Grundens Tourney jacket and bib review
Whether I’m fishing, hunting sheep, or running a river boat, rain gear is a necessity where I live in Alaska. I need rain gear that is durable and truly waterproof, but won’t weigh me down. I tested the Grundens Tourney jacket and Grundens bibs in the demanding conditions of a sheep hunt— here’s how they performed.
What You Need to Know About Rain Gear
Like many categories of hunting and fishing gear, rain gear design and construction is as diverse as what people use it for.
The most distinct categories within the broad spectrum of rain gear on the market are breathable and non-breathable construction. Non-breathable rain gear features an outer shell that is impermeable, meaning neither air nor moisture can pass through it in either direction. Breathable rain gear uses a shell and specialized fabric that is intended to keep water out, but also allow your own sweat moisture to escape and pass outward through the garment to help keep you dry.
Rain gear is always a game of compromise, a balance of cost, weight, comfort, durability, and performance. Old school rubber rain gear is pretty much bulletproof when it comes to keeping the rain out, but it’s heavy. It’s also very uncomfortable to hike in, as it traps every bit both heat and every bit of moisture your body will generate. Breathable rain gear, which is available in its own spectrum of variation and quality is extremely popular with hunters because compared to heavy-duty rubber rain gear, it’s much lighter, more packable, and usually much more comfortable to wear and hunt in. The trade-off is that it’s not truly waterproof, and in the right (or wrong) situation, it can and sometimes will fail.
The rain gear you choose will depend on how the aforementioned factors fit into your particular situation, but especially with some of the options available and some of the lighter and also more affordable non-breathable options should really make you think hard about your selection.
Grundens Tourney Specs and Features
Knit polyester backing for added stretchPolyurethane coating YKK water-resistant zippers on chest and pocketsGrundens elastic suspender system on bibsDouble-layered knees on bibsWeight (size XL) top: 1 pound 6 ounces, bottom: 1 pound 8oz
The Tourney system is designed specifically for fishing, to be a compact, lightweight rain gear that can stow easily, but will also keep you dry in torrential downpours. Spending a lot of hours running a river boat here in Alaska, I can certainly appreciate the application for rain gear like this, and even most avid sport-fishermen and boaters don’t really need a commercial-fishing level of rain gear. Although Grundens does offer some of its slightly heavier rain gear like the Neptune in green and even camouflage patterns, the color selection on the Tourney is currently limited to brighter colors, with one white-gray refraction-style camouflage pattern available. Despite its obvious intended application as for sport fishing, I saw great potential in this system as a lightweight yet truly waterproof rain gear for backpack hunting for Dall sheep here in Alaska.
Camouflage—or even earth-tone colors—isn’t really a high priority for me when it comes to rain gear, especially on a rifle hunt for Dall sheep; it simply doesn’t matter much in most situations for me, either. The most attractive feature of this rain gear for me was the weight. My XL size set (Grundens bibs and Grundens jacket) together weighs 2 pounds 14 ounces. It’s about half a pound lighter than the Neptune system, and an ounce lighter than one of the lighter-weight breathable/packable systems I have of a major brand. It’s about 3 ounces lighter than a particular set of “extreme duty” breathable rain gear that costs about $1,000 more and has failed me in the field. The packability of the tourney is also right up there with many of the breathable options. It’s a thinner backing and lighter duty coating than lines like the Neptune or Helly Hansen Impertech, which helps it crush down a little smaller. In my specific hunting application, I didn’t know how well the coating would hold up to abuse, but was set to find out.
In handling the Grundens Tourney rain gear, the most striking feature is the feel of it. The PU coated fabric is light, flexible, and somewhat stretchy. It has a minimalist, lightweight backing, unlike some heavier lines of non-breathable rain gear, in which the liner can sometimes absorb some sweat moisture. There’s not anything for venting on this rain gear, as it’s intended to be as waterproof as possible. The zippers on both the jacket and bibs of the Tourney are YKK water-resistant zippers, compared to the standard zippers on many similar styles of rain gear like the Neptune which have a button-up flap to cover the main jacket zipper. Pockets on both the Grundens jacket and Grundens bibs all feature these water-resistant zippers. The cuffs on the Grundens jacket are Velcro-adjustable and easily cinch down to keep moisture from wicking up your sleeves. Another nice feature of the jacked is the hood, which can be cinched down with drawstrings, and has a Velcro adjustment on the back to retract the hood to your preference, giving it a tight fit to your head without flapping in your eyes.
The overall design of this rain gear is simple. The Grundens bibs are well-cut, and although not excessively baggy, they have enough room and stretch for me to put on and take off with my boots on. Rather than a zippered bottom, the bibs have simple hook-and-loop tabs at the ankles to cinch the pant legs over your boots. Although rain gear with zippered legs or even partially zippered bottoms makes it easier to put the gear on over your clothes and boots, they inevitably are subjected to excessive wear and tear.
The author field tested the Grundens Tourney while hunting sheep and caribou. Tanner Denton
Testing the Grundens Tourney in the Field
I knew that taking this rain gear along on a sheep hunt in excessively wet and brushy country would tell me a lot about it, and it did. Both my hunting partner and I used identical sets to see if we would encounter any problems. In addition to the weight savings, I did find the rain gear easy to pack in an accessible spot in my backpack, and it was easy to get on in a hurry over whatever I happened to be wearing.
I wore it packing a full camp, climbing and crawling through alder-choked thickets that were soaked from the previous night’s rain, and also spent many hours sitting in the pouring rain on an exposed ridgeline watching a group of rams. Throughout the course of the hunt, I hammered on a lot of brush, and the only noticeable damage was a single scuff on the outside layer of the double-layered knee where I slid down a rock face.
I also packed this rain gear in an early-October caribou hunt, primarily to use as a wind-breaking layer and to use while dressing out animals. I also prefer donning fully waterproof rain gear for working on animals in the field. The blood is easily washed off and the rain gear keeps it off my clothes.
Any activity in extremely wet weather will usually result in some moisture inside your rain gear and I was pleased to see that the lightweight backing of the Grundens Tourney didn’t retain much of it. Brought inside a small tent in cold, wet weather, rain gear that absorbs moisture can have the effect of dramatically increasing condensation in the tent, as well as be difficult to dry out once the rain does stop. We had lots of rain on the sheep hunt and spent multiple days out hunting with day gear in the rain, with lots of steep climbing and stationary glassing.
Although I don’t consider any rain gear comfortable to hike in, I found the Tourney to be pretty reasonable. It allowed plenty of movement, and the jacket was large enough to zip over my bino harness. The only downside is that it is flat-out hot to hike in, but for me, that’s any rain gear—even the best breathable stuff. No matter your rain gear, you have to maintain adequate layering and best practices for regulating your body temperature. The trade-off for having rain gear that is actually waterproof is that you will have to go slower and remove or add layers more frequently to stay as dry and warm as possible. If I were to suggest an improvement, it would be to add armpit and leg vent zippers, but that could also be a partial trade-off of water-proofness.
What the Grundens Tourney Does Best
The Tourney provides a great balance of weight, packability, performance, and cost. It’s the lightest weight rain gear I have used that still has a truly impermeable coating, making the fabric 100 percent waterproof. Non-breathable rain gear typically outweighs their breathable competitors by a significant margin, making them a less-attractive option for many applications.
Not only weight, but the flexibility and packability of the fabric compares very closely to many of the higher end breathable rain gear options, allowing you to squeeze it down into your backpack or storage compartment. Being polyurethane coated, the Tourney cannot soak through like breathable rain gear will once it gets saturated. Even if you let it get wet on the inside, it will keep fresh, cold rainwater out, and that can keep you functioning and even keep you alive in some circumstances. It fits well, with plenty of stretch and ease of motion, and it also allows you to layer up underneath while not being excessively baggy.
Finally, at between $200 and $250, it comes in at a competitive price with other non-breathable rain gears that are heavier and more cumbersome, but at a fraction of the cost of high-end breathable sets.
What the Grundens Tourney Does Worst
The most obvious shortcoming of the Grundens Tourney is that you will get hot moving in it and because it doesn’t allow moisture to escape the fabric, it can get clammy. This is pretty standard for a non-breathable rain gear, and has to be mitigated more purposefully with temperature regulation than with quality breathable rain gear. A downside for many hunters is the current color selection. Although it didn’t matter for my hunting application, bright colors aren’t desirable for many hunters. It would be nice to see them offer it in earth tones or camouflage.
Grundens Tourney would be a great go-to rain gear for any sport fishing or boating application where it probably wouldn’t be subjected to a ton of abuse. It can be easily stowed or packed away, but still provide dependable, comfortable protection from the worst storms without the worry of saturation. More than just fishing, the build and function of the rain gear itself provides a great lightweight and packable option for hunters in exceptionally wet climates. I’d like to see Grundens offering some earth tone color options for that application, but if camouflage isn’t important to you, it’s a great option to consider.
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