Just what is a pack jacket? It’s pretty simple: a pack jacket is a jacket that lives in your pack. While compactness and light weight are key, so too are fit and function as it’s likely to be a rider’s most-worn piece of outerwear. Perfect (and always at hand) for early starts or when the sun drops below the horizon, the pack jacket should be showerproof enough to keep some unexpected rain from becoming horribly uncomfortable- but not so waterproof that it’s uncomfortable to wear when temps are just a bit cool.
At $65, available in 5 colors, and packable to the size of a pair of oranges, Endura’s Pakajak is just such a jacket. And over the past 15 months its been on literally hundreds of rides. How has it performed? Hit the jump to find out!
In a word? Great. The Pakajak is made of a very thin, lightweight nylon ripstop material. While thin and lightweight rarely cross paths with durable and reasonably-priced, the fabric has done a good job at fighting off the advances of trailside branches. Sure, a good tumble or extra-pointy stick would undoubtedly puncture and/or tear the jacket- but seeing as it’s received no particular care in in my pack or on my back its current condition is impressive.
Out of the included stuff sack, the Endura’s fit is slim enough for road use without ever being restrictive. At 6′ tall, the medium’s sleeves are long enough to cover my sleeves in a tuck- something that’s not always the case. The long tail is appreciated when splashing through puddles and the reflective hits on the ride from the trailhead (more traffic-appropriate colors are available if regular commuting is planned).
Soft enough to be worn against the skin, the Pakajak’s fabric breathes well and is aided by underarm mesh panels. Just this thin layer is enough to take a long-sleeved base layer and short-sleeved jersey down to the freezing mark- and it’s easy enough to stash in a pack or jersey pocket as the day warms. While I never want for more adjustability than the elastic cuffs provide, they’re snug enough to make removing the jacket over gloves difficult- meaning no 20mph wardrobe changes.
While Endura call the Pakajak “showerproof,” the fabric is better at keeping the chill away and will soak through if rain is more than moderate. In other words, it’s more what used to be called a windbreaker than a rain jacket. If storms threaten, it’s best to pack something heavier, but the Endura easily beats no jacket at all when the skies open. For the vast majority of rides, it’s just about right: small enough to always have along, tidy thanks to the included stuff sack, and comfortable enough that I’ve never once avoided pulling it on. This little guy ranks right up there with a mini tool, pump, and snack as a pack essential.
all photos courtesy Kip Malone, Photographer.