Softshell doesn’t seem to be a sticking point or a controversial subject these days, I think that’s largely due to the better fabrics the jackets are been sewn or welded out of. The fit and technicality are as specialist as you’d ever need in the top end stuff, so when TNF said test it as I was trying a Kishtwar sample on for size, I just thought “winter mountain jacket” rather than Oh, softshell… This is a good approach I think.
Talking of fabric, what we have here is Polartec Powershield Pro, and I already know this a million miles away from the rubble sack plastic membranes in windproof fleeces of old, having used it last winter. This variety feels tough, the outer face has a texture that for some reason is exactly what I’d imagine a shark to feel like. I realise that’s absolutely no help at all, but think of a smoothly upholstered killing machine and you’re on your way.
There’s a nice bit of stretch in there too, the cut is great for mobility (it’s a Summit Series piece) so the stretch isn’t covering up for lack of ergonomics, it’s allowing a closer fit and this makes a size medium a perfect slim fit over a base layer on me.
The inner face is a nice velour affair, and as I’ve discovered this does hoover up any moisture you produce. and with the mesh-lined chest pockets opened as vents it’s pretty usable in warmer weather.
But it’s home is winter, it does feel heavy duty, both with the fabric and the spec. The hood is badass, adjustable at the front and rear, close fitting and has a great shaped peak. It’s laminated, not wired so it’ll layer under a shell okay. There’s a huge wind baffle behind the front zip, those chest pockets are huge too and have the hem drawcord ends inside for sneaky adjustment and no dangling ends outside. There’s a single napoleon pocket too for wee bits and pieces.
There’s some lovely detailing, the inside is very well finished, the seams are flat despite the thickness of the doubled fabric, and capped with stretch tape where they’ll get the most abrasion (the front zip) or be most annoying (at the neck). The chin area is lined with microfleece, and with those nice green zips even the grey colour appeals to me.
I like the look of this so far, it’s been repelling light rain and been very user friendly. I’ll need to get it on some proper mountains days to be sure though.