First Look at Luke’s Ultralite Silnylon Rain Shell

P1010079

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)
Fabric: Silnylon
Color Ordered: Black (Also available in grey and taupe)
Custom Work:
**Add 2 inches to sleeve length
**Adjustable wrist cuffs
**1 way waterproof zipper
**Pit zips

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.)

P1010082

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!

~Stick~

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.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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11 Responses to First Look at Luke’s Ultralite Silnylon Rain Shell

  1. Pingback: First Look @ the Zpacks Vertice Rain Gear | Stick's Blog

  2. Pingback: GSMNP PHGT, Part 3: Custom GooseFeet Gear Down Anorak | Stick's Blog

  3. Great post. Its nice to have an urgent needs of personal use. Thank you.

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  4. Brim stone says:

    Looks good, great color and not so common in silnylon. With those longer sleeves and adjustable cuffs you might consider sewing some thumb loops in, just an inch of grosgrain or elastic to stick your thumb in to keep the sleeve in place with the cuffs wide open. That would allow airflow up the sleeves and out the pitzips, and give some hand coverage. These are common on bicycle rain tops as they allow one to work the brakes and still have some hand coverage. You could still button things down in a heavy downpour.

    This type of jacket might benefit from a “caped” back yoke that can be zipped open, at least when not carrying a pack. I think I’d also like a bit longer coverage over the buttockus for those bending-over tasks.

    What kind of bottoms do you use? A skirt? If you use a skirt you have to grow the beard back or risk gender confusion. I am thinking of getting some silnylon or cuben chaps. Have you tried these?

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    • Stick says:

      Brim Stone,

      That sounds like a great idea… I like the shock cord idea for the thumbloop..I will keep that in mind. However, I could just use the loop of shock cord that comes out of the back side of the cord lock…

      I am not so sure that I would like the yoke on the back considering that I will be wearing a backpack with this on many more times than not, and also during the colder months. Once it warms up I will just hike through the rain…

      As far as the bottom, I will carry rain pants when it is cold because staying dry is very important when trying to stay warm. I do also carry a rain kilt though. This way I can use the rain kilt if it is just misty or windy. Of course though my rain kilt also has a number of other uses while on the trail too…

      I have thought about getting some chaps from ZPacks (I almost got some in a recent order I placed…should be here tomorrow) but my rain shell is not long enough in the back to offer full coverage. I have also thought about making some from the Tyvek coveralls…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

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  5. Dulcimer says:

    Thanks for replying , Stick!
    I wouldn’t use my wind shell in heavy rain either. But the shell I have, the Golite Ether(4 oz ,size large), Ive had for 4-5 years now and it is very breathable. I did use it in roughly a 2-3 hour rain and it never wetted out. So MAYBE it would work with my specific wind shell, but I don’t know about others, just because the Ether’s the only one I’ve had.
    Keep up the good work Stick and Merry Christmas!
    A@ron

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  6. Dulcimer says:

    I’ve been looking at this jacket too, and I was curious if the silnylon feels sticky to your skin.
    I have a marmot 2.5 layer wp/b jacket, and it feels pretty sticky some times. I was wondering if longer ‘comfort time’ could be achieved by starting off with a wind shell(golite ether) and then (as the rain gets worse)adding the sil jacket over it, what do you think? That way your skin would not be touching the silicone, but on the flip side this could hinder ventilation from you pitzips and any other ventilation there might be. This may be totally unpractical, but I thought I would run it by you anyway. lol
    Thanks for your time and the blog!
    Aaron

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    • Stick says:

      Aaron,

      No, the silnylon doesn’t feel sticky on my skin, especially when dry. Over time in rain it can become a bit clingy though, but this probably has more to due with moisture from the inside. It is not a heavy duty 3L or even 2.5L shell though.

      As far as using a windshell with/under this shell (or any other shell), this is not something I would want to do. If it is raining I would prefer to simply use my rain shell, if windy or a little cool then I would use my windshell. The windshells will wet out much faster and eventually become a soppy mess. But, (thinking out loud) if the windshell were extremely breathable, maybe the moisture would move through the windshell and then condense between the windshell and the rain shell… However, I don’t think that I would want to try this though…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

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  7. Derek Hansen says:

    Mmm-mmm, that’s nice. I’ve made a few sil rain jackets, but this looks awfully tempting. I’m also looking at Tin-Man’s version at AntiGravityGear — have you any feedback on that one?

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    • Stick says:

      Derek,

      Actually, my prior silnylon jacket was the AGG jacket, which was fine, however, there were features that were more attractive to me on the one at Luke’s Ultralite, so I sold the AGG one. Just a matter of personal preference really though, I think. At the time I got mine, AGG did not offer pit zips, but they do now. As well, I prefer the waterproof front zip on Luke’s jacket over the regular zip with the storm flap on the AGG one. Like I said, I also needed longer sleeves and Luke could do that for me too. I also wanted adjustable wrist cuffs…

      I am not saying that AGG wouldn’t do these things if asked, but when I got mine I simply ordered off of the order page. However, George was great as far as helping me choose between the large and the XL. He even took pics of him wearing one and emailed them to me. In the end though, the short sleeves is what really made me want a different one…

      Oh, and I could get the one from Luke in black (again, maybe AGG could also do a black one?)

      Anyway, I just sold that thing…

      ~Stick~

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