when I’m hiking.
I searched. And searched. And searched some more. I could not find a jacket that had the options I wanted, was ultralight, and at a price I was willing to pay. Until last week when I found the LightHeart Gear Rain Jacket (https://lightheartgear.com/products/rain-jacket). I read and watched many reviews of this jacket to ensure it was what I wanted and it fit my criteria. I finally decided this was going to be my new rain jacket. I wanted a bright orange jacket. Yes, it is obnoxiously bright, but my reasoning is if I want to be seen in the woods for any reason, I needed something bright. This jacket definitely will allow me to be seen! After learning from my last jacket purchase, I reviewed the size chart and measured to ensure I bought the correct size. I ordered a large jacket in blaze orange and it was shipped within hours. The total price was $106.23 USD ($99 for the jacket and $7.23 for shipping). I received the jacket last night and I thought I’d give you my initial impressions. I will be taking this on a multi-day trip to the Smoky Mountains in a couple of weeks so I may be able to give you a better review after that trip.
Before we get to the pictures, there is one thing I should point out and many of you already know. There is not a truly waterproof and breathable jacket. A rain jacket will only do one of these functions really well, but not both. This jacket performs as a rain jacket really well. It is not breathable at all which is why the pit zips are so important. LightHeart Gear is very clear about this. Here is the item description from their website:
- All fabrics are waterproof, not breathable.
- Long pit zips in every jacket allow you to slip your arm out for more ventilation. (#3 coil zipper)
- Pit zips are NOT waterproof zippers and could leak.
- Front zipper is #5 molded plastic tooth.
- Elastic and Velcro adjustments at wrists.
- Full brim hood to keep the rain off your glasses.
- Sizes: X-Small, thru XXX-Large.
- Custom sleeve length available ($60.00 extra).
- Hand warmer pockets.
- Inside waterproof pockets (2).
- Seams are bound, not taped.
- All jackets come with a matching small stuff sack.
- All zippers are genuine YKK zippers.
Here is an invoice to confirm the price.
The rain jacket was contained in a separate brown paper bag
I told you the jacket was bright orange!
A picture of the tag
The jacket in the included stuff sack on the scale weighed 6.2 oz. or 175 grams.
The length of the front zipper
The length of the pit zips
A picture of the hood
Depth of the pockets – notice there is not a zipper on the outside of the hand pockets.
Length of the inside waterproof pocket.
Width of the inside waterproof pocket
Cuff of the jacket
Me wearing the jacket. For reference, I’m about 5’10” tall and weigh 185 pounds. This material is thin and you can see the pattern of my shirt through the jacket.
As part of my layering system, I put the LightHeart Gear rain jacket over my hooded Outdoor Vitals LoftTek (TM) Insulated Jacket to see how it would fit. There was still plenty of room.
Now here is my initial impression: Overall, I’m very pleased. I cut 5.7 ounces from my pack with a jacket with nearly the same features as the rain jacket I have been using. The construction of the jacket is top notch. I didn’t see any loose threads or imperfections when I closely examined the jacket. Double stitching is located in places that make sense – such as the drawstring around the hood. It is a quality piece of gear. Although the material is “slippery” the jacket fit well and was comfortable. The hand pockets and the interior pockets were deep – which is nice. The four Velcro tabs that attach the rain flap over the zipper and on the cuff were just the right amount of “stickiness” (if that makes sense). The zippers worked smoothly.
I wanted a bright orange and I got it! I don’t even think the pictures show just how bright this jacket really looks. My hiking buddies may hate me, but they will always know where I am if I’m wearing this jacket. As previously mentioned, this material is very slippery. I don’t use many stuff sacks in my backpack, but this jacket will be in one or it may just overtake my pack when uncompressed. The jacket is very warm since it is not breathable. In the few minutes it took me to take the two pictures of me wearing the jacket I was already starting to sweat.
Is there anything I would change or dislike initially about the jacket? My other rain jackets have elastic cording around the bottom of the jacket and zippers on the outside hand pockets. I’m just used to these features. Will I miss them? I probably will not miss the zippers on the hand pockets. I have several other pockets and ways to secure things when I’m backpacking. I did find the elastic around the bottom of my other jackets useful when using them as a windbreaker. Tightening this cord prevented wind from going up the back of my jacket. I don’t know if this will be an issue and I may be able to add it – although it will add weight to the jacket overall. I’ll keep you posted.
If you want an affordable, high quality 100% rainproof jacket, the rain jacket from LightHeart Gear may be the answer. For under $105 USD and weighing just over 6 ounces for a size large, I’m surprised this rain jacket is not more popular on the trail.