Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hands On: Atlantis Microburst Jacket & Vest


One of the coolest pieces in the Atlantis line this year is the Atlantis Microburst Jacket and Vest. It's got some heavy outdoor industry influences and is a lightweight and waterproof hard shell for protection against summer showers or some of that pesky spray that occasionally makes it's way back to the folks sitting in the cockpit.

I don't mean to say that the Microburst is a lightweight when it comes to being waterproof - it's made from Atlantis' VMG fabric which is a 2.5 layer waterproof nylon fabric with fully taped seams. The Microburst is also extremely lightweight making it one of the lightest jackets we have.

Both the jacket and vest are made from the same fabric and share most of the same characteristics. Both have a chin height collar that's lined with a thin microfleece and neither have a hood. The jacket has partially elastic cuffs with a velcro closure. The sleeve length on the jacket was a little longer than average on the size medium I tried on.

The Microburst jacket is also fairly unique in sailing gear in having pit zips. They allow for quick ventilation to keep you cool during those summer thunderstorms when the temps are still high. Both the jacket and vest feature long side pocket zippers that provide additional ventilation through the mesh pocket lining.

The lightweight and ample ventilation make this an excellent jacket for the summer whether your on or off the boat. If you want to stay dry without sweating to death during a thunderstorm on a warm day this is probably your best bet. When the temperature is in the high 90s there's only so much the fabric can do so being able to vent air directly is a big help.

I think the Microburst jacket and vest are a great lightweight set of gear. They certainly won't replace the need for a true spray top or foulie jacket but there are plenty of situations where that's not what you need. For most weeknight or buoy racing the Microburst is probably all you need - just enough to keep off the spray and rain.

What sets the Atlantis gear apart from the myriad of other jackets and vests in this category? It's definitely super lightweight - it's the first thing you notice when you pick it up. I think only the Patagonia Rain Shadow really competes in that respect. Like the Patagonia it's unlined while some others like the Henri Lloyd Breeze has a mesh lining. I think the Atlantis looks good and I'd definitely choose it over some of the heavier options in the category for wearing in the summer.

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