Prior to my sonís upcoming deployment, we wanted to get in a Caribou hunt. It took a lot for him to get leave with the ops tempo they are keeping up, but he got here. Now let me draw the comparison of Riverís West outerwear and Helly Hansonís Impertech. My son wore the HH and I took the RW.
All of the terrain was barren ground tundra with the typical mix of muskeg, bogs, creeks and so forth. In all cases, we use a variety of layering and wicking layers.
Day one: Spotting, with short 3 mile hike. Weather Ė partly sunny, light wind, low 50s
Day two: First day of hunting. About a 5 mile perimeter done to where game had been spotted previous day. Weather Ė partly cloudy, scattered rain showers, some wind, temps in the upper 40s.
- HH stayed in my sonís backpack. It was not required.
- Riverís West Ė Jacket went into backpack as it was too hot. With all zippers and vents open the pants did not breathe adequately creating a layer of sweat trapped in the pants. Not a terrible problem because of the warm temps. Performance acceptable.
Day three: Son wanted to push out to where we had spotted a main herd on the way in. We started very early and worked our way out to about the 7 mile point with the weather much like the previous day. At that time, the storm hit. We later learned it was from a typhoon in the Pacific. Winds Ė estimated at 50 to 60 mph (We are both pilots, so we are pretty confident of this estimate). Temps dropped to about freezing. Heavy rain and sleet. This rain was horizontal and unrelenting.
- HH jacket stayed on my son most of the time, coming off when we were exerting ourselves to the point of overheating. Pants stayed in the backpack. Performance acceptable.
- Rivers West Ė Maintained a good level of warmth in the showers. Stayed dry. Vents worked reasonably well with the temps dropping but still had problems with lack of breathing for sweat. Interior was damp. Performance acceptable.
We got back to camp about 10 that night to rest up and hunt the remainder of our trip.
- HH Ė kept the rain out. The product did what it was supposed to do and stayed dry on the inside. How could you ask for anything else?
- Riverís West Ė It took a little while to realize that this product was failing miserably in these conditions. At first it kept the water out but the fabric became saturated. Because of the lack of breathability and previous sweat problems it was a while before I realized the water was coming in. The fabric retained the water and possibly quadrupled the weight of the garment. On the positive side, it did provide protection from the wind and stayed somewhat warm on the move, but if stopped for a while it cooled rather quickly. Once I realized RW leaked like a sieve, I donned my military rain parka which helped. Another significant problem was that as the water leaked into the pants and flowed down into my boots. My boots became saturated from the inside. Guess what wet boots do to you with a return trip of about 10 miles in wet boots Ė kind of hard on your feet. Before long the water gathered around my toes and just sloshed around in the boots.
The Riverís West outerwear was done. It did not dry out that night. It did not dry out the next day. It did not dry out the following day. It did not dry out until it hanged in my garage for more than a 24 hour period.
Obviously I think it is foolish to continue to use a product that does not perform as promised and puts one in a potential perilous situation. The product is represented as waterproof Ė we all have seen the displays Ė but I guess they did not mean in conditions one can encounter in AlaskaÖ.