Preview: Ultimate Direction Deluge || Waterproof/NON-breathable jacket & pants

A close-up of the 5.5-oz Ultimate Direction Deluge Jacket, which features 20d waterproof/NON-breathable fabric and taped seams.

The Ultimate Direction Deluge Jacket and Deluge Pants — which will be released in Spring 2018 — are awesomely light, at 5.5 oz and 2.3 oz for men’s Large. But I’m more excited about the fabric.

No, they’re not made of the latest-and-greatest membrane that is more waterproof and more breathable than anything the world has ever seen. Instead, they’re made of a fabric that is most often used for tent canopies, tarps, and tent floors: 20d nylon that is coated with polyurethane (PU) on one side and silicone on the other. Hydrostatic head is rated to 1500 mm. Seams will be factory-taped.

The Deluge suit is waterproof but not breathable, which makes it different than traditional rain gear made of waterproof/breathable fabric like Gore-Tex, H2No, or Precip. I welcome this: WP/B fabrics fail (read this, this, or this for in-depth explanations) and I’d rather get damp from trapped perspiration than soaking wet from rain, especially in the Mountain West where rain events are often accompanied by plunging temperatures.

The new UD Deluge Jacket and Pants

The Deluge Jacket is modeled after its waterproof/breathable cousin, the Ultra Jacket, with a similar silhouette, hood, and flip mitts. A horizontal vent has been added to its back panel, to increase airflow. I would have liked to see zippered torso or arm vents, too, but UD opted to keep low the weight and price. It will retail for $100.

The Deluge Pants have articulated knees and knee pleats, for a less restricted range of motion. Unfortunately, they feature no air vents and no ankle zips. The lack of ventilation will reduce comfort, especially during prolonged wear. And the lack of ankle zips will slow pants-on/pants-off transitions, an undesirable quality in a race environment. MSRP is $85.

Updated Ultra Jacket & new Ultra Pants

The Ultra Jacket, the first generation of which is available now, is being updated for Spring 2018. The features will remain mostly the same, but the fabric is being changed to a 2.5-layer waterproof/breathable laminate with a 10d nylon face fabric, PTFE membrane, and dot-laminated interior. In the lab it tests to 29k hydrostatic head and 33k MVTR. That’s nice, but I’d await some field use before getting excited.

The fabric substitution has driven up the price, to $190 from the current $170. The weight is about the same, at 6.1 oz.

The matching Ultra Pants will be new for Spring 2018. They’ll retail for $120 and weigh 3.5 oz. Unlike the Deluge Pants, they will have a 12-inch ankle zip for faster on/off transitions.

The second-generation Ultra Jacket and new matching Ultra Pants are made with an improved waterproof/breathable fabric.

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  1. Roleigh Martin on August 26, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Andrew, like you, I agree for the need for a great waterproof non-breathable (but ventilated) rain jacket. Doing the JMT every year for 10 years straight, I’ve been caught in some horrendous rain storms. I’m disappointed the Ultimate Direction Deluge Jacket does not have a arm pit zips. Do you know of a light weight jacket that does? Also I like fabric where the rain never wets the fabric but bounces off it. Dyneema Composite Fabric (aka Cuben Fiber) seems to come close to that feature. Any other jackets that meet such criteria? Thanks! (BTW, I prefer the use of rain gaiters (Zpacks used to sell a great pair) and a rain kilt to protect the legs rather than rain pants.) Do you also know who else makes near-knee-high rain gaiters that come seam sealed and are able to be put on without having to take off your shoes (unlike the rain gaiters by Mountain Laurel Designs)?

    Roleigh Martin, Lead Moderator,

    • Andrew Skurka on August 29, 2017 at 9:46 am

      This is a niche and under-served market, and I don’t know of any products that meet your criteria, sorry.

      • Greg on August 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

        Andrew, have you used your silnylon VBL jacket as a rain jacket? Lots of vents there, seems like it meets the reader’s criteria for a lightweight non DWR jacket with pit (and other) zips. Besides RBH Designs’ Lightning Bug jacket, Luke’s Ultralight and LightHeart Gear both offer silnylon rain jackets with ventilation.
        I’m considering sewing such a dual-use winter vbl/ 3-season rain jacket with pit-zips that go all the way to the hem (like OR TorsoFlo).

        • Andrew Skurka on September 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

          The issue with a sil-nylon VBL jacket is that it lacks taped seams. And, yes, taped seams matter. I have run in the rain in jackets with “waterproof fabric” that lack taped seams, and the seams leak badly after extended exposure.

          • Greg on September 8, 2017 at 8:55 am

            Do you think seam sealing (with flowable silicone caulk) would be sufficient instead of tape? It might look pretty bad but if it works maybe it’s worth it.
            As always, thanks for the knowledge you share here!

          • Andrew Skurka on September 11, 2017 at 4:04 am

            For clothing I don’t trust it. Clothing construction is not like shelter construction, and the seams are quite a bit different. Shelter seams are easy to seal with caulk on the outside-facing seam, but clothing seams are not.

  2. Chris on August 28, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    PTFE known as Teflon by way of DuPont trademark, is terrible for all sentient creatures, Take a look at how it does not biodegrade. It also has terrible a terrible by product – PFOA. First decent link I found, if you have better please share.

  3. Brett Peugh on October 2, 2017 at 10:29 am

    OR made a jacket a few years ago called the Rampart that was waterproof and non-breathable while still having the Torso-flo side zip system. There are still some out there floating around for $50. Not lightweight at about 16oz for a XXL but the 70D fabric can really take some abuse.

  4. Hunter G Hall on February 7, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Could not find a good place to comment but what do you think of these pants:

    They seem unique.

  5. Skyler W on April 30, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Since non-breathable fabrics seem to be such a small niche of the rain protection market, I’ve been having trouble finding a good summary and comparison of the current options (e.g. SD Cagoule, Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket, soon UD Deluge, etc.). If you ever have the time/opportunity, I think the backpacking community would find a post dedicated to non-breathable rain jackets to be quite helpful!

    • Andrew Skurka on April 30, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      It’d be good a good niche article. I’ll add it to my list, no promises.

  6. Chris on October 11, 2018 at 7:05 am

    Can you also include the AntiGravityGear UL Rain Jacket?

  7. Kaleb on October 28, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Have you used this jacket in the field and experienced prolonged downpours? How well did it keep rain out, regardless of how much perspiration was an issue?

    • Andrew Skurka on October 29, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      I have not yet used it in the field.

  8. Steve Jones on February 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Andrew — With respect to the Deluge or the Ultra….. which would you select. Will I be just as satisfied with the Deluge at a fraction of the price… not looking at UTMB yet… In performance and real rain testing which do you like better what are the plus and negs of each. Appreciate your transparent feedback….

    • Andrew Skurka on February 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      If I want to be really transparent, I’ve not tested either pant sufficiently to offer a review. Last year I got in about 50 days of backpacking, and about 275 days of running, and saw only one or two storms that warranted rain pants.

      These two pants differ primarily in their breathability. If you are in relatively humid and warm conditions, the breathability of the Ultra pants (as limited as it is) will be useful. Whereas if you’re in drier climates and colder temperatures, the Deluge are probably the better way to go. The personal thermostat plays a role here, too — I run notoriously cold, so I can get away with layers that many others can’t, because they’d overheat.

      Duration also make a big difference. If your storms are fleeting, you’ll have the Deluge off before you start to sweat them out from the inside. If you have to endure long periods of rain, the Ultra will be comfortable for longer.

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