First Lite Vapor Stormlight Ultralight Rain Jacket Review
- Awesome hood
- Articulated design moves with you
- Good balance between weight & features
- Higher price
- Zipper pulls too small
- Poor fit for stocky testers
While the First Light Vapor Stormlight Ultralight Rain Jacket is not a super robust shell, it’s still tough enough for rugged day trips and long weekend backpacking expeditions on or off trail.
The 37.5 membrane in the First Light Stormlight may be lightweight and better known for its breathability and temperature regulation, but it’s still waterproof. A tester hiked all day in the rain in it and never sprang a leak. The front and hand pocket zippers are all waterproof and the front zipper also has a flap. The hood is one of the best we’ve tried. On first deployment it fit perfectly, no fiddling required and no peripheral vision lost. When I turned my head it turned, too. The adjustment points dialed it in ever more. A stiff brim helps deflect drips. The Velcro and bunny wrist did a great job of keeping water out of the jacket too, even when reaching up to adjust the tarp.
Formerly known as Cocona, the 37.5 membrane technology uses particles of processed coconut shells to up breathability and temperature moderation in the First Light Stormlight. The coconut particles in the membrane attract water vapor, increase the micro-surface area of the interior of the jacket adding more terrain for the moisture to migrate through the shell and absorb body heat. We found it to be a little more breathable than the other membrane types in this test.
As mentioned in Weathershedding, the most notable feature of the First Light Stormlight is the hood. It moves with head movement and never restricted peripheral vision. We never needed to use the three adjustment points. The hand pockets are descent sized and meshed backed to help dump heat. The fabric is a bit noisy but not terrible for this category. And the fit is trim but roomy enough for layering. Some stocky testers found the fit a little tight across the chest.
The slick, rip stop fabric on the First Light Stormlight did a good job of deflecting some direct blows from brambles, thorns and sharp rocks, but like the other jackets in this category don’t expect it to withstand pounding abuse. The fabric is lightweight and the jacket is well built.
At 12 ounces the First Light Stormlight is not a category leader, but it’s no heavyweight either. It packs up into a burrito size without too much cramming.
How We Tested It
The Gear Institute’s hiking expert conducted a thorough test of this season’s 2.5 layer storm shells. With 2016 being the rainiest fall in more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest, testing conditions were ideal for this test. A group of testers hiked, biked, and backpacked while wearing the jackets in pounding rain, steady mist, sideways blowing storms, and every other possible way to describe liquid precipitation.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Hard Shell Jackets of 2017, Best Hybrid Jackets of 2017, Best Soft Shell Jackets of 2017, along with other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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