SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Gear Review: RailRiders WeatherTop Jacket

The WeatherTop as winter wear

The WeatherTop is a new lightweight, wind and water-resistant pullover from Eastern Mass-based RailRiders. A versatile piece of active- and casualwear, it is reviewed here for winter use.

nylon jacket

The RailRiders WeatherTop out on the trail.

The WeatherTop slots nicely into a “ThinShell” system. A ThinShell set up consists of a merino wool baselayer and nylon outerwear. The merino breaths and insulates while wet; the nylon traps more or less heat depending upon how cinched up the hems and cuffs are and according to the manual venting options, while also providing wind resistance.

Features

Material

The body of the WeatherTop is constructed using Supplex, an Invista trademarked variety of nylon. The elbows are reinforced with patches made of Cordura, another Invista trademarked nylon. The fabric has been given a DWR treatment to fend off light rain and snow showers.

RailRiders WeatherTop

A DWR coating provides water resistance.

All zippers—seven in total—are YKK. All zippers excluding the sleeve pocket include an orange cord pull. One niggle: the small size of the chest and underarm vent zips make them difficult to manipulate with a gloved (forget mittened) hand.

Cut

At 5′6″/1.42m and 145lb/65.8kg, I find the size S a good fit, though the drop tail does not drop all the way past my hips. The center zip opens down past my xiphoid process (the little knob of cartilage hanging down from the sternum) and allows for good ventilation. RailRiders has not forgotten the beard guard on top of the zipper, and when fully zipped the collar covers the neck. There is enough room underneath for a light or mid-weight neck gaiter or for a baselayer’s hood to exit.

The bottom hem incorporates a drawcord and cordlocks beads to keep the wind out or to let heat and perspiration out. Encased elastic at the wrist pairs with hook and loop (Velcro) to perform the same function.

“Bi-swing” back construction incorporates a strip of elastic to allow for good range of motion without excess bagginess. A mid-back cape is open at the bottom to provide ventilation if not covered by a pack.

Kelty Raven

The WeatherTop bi-swing back construction.

Zippered vents

Supplex is a relatively breathable fabric and dries relatively quickly, but with a high output cold weather activity like snowshoeing a premium is still placed on wetting your outer layer as little as possible. Frosting inside or freezing all the way through can put the kibosh on a winter day’s fun in a hurry.

The WeatherTop provides for ample venting options to forestall such an outcome. In addition to the neck zip, bottom hem, cuffs, and cape vent noted above, the WeatherTop design includes a zippered vent on each side of the chest and on the underside of each arm. Unfortunately, backpack shoulder straps significantly restrict the air circulation available via these vents. That is not to say that wearing a pack renders this design feature useless. Far from it. Air still moves in and water vapor and heat still move out, but the rate is slowed.

Pockets

A hook and loop secured “kangaroo” pouch up front makes for a nice place to stash a digicam, a GPS unit, chemical hand warmers, snacks, and the like. The front of the pouch includes a zippered pocket of a good size for a map and compass. Note that a pack with a proper waist belt is going to limit access to the kangaroo pouch and limit the available space of both it and the zippered pocket.

A (left) sleeve pocket is a nice location for keys and ID cards, as well as IR lift pass for spring skiing.

Price point and purchase information

The WeatherTop retails for $130. To find out more about RailRiders and to order online, visit http://www.railriders.com/.

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