This jacket from Sherpa is a hard one to review as it’s named after a Sherpa legend, Lakpa Rita had a hand in designing this jacket, and I’d agree he is better placed to review gear than me but we all have a job to do.
What Sherpa say...
Named in honour of our lead ambassador, Lakpa Rita, this Jacket is our best waterproof/breathable hard shell – period. A legend in his own time, Lakpa Rita is the first Sherpa to climb the highest mountain on all seven continents. And he is our toughest critic and gear tester. This shell is made of the finest materials available, and features design and construction details specific to serious alpine pursuits. Two event® waterproof fabrics – strategically placed nylon ripstop and nylon taffeta – feature Direct Venting™ technology: water stays out while perspiration vapour escapes through microscopic nano-vents.
• The helmet compatible hood has a contoured brim to protect your face from the weather; fit can be refined via a one-hand cinch system at the centre back.
• Seams are placed away from shoulder tops and hips to avoid chafing under pack straps, pack belt, or harness.
• Large zippered hand pockets are placed high so as not to interfere with a harness or pack belt.
• Panelled arm construction is designed for maximum comfort and mobility.
• Inset hem adjustors are designed to prevent elastic cord from catching on harness or straps.
• Two large exterior chest pockets provide instant access to essentials.
• 20,000mm / 20,000g waterproof / breathable rating.
• Main fabric: event® waterproof/air permeable fabric – ePTFE laminate fabric made of 100% ripstop nylon treated with DWR (durable water repellent).
• Contrast panels: event® waterproof/air permeable fabric – ePTFE laminate fabric made of 100% nylon taffeta treated with DWR (durable water repellent)
• Weight: 435g (15 oz)
The Lakpa Rita is a good fit as soon as it goes on, the drop tail and the arm length for me in the medium sit in the right place. Arms out-stretched they still sit just over the wrist.
The event fabric, as it says in Sherpa’s description, have contrasting panels. There is a ripstop fabric in the front, back (except the tail), hood, upper arms and underside of the forearm. There is no indication the denier of the fabric is different and it feels the same but they ‘contrast panels’ have put on the upper forearm, which makes sense. However it has also been put on the shoulders and ass which are high wear areas and can’t see how it is any less likely to rip. That said in the use I’ve given it there has been no issues with wear from packs or harness use.
The hood has on cinch point at the rear, I was a bit dubious of this as normally they are not that effective, however I was pleasantly surprised. Without a helmet it takes a fair bit to cinch down, leaving a lot of cord out the back but with a bit of adjustment at the front it sits comfortably around the face. The skip has a sturdy wire through it and covers a good portion of the face giving protection from driving elements. The fleece chinguard helped with the comfort.
As I said it is a good fit and movement whilst using it is unrestricted, I didn’t find it moved up my back when hiking, it pulled out my harness a bit when climbing but was perfectly acceptable for me.
I’ve had this jacket out a few times in the rain, there has never been any problem with water ingress. On a cold day in sustained rain which was slow going I had now issues with breathability of the eVent® fabric. On a warm (or close), wet day when I was moving reasonably quickly and pushing quite hard I finished off being pretty wet inside. I’m positive this wasn’t water coming in, this was from perspiration rather than precipitation. I’m not sure of the science but the application is how it worked for me.
I would challenge the chest pockets being large, there is a seam that comes up from the main hand pocket that means it’s not that deep, it is reasonably long and will take a large phone, GPS or gloves etc. The left hand one has a little hole to allow an earphone lead through, handy!
The hand pockets are a reasonable size, a folded OS map will fill one of them. All of the zips are water- resistant and have never leaked on me in pretty persistent weather. The zip ‘garages’ are well designed. The zip pulls are big enough to use with gloves and the width and depth of the housings allow the zip to go all the way to the top without the top being partially exposed or faffing about with them. Simple design.
The main zip has a short baffle behind it and again a water resistant more robust zip. It has a 2 way zip, ideal for a harness and the locking toggle for the drawcord around the hem is tucked neatly away in a fold. I didn’t need to have it pulled in tight so there was no trailing card but again another neat design.
Like every jacket, the Lakpa Rita has its drawbacks but it performed well regardless of the couple of issues I had. It has a good cut and has a lot of good design features small and big. Like the hood, with only one cinch it is the best of its kind I have come across.
Sherpa have put a well-equipped light but solid jacket on the market with this one, it’ll see several more outings I have no doubt.