Kit review: Softshell walking jackets
The chances are you have heard of the term softshell. It’s usually used when referring to jackets. Softshell is also likely to offer windproof properties and if treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating it will be see off light rain. So when and where do walkers and cyclists wear softshell? As an outer jacket, softshell provides protection from the cold and wind. It is the ideal outer layer on cold but dry days, or when it’s chilly and a bit drizzly. When the rain comes, a softshell makes a useful mid-layer, worn beneath a waterproof outer-shell jacket. Softshell jackets are often smart enough to wear out in the evenings to the pub or for a meal if you are enjoying an outdoorsy break. So a softshell is a versatile and useful item, and one that many walkers and cyclists now pack in their walking or holiday cycling rucksack.
Softshell jackets for walkersThe two jackets I have reviewed are at almost at opposite ends of the budget bracket. The Berghaus Gore Windstopper Teton II jacket is £160 while the Keela softshell Zenita Pro Jacket is £64.95.
Review of Berghaus Gore Windstopper Teton III am a big fan of Gore fabrics. I highly rate their cycling jackets and I am impressed by the quality of the material used in the Teton II. This is a durable, weather repellent fabric that will stand the test of time. The women’s version is called the Berghaus Teton II jacket, while a similar lighter weight men’s jacket is the Cristallo Windstopper jacket. This is the kind of jacket I would wear on a windy but mostly dry walking day. It would work well on country trails or high altitude mountain passes. (It would also look good if you simply wore it to the pub after a day in the great outdoors). Berghaus have created the jacket for wearing as a robust outer layer on mostly dry days, although the Teton II does boast a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment, so it will be fine for drizzly days, too. The Teton II is also a good mid-layer jacket on wet days. I can fit my usual waterproof (Gore-Tex as it happens) over the top of the Teton for a snug but insulated and keep-the-rain-out system. The women’s Berghaus Teton II jacket has been designed with the female physique in mind and gives a flattering fit. These things matter to us women, who like to look sleek even when we’re walking mountains! The jacket also has articulated sleeves, stretchy cuffs with thumb loops and a drawcord hem so you have lots of freedom of movement and adjustment. The women’s colour choice is black or white (with pink detailing). I don’t think white is the most practical colour but if you are good at keeping things clean then it does look really smart. I prefer the black version. The jacket also has: * A fitted and adjustable hood * Soft fleecy lining * Soft-feel to the inside top of the zip so it doesn’t rub on your chin * Two hand-warmer pockets * Two additional zipped pockets * Two-way pit zips to let in the cool air when you need it. Both the Teton II and Cristallo are priced at £160, which does seem quite steep but this is a jacket that looks like it will last a great many years. See Berghaus store
Review of Keela Zenita Pro JacketThe Keela Zenita Pro jacket is in the same softshell department. It is aimed at the women’s walking market (there is a Keela Zenith Pro for men that offers similar features). Keela use “redeveloped AirXtream fabric with fleece backing” to create this lightweight, breathable and weather-resistant jacket.” As it says in the description, the Zenita Pro has curves in all the right places – and this is true. The design is flattering to the female physique and feels very comfortable to wear. The jacket is a great-fitting female product. The jacket comes in red or black. The red is very bright and would make a perfect winter hill or mountain jacket. I’d wear the black as a smart casual walking and going-to-the-pub jacket. Features include: * Water resistant * Windproof * Breathable thermal fleece lining * Zipped hip pockets The jacket is lightweight but still hard wearing and comes in at a brilliant RRP £69.95. I have seen it sold on-line at £55, which makes it very affordable. This is a versatile jacket and one that has been carefully designed. It’s a good score for the outdoors clothing company based in Scotland that uses Mountain Rescue Teams to test their products. See Keela
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