Gear Review: Pnuma Outdoors 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket

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If you had asked me at the beginning of the year what would be my favorite piece of hunting gear for 2021, I would not have thought it would be a rain jacket.

It’s a rain jacket. More specifically, it’s the Pnuma Outdoors 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket.  No matter the environment, whether fishing or hunting, this is a perfect piece of kit.

Image courtesy https://pnumaoutdoors.com/

Even though Pnuma Outdoors is located practically in my back yard, I’d never heard of it.  Pnuma focuses heavily in the bow hunting market, something I’ve been out of for a couple decades. I was aware of their parent company, Los Cazadores of San Antonio.  Los Cazadores is a legendary South Texas hunting company, and they bought Pnuma in 2019 after it was founded in 2016 by Scott Schultz from ScentBlocker.

That means Pnuma is a company founded by hunters, run by hunters, making products for hunters.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The Caza camo pattern works well.  I was surprised that it worked well in both South Africa and South Texas. Caza (of course) comes from Los Cazadores. Pnuma had a group of hunters testing this pattern all over Texas, South Africa, New Zealand, British Columbia, and Mexico. That field testing certainly shows both in the camouflage materials as well as the design.

My biggest complaint about most rain jackets is that they tend to tear quickly or be very loud. For instance, I sure liked my North Face rain jacket for keeping the rain and snow out, right until I had to try and move onto a bear in heavy brush. The telltale “zip” of briars and branches rubbing against the ripstop style fabric was a dead giveaway. There’s no sound like that in nature, and it seems to travel for miles.

That’s why I bristled against the $250 price tag of the Pnuma jacket, right until I cozied up to the sound of the material. Or more appropriately, the lack thereof. Even though it’s proven extremely durable and completely rain proof, it sounds like a t-shirt when a twig drags against it. For me, that was the selling point of this jacket.

Durability, concealability, rain proof, and whisper quiet. I haven’t found that combination in anything else on the market.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Pnuma advertises the 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket as having a waterproof rating of 20,000mm and an MVP breathability rating of 15,000 g/m2/24h. Whatever. I know I can stand in my shower with it on and not get wet. I know I can hike up mountains with it and not get sweaty. Standards are good, but that’s the proof I can count on.

Although the 3L Element jacket is breathable, it includes a wind-stopping layer sandwiched between an inner liner and the jacket’s waterproof outer shell. That wind proofing, and the light amount of insulation provided by the jacket, made it perfect for the cool mornings of South Africa.

The forecast called for rain on several mornings, which never appeared. But a breezy 50 degrees is a little chilly if you’re standing still glassing when you’re otherwise dressed for long walks and stalks up and down mountains in the heat of the afternoon. The Pnuma jacket wasn’t what I thought I’d need to fill that role of a light outer layer, but it worked perfectly.

It performed all the roles in a Spring bear hunt in Idaho. I got rained on, snowed on, and somehow also got sweltering hot…all on the same day. That was my eighth season in a row hunting black bears near Ashton and up through Kilgore, and flexibility is the name of the game there. The Pnuma 3L Element jacket kept me warm, dry, but not sweating and uncomfortable when I changed elevations.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

I saw no bears, but at one point I took a nap under some trees. I woke up to find a young bull moose meandering all of 20 yards from me, completely oblivious that I was there.  Good thing, too. They are not small and tend to react with vigor.

The fit is loose but close-fitting. It doesn’t snag brush, something I’ve now proven on three continents. The fit hangs down past my waist, but not past my butt. It doesn’t expose my waist when my hands rise up, but I’m also not sitting on it when I sit down. I’m tall and gawky, and wear a size large/tall. I didn’t need the tall version of this jacket. Pay attention to the sizing guide on their website, as it’s true to fit.

There are a lot of small details Pnuma got right in the 3L Element jacket.

One of those is the hood. The 3L Element features a three-piece visor-style hood. For your lounge-around-the-camp hoodie, nobody cares if the hood fits weird. If the rain is blowing sideways and you’re up in a tree stand deciding if it’s safer to stay or go, it matters a lot. Ask me how I know.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Pnuma’s hood means you can still wear a cap underneath. But the big deal is that it doesn’t expose big parts of your neck and chin when it’s on, or pull down on your noggin.

When you pull the drawstrings tight, they don’t just cinch round your neck, further opening your face up. Instead, the drawstrings collapse the hood around your face, keeping you dry.  The plastic drawstring keepers mean that once you tighten it, the hoodie stays shut until you loosen it back up, and down work themselves off with the wind.

The sleeves are held in place at your wrists with hook and loop/Velcro style closures. They are low profile and hold very well, even in the rain. Like all hook and loop style closures, they are not quiet.

The two external pockets near the waist, as well as the long axillary vents and the front are all sealed and waterproof with very quiet zippers. These work perfectly. I held a garden hose right on each zipper for a while and absolutely zero moisture got through.

Image courtesy https://pnumaoutdoors.com/

There’s also a series of reinforced hexagonal webbing panels on each shoulder. I didn’t get the point of these until I slung a rifle and carried it for a few days while wearing the jacket. Not only does it protect the fabric from the brush, but it keeps that sling, and more importantly the metal attachments on the sling, from tearing through the material. That was smart.

Pnuma put a lot of thought into the 3L Element jacket. Now knowing who’s behind the company and how seriously they take their hunting, the quality doesn’t surprise me, although the performance did.

I’ll be heading back to South Africa here pretty soon, spending a couple of weeks in the KwaZulu Natal. This is one piece of gear I am not going without.

SPECIFICATIONS: Pnuma Outdoors 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket

100% Waterproof
High performance waterproof/breathable membrane
DWR Treated3 piece visor hood
Item weight: 20.8 oz (based on size Large)
Price: $250

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall * * * * * 
An outstanding garment. It’s well thought out, with all the features in a sleek, minimalist feel. The whisper-quiet fabric puts this jacket in a whole different category.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. My currant rain jacket for hunting is not good. It makes that noise you speak of and the hood collapses down over my forehead to my eyes at times. I need to make a little effort to replace it now.

  2. Nice piece of kit. Could be useful up here (old local joke…don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes…)

    $250 for quality QUIET rainwear is not too extravagant.

    Dadgum, JWT…every time I read of where you’re going or have been I realize how poor some of my life choices have been….have fun in Africa (more hunt stories and photos please).

    • It’s gonna continue to be a good hunting year. A white tail I’ve had my eye on for years is finally post mature, I’ve got blacktail, 2 Africa trips, javelina, Nilgai, black bear, mule deer and more scheduled. The stoke is very real.

  3. I don’t understand rain jackets. You can’t walk when your thighs-to-knees are sopping wet. Your pants stick to you.
    I guess that’s why they invented the poncho. You can throw it back over your shoulder for a steep climb, cinch the waist when it’s windy, cover your backpack/daypack.
    I agree with you about the hood falling down over your eyes.

    • How many people have ever snuck up on anybody, or anything, while wearing a poncho?

      Sure, I used to wear them when I was in the Boy Scouts, but back in ’78 there weren’t a lot of alternatives. Now there are.

      If it’s a long rectangle with a hood opening, it’s not going to really keep you dry. The rain will fall down the material and seep around through the sides in no time.

    • There are waterproof hunter camo jackets on the market pushing 40k breathability that cost less. You gave 5 stars to something that is a ripoff. You always seem to deflect criticism, rather than address it head on.

      • Addressed it head on with real info. Follow the link and learn. Oh, and stick to one name if you ever want to be taken seriously.

  4. Started switching geat from Sitka to Pnuma a few years back. Pretty much all my bow hunting camo is Pnuma now. Equal or better quality and less expensive than Sitka. And Pnuma’s leather ranch glives are great.

  5. Why would you not want a lighter, cheaper, more waterproof, and more breathable jacket?

    Your link explains nothing with respect to my criticism.

    At 15k breathability, it’s really an obsolete jacket that will leave you feeling clammy and cold from sweat. Sitka stuff is gore Tex (27k) and Kuiu is like 40k!

    This product is junk brah

  6. You threaten me with violence, “moderate” my posts, and don’t even address my legitimate criticism of your review.

    The reason we wear waterproof breathable fabrics is because they breathe. Otherwise we would wear rubber, and just get sweaty underneath.

    This jacket has a breathability rating of 15k- which is typical of jackets under $100 or under 10oz. I think giving something that is obsolete (compared to competing products on the market, like GoreTex/Sitka and Toray/Kuiu) five stars is irresponsible.

    TL;Dr this jacket is overpriced, nowhere near as good as Sitka or Kuiu, and JWT is an insecure shill who doesn’t properly disclose his financial interests in the products he reviews!

    • Look, I don’t want to scare you away, because your attention makes me money.
      But you are not very bright and you seem to get your feelings hurt very easily. This is the internet. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.
      Your criticism is childish. Childish as in simple and poorly thought out.
      The link I posted has some really good information, and was a third party source that should have shown you that this breathability rating is completely appropriate for the task. It also makes clear that there’s a trade-off between breathability, waterproofing, durability, windproofing and cost. It doesn’t mention being quiet, but obviously to the hunter that’s pretty important too. This jacket finds a great balance there. Are there other jackets by other companies that also find that balance? Maybe. And if there are, I would rate them with high marks too.
      I’m not moderating your posts. That goes against my own financial interests. Posting under several names on all my articles makes it look like I have more engagement with readers than I really do. It’s not more IPs, but it helps, because manufacturers and retailers don’t pay me, TTAG does.

  7. Haters gonna hate, unless the detractors can show differently, their absolutist statements that “it will get you cold and clammy” have no credible impact.

    Get the jacket yourself and try it. Back to back with your favorite, in the field, give us your impressions, and then move on. But, no, it’s all a series of sliding and obnoxious venting using the Rules of Gentlemen on the Internet.

    Look that one up folks, it’s illuminating and hair raising how quickly you can spot them.

    I tend to give things which guarantee “proof” performance the squint eye, Goretex didn’t do that well in military goods with limited durability and that is my extensive experience inthe field. I avoided North Face for a long time, picked up one at a DAVE for $15 and they aren’t all that. Now I see they hacked Wikipedia photos to insert people wearing their goods. If a jacket is so good you have to flaunt ownership with embroidery on the back, so much for them.

    I suspect these are paid “influencers” who just click to make a buck trash talking a blogger. That is worse than the “10 Best of 202X” columns that clog the internet with out of stock Amazon product listings made in Chyna. By forced slave labor. They all have the same stilted style of boilerplate talk promoting the superlative quality of their goods, read the reviews and no, not so much. Spotty quality over the years and plenty of cautions about how they screw things up.

    Haters, list your favorite product that does better, if it stands the test of time ok. But trash talk and Oh Yeah! commentary only shows the ground you stand on, and it’s sinking sand.

  8. Having grown up in South Texas and toured South Africa extensively I was excited to see that someone drew the same conclusion: that these two areas are credibly alike in both topography, cover, and ground texture. It’s no wonder that this camo would work well in both areas. I was both shocked – and right at home – on my first safari in Kwa-Zulu Natal to have traveled 7000 miles to seemingly arrive back in deer-rich Mason County, TX.

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