Dark and Stormy
There's only one way to find out if Grundén's Stormlight Jacket is waterproof or not: by putting it (and the author) through a hurricane simulator!
Where can you find hurricane-like winds and torrential downpours at a moment’s notice? The foulest of foul weather, without, you know, the risk of serious injury or grave danger? That’s what I wanted to know, because with storm in the name, Grundén’s Stormlight Jacket ($180) couldn’t be tested on a bright sunny day. It needed the drama inherent in a tempest.
Good thing then that our neighbors at Survival Systems USA in Groton, Connecticut, were open to the idea of subjecting this waterproof jacket—and me—to the simulated stormy weather and worst-case scenario conditions usually reserved for aircraft pilots and Navy SEALs. At the facility, across the street from the Groton–New London Airport, is a dunk tank that looks like a deep pool, except, unlike most pools, it can accommodate a two-blade, twin-engine helicopter simulator. Military personnel and aviation experts learn how to survive life-threatening crashes here. I wouldn’t be surviving, per se. I would just be getting very, very wet.
Into the dunk tank I went, on a life raft that would normally fit six, peering out from beneath my hood like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. Here’s the thing about the Stormlight: it’s much lighter than Grundéns’s other waterproof offerings, and is advertised as a superlight jacket designed to keep boaters dry during summer squalls. But it’s no slouch, either.
I gave a thumbs-up to the tank’s operator. Suddenly, the sky opened up and unleashed a column of rain that enveloped both the jacket and me in a ferocious gale.
With a 10K/10K waterproof/breathability rating—which measures a fabric’s water resistance on the outside, and water vapor released from the inside—the Stormlight not only could handle a heavy downpour but, when the deluge was over, it dried outside in the sun in just a few short minutes, a pleasant suprise. (My pants, on the other hand, went right into the dryer.)
Minimalist in design, the jacket nevertheless had some fine features, like two oversized breast pockets that could fit keys, a VHF and even a freakin’ tablet, and were easily accesible. Long vents underneath the arms and along the torso sides allow for airflow without letting in too much water. If the weather goes south and I need a jacket, the Stormlight would be the first thing I would reach for. Now, I just need to find some waterproof pants!