Tuesday, September 23, 2008

RIP: Marmot PreCip jacket; Hello Rab Drillium

My love affair with my Marmot PreCip jacket is over. It has died a long, slow death. Nikwax couldn't fix it, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I think the decline started when I let my mother wash it oh-so many years ago. Since then, I have blissfully ignored the jacket's short-comings. Now, the shell is a worth no more than a typical PVC parka. It does not bead water and as a result, does not breath. I got wet from the inside.

Where the PreCip comes up short is the fabric - it is not as breathable as one needs it to be, and the DWR is gone, never to be repaired again. With respect to features, it has more than most jackets with its tremendous pit zips and dual pockets big enough to fit footballs in. Most jackets these days just have a single Napoleon pocket - dumb, me thinks.

So what's next? I'm upgrading either to Gore-Tex PacLite, ProShell or eVent. Therein, the options are endless. My criteria are pretty simple. I want a feature-rich jacket. It should have pitzips, at least two pockets, a stiff brim and an easily-adjustable hood. I want a draw cord on the bottom hem. I want it to be large enough to wear over a few layers, at least a fleece and my Montbell parka. I also want it reasonably close in weight to my PreCip (~11.9 oz). And the last requirement, and probably the most exacting of all - I want to be able to use it year-round. It's more of a weight issue there, but I don't want a 20 oz. winter shell.


Post draft edit/addition:

I went to Midwest this evening with Thermawrap and Nupste in hand. I wanted to try on their Rab Jackets. They carry two - the Drillium and the Lokat Alpine. The Alpine is an alpine jacket. It has huge pockets and a large hood designed for helmets. I went with the Drillium. It is lighter (14.1 oz) than the Lokat (18 oz) and it is slimmer cut. It also fit over my Mistral and Thermawrap easily. I could also layer my Nupste over it easily. I ended up going with their "amber" colored jacket, which looks more like international orange than "amber." I had to special order it because they did not have my size and color in stock. They had a purple shell in stock in my size, but I already have too much purple gear and orange is more visible to rescue squads and hunters. The purple also got the cabash from the girlfriend - mostly for the rescue squad reason.

I was surprised by the jacket - Rab bills the Drillium as a multi-spot jacket and says it is cut narrowly. But when I tried it on, the sleeves where very long, the bottom hem went down past my butt and the hood was fantastic (Everyone is making hoods similar to Arc'Teryx hoods now - there is a stiff brim and the hood adjusters attach near your temples; they do not encompass the entire hood). I expected a much narrower cut and the inability to layer it over more than a heavy fleece.

Before going into this purchase, I was looking for a shell that would layer over my Nupste. That meant I needed a shell with at least a 44 inch chest - this is an XL or XXL for most manufacturers. My PreCip could do this. Previously, I knew people purchased their winter shells to be worn over a midweight layer or heavy fleece, but not over their down parka. The idea is that you carry the puffy jacket on your pack and put it on when you stop or get into camp.

I agreed with this proposition when I purchased the shell. I don't remember the last time it was snowing and I needed a puffy jacket to stay warm. It snows less as it gets colder because the air cannot hold very much moisture. And so I went with the jacket, knowing that if it is snowing and uber cold that I may be in a little bit of trouble.

The jacket is being shipped to the store - I'm not going to get a call when the order is placed with Rab, but I am going to get a call when it arrives. I'm not sure when that is, but I put a Dec. 1 deadline to get the jacket. More when it arrives. I'm excited.

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