Manufacturer: Luke’s Ultralite
Product: Silnylon Rain Shell
Year of Manufacture: 2012
MSRP: (US) $69.00 (+ $10.00 for additional pit zips)
Size Ordered: XLarge (with custom work)
Listed Weight (w/ Stuff Sack): 4.2 oz (without pit zips)
Measured Weight (w/ Stuff Sack): 4.7 oz (with pit zips)
Color Ordered: Black (Also available in grey and taupe)
**Add 2 inches to sleeve length
**Adjustable wrist cuffs
**1 way waterproof zipper
I first came across Luke’s Ultralite through a recent charity hike in which the Water Monkey was planning earlier this year. He was raffling off some cool gear to help raise money for the charity hike, and it just so happened that a silnylon rain jacket from Luke’s Ultralite happened to be one of those items.
Now, I will admit, just before seeing this I had picked up another silnylon rain jacket from a different company. Concerning fit and finish on that jacket, I was happy enough with it, but, for me specifically there were some shortcomings such as fit, or more precisely, sleeve length. When looking over the one at Luke’s Ultralite, I realized that he could do some custom work to get the sleeves to fit me in length, as well, I liked that he used a waterproof front zip, and considering that this is a silnylon jacket, I liked that he offered pit zips.
Once I decided it was time to go ahead and buy one of Luke’s jackets, I figured instead of going back and forth in emails, I would just cut to the chase and give him a call. So, last Sunday (12/9) afternoon I did just that (his number is listed on his site). He answered quickly and was more than happy to talk with me and work through all the details as to what it was that I wanted in this jacket. Then on Tuesday (12/11) evening I placed the order and 3 days later (Friday, 12/14) I got a delivery notification email. And today (12/17) while I was sitting here, the mail lady knocked on my door with the package!
Here is an unboxing video I did once I got it in my hands:
As I mentioned above, I did get a few customization’s done on this jacket (and to be completely honest, if it weren’t for the fact that I could get some custom work done to it, I wouldn’t have gotten another jacket at all). Of course size, color and pit zips are all options that can be easily chosen right on the main order page, however, after talking with him, I also had a few other things done.
- 2 inches of extra length in the sleeves. This was my biggest hang up with my previous silnylon rain jacket. The sleeves were fine as long as I was not stretching out, but as soon as I did, the cuffs slid right up my forearm. So, getting a little extra length was as easy as asking Luke for it, and is ultimately what sold me on this jacket.
- Adjustable wrist cuffs. I have yet to try on a jacket with elastic wrist cuffs that have fit me just the way I want them too. So, to solve this little dilemma, I asked Luke about getting some adjustable wrist cuffs. And again, he said that this was no problem! Problem solved…
- 1-way waterproof front zipper. According to Luke’s site, he generally uses a 2-way zipper on the front of his jackets, unless asked to do otherwise. I have some jackets with 2-way front zips and I have never used them, so I asked him about using a 1-way front zip…and yep, he said sure! (Plus, the 1-way zip even weighed less!)
Also, concerning the front zip, I was not totally sold on using a regular zipper with a storm flap (as was on my other silnylon jacket), and prefer a waterproof zipper. To me, it just seems cleaner, lighter and just as effective. Of course Luke uses waterproof zippers on his jackets, so this was another feature that I really liked about this jacket.
Now, with all of these features, a weight of only 4.7 oz and a beginning price of $69, this is a sweet jacket. So, what is the down-side you ask? Well, if there is one, it will be the fact that this jacket is made from silnylon, which has absolutely ZERO breathability. Now we all know that many companies have worked hard and spent more money than we want to think about to come up with a material that is both waterproof and breathable, but silnylon simply is not one of those materials. Silnylon works wonders at being waterproof, but when it comes to breathability, forget it.
I would like to say here though that this is not to much of an issue for me, at least so far (of course though I do realize that this could change). Number one, my rain jacket seems to spend considerable more time in my pack than on my back. And number 2, I just don’t sweat too much. Don’t get me wrong, I do sweat, and I agree 100% that if I sweat inside this jacket, I will get wet, but so far in my experience, it just has not been an issue.
However, one way to help alleviate the breathability issue on his silnylon jackets at least somewhat, is by using pit zips. Luke offers the option of adding pit zips to the jackets if so desired, however, this option will add an extra $10 to the total price, and an extra 0.3 oz in weight for a pair of his standard 10 inch pit zips. (You can request longer length pit zips.) For me, the extra money and the minor weight penalty was a welcome addition. (As well, the 2-way front zip will also allow a little extra ventilation if needed.)
Now of course I have not used this jacket at all… you did see me just open the box in the above video, right? But, after looking it over, the seams all appear to be straight and in alignment as they should be. There are no loose threads anywhere that I can find. All the zippers are straight and secured along the edges and work as expected. All of the adjustments use what appears to be 1/16th inch shock cord with micro cord locks, which also works as expected. All-in-all, the construction of this jacket is top-notch!
Also worth noting, I love the 3-point hood adjustment, which allows me to adjust the hood around the front of my face as well as pull the hood back out of my face. (In my opinion, this really allows the hood to have a superior fit over my other silnylon jacket.) As well, the jacket can be cinched up around my waist using the same 1/16th inch shock cord and a cord lock which is fed through the bottom hem. And finally, I love the fact that I was able to get the jacket in black. I know that “fashion” is the least important thing to worry about when on the trail, but I will admit, it sure does make me feel better if it is both functional, as well as appealing to the eye.
And in case you are wondering about fit, I’ve gotta say that it is right on as well. Like I said, I ordered the XLarge (I am 5’10 inches, ~ 200 lbs) and it fits me great, without the feeling of being to baggy when only wearing a t-shirt underneath it, yet still roomy enough to be able to layer over all of my “winter” layers without compressing the layers. I gotta admit, it is super exciting to get an article of clothing, try it on and realize that it actually the way I had hoped… this jacket fits me just like that!
So, I will be carrying (and maybe using) this jacket on an upcoming hike in January along the AT, and of course on all other subsequent trips. I can honestly say, I am definitely looking forward to packing this jacket in my pack for my hikes. Until then, thanks for reading/watching!
Disclaimer: I purchased this jacket for full price with my own money. I have no obligation to “review” this jacket. The statements in this post are my own and were formed after handling the jacket.