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Testing old rain jackets

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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby rlown » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:53 am

With the drought, quit wasting water WD! :D

Lawn sprinkler would be a good test, and I agree that an all day rain event would soak most rain garb.



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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby alc101ma » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:10 am

gabe&mel wrote:
rlown wrote:amazing how we seem to expect these light-weight things to last.

By chance I looked on the inside of the jacket, at the inner "membrane" and was quite surprised to find that it had delaminated at all of the stress points and adjacent to the seam taping.



Gabe, so it was actually the waterproof 2nd layer that delaminated from the outer fabric? My 2.5 layer REI rain jacket has begun to delaminate a bit but it looks like it's just the innermost, super thin layer - the gossamer like '.5' layer. I think this hasn't impacted the ability of the jacket to keep me dry but I admit I haven't really tested it recently. I try to keep the DWR fresh, though, so I might not even notice.
Hiking and camping in the Bay Area and up the Pacific coast. Backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Catching backcountry trout. I write articles, stories, guides, and how to's for exploring the outdoors. http://www.loveto.camp
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby longri » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:58 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:There is little moisture coming from me standing still for 5 minutes in a shower. The water was luke-warm. My jacket definitely leaked buckets of water! Maybe standing under a yard sprinkler would be a better test. What I wondered about validity is related to the water pressure. "Waterproof" fabrics have a limit on pressure/force of the rain. I think the duration of rain is also a factor. It seems to me that some materials eventually soak through if out in a steady rain all day.

I only asked because how much moisture you were putting out is unknown to me. You don't have to be moving to perspire while wrapped in a shell with warm water flowing over you.

I don't think the pressure of a shower is a factor, not unless your shower is something akin to a fire hose. And if that's the case you're wasting way too much water! Put a 2 GPM restricter on that nozzle. Don't you know we're in a drought? :-)
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:01 am

Rest assured that my shower head is low flow- one of those high quality ones that put out a lot of pressure, even if much less water.

I am trying to figure out how to test older rain jackets at home. So far, my jackets get "tested" when they fail while I am on a trip, which is not such a great thing. It is hard to tell simply by looking at the jacket since hidden inside layers may be the cause of failure. At this point, I think standing under a sprinkler is a more realistic test.

My hypothesis so far is that light weight breathable-waterproof rain jackets are neither. If they let air out, at some water pressure/volume of rain water is going to also come in. Furthermore, it appears to me that none of these new UL rain jackets are designed to withstand the stress/pull/pressure of a backpack/straps rubbing on the material all day, thus wear out in one season of less. Also, the tighter fitting jackets (compared to the old fashioned poncho or cagoul) restrict air flow requiring pit zips, which in a lot of cases also let in water. A rain jacket that supposedly "breaths" should be designed to allow you to backpack (walk) in the rain. If you are just going to use it in camp, why not a cheaper coated nylon or waterproof silicon impregnated nylon jacket? Or a plastic garbage bag with arm and head holes!! I expect better performance out of a $200 jacket.

This begs the question - why even take a rain jacket? Personally, if it is raining in camp, I simply go inside my tent. I need a rain jacket to use when caught in a storm while hiking. Should you only aim for warm but wet if hiking in the rain, so the outer layer acts more as a wetsuit than rain jacket? This is what I do when hiking on the coast. I have a hiking layer that stays wet; camp clothes that stay dry. I do not even try to stay dry while walking, just warm. But that is warm-wet conditions. The theory behind "soft shell" clothing is that even though not waterproof, the heat of your body somewhat dries out the water on the jacket. Not sure that works in cold-wet conditions. Last year I tested the cold-wet conditions on my Montbell rain jacket (1 pound). It worked for about 5 hours and the jacket was new. Incidentally, my cheap REI Kids rain pants also worked quite well.

My next experiment is to try an umbrella and a rain skirt.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby longri » Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:17 am

If your jacket is really leaking in a short stand in your shower then it's not a rain jacket anymore. If you have any doubts then do the same test with a jacket you trust.

The notion that WPB shells aren't reliable is not original. The technology has plenty of detractors, understandably so. It's really an impossible problem to keep a warm, humid animal dry while wrapped in a highly water-resistant sheet of plastic. In my experience it always fails at some point and reverts to being a kind of wetsuit, but not because the membrane leaks.

I fully agree with you about the durability and tight cut of many UL jackets. But it's a tradeoff common to a lot of UL gear. You don't have to go UL. On the other hand if you're just going to pitch a tent whenever it rains then you could make do with a very lightweight PU shell and a similar wind jacket. The only reason to spend the money on Goretex is because you plan to wear it while moving.

Umbrella and skirt? In New Zealand and Tasmania in the summer they wear really long jackets, thigh length. And then usually just shorts and gaiters. Those long jackets are almost impossible to find but you could sew on an extension. You'd still have a ventilation problem though. How about a giant waterproof sombrero?

Wet and hovering around freezing is a different problem, and not usually a Sierra problem thankfully.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby gabe&mel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:17 am

alc101ma wrote:Gabe, so it was actually the waterproof 2nd layer that delaminated from the outer fabric? My 2.5 layer REI rain jacket has begun to delaminate a bit but it looks like it's just the innermost, super thin layer - the gossamer like '.5' layer. I think this hasn't impacted the ability of the jacket to keep me dry but I admit I haven't really tested it recently. I try to keep the DWR fresh, though, so I might not even notice.


alc101ma,

I couldn't find a picture of my jacket on my computer but did find a pic on on BPL thread that was exactly http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/ul_wpb_jackets_sotmr_part2.html#.VcTxaGDZFrg what happened to my jacket. I would get soaked and cold at all of the delimitation spots and seams.

mica delamination.jpg
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:19 am

Have a lot of rain gear with older stuff eventually getting tossed. Do not trust what people usually report on websites about clothing or gear like tents regarding waterproofness. Have read it all and much categorize as BS. People are quick to brag about how their so and so tent or whatever was in a heavy rain blah blah. Well unless someone runs a test like you have WD. Well done gal!

For a tent, if a person fills their bathtub with say a 2 inch depth of water and then gets inside the tent in the bathtub, and reports the tub bottom layers did not leak, then I will believe them. Likewise on the tent walls if one sets up a sprinkler on a lawn and lets it run for say 15 minutes over a tent, then will believe.

As a young adult backpacker I always used cheap coated nylon rain gear instead of the pricy Gortex and eventual other waterproof breathable fabrics. I did learn early that those cheap rain garments were quick to leak after minor use unless they were seam sealed. And were sure to leak after a season or three usually due to wicking at seams and any stressed stitching. And once clothing or gear begins wicking in water even from tiny holes it acts like a siphon pump due to gravity of flowing water on the inside.

Also as a young adult storm alpine skiing enthusiast bought some of the waterproof breathable fabrics of the early eras and found they tended to leak if one spent a few hours on ski resort chairlifts unless they too were seam sealed and even then once the fabric outside layers got wet, the inner surface layers tended to become damp enough the dry clothing underneath would increasingly have a damp surface. Of course the colder the outside material surface temperature the more an inside surface will pick up condensation. The combination of a really wet outside surface and a damp inside surface is unpleasant. If winter camping in sleety conditions that is a disaster and could not say be worn later at night inside a sleeping bag.

Jan 2013 bought one of these heavier duty rain jackets and pants.

http://www.amazon.com/Helly-Hansen-Mens ... 002N15XUQ/

http://www.amazon.com/Helly-Hansen-Mens ... 003PGRNGK/

I've worn it hiking locally during the winter in really heavy rainstorms and it indeed does not leak. The rubbery feeling material jacket in medium size weighs 18 ounces and pants 13 so 2 pounds total thus not something I would bring summer backpacking unless really expecting to hike a lot in storms.

Also this spring bought a heavily discounted North Face Venture rain jacket and a White Sierra Trabagon Rain Pant for summer backpacking since my older Marmot Precip and Sierra Designs coated rainpants had begun to leak and need to be tossed. Given your thread, I wore for about 5 minutes the two in my shower this morning before work and the results were as expected. After getting out of the shower, the inside surfaces of the materials were damp simply from condensation but no wicking.

I also carry a cheap $25 or so coated nylon shell that is my primary garment to wear while lugging my backpack up trails instead of say a t-shirt because mosquitoes cannot poke through it, can open the front for ventilation with the front zipper, and dries off el rapido. Basically a classic wind shell of just a few ounces with side zippered pockets. OK in brief rain but of course not seam sealed. Now out in the backcountry if I am going to be out in rain awhile, I put the cheap shell on over the Venture jacket. That keeps the outside surface of the Venture jacket from getting anything more than a little damp while the inside then just has usual minor condensation issues. If winter camping the Venture jacket would still be very usable to the extent one could wear it inside a sleeping bag to dry out the surfaces. The total weight of the Venture plus nylon shell is less than a pound.

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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby BrianF » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:08 am

I experienced complete failure of a nearly new Marmot Precip jacket a few years ago during a heavy afternoon rain storm. Was wet inside within a couple of minutes, kept hiking and by the time we got to the car my shirt was so completely soaked that I was able wring about a quart out of it. My son in his cheapy urethane coated jacket was slightly damp. I demoted precip to windbreaker status.
The shower test might be a bit extreme, but certainly is an indicator of the relative waterproofness of your jackets.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby alc101ma » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:40 am

This is a slight tangent but don't forget to maintain the DWR. Breathable fabrics no longer breathe if they are saturated (wetted out). I've never had a jacket outright fail on me yet (knock on wood) but I've definitely gotten damp from my own perspiration.
Hiking and camping in the Bay Area and up the Pacific coast. Backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Catching backcountry trout. I write articles, stories, guides, and how to's for exploring the outdoors. http://www.loveto.camp
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby Scouter9 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:31 pm

I test mine by wearing them in town during rain. Admittedly, this has been difficult the last few years, but I still manage to maintain tabs on how my gear performs. My go-to is currently a 5-year old Marmot Precip which I have re-treated with NikWax TX Direct two seasons ago. It beads water on the shell and has no leaks. The pit-zips aren't so popular anymore, but I sure appreciated them while hiking in a hailstorm at Vogelsang this year.
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