By: Em Shanblatt
“There is no such thing as bad weather…Only inappropriate clothing” -Old Scottish Proverb (supposedly)
Wherever you go, Summer rain is almost always an inevitable fact. One exception to this rule, however, might be Colorado in June. When I received my new First Ascent BC-200 rain jacket last spring, I was super excited to test it out. While travelling on the GAP summer tour though, I often found myself asking “why did I bring this again?!” The jacket looked cool in my bag, but didn’t see a single raindrop.
When I was packing for my July trip to Alaska, I knew it was about to receive the true test it deserved. Southeast Alaska is a temperate rain forest, so the question is not ‘will it rain’, but ‘how much’. I spent three weeks in the “Last Frontier” sea kayaking and backpacking, and the BC-200 saw TONS of action! Overall, it’s by far the best rain jacket I’ve EVER worn! Here are some of the reasons why the BC-200 is my new rain-time best friend!
1) Maneuverability – The BC-200 is made of a new fabric which moves wherever you do. It’s super thin, and isn’t glossy and rigid like many jackets out there. It doesn’t crease in weird places like the elbows, and doesn’t stay stiff when you’re trying use your arms or bend over. It was perfect for sea kayaking because the jacket didn’t restrict my paddling movements. It feels like you’re wearing super durable tissue paper!
2) Longer Sleeves – Maybe I have shorter arms in relation to my torso than most women, but I don’t think so. I have a medium jacket and it covers my hips and upper but perfectly. Most jackets of this size, the sleeves end around my wrist or mid-hand. Not on the BC-200! The sleeves here go a little past my knuckles, giving me more coverage and protection. When hiking in colder weather, this allowed me to ball up my hands inside the sleeves to stay warm and dry, without pulling more material down and away from the neck and shoulders! When I did need to use my hands, the wrist Velcro made it super easy to cinch up the sleeves either just above my hand or close to my elbow for better dexterity.
3) Bomber hood – They say you lose more heat out of the top of your head than anywhere else on your body. Who “they” is, I don’t know, and I’m pretty sure this statement is false. However, I think we can all agree that when spending long days outside in the cold rain, keeping your noggin warm and dry is crucial. The hood on the BC-200 is HUGE because it is helmet compatable (and also for all those kayakers with big heads). Even while partaking in activities that don’t require helmets, like sea kayaking and backpacking, I found the oversized hood to be wonderful. It has several cinch points, so you can tighten it front to back so it doesn’t fall in front of your eyes, and around your face to maintain peripheral vision. The stiff brim also acts like a bill of a baseball hat, allowing water to shed away from your face. There’s also plenty of material around the neck area, so even with a backpack on restricting the material on my shoulders, I was still able to move my head comfortably 180 degrees, to look over both shoulders! In REALLY bad weather (like the summit of Mt. Ripinski…40 degrees, 50 mph winds, and rain) the high zipper action was another key feature, allowing me to frame only my eyes and nose to have minimal skin exposure. Ninja style points too.
4) It’s DRY!!! -YES IT’S DRY! SUPER DRY! Many rainjackets out there claim to keep you dry, and they do…for about the first twenty minutes of a rainstorm. But not the BC-200! This baby kept me absolutely bone dry during our longest rainstorm of about four days straight! Once it was completely saturated, it still did its job. Not a single drop got in through the zippers or seams either! While many people I was with were left wet and cold saying “Waterproof my A$#!” I was raving about the BC-200 and praising its superior protection all day long.
5) Breathable? YES! – It seems like an oxymoron, right? Waterproof AND breathable? Many companies boast this feature as a main selling point of their rain gear, and many of them are wrong. After being disappointing with other products leaving me dry from the rain but drenched from sweat and a lack of breathability, I didn’t think it was possible. But now I am a changed woman. With the BC-200, First Ascent has mastered this dichotomous feat of technologically advanced fabrics. Even while wearing only a t-shirt underneath, my upper body was still able to stay dry from the inside out! My sweat didn’t collect on the inside of the jacket, and it didn’t insulate unnecessary heat.
When hiking for many days in a rain storm, it’s easy to get discouraged and think “why do I do this?”. The BC-200 let me focus on the important things, like the 8 teenagers I was leading, and crucial safety decisions and judgement calls. I was never worried about my own comfort or safety when wearing this jacket. Instead of focusing on staying dry, this jacket allowed me to do my job, and see the bigger picture of what the wilderness can really teach us. The BC-200 kept me dry, warm, and most importantly, happy.
Check it out, and other bomber Eddie Bauer First Ascent products here! http://www.eddiebauer.com/EB/First-Ascent/index.cat
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