Medicine Man - February 3, 2006
For 15 days I carried/wore/layed on/sat on a Packa. Many reviews have been written about the Packa….I can add a few points that a few have missed.
One is the pocket on the right side that is about thigh height. It’s the same pocket the Packa packs into when not in use (like I’m going to do that when I can cram it into a side pockeet). The pocket is sizeable and just a nice feature most don’t mention.
If you’ve used a Packa, are considering one, or have read the other reviews then you know the greatest feature is the ability to have a rain jacket instantly available without having to take the pack on and off. For those days when it rains for 30 min’s then quits for 10 min’s then starts again the Packa is remarkable.
I found several ‘modes’ of wear. My favorite is often with just the hood over my head…this when it is constantly misting or a mini-drizzle. I lean slightly forward when hiking, moreso depending on the size of the pack I’m carrying, and this allows the ‘hood’ mode to keep almost all of me dry–note that in hood mode my arms are not coverd. The next step in encapsulation is to put the arms in the sleeves but still not zipped up…this is great for when the rain picks up but still no major wind to blow it on my chest.
The full zip mode is the next level and for a whole day out of the Del. Water Gap I used this mode (one of those days it takes 11 hours to do 13 miles `devilish slippery rocks beginning at Sun Fish Pond and continuing to the MOC).
Ventilation in the Packa—yes we’ve read Cedar Tree is considering Event in a future model….I still bet on the major uphills with a heavy pack and the hiker will sweat to wetness inside even Event but that as an aside consider the HUGE pit zips the Packa has and like most well designed jackets with pit zips these work especially in ‘hood’ mode described above.
OK, I resisted The Packa for years–my mistake–I thought it was another poncho…if you hike the AT or trails like the At ponchos get in the way when it is steep, rocky, rootie-sometimes to the point of being dangerous. I guess I thought is was at least poncho like because the Packa adds always said something like ‘better than a poncho’. Know this, The Packa is a well designed rain jacket with an integral pack cover. Since it is a well designed rain jacket you’d think the hood design to be excellent and in the Packa it is.
Usually in rain jackets I’ll have to wear a baseball type cap to make the hood work likes it is supposed to but Cedar Tree has added a plastic stiffener that works perfectly to keep the material properly spaced away from the head-peripheral vision is excellent too.
On my last section hike completed just days ago I combined backpacking and slack-packing (I’ll slack any time I can!). So I got to use the Packa not only for the long backpacking sections but also with a simple Camelbak. I also experimented using the Packa simply as a rain jacket with the pack on top. Either way the Packa accomplishes it’s mission. You’ll also note in the above posted pics that it’s a great warmer on a slightly windy day when all you have to do is block a little wind for a great nap
The rain gear complex—-or should I carry rain pants.
For years I’ve noticed that many thru-hikers don’t carry rain pants so on the backpack portion of NY and NJ I only carried the Packa and gaiters. Sweet combination for me and since I wear the same hiking shorts day after day after day after day a wise man will use water repellant on the last 2-3 inches of the hem of the shorts….that little section of skin between the top of my gaiters and the bottom of the shorts never seems to get that wet at least in my mind…..so with this approach the weight of the rain pants is eliminated. This approach works with me and others but your mileage may vary.
Over the two week period I got many questions about the Packa. My hiking partner was using a JRB poncho and it was easy for other hikers to see the difference between the two while we were standing side by side.
After using it for this hike I can only say I wish I’d listened to Cedar Tree years ago.
Thanks Eddie for the opportunity to test the Packa. It will be in the pack the next time out.