We know we don’t have to tell you this, but you don’t get enough vacation time.So when you do get a week off, you’ve got to make it count. And that means choosing gear you can count on - no matter what. Keeping that simple truth in mind, we spent some of our rare non-billable hours testing some popular items to see how they rate in the real world. (Read, not the office. -ed.)
Marmot PreCip Jacket
Breathable is a bit of a relative term when it comes to jackets in this segment, of course. If you’re not wearing a wicking layer, the parts of your skin that touch the inside of the jacket can get a bit clammy. The trim fit can be a mixed blessing, too. Although arm range of motion is good, it can be tight if you have a bulky insulating layer.
Verdict: 8 out of 10 gavels
Check it here: Marmot PreCip Jacket
The North Face Jester Daypack
The Jester sported plenty of room for a fleece and rain shell, as well as some trail mix and jerky. The external mesh pockets will easily accommodate 20- and 24-ounce drink bottles and other narrow containers, but have to be stretched a bit for standard 1 liter bottles. The large main compartment is devoid of a laptop sleeve, which tends to clutter some other packs and makes packing awkward if you’re not, you know, carrying a laptop. The smaller front compartment has a bevy of small pockets to fit your various needs.
When compared with 2011 Jester we selected, the newer 2012 model addresses one of our biggest complaints with the older design by adding a sternum strap. Other than that, both the newer Jester and the Heckler appear to have made serious compromises to become more urban/campus oriented. Frankly, the previous versions were already sharp enough to cross over from backcountry to downtown, so we’re not impressed with the updates.
Verdict: 2011 Jester 8.5 out of 10 gavels / 2012 Jester 7 out of 10 gavels
Check it here: The North Face Jester Daypack
Merrell Moab Waterproof
We found the Merrell Moab Waterproof to fit the bill. The grippy tread provides sure-footed confidence, and the shoes easily shed inch-deep water without difficulty. Walking for hours in a steady rain caused no problems for these guys.
A few cautionary words: The uppers are sturdy, but some previous versions of Merrell’s shoes have had some sole durability issues. Hopefully the Moab’s Vibram treads will stand up to wear and tear. Personalized fit is another potential issue, and footwear is the one gear choice where you shouldn’t compromise.
Verdict: 9 out of 10 gavels
Check it here: Merrell Moab Waterproof