Mishmi Takin is a relative a newcomer to the outdoor apparel industry. They place the focus of their gear on breathability and usability in wet, humid environments. The Virunga is designed accordingly, with loads of extra venting and the use of breathable fabrics. This is my review:
The Virunga, named after the hot and humid Virunga National Park Located in the Congo, is a lightweight 3 layer rain jacket. It is constructed from 15D nylon ripstop a dedicated eVent DVStorm fabric base with a dedicated waterproof membrane. It has two elevated hand pockets, two chest pockets, all of which are waterproof, as well as two double zippered pit zips to aid in venting. It includes an adjustable hood, stiff brim, and laser-cut holes around the neck and back for additional heat/humidity transfer. It has a somewhat slim cut with lengthened wrists cuffs that extend over the top of the hands, and the back panel extends past the beltline for added protection. It weighs 15.5 ounces for the men’s medium and retails for $374.93, currently going for $324.93.
What I liked
What is a rain jacket if it doesn’t keep you dry? So, let’s start there. The Virunga turns out to be aptly named. It is a 3 layer jacket, which means it relies on a dedicated waterproof membrane for waterproofness, and this manages to do the trick. So far, it has handled repeated showers and downpours with no issues. Water beads up, rolls off and continues to do so for generous periods of time. I haven’t had any seams leak or water work its way in through the actual fabric, despite subjecting it to the “dunk and repeat” style of rain cycle that the Appalachian Mountains is famous for. After hours of water splashing off of it, it still manages to hold up pretty well with only light spotting appearing, which is very good.
When it comes to ventilation and moisture/humidity management, the jacket exceeded my expectations. Being equipped with exceptionally large pit vents, laser0cut neck vents and even some hidden venting tucked under a flap along the upper back, the jacket provides plenty of airflow. The pit zips open all the way into the underside of the arm and extends all the way down to near the hips, which provides ample opportunity for venting. They do work quite well, hastily dumping hot wet air and exchanging it with cool, fresh air. The hand pockets can also double as vents as they open up to reveal breezy mesh interior, further amplifying circulation. The neck and back vents, honestly, I couldn’t really identify how much of an impact they had on their own. However, every bit adds up and it does summate to a nice, airy jacket. The fabric itself does also “breathe”, but I wouldn’t consider it exceptional in this regard. Still, as a whole it is one of the best ventilated and coolest rain jackets I’ve tested.
Durability has been very good. The 15 denier nylon is surprisingly rugged and holds up well to indoor and outdoor use, as well as being repeatedly packed up into tight containers, even when wet. The build quality as a whole is beyond acceptable, with all the seams and zippers all feeling rugged and reliable. I’m yet to see any fraying or damage from use, and it invokes the feeling it is going to last quite a while given the thickness of the fabric and overall design. No corners were cut here, surprising given the relatively low pack weight.
The fit for me has been quite good, with a somewhat athletic philosophy applied to the overall cut and shape of the garment. It runs ever so slightly small (based on the medium I have) but still provides enough room for a thin layer underneath if need be. The cut is rather flattering visually, looking great under a pack, on the trail solo or even around town.
Smaller details like the extended cuffs to help cover the hands, an elongated back panel o protect the beltline, and double zippers which allow you to vent exactly where and how much you need it without letting water in help to round off the already feature dense package. The brim is also rather stiff and holds shape in heavy rain or wind, while the elevated hand pockets play nice with backpack straps. Sometimes the thoughtfulness in design comes across in the details, and that is true with the Virunga.
It’s a mostly quiet jacket with only a faint “sandpaper on soft wood” sound to the jacket when walking around. There is no real distracting crinkling, swishing or anything of mention, which is a win, especially for around town use.
The hip area is reinforced with a printed on fabric layer. This helps prevent wear and tear due to the weighted straps of a backpack, extending the useful life of the jacket. it also seems to help prevent wetting out as it doesn’t absorb as much sweat.
What I didn’t like
I only had a couple of minor complaints about the jacket. The main one being that the zippers are simply rather stiff. At times, adjusting the pit zips can be a real pain, to the point that I’ve occasionally considered taking the jacket off to make it easier to do. The chest zipper is the stiffest of the bunch, occasionally taking some fidgeting to get it started, but it’s not a huge inconvenience. It just takes a little more effort than I’m used to and I can find it frustrating. Luckily, the all feel really secure and durable, so I don’t see it becoming a real issue. From another viewpoint, I’m yet to have any snags with any of the zippers, so perhaps this stiffness is by design as it seems to prevent them.
The fabric feel is just O.K. It doesn’t feel bad, it doesn’t feel great. It sits somewhere right in the middle. It feels a little papery if I had to make a comparison, but really isn’t noticeable after getting used to it. This same feel does result in practically no clamminess, which is a plus in my book, but it never feels particularly cloth-like either.
No coat hanging loop is a pet peeve of mine. It is basically a documented ritual that I always hang my soaking wet jacket on my custom built coat rack by the door when I do finally make it in after a rainy day outside. Not having that option sticks with me. The hood adjustment loops work for this in a pinch, but I would like to see the loop make a comeback. I have been told this is going to be added to the jacket soon, so keep an eye out for that.
Despite coming from a brand I was only distantly familiar with, the Virunga by Mishmi Takin turned out to be a solid jacket. As the designers put a lot of emphasis on ventilation, it is one of the breeziest jackets I have ever tested. This is great news for anyone who lives in a warm or humid environment like mine. The sturdy rip-stop nylon and DWR coating holds up well to prolonged use as long as it is kept clean, and it has managed to survive routine packing/unpacking with no signs of creasing or damage to the brim or waterproofing. It’s fairly comfortable, looks really nice, and the smaller details like the back vent, extended back and wrist panels and neck vents really make the jacket stand out in a crowded category. The pricing is a little steep even for a 3 layer jacket, but everything is said to be ethically sourced and produced, which adds a lot value in my book. It is unique, well designed, and also performs.
For more information on the Mishmi Takin Virunga, check out their Website. This isn’t’ an affiliate link and they only sell direct.
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Mishmi Takin for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help.
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