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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Sherpa Thamel Hard Shell Jacket

Light on the wallet and on the back...and perfect for hunting salamanders.

by: Joe Flowers

The author after an unsuccessful salamander hunt.
The author after an unsuccessful salamander hunt.

The Specs:
Weight: 10 oz.
MSRP: $75
Sizes: Mens s-XXL, Womens XS- XL
Money tight and getting drenched? The $75 Sherpa Thamel hard shell will keep you dry, pack tight and light, and leave you with money left over to pack something other than ramen. I was impressed with the breathability of the waterproof, 2.5-layer ripstop nylon during a three-day hike in Mt. Rogers recreation area, VA. It drizzled on and off for the first two days in 40° temps, and the jacket was comparable to more expensive jackets in regards to waterproofness and breathability.

If you are an extra steamy individual, you may miss the lack of side zips but the cut is roomy allowing for easy layering. The real test for this jacket came not on the trail, but when a thunderstorm alert came on TV and the skies opened up. I grabbed this shell and ran outside to play fetch with dog. The Thamel blocked water using DWR while my feet and bottom half got soaked to the socks. Poor Fido was a soggy mess.

The quality of construction of this Nepal-made shell is impressive, with good seam taping and neat, clean reinforced stitching along the three pockets. While this simple shell isn’t decked out with intricate features it has almost everything you’d need: elastic cuffs, a cinch chord on the bottom and collar, Velcro to hold the rolled hood (which is helmet compatible and has an effective storm flap), two front mesh pockets which aid the jacket’s breathability, and a chest pocket with a headphone hole.

Many lightweight packable (packs to an approximate 3 inch by 5 inch ball ) shells can get torn on small bushes, but this 10 oz. jacket was tough enough to withstand the thick, wet rhododendron hell I encountered during a Salamander study in WV. (Picture climbing around, under, and through muddy dense brush, even on hands and elbows, to find the little critters...Fun!)

All this and the $75 MSRP means even poor college students can afford to go hiking on a rainy day.

Bottom Line: The Thamel does what it is supposed to and keeps you dry, while not breaking the bank or the back at 10 oz. It breathes well the makeup of the 2.5 layer nylon and DWR treatment on the fabric, but if you are a sweater, find a shell with side zips.

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Reader Rating: -


Joe Flowers
Nov 09, 2010

Hey Laura, my Thamel stops right at the bottom of the pockets on my pants, and covers approximately 6 inches of my pants, more or less. Mine is a men's size M

Sherpa just updated their site with the Thamel link-

Laura Kasko
Nov 09, 2010

My beef with recent rain jackets is that in an effort to make them lighter weight, the companies cut them too short so that they don't cover your rear when you sit down. I have been backpacking for 35 years and miss the longer styles. How long is this one--especially the XS women's size?

Joe Flowers
Nov 08, 2010

The Sherpa Thamel is still being sold, and will be sold next year, and the company informed BP that they are aware it is not shown on the site and are working on it! Keep an eye out, it should be back up in a few days, in the mean time, try google.

Nov 05, 2010

Unfortunately, I just went to the Sherpa Adventure Gear website to look for the women's version of this jacket and they no longer sell it. I also couldn't find it available through an internet search. Way to go, Backpacker - recommend something that is no longer available.

Nov 05, 2010

I have a Sherpa shell that uses glued seams, glue that apparently ran out when it came time to attach the pocket. I did a 15 minute home repair and haven't had any issues since. The shell retailed for $175, for that kind of money I expected more.


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