User Review: Red Ledge Men's Thunderlight Parka
Price Paid: $30
It seems like anything you read a review on has at least one reviewer for whom the product seemingly exploded in his face (i.e., his hatred and disgust for the product could not be worse) and at least one reviewer for whom the product changed their life forever and now they feel complete. Obviously the truth lies far between those extreme positions.
The real questions about the quality of anything are "Does it achieve what it sets out to achieve, or does it do what it claims to do?" And, "At what price?"
The RL Thunderlight jacket claims to offer breathable rain protection at a low price. This jacket is also marketed at Bass Pro Shop under the brand name "Red Head", and possibly under other names as well elsewhere.
I bought one about a year ago, looking for a very lightweight rain jacket to use on backpacking trips. I compared it closely to the Frog Toggs rain jacket, which cost a bit more and (at that time) could only be purchased as part of a jacket-and-pants suit. My criteria were light weight, breathability, durability, and low cost.
I cannot imagine how any jacket could do a better job of meeting all these objectives. A lot of expensive parkas are way-overkill and as such are HEAVY. This jacket is called "ThunderLIGHT" and it is very light, and very pack-able. It comes with a stuff sack and when it's in the sack, it is only slightly bigger than a soda can.
I chose the Thunderlight over the Frog Toggs jacket because I perceived that it would have better snag-resistance. The Frog Togg has a somewhat fuzzy feel which I felt would be a magnet for prickly vegetation and briars, etc. The Thunderlight on the other hand has a slick, crackly polished nylon finish, which is resistant to those prickly snags out there. It just seems to slip and slide past nearly everything.
If you need a parka for mountaineering or snowmobiling or other extremely cold and/or abrasive activities, then buy a heavy fabric parka that is lined - and don't blame this jacket for not being something it was never designed or intended to be.
The Thunderlight Parka is designed for warm weather rain protection, or as a lightweight waterproof shell to be worn over other insulating layers. Sometimes I wear it over my puffy down jacket for messy winter days in town or on the trail, and the two combined make for a very lightweight, warm, and dry combination.
It is totally waterproof, and as comfortable as any jacket can be in warm wet weather.
In summary, the Thunderlight offers excellent bang for the buck. I love mine, and when I wear it out, I'll buy another one. I see them in more and more retail outlets now. Apparently they are selling well and word is getting out about the value of this jacket.