"Waterproof" is a loose term in outdoor product marketing. All too often equipment that touts this label proves to be "water resistant" at best in the field. For a rugged, built-to-last piece of equipment that truly lives up to the waterproof claim, we've found no better option than the Taku Waterproof Jacket by Mustang Survival.
The Taku's hard-working design stems from Mustang Survival's long heritage as a military outfitter of drysuits and PFDs. The British Columbia-based company has been building drysuits, apparel and PFDs for more than a half-century, contracted by the Navy SEALs, US Coast Guard, SWAT teams and civilian outdoorsmen and women alike to develop gear that lives up to its namesake.
Putting on the Taku, Mustang Survival's military roots are clear. The bulk of the shell is comprised of a three-layer, marine-specific breathable fabric that is equally lightweight, durable and waterproof. Its form-fitting hood is designed to maneuver with your head, providing ample peripheral vision at any angle beneath a broad brim that does well to keep water far from your face. Beneath the hood, the Taku offers an internal collar that zips up to the chin to protect against wind and warm the body when the hood is not in use.
Moving down the frame, the Taku's shoulder pocket, outer hand pockets, inner chest pocket and deep inner storage pockets boast no shortage of hauling capacity. Their sturdy zippers are engineered to be snag-free and water resistant, creating a sleek exterior that slips through brush without a snare or tear. We found the inner storage pockets especially useful for tucking away tackle and fishing accouterment, or other small essentials that we like to stow and access on the water.
The seriousness of the Taku's design is most obvious with the adjustable neoprene inner wrist gaskets, which we found effective against seepage even when the sleeves were fully submerged. The sleeve linings tighten with a thick Velcro strap and synch to a bare wrist for seamless protection against the elements (and fish guts), even after hours of dipping into the drink while kayak fishing. Being made of neoprene means they won't last forever, but the Taku is designed with a rapid repair solution so the gaskets can be replaced quickly by consumers with relative ease.
Available in three color options, the Taku is as conspicuous or stealth as you want it to be. We liked the Mahi Yellow for visibility in harsh conditions, but if your aim is to be less obvious the Admiral Gray and Green Moss options are stylish alternatives that blend in well among the elements. The one downside to the Taku is the price point—at $375, it's hardly comparable to a poncho. But if your needs involve surviving and staying dry in the harshest elements the world has to offer, it's a small price to pay for a piece of gear that's bound to last.