I have run a number of outer shell jacket and pant comparisons over the years but the last one was incomplete because it didn’t include an entry from Kuiu. The reason wasn’t because Kuiu didn’t make a jacket I liked or wanted to include, it was because what they were offering wasn’t sized so that I could use it properly. In fact, at the time I made quite a fuss about the fact that I was an XL with some companies, an XXL with others but I have never had to even consider going to XXXL to accommodate base and insulation layers like I was going to have to do with previous Kuiu jackets. I thought that was ridiculous and still do and I wasn’t alone. However, indicative of good management they listened and adjusted. That is about all we can ask.
The result is that I can now add the latest Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket to my stable of test pieces. Kuiu has made some pretty big claims about this one in terms of waterproofness and breathability so I am anxious to see how it performs in the field.
A couple of things I like already about it is that the exterior has a nice feel to it although it isn’t as quiet as I expected it to be. The Toray NX fabric stretches four ways and it does so with less effort than any other I have used. Remember though, as I have said in the past, stretch is nice but it can unnecessarily constrict insulative loft and it is no substitute for good fit but that isn’t a problem with this jacket. I also appreciate the fact that Kuiu offers this product in a stealthy solid color, in this case something they call Major Brown.
Lastly, with a customer direct price of $265, what in the segment does the new Chugach legitimately compare to? The Sitka Gear Dewpoint Jacket at $399 whether you buy it direct from them or one of their big box retail partners and the First Lite Boundary Stormtight Jacket for $275 to $300.
Thanks again to Kuiu for making the effort to change their sizing regime. We are not all built like tight ends or outside linebackers. Some of us are linemen but that doesn’t mean that we are any less passionate, capable or deserving of great gear. It’s nice to have Kuiu back in the mix.
Oh by the way, just so you know, I paid full retail for this jacket. Called them up during regular business hours and ordered it just like anybody else would.
UPDATE – I still have some sizing issues with this jacket, I think it is too trim through the hips, sleeves and cuffs. I like the heavier/larger toothed main zipper. It has kept the rain out and been free of leaks so far.
It also breathes very well, maybe better than any other shell layer I have. To that end, what I find most interesting about this jacket is that when you hold it up, looking at the interior lining with a room light behind it you can see very small bits of white shine through the fabric. Again, very small pinpoints of light shine through. Of all the different kinds of waterproof breathable jackets I have and regardless of who made the laminate, none of them is like this or even close. Even the older versions of the Kuiu Chugach Jackets which also use a Toray laminate don’t let specs of light through. Does that mean the fabric is thinner or the microscopic pores are bigger, both or something else? I don’t know. And what effect will this have on its performance over the short, mid and long term? Again, I don’t know yet.