I am not one of these outdoorsy types who would classify themselves as a “kit junkie”. For many years before the outdoors became my living I was generally happy with some Quechua kit from “Decathlon” or whatever I could pick up on the bargain rail at TK Maxx, but now, as I spend more and more time outdoors, and often in increasingly difficult conditions, I appreciate the value of good, effective, hard wearing kit. So, when the team from www.e-outdoor.co.uk contacted me to say that they really liked the blog and would we be willing to test a bit of kit and do review for them? I was both flattered and enthusiastic.
I’d been after a softshell jacket for a while and so the North Face Hybrid Hoodie seemed the perfect choice and as I had a couple of Peak District days followed by a Lakeland day out I figured these would be great opportunities to put it through it’s paces. First impressions were positive, the jacket looks smart and the fit is roomy and comfortable which is an obvious advantage if you are wearing multiple layers. The day I wore it out in the Peak District ended up being warmer than anticipated and the breathability was soon put to the test and not found wanting. This is a very important feature for me as I warm up pretty quickly (probably my rugby player’s build) and have struggled in the past to find a truly breathable top. It definitely proved itself to work as a nice lightweight option and kept the breeze out. The cuffs are fitted and not adjustable but conversely not too tight and I think they’d prove more than adequate in the type of weather this jacket is designed to be worn in. There is a decent amount of stretch and give in the material and I found myself thinking it would be perfect for some Autumnal scrambling where there would be more reaching involved and flexibility would be more of a requirement.
The weather in the Lakes was a little bit wilder and certainly gave me ample opportunity to put the jacket through a more rigorous examination. This jacket is not a pure waterproof but certainly provided adequate protection from lighter drizzle even when it was driven by some fairly strong winds with the water beading nicely on the shell. The breathability again proved excellent and the hood came in useful on a very windy summit. The hood isn’t adjustable but fitted snugly and provided plenty of protection against strong winds. There are two pockets mid way above the waist band and whilst they are ample for small snacks, compass, whistle etc they were a little tight for a laminated OS map. The fabric is very quick drying both whilst out and about and when back in the car, by the time I got back the jacket was completely dry.
Overall I am very impressed with this jacket which strikes me as a genuinely good all rounder. There is plenty of versatility and I could see this being my “go-to” piece of outer wear for nine months of the year. Even in colder, wilder months the breathability would be useful in a layering system. I can see this top suiting climbers and scramblers as well as walkers and it would prove to be useful in colder weather camping as it definitely takes the edge of the wind and has very few cold spots. I am looking forward to taking it out again as conditions change over the Winter and will report back again!
I’ve quite enjoyed doing my first ever kit review! Who knows maybe they’ll make a “kit junkie” out of me yet…..watch this space. Big thanks to the guys at www.e-outdoors.co.uk for giving me this opportunity to test out a soon to be favourite bit of kit!