As the most packable jacket in the test, the Sherpa Asaar surprised testers by not demanding compromises. It offered plenty of weatherproofing, all the features we like in a jacket, and a great price, along with what we expect from an eight-ounce jacket. It is a little fragile feeling for burly expeditions, but a great summer weight jacket to stuff in a pack and use as a windshell or for defending against afternoon showers.
Weathershedding Despite its nearly translucent fabric, the Sherpa Asaar kept me dry for several hours in a steady soaker. It uses Sherpa’s Himaltec membrane, which combined with a solid DWR coating, never sprung a leak. The front zip is water resistant and backed with an extra layer of fabric to ensure nothing slipped through when I walked into a solid headwind driven shower. And the helmet compatible hood with a stiff brim did a good job of keeping the wet off the face, cinching snug with a one handed pull on the drawcord.
Breathability Lightweight often equates to great breathability and that was the case here. On an uphill grind in wet, humid conditions the Sherpa Asaar’s mico-porous membrane dumped out hot air quickly. It could be better with mesh-backed pockets or pit zips, but overall excellent breathability.
Function The Sherpa Asaar is a light jacket, but it doesn’t feel minimalist. Two generous hand pockets swallowed map, compass and snacks with room to warm our digits. They sit high enough not to interfere with pack straps or a harness but not so high to make hand warming awkward. The jacket wears nicely, with no weird bulges. A slight stretch to the fabric and articulated arms help keep it comfortable even when making dynamic moves. Reaching overhead for climbing holds the jacket barely rode up and the sleeves only slid half an inch. A fleecy strip at the chin is a nice touch, especially for the weight.
Durability I used the Sherpa Asaar for about a week in everything from paddling to bushwhacking. I didn’t notice any signs of wear, but the fabric feels fragile. I’d be cautious bashing through brambles or scraping up a chimney. Sherpa did move the seams away form high abrasion areas, like shoulder tops which will help with longevity.
Packability This is the Sherpa Asaar’s strong suit. At 8.6 ounces it’s highly lightweight without feeling like a bare bones jacket—a difficult balance. The 12-denier fabric is so thin I can read the Sherpa logo from the inside of the jacket. That means the jacket can pack into a smartphone sized internal pocket—bulging to about the size of an orange.
Ryan Stuart is freelance writer and jack of all sports—trail running, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, surfing, climbing, skiing and mountaineering—based on Vancouver Island. Follow his testing on Google+.