Ridgeline Evolution Jacket
- By Chris Parkin
- 58 Comments
- Last updated: 14/10/2019
Ridgeline’s New Evolution Jacket is an outer product ideally suited to the layering process yet with consideration for downpour rain conditions. This spring was one of the wettest in memory with low temperature seasonal averages and chilling winds to add to the discomfort, so I welcomed the opportunity to try out this longer, light cut coat.
This long cut three-layer coat is a buff/coyote colour Ridgeline refer to as Heather Brown. Its length is called a “New Zealand” cut and has a YKK zipper stopping 8-inches before the ultimate hem, at normal beltline level, allowing freedom of movement yet with greater water shedding potential. Run-off is retained when standing yet without any restriction seated. All the seams are fully taped and the afore mention spring climate saw me comfortably enduring long sedentary waits in heavy rainfall without any discomfort.
The material is windproof, and a lack of insulation layer makes it ideal to carry packed in the rucksack for use as and when the rain begins. Ion more detail, waterproof ratings are normally measured in millimetres, the number generated during testing when a square tube is placed over the fabric and filled with water. Once the material starts leaking water, the height or `column` is measured and used to specify how waterproof it is. Quite simply, if the number was 5000mm, it would mean the water would have to be five-metres high before it started leaking through under the generated pressure! The Evo proclaims 15,000mm which is generally considered in the outdoor clothing world as `normal` (`little` and `some` are below this) with High beginning above 16,000mm and `highest` beyond 20,000mm. I assume this likely for offshore sailing conditions with breathability long forgotten.
Breathability is rated at 10,000 MVT which is the most common unit describing the grams of water vapour that can pass through a square metre of fabric in 24 hours. The higher the number the more breathable a fabric is and to be fair, I expected to melt in this jacket on a long May/June evenings stalk where rain was promised, but never appeared. Three hours of rolling terrain had me warmed up but certainly not stifled although, I cannot say how important good wicking base layers are to overall comfort with any outdoor active clothing.
Modern waterproof fabrics generally have two or three layers, outer layer, membrane and inner mesh. The Outer is known as a “face fabric”, usually a polymeric material made of nylon or polyester whose main role is initial protection from the elements, overall looks and colour. It is usually treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) for water resistant but not waterproof, this is what is seen to bead up water and allow it to slip away quickly before saturating the outer surface, adding weight.
When your jacket does start to seem sodden after time/washing etc., that is when the DWR has become less effective and needs refreshing with spray on damp/wash-in and sometimes even iron-on products that will soon have the water beading up and running freely again. This type of rejuvenation is normal and expected in terms of clothing maintenance.
The intermediate “Membrane” is key to waterproofing and these are typically made of Teflon (PTFE), with microscopic holes that prevent water getting in, but allow water vapour out (Breathability). Preventing this membrane from clogging and contamination with oil or sweat is key to long term durability so they are coated with Polyurethane (PU) acting as an oleophobic (oil repelling) coating. The final inner layer is a type of mesh to physically separate the membrane from skin contact. This increases the breathability of the fabric and protects the delicate membrane. Two-layer fabrics will have a mesh or loose fabric lining whereas 3-layer fabrics will have a lightweight mesh bonded to the membrane itself. Two-layers are bulkier and less breathable but cheaper. Three layers tend to be more durable and breathable but are more expensive. “2.5L” fabrics have a face fabric and a waterproof/breathable membrane with a partially bonded inner liner. This is the most lightweight option often found in climbing kit, it’s cheaper than the 3-layer, but not as breathable or physically durable.
The Evolution’s hood is detachable but I’m never going to remove it as the long overhang with subtly shaped and weighted peak holds position well without obstructing vision while directing water onto your chest rather than face. Construction seems very thorough with overlapped seams well taped yet avoiding undue bulk. Hand warming pockets are sited on the hips, another on left side of the chest is a bit useless for left-handers but there are deeper internal pouches for fast access to bulkier items and a small zipped valuables pocket on the right at sternum level to avoid gun mount.
The waistline has an internal drawcord to cinch the coat in around your belt with a second cord at the hood to do the same for your neck, as well as a very high fitting collar to seal in your throat as tightly as you prefer, a popper closure seals the zip full length. Of course, opening the front of the coat immediately allows cooling air to circulate. Overall weight of my `Large` coat was 750-grams, it will happily fold into its own inner pocket for storage and most critically, the noise level generated is minimal considering the lightweigh and consequent bulk. Very light weight wind/waterproofs are often just too noisy to hunt in.