While the REI Shuksan II claims to be up to the same tasks as the competition, that simply isn't the case. We found a whole range of problems that would make us choose to steer clear of this jacket for real alpine or ice climbing or backcountry skiing use. It is heavy and extremely bulky and baggy in the chest and torso. Additionally, it's not terribly mobile, had super short sleeves and a high hem line (both of which rode up on us), and lots of water leaked in at the hood in our shower test. That said, there were some positives, like the waterproofness of the eVent fabric, the internal pockets and pit zips, and low cost. However, these perks were not enough for us to consider recommending this budget hardshell jacket.
The Shuksan II on a snowy powder day near Silverton. Despite many days out skiing in this jacket for this review, it was our least favorite and not one we would recommend for these types of days.
In our shower test this jacket was unfortunately the worst of the bunch, even worse than the Patagonia M10. While the hood was large enough for use with a helmet, we found that water ran off the edge and poured like a rain gutter straight down the neck. Not only that, but when we exposed the pit zips to the water coming from the shower head, we found that the zippers on the pit zips leaked as well, although this was a minor concern compared to the hood. The other zippers performed just fine. The really short hemline and sleeves didn't give us the kind of protection we wanted either. All of these factors led us to award this jacket just 3 out of 10 points.
This jacket experienced a bit of wetting out after only a few months, but worse, the hood filtered water down off the sides where it then ran down into the neck. The long ends of the pull cords to tighten the hood could be annoying in a strong windstorm, but not in the shower.
At 18.8 ounces for a men's size large, the Shuksan II is only barely lighter than the Mountain Hardwear Torsun. It is equally as bulky and doesn't pack down to a small size for comfortable carrying in the pack.
Mobility & Fit
Perhaps our biggest problem with this jacket was the high hemline and the really short sleeves. here you can see the sleeves riding up our arms and the hem coming up past the waist.
The hood on this hardshell works OK with a helmet; it grips well and turns adequately, providing unobstructed vision. However, the fit of this jacket was just terrible. The sleeves were much too short and the hem continuously rode up on us, much like the Marmot Nano AS. The fit in the chest and torso was perhaps the baggiest and most spacious of any we tried, similar to the Arc'teryx Theta AR
. The material is loud and crinkly, not form fitting, and is not very supple.
While we admit that our head tester is skinny, this jacket was one of the bulkiest and especially baggiest size larges that we tried. This may be a good option if you are a larger dude, but for us there was simply far too much extra fabric in the equation.
During our treadmill test, we found that the eVent membrane certainly did breathe and was better than some jackets, but not as good as top performers like the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or Westcomb Shift LT. We noticed the slightest bit of perspiration built up on the inside of the arms, but none around the neck.
This hardshell jacket breathes fairly well and includes pit zips to aid with ventilation.
Features is the one category that we rated the Shuksan II relatively well. We loved its large internal mesh stash pockets for keeping track of gloves, hat, or water bottles. We also liked the fleece lining around the collar of the neck that made for extra comfort. However, we thought the draw cord buckles were sub-par and the Velcro on the wrist enclosures also seemed less than awesome.
We loved the dual large internal stash pockets on this jacket. We found them to be great for storing extra pairs of gloves, mittens, or a hat. One could even stick a water bottle in there to keep it warm. We wish more jackets had this feature.
This heavy jacket came with a ton of features, including dual Napolean style chest pockets that are best accessed by crossing the hand over from the other side. Most jackets only have one of these.
We generally recommend hardshell jackets for activities like backcountry skiing, alpine climbing, ice climbing, resort skiing, or even backpacking. Unfortunately, we wouldn't recommend this jacket for any of these activities. As it is the most affordable option here, we could see people being happy with it for things like urban hiking or perhaps watching your kid's football game in a snowstorm. However, for these uses, you will find more affordable options in our rain jacket review. If you're looking for an affordable hardshell for tough winter use, consider the Mountain Hardwear Torsun.
Standing atop the couloir and staring down through the hallway. Pretty excited to ski this one after a three hour approach.
The Shuksan II only costs $249.00, making it cheaper than every other jacket we reviewed. However, we think you would probably be better off getting a rain jacket for $140.00, so we don't think this jacket is a very good value.
If money is your biggest concern, we encourage you to check out our Rain Jacket Review
and find yourself a higher quality jacket for considerably less money.
If the old saying, "You get what you pay for," is true, then you certainly get the very least weather protection for the very least money with the REI Shuksan II.
Couloir skiing on north facing aspects in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado is a great way to escape from sunnier aspects. Not a bad day at the testing office.
Women's Shuksan II Jacket - $249.00