From Gore-Tex to eVent
I’ve been wanting to upgrade my hiking shell and rain jacket from Gore-Tex Paclite to eVent fabric for some time, but I’ve had a difficult time finding a minimalist jacket from any of the US-based outdoor clothing manufacturers.
Last month, I finally found the perfect coat, the Rab Momentum Jacket. Rab is a well known Scottish gear manufacturer popular in Europe. They have very limited distribution here in the United States, but Backcountry.com now has a pretty good selection of their product line.
This Momentum is amazingly similar to my old shell, a Celestial Jacket (no longer manufactured) from Outdoor Research. Like the Celestial, it has two front napoleon pockets, but no side pockets. Napoleon pockets are great because the straps of your backpack don’t block access; side pockets are pointless on a hiking rain shell because your backpack’s hip belt makes them inaccessible.
The Momentum is similar to my Celestial in other important ways as well, including waterproof zippers, velcro sleeve closures, and a helmet compatible hood with wire brim. The hood has an elastic cord lock adjustment system at the back of the head and running through the hood to the sides of the collar. These, in combination with a billed cap, keep rain off my glasses.
The Momentum has two additional features that I really appreciate. The back of the jacket is slightly longer than the front, helping to prevent frost bite at the top of your crack when you bend over in very cold weather, and it lacks the side torso zips of the Celestial. In fact their are no pit zips or vents of any kind on the Momentum Jacket because the eVent fabric from which it is manufactured is more breathable than Gore-Tex, as reported by many other hikers.
Gear Testing Results
I’ve been testing the Momentum jacket in a variety of conditions for the past month from heavy sustained rain to very strenuous mountain climbs to assess it’s utility and breathability. Breathability is important because in the simplest case, dry = warm. It takes energy to evaporate sweat that would otherwise be used to regulate your own body temperature and keep you comfortable.
In terms of utility, the Rab Momentum Jacket is equivalent to my old Gore-Tex shell, which has virtually the same features and cut. Weight-wise, it is a bit heavier, weighing in at 12 oz in an XL or 1.8 oz heavier than my old shell, but I consider this an acceptable difference.
However, the difference in breathability is where the event-based Momentum shines. In high external humidity (heavy, sustained showers) and high internal humidity (long, steep winter climbs and postholing), I have not felt sweat buildup in my under-layers. I’m frankly astonished by that because I’m a sweater.
As long as I am wearing two layers, like a pair of Capilene 1 jerseys or a Techwick t-shirt and a Patagonia R1 Fleece, I stay high and dry, without the need to vent. In addition, I’ve also experienced a noticeable reduction in the amount of sweat build-up between my back and my backpack, and more comfort during rest breaks, when the pack comes off and ceases to act as an insulator in cold weather.
In warmer weather, the Momentum Jacket has proven to be breathable enough to be worn as a wind shell, something I could never do with my Paclite, except in cooler temperatures. This as been a longstanding hole in my gear system and obviates the need for me to carry an additional wind shell layer. Though less of an issue in the heavily wooded Northeastern US, wind is going to be a big factor in my upcoming hiking trip to northern Scotland in a few months, where there is relatively little vegetation above calf height. .
Though priced at a premium – $284 – I am very impressed with this coat and look forward to many years of hard use from it, year round.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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