Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, simple.
Cons: Not packable, sticky pit zip zippers.
Best Uses: Ultralight backpacking, anytime you need a super lightweight rain jacket.
Simplicity is the name of the game with the Epic Jacket. An all-in-all middle of the road performer, we liked the simple design of this rain jacket, but felt that it missed some key features.
We found the jacket to be totally waterproof. Mountain Hardwear’s Conduit Silk fabric keeps all the water at bay, all the seams are taped and the zippers all have storm flaps or a waterproof coating. The hood was awesome and super easy to adjust as it only has one simple cinch located on the back of the hood. The front pockets were small but mesh lined to help with ventilation, and there is a small waterproof breast pocket for your keys, phone, i-Pod, cash, green or whatever. At 12 ounces The Epic Jacket is one of the lightest jackets we tested, second only to the Patagonia Rain Shadow (11.4 ounces).
The drawbacks to the jacket are that it can’t pack down into one of its own pockets and that some of the zippers are sticky (expecially on the pit zips). If you are looking for a super light rain shell but don’t want to shell out for the Patagonia Rain Shadow, this is a great jacket for you. Generally however, we would recommended the similarly priced, slightly heavier Patagonia Torrentshell jacket that has the bonus of being packed into one of its own pockets for maximum portability. To save a little coin but still get top performance, the Marmot PreCip is your best option And for the most featured, heavyweight rain jacket we tested there’s the Marmot Oracle.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfort and Mobility
We enjoyed the simple design of the Epic Jacket. No Frills, just function.
The jacket fits well even with a layer or two underneath and is generally comfortable and good looking. Testers’ range of motion was generally uninhibited and the jacket kept mid-sections covered in reachy situations.
None of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be very breathable. Almost all of the jackets boast a “waterproof breathable technology” of some kind, but please interpret these claims loosely. We found that when we wore the jackets for any kind of high exertion activity (and we took at least one hard one-hour run in each jacket in the rain, in addition to climbing in them, hiking in them, walking in them and biking in them) we found that we were creating our own weather inside the jacket. The only thing that saved us from our self-made monsoon was the fact that many jackets we tested had pit zips to let out some of moisture.
Mountain Hardwear’s Epic Jacket has two mesh-lined pockets that can be left open in addition to the pit zips to help with breathability. While the jacket wasn’t very breathable with the vents all closed, once we opened the pit zips and the pockets there was a marked increase in air circulation with little loss of weather protection. The pockets were rather small, however, and didn’t add as much ventilation as the large front pockets on the Marmot Precip and Marmot Oracle.
With 10,000mm in water resistance, we found that the jacket was pretty darn waterproof. Mountain Hardwear’s layered Conduit fabric is effective, all the seams are fully taped and all the zippers have storm flaps or a waterproof coating.
Weight and Bulk
One of the standout features of this jacket is how light it is. Weighing a scant 12 ounces, it is the second lightest jacket that we tested, making it ideal for ultra-light backpacking trips, climbing light and fast, or any other application where every ounce counts.
The biggest drawback to this jacket is that it can’t pack in on itself. We aren’t sure why the two lightest jackets we tested (this and the Patagonia Rain Shadow) don’t pack into one of their own pockets, but we feel that it is a major design flaw. It is impossible to clip the jacket onto your harness or the outside of your pack, resigning it to being packed inside the pack (not as easy to get to) and requiring that you carry a pack (sometimes when climbing you may not want a pack with you).
The hood is comfortable and easy to adjust as it has just a single cinch on the backside of the hood. The cinches along the waistline are easy to operate and the cuffs are adjusted with a simple Velcro strap.
The main front pockets are mesh lined to help with breathability and warmth. There’s also a little waterproof pocket on the chest for stashing your belongings safely.
While the zippers on the pit zips have a waterproof coating that does a good job keeping the water out, the coating also makes the zippers really sticky; almost impossible to work with one hand. Generally testers preferred a zipper that can be quickly operated with one hand, especially on the pit zips.
Any activity in wet or rainy conditions, around town use, lightweight backpacking. Can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but layer up. As with all rain jackets, breathability is poor so layer with a synthetic base layer in high intensity adventures or suffer the clammy consequences.
At $120 this was right in the middle in terms of price. It is probably the best deal if you have to have an ultralight jacket as it is only .6 ounces heavier than the Patagonia Rain Shadow, but is $60 less. Saving $10 for each 1/10 ounce seems like a good idea.
— Robert Beno
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Most recent review: November 27, 2012
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