REI Boreas JacketPosted By Mark on Jan 2 '08
|Waterproof:||Water resistant||Windproof:||Wind resistant|
|Cuffs:||Velcro & Elastic||Pit Zips:||No|
|Napoleon Pocket:||No||Handwarmer Pockets:||2|
|Sleeve Pockets:||None||Zipper Type:||Storm Flaps|
|Chin Abrasion Guard:||Yes||MSRP:||$79|
Material(s) used: polyester
No season in the outdoors is safe from unpredictability; spring and fall, of course, hold more uncertainty than summer and winter. It’s always nice to have an emergency shell to throw on in the event of a sudden rain- or snowfall. Compressibility is of high priority, and it’s nice to have a hood, as well. The REI Boreas is an excellent candidate for an emergency shell.
There are just two pockets on the Boreas, two large handwarmer/storage pockets. They are part polyester, part lightweight mesh.
All the zippers on the Boreas are reverse-coil, to reduce possible abrasion and precipitation leak, and have rather minimalist (read: small) zipper pulls. They’re actually fairly easy to operate, though. The main zipper is protected by a relatively narrow, stiff storm flap. A very soft chin abrasion guard protects the wearer from irritation.
The hood is fairly complex for a lightweight shell. It has a small brim, to shade the eyes, and is adjustable in two ways: a long flap of Velcro can be pulled down to adjust volume, and two cinchcord locks help moderate height. “Gutters” help keep the drawcord ends slim and out of the way. The hood is a pretty snug fit, but not particularly constricting, and it can be nice in windy conditions.
The hem is adjusted by means of two cinchcord locks, with the cord ends placed inside the handwarmer pockets. The cord locks themselves remain outside of the pockets, however.
Seamless shoulders are a nice touch, both to reduce irritation on the shoulders, and increase water resistance. As was mentioned before, the Boreas is a compressible jacket. Very compressible, in fact; it can fit inside a 32-ounce Nalgene, with room to spare, or be stuffed inside its own hood!
I had few issues with this jacket. There are a couple noteworthy ones, though. It’d be nice if the zippers on the pockets had garages, to minimize water entry, although I haven’t had trouble with them. Another thing I noticed during a walk was that, although this shell has a pretty good DWR, I saw that when I got inside, the shoulders had leaked a little bit. I was wearing a softshell underneath, so I didn’t feel it, and the leakage was minimal. I was also wearing a backpack with a fair amount of weight in it, so I think this is excusable; water only came in where the straps had rubbed on the shoulders. And this was in a pretty good rain shower; for light precipitation, the jacket’s fine.
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d rate the Boreas a 2. It’s got a very lightweight polyester lining, and is merely wind-resistant.
No. It does have a good DWR, and seamless shoulders, but in the end, the fabric won’t keep you completely dry in a downpour.
Excellent packability, seamless shoulders, and a fully adjustable hood add up to create a stellar emergency windshell. It’s not perfect; lack of zipper garages and a bit of leakage knock it down a bit, but this jacket is good for uncertain fall and spring days.
Pictured below: Velcro-and-elastic cuffs
The Verdict: 7/10