I posted yesterday on my recent experience with the kuiu chugach nx rain jacket and pant set where I said that it breathed better than any other wpb shell layer I had ever used. well, for whatever reason, I thought about that statement all night and woke up this morning compelled to test my own conclusion.
fortunately the weather gave me the perfect opportunity this morning to do a back to back test of the Sitka Gear Dewpoint and Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket and Pants. we have a classic Arizona winter storm moving through the state which means long, steady rain events in the desert and lots of snow in the higher altitudes.
here were the conditions in Scottsdale today; moderate steady rain, 50 degrees, wind 5 to 10 mph out of the southwest. the course; flat, open, gravel road, 3 miles long. I did four full circuits switching between each set twice. the whole thing took about 5 hours to complete and the conditions were virtually the same the entire time. under the shell jacket/pants I wore; danner knee high xstatic socks, under armour 9 inch boxer briefs, under armour ls crew tactical t shirt, Patagonia nano air jacket, hcod baseball cap, lowa renegade mid gtx boots with superfeet green insoles.
what did I learn?
- has a deeper hood which provides better protection in driving snow and rain
- exterior fabric doesn’t change color with exposure to water which indicates to me that the dwr coating does a better job of keeping the water from getting to the actual exterior fabric (see photo)
- has shorter sleeves (by about 1/2 to 3/4 inch)
- hood circumference cords can only be accessed from the inside of the jacket so you have to un zip the main zipper to get to them
- pit zips are longer (I did not use them on either jacket today so that did not play a role in breathability or heat dissipation comparison)
- pants have no heavy duty interior cuff protection so if not using gaiters they will show some wear
- while about the same weight, actually lighter, these seem to be more durable to hard wear and abrasion
- jacket is fuller cut, especially in the hips, to accommodate insulation layers with greater loft/thickness
- stretches but not as much as the chugach (stretch is good I guess but more stretch is not necessarily better)
- lighter by a couple of ounces
- more expensive ($768 for the set) than the kuiu
- solid color is gray
- longer sleeves (by 1/2 to 3/4 inch)
- narrower cut through the hips
- a touch quieter, more of a muffled swish
- shorter pitzips
- shallower hood provides a little less storm protection
- pants provide better inner cuff protection
- dwr seems to be less effective (see photo) although it does not seem to effect waterproofness
- hood circumference cords are accessable from the outside but are unsecured and whip you in the face in high wind conditions
- stretches more than the dewpoint but that is not a big plus to me
- less expensive ($500 for the jacket and pants)
- solid color is brown
I kept everything on both sets fully zipped up and did not use pit zips or side leg zips to ventilate.
both sets kept the wind and rain out, no leaks were detected. both jackets “breathe” very well, so well that I could not tell a difference between the two in this regard.
so, maybe it was the recentcy effect or that it had been too long since I trialed the dewpoint or that kuiu touts high breathability in its description or that I just made a mistake in not doing a back-to-back test before making such a definitive declaration. the bottom line is that I was wrong when I said that the kuiu chugach nx rain breathed better than any other wpb shell layers I had ever used. my experience from this morning says that the Sitka gear dewpoint set breathes just as well. it also tells me that there is at least one Gore-Tex version that is as good as the toray 3defx, wish I could tell you the specific name of it.
which is the better lightweight shell gear? I don’t mean to take the easy way out on this but the truth is that they are both the best I have tested. so you choose. brown or gray. $768 or $500. toray or Gore-Tex. it is a toss up at this point so I am glad I have both but durability of the laminates and fabrics will determine which is the better value. more time in the field will tell.