First Lite Vapor Stormlight Rain Jacket Review
My first year ever really hitting this hunting thing hard was about 4 years ago. Of all things that I could hunt, I chose to chase black bears here in Arizona. One of the primary general seasons here lands right in the middle of August. For people in Arizona, that means 2 things. It’s deathly hot out and it’s monsoon season. Yes, it does in fact rain here, unlike what most people think. We aren’t all sand and cacti. This posed a potential problem for me on my hunt. My problem being, I could get rained out. I know. What a wimp right? I was a noob, what can I say!?
Now, of course today I think differently on the matter, but I was an inexperienced beginner that didn’t know what to expect from the situation. What did I do? I chose to go anyways of course! Rain wasn’t gonna keep me from my first black bear hunt! Or, maybe it would? To make a long story short, I did indeed end up finding my first bear on this hunt! It happened so quick that I didn’t get a shot, BUT I knew that I would have the next day to go after him. At least that’s what I thought. It ended up raining from 1 a.m. through 1 p.m. the next day. My hunting partner and I decided to pull out of our camp spot with more rain on the way. I look back on that today and always wonder what would have happened had we stayed.
Rain gear to us back then was wearing a black trash bag over our clothing. I know, not the ideal hunting apparel, but it’s all we had. Also, probably not the greatest thing to be wearing during bear season…… The idea of having actual rain gear before I went on this trip seemed so far fetched to me at the time. After we left though, I was definitely singing a different tune. I vowed to get some of this high tech stuff, so I wouldn’t miss out the following year. Had we had proper rain gear, we probably would have stayed. Maybe, I would have gotten my first bear on this trip? Maybe not. I’ll never know.
It’s no secret that I love the gear that First Lite puts out. When I heard that they were coming out with an ultralight rain jacket, I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP. It doesn’t rain a ton here, but having something light and small in my pack for that unexpected monsoon storm is a piece of insurance that I wanted to sign up for. First Lite’s Vapor Stormlight Jacket is an ultralight, compressible, durable, yet very effective piece of rain gear that you for sure need to take a gander at after you read this. Let’s dive in.
The first thing that I remember thinking when I took this out of the box was how lightweight it was. Coming in at a mere 12 ounces, I wasn’t worried about lugging this bad boy around in my pack. Unlike its big brother the SEAK Stormtight(3.5 layer construction), the Vapor Stormlight is a 2 layer construction made of an Ultralight, waterproof, 37.5 technology. This is how First Lite was able to get this jacket to not tip the scale and be so backcountry friendly. With a lot of things that are ultralight though, they usually feel like they are going to rip with the slightest bit of tension. Not this jacket though. Just by the feel, I could tell that it could withstand being thrown around in the mountains. It felt both tough and ultralight at the same time, which was something new for me.
Another thing that I noticed, once I put the jacket on, was how form fitting it was. I didn’t feel like I was wearing that over sized trash bag that I had once known so well in my youth. I’ve really become a fan of the new athletic cuts that more and more clothing companies are doing. Walking around with clothing that is way to big doesn’t just look funny, in my opinion, it puts a damper on your hunting. When I’m putting the stalk on a deer I want as little clothing as possible rubbing up against brush or even getting caught on it for that matter. These new cuts have helped out immensely with that.
Now comes what I am most excited about with this jacket. The compressibility of this piece is exactly what I have been looking for. Space in my pack is sacred and the Stormlight compliments that with a feature I’ve spoken to you about before in my review of First Lite’s Uncompahgre Puffy. Just like the puffy, this rain jacket stuffs down into its own pocket, making it perfect for backcountry hunts and giving you that extra space in your pack. Unlike the puffy, I wouldn’t use this as a pillow though, because it really isn’t that big. Even when the Stormlight is in its pocket, it still compresses down even more than that.
Field performance with the Stormlight was phenomenal during my whole hunting season. My first experience with it was during Arizona’s monsoon season, on an early archery deer hunt. Storms can pop up out of nowhere on you this time of year and this hunt was no exception. Having this small piece of gear conveniently stuffed into the front stretchy pocket of my Exo Mountain Gear definitely came in handy when I needed it in a hurry. On this hunt, I took this jacket through torrential downpours and even hail. It performed flawlessly and didn’t disappoint me in the least bit. Another one of my favorite parts about the jacket is the Turret Hood design and how it brims out in front of your face to keep the water off of you.
Next up was my Colorado elk hunt. On the way into our backcountry camp, we were greeted with an evening thunderstorm that dropped upon us quite a bit of rain. Just like back home, I was easily able to grab my jacket out of my pack and keep myself dry. The high end material and waterproof zippers did a great job of keeping the moisture out. I wore the Stormlight all throughout the rest of our hike, which was in the realm of 2 miles or so. There is no rain gear that is going to be completely breathable, but for rain gear, the drying properties of 37.5 by Cocona that First Lite uses, does a pretty good job. This material is meant to turn sweat from your skin into vapor, keeping you dry and at peek performance. I was by no means soaking wet with sweat, or rain for that matter, once we arrived in camp. That was a relief!
The finale of my hunting season was our late archery deer hunts. I didn’t have this in a whole lot of rain during this time, but it for sure helped out with the wind that we had. On a backpack hunt for coues deer, we were faced with 20 degree temps and gusts of 40 mph. Having this little gem in my pack was incredible. Confused? A little backcountry hack that I figured out was using your rain jacket as a windbreaker. Think about it. Like I mentioned earlier, no rain gear is completely breathable. By design, this also allows the jacket to double as a wind stopper.
Rain gear is one of those things that most people look at and shudder at the thought of carrying it in their packs. Maybe, it’s because they are ounce counters, or maybe it’s they don’t want to waste the space in their pack. This is the precise reason why I was so stoked when First Lite announced this product. At 12 ounces, I doubt you are going to notice it and because of the compression you can bestow on this little guy, it can be stuffed in any corner of your backpack. This is one piece of gear that I will not be leaving home without. Find out more about this product and others at www.firstlite.com.