I (Stella) do not balk at paying a higher price for good quality clothing and/or gear. However, when I first viewed this jacket at the local REI, I was a bit taken aback by the sticker price. To me, the jacket had looked like nothing more than a flimsy piece of fabric. On that particular day, I was on the lookout for a lightweight, wind-resistant and water-repellant hooded jacket for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. This is not classified as a “soft shell” jacket, but the material does not make any noise during wear (I get annoyed with noisy jackets). Once Larry had convinced me to try the jacket on, I was hooked. The jacket fit like a glove, literally.
I chose the extra-small size. The length of the sleeves are ideal for any type of glove that I may be wearing. (In the winter, I always have two different types in my Osprey Rev 6 Hydration Pack
), and when I am not wearing gloves, the sleeves do not fall over my hands – they stay in place on my wrists. The body of the jacket is slim-fitting, and conforms to my body so that it does not interfere with my activity. With that said, however, because it is a very slim fit, I am limited to what I can wear underneath it. My suggestion is to purchase one size up if you want more options for layering underneath it. If I get another one, I would purchase a small.
The best feature of this jacket is the design of the zippered neck and hood. The jacket zips all the way up to about the tip of my nose, which provides great wind protection for my neck and bottom half of my face. And because of the way the jacket zips, the hood actually stays on my head. The size of the hood is perfect, as it is small enough to stay on my head without a hat, and is large enough to accommodate a hat. But if the jacket is not fully zipped up all the way to the nose, then the hood does not stay on, which I think is part of the overall design concept.
Conditions at high altitudes are always variable, and can change rapidly. During our outdoor adventures, I have been exposed to extreme elements. And regardless if I am snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or hiking, this coat is ALWAYS with me. I am either wearing it, or it is stuffed in my Osprey Rev 6 Hydration Pack
. Because it is so thin and lightweight, it rolls up well and takes up very little space. And it fits well in the bungee straps on the outside of my pack (see picture below). And somehow, no matter how I smush this jacket, it never gets wrinkled! Below, I will describe how the jacket performs in the three elements that I am exposed to during outdoor activities:
- Snow: This jacket provides adequate water-repellant action, but may not be warm enough, depending upon the temperature and level of activity that one is partaking in. That is why I always have two jackets with me in the winter, and why I dress in layers.
- Rain: I will be very frank: this is NOT a raincoat. I have hiked in pouring rain with this jacket, and the rain soaked right through to my skin. And because I was wet, I was cold. However, this jacket will provide water repellant action when worn during a mild drizzle/sprinkle. When you’re done with your activity, simply shake the jacket to dispel the water droplets. This jacket has kept me dry during many damp excursions. I have also worn this kayaking in the fall.
- Wind: How this jacket performs in this element is a little more difficult, because it ultimately depends upon the overall temperature, and what I am wearing underneath the jacket. If I have adequate clothing underneath, this jacket will provide wind resistant action so that I do not get cold. But if the temps drop into the single digits, coupled with the wind, this jacket may not be enough (for me) to stay warm, even with proper clothing underneath. So, how this coat performs in the wind with keeping one warm is highly subjective and involves many variables.
This jacket is not tear-proof, yet I have scraped against many tree branches and boulders while snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking, and this jacket is still fully in tact. Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky, but I have put this jacket to the test and it has held up wonderfully. All of the zippers and seams are still fully intact, with not one single fray anywhere, which is quite remarkable considering how much use this coat gets. Additionally, there have been times when I’ve stuffed stuff big gloves and other large items into the pockets, and the material of the jacket always stretches to accommodate my needs. This jacket has not failed me!
I love this jacket. It has fulfilled every single purpose for which I had purchased it for. However, could I find another jacket to do the exact same thing, made by another equally comparable brand with a lower price tag? Probably. Would I buy another one? Depends upon my mood that day.
Overall: Great Purchase
Price paid: $125 (REI Sale Price). This jacket is no longer available; it was replaced with the Arc’teryx Squamish.
Place purchased: REI
Link to Arc’teryx website: Arc’teryx
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