I have been looking for a sub 10 ounce rain jacket to keep in my day hiking pack. After looking at everything the market currently offers I chose the Ultra NX Rain from Kuiu and the Essence from Marmot.
You can study the specs of each jacket on your own but here are my impressions after a couple of weeks using both.
- Cut too trim in my opinion but an XXL works well enough (with just a long sleeve base top and maybe a very thin insulation layer) for this application.
- The sleeves are a good length for me meaning I can let the cuffs fall down over my hands when I am walking in the rain which helps circulate air (chimney and bellows effect).
- The hood works OK in combination with a ball cap but it is a little shallow. By shallow I mean that the leading edge of the hood could come out another inch or two from the face (and still not ruin peripheral vision) to provide more protection from driving rain.
- The hood cords work fast and easy to cinch down around the face (although I wish the brim laid down a little better against the brim of my cap) but the ends are unsecured so they will whip you in the face when the wind is blowing hard enough.
- It has kept the water (and wind) out so far but the fabric looks saturated after prolonged exposure to rain.
- Camo only, no solid colors are offered at this time.
- It breathes better and feels cooler when compared back to back with the Essence especially when the temp is above 60 dgrees.
- Weighs in at 9 ounces.
- Also cut much trimmer than they used to slash should be (I call this the Rab effect in reference to the European outdoor gear manufacturer) but for some reason the sleeves are a bit short. I can still let the cuffs down over my hands when the hatches need to be fully battened down but just barely. I am betting that most people who need a size XXL in this jacket have longer arms than I do and the sleeves will be on the short side for them.
- The hood is just right when used with a cap, enough protection without impairing vision.
- The DWR on this jacket is outstanding and something to watch. The water doesn’t have time to ever get to the fabric before beading up and running off so there has been zero saturation.
- It does not move air as well as the Ultra (even with mesh vents in the armpits) and it feels a little hot and sticky inside after moving (hiking slash walking) in it for a while especially in warmer temps.
- It is lighter coming in at just over 6 ounces (one of the lightest waterproof breathable jackets made).
- No camo but red (my choice because in this situation I want to be seen), blue, grey and black colors are available.
So heavier, cooler, and camo or lighter, clammy, and solid colors sums up your choice. Weight would normally trump all in a case like this but the better breathability of the Kuiu makes it a more difficult decision. However, based on what I need for this application, I still have to give the edge to the Marmot because of the lighter weight, better hood, and hi viz solid color.
More on these two jackets later.