New gear arrived today. Kali Ma!
High on my gear wish list was a light rain jacket: I had good waterproof/breathable pants, a nice windshirt, the ultimate poncho – even chaps! – but when the weather required something less than my freaking heavy full Gore-Tex North Face parka, I was hosed. After doing a little homework and discovering a jacket good enough for my man Skurka I settled on the GoLite Virga.
Turns out the Virga is a discontinued model, although as of today you can still find some sizes and colors available on sale directly from GoLite. Having recently rediscovered ebay, I thought I’d see what I could find and was pleasantly surprised to find what I was looking for, new, at such a great price. It’s definitely worth a look when shopping for a retail item such as this.
Get to the point. What’s it weigh?! Immediately, of course, I threw the thing on my Feedback Sports scale and it weighed in at 8.5 oz – not bad for an XL! I definitely could have rocked a large; it’s a bit roomy, but leaving space for insulating layers was part of my strategy. As luck would have it, it started pouring moments after I opened my item so I of course ran outside to see how wet I would get. I didn’t! Success!
Details: the Virga is made with “2.5 Layer Waterproof-Breathable Nylon Ripstop Fabric with DWR” which is to say GoLite’s proprietary Alchemy™ fabric. I must have read a few dozen reviews of this jacket, along with a dozen more each from a dozen other similar jackets, and they all read pretty much like every tent review I’ve ever read as well: waaa! Not breathable!! Waaa!! Too much condensation!! Eventually I suppose everyone figures out that if it’s raining, and you’re exerting yourself, and you’re sweating…there’s moisture on the outside, and moisture on the inside…and the thing works about as well as is possible. It ain’t going to be perfect. That said I may regret not having pit zip vents, but my guess is that I can micromanage sweat issues with a climate-appropriate base layer.
Review: I’m hoping to venture up Ruckel Creek Trail either tomorrow or Thursday afternoon, and The Last American Virga will be in full effect. As Ruckel provides a…challenging workout, and the forecast is for rain/snow and a freezing level near 2000′ a few hours up and down the thing should provide a baseline standard for the breathability of the GoLite Virga jacket in worst-case conditions.
Update: my Ruckel hike is rescheduled for Tuesday 1/26 on what looks to be a dry day; given the deluge that greeted me this morning, I headed out for a quick 3 miler on the Wildwood/Markham trails in a total downpour. I was pleased with the breathability I have to say – on this morning’s hike as well as on a dry 6 mile hike two days ago, where I wore the Virga as more of a windshirt in 45° AM temps – and it certainly kept me dry. That said I was keeping a breakneck pace and sweat quite a lot, and was thus wet in and out. The difference was my body temperature, which was very comfortable.
I also took advantage of today’s conditions to field test my MLD chaps at the same time, and was VERY pleased with how they worked over my usual REI Sahara Convertible pants. The chaps were very comfortable – I forgot I was wearing them, frankly – and kept my pants dry despite the soaker. I did wear a GoLite visor under the Virga hood which did a superior job of keeping rain off my grill. Good kit 🙂