Posts Tagged jackets
This men’s Thermostatic Jacket from Mountain Hardwear has come with me on a few cool place trips lately and I haven’t had to worry about how much space it was taking up in my suitcase. On the other end, however, after an hour or two on a hanger or back of a chair it looked just like it did when I took it out of the closet at home.
This is one of those winter jackets that works for a wide range of temperatures. It doesn’t make you burn up if you put it on when the night is just a little chilly. When the temperature really drops, however, the Thermostatic jacket’s Thermal Q insulation really shows its stuff and with another layer underneath, could take you down to freezing just fine.
This is not a down jacket and there are lots of advantages to that. I got caught in two rainstorms while wearing this coat on trips and not only did none of that moisture make it to my clothing underneath, but after two hours in my hotel room it was completely dry again. Furthermore, I know I’ll never have to worry about those feathers poking out after I wash it.
The main advantage of synthetic insulation is the smash-up factor. I’ve subjected this Mountain Hardwear jacket to some serious abuse in my suitcase and it compresses and puffs back up no problem. In theory it stuffs down into its own pocket, but it doesn’t do that as well as several others I’ve tried, which is mostly a matter of having a one-sided zipper instead of a two-sided one. It’s kind of awkward to get closed, so I usually just jam in into my suitcase wherever it will fit.
One key thing sets this model apart for me though: it looks good on. It’s trim-fitting and has dual hem draw cords to pull it in tighter in the wind or snow. The elastic cuffs work well without being too tight and this insulated jacket is super-light: barely over half a pound. “Wispy but warm” is a good description. I also like having two pockets to stick my hands in.
With six colors to choose from, you can get as subdued (black) or as bright (yellow) as you’d like. Get the Thermostatic Jacket for $200 direct from Mountain Hardwear (where there is also a women’s version) or check prices at Backcountry.com
If you’re not familiar with Sherpa Adventure Gear, the brand has a nice story behind it: founded by Tashi Sherpa in Nepal, purchases help support the education of Sherpa children. The company donates $.50 for every product sold to the Paldorje Education Fund, which then grants scholarships to deserving students. Plus, purchases help support the families of Sherpa guides through a royalty on sales.
This is awesome, but you’ll want to buy their products regardless; their clothing includes the features I look for most in travel wear: versatility, comfort, and rugged construction.
The Naulo pant is tough enough to withstand a full day on the trail, hiking or scrambling, but lightweight enough pack down small in your bag and comfortable enough for a long plane or car ride. They’re true four-season pants: they breathe in summer and yet protect enough for winter excursions in mild climates. They’re not waterproof, but very water resistant, which makes them a great pick not only for wet days but for travel use (i.e., spills will wick right off). The waist is fitted with a comfortable snap and zippered fly closure, with a soft fleece panel lining at the waist. The 4% spandex helps with the comfort factor. Four flat zippered pockets are convenient (you get two at the top and two mid-thigh). The pants look much more fitted and sleek than standard trekking pants, with the same wicking and range-of-movement benefits. On a strenuous hike in the Canadian Rockies, my Naulo pants took a beating with mud and snow, then were packed away in dirty laundry for four more days. Upon arrival back home (and into the washing machine), they washed out perfectly. Of course, you can play it safe by treating them with Nikwax, my favorite stain block for outdoorsy travelers.
The inseam for the regular is fairly short, and the pant comes in sizes 2-16. They’re $124 on Sherpa or as low as $89 at Idaho Mountain Touring, and you’ll be able to wear them for every aspect of your trip, from dinner out to the day on the trail. Pick between black and tan.
The Langtang jacket is an indulgence you’re not likely to regret. The softest zip-up, lightweight jacket I’ve ever owned, the Langtang is made of high pile polyester fleece, and so soft you’ll think you’re wearing some sort of fur. For an extra treat, wear in the spring or fall with only a t-shirt underneath to feel the material against your skin all day. The design is simple, with two front zippered pockets and a front full-length zipper closure. You get a nice, subtle Sherpa emblem on the back, and no other exterior design. The Langtang comes in four rich colors, including a gorgeous coral in sizes XS-XL, and can be picked up for $90 at REI or on Sherpa.
See reviews of other travel clothing on Practical Travel Gear.
Here at Practical Travel Gear we’re big fans of jackets that pack down to nothing in transit. This Columbia Trail Drier Windbreaker is a great one to fit into a carry-on bag when traveling somewhere that is windy and cool, but not freezing cold.
For most trips this year, I’ve been traveling to places where the weather is a little iffy, with a good chance of wind and rain, but not cold enough to justify a real coat. So I’ve often been packing this Trail Drier jacket from Columbia. It served me well for the morning chill on a biking trip in Portugal and I just wore it to start my day while in Quito and the Cuenca region in Ecuador. In between, several other trips to cool places.
I’ve been very happy I brought this jacket along in each case, especially since it took up almost no room in my bag. I could stuff it, roll it, or cram it into my daypack and it still looked fine on the other end.
This is no slouch windbreaker though. It’s got Columbia’s Omni-Shield to keep water out and their Omni-Wick properties to wick the sweat off if you’re doing something strenuous. In my travels both technologies have worked quite well, keeping me dry in a drizzle and not getting clammy when I was climbing steep hills on a bicycle.
Otherwise, you get a chest pocket with a seam sealed zipper, two side pockets, and a hood. Not a lot of frills, but that’s not the point: this is a great jacket that covers the basics without adding hardly any weight or bulk to your packing list.
Since it came out in the spring, it’s already on sale too. You can get it in four colors at the Columbia Sportswear website for around $45, or check prices at Backcountry. Yes, there’s also a women’s version, which has all the same properties but is more shapely.
See reviews of other Columbia Sportswear travel gear.
We may be nearly out of jacket review season, but where I live and travel, rain coat season is pretty much all year round. When I first saw the new Kirkwall Rain Coat on the Helly Hansen website, I thought, “Oh, isn’t that cute?” And it is cute, but as it turns out, it’s also highly functional. In fact, speaking strictly of rain, it out-performs my much more expensive waterproof ski shells.
When you get your hands on the Kirkwall, you realize that its much thicker than it looks. It’s made of full stretch PU rain fabric, but unlike many rain coats, it’s fully lined. The lining is a polyester and mesh hybrid (we won’t call that the official term) that does a good job of helping the jacket breathe and move naturally with your body. My #1 complaint about rain jackets is how cloying they can feel: the lining of the Kirkwall ensures this won’t happen.
Other great features:
You get nice big snaps all the way up the front of the Kirkwall, which make it very easy to get on and off again. How much of a problem can that be, right? But when it’s raining, and you’re wearing gloves, and maybe balancing a bag or two, if not an umbrella, yeah, it’s useful. It’s also easy to pull the Kirkwall over a bulky sweater or multiple layers, because of the stretch fabric combined with the forgiving snaps.
This Helly Hansen jacket comes with a fully lined hood that delivers on coverage. It includes a brim, pull-cords to tighten the sides, and neck/chin coverage that goes all the way up to your nose. You get two snaps on the wrist cuffs, so you can adjust to fit (no rain is getting in that way) and two big front pockets (also with snap closure). The coat extends farther than most, the hem hitting mid-thigh, which means my pants stay relatively dry as well. And even though you get all this coverage, the coat isn’t bulky: a stylish belt/sash ties around the waist to give it some form. Of course, the belt is removable if it’s not your thing.
The Kirkwall packs down relatively small for a coat of its size, and can certainly perform double duty as a stylish city touring coat as well as a serious squall coat. I plan to take mine on both an Alaskan cruise for on-the-deck rainstorms and to a conference in Toronto, where I need to dress up no matter the weather.
Pick one up for a quite reasonable $110 at Helly Hansen, or try Amazon where some sell for as low as $94. The coat comes in size XS through 3XL, in five bright colors: night blue, eggshell, black, dark moss, or essential yellow. You can also find a wide selection online at Altrec or Moosejaw.
The Merrell Avalon is one good-looking jacket, and came to me at just the right time, the same week my favorite ‘dressy’ peacoat was officially declared lost at the dry cleaners. The Avalon–described as a parka–is not particularly lightweight, and it won’t pack down very small, but you’ll still want it with you when you travel. Why? It’s both elegant and functional. (And it doesn’t have to be dry cleaned.)
Constructed of a two-layer Opti Shell and insulated Opi-Warm interior, the Avalon has kept me equally warm in Canada in December and Oregon in autumn. (You’ll want to take it off indoors…it’s serious about keeping your warm.) The jacket is definitely both waterproof and breathable, with a brushed fabric look to the the outside that reminds me of classic tweed. This fabric is not only pretty; it repels moisture and keeps out the wind. The jacket has fully tapered waterproof seams and an interior waist elastic to help keep out the wind and wetness, and an interior mesh back panel to keep your temperature regulated while walking or city touring. (You also get pit zips to regular temps.)
Basically, the Avalon sports beauty and brawn. While it doesn’t have as many pockets as I’d typically like in a travel jacket, you will find two zippered hand-warmer pockets and an internal side pocket large enough for a phone or point-and-shoot camera. Plus, the front of the jacket zips all the way up to cover the chin if needed. Snap buttons further secure the zippered front, which not only help secure you against the cold, but look beautifully tailored as well.
One of my favorite features of the Avalon is the detachable hood. This full hood can be tightened both at the back and on the sides with hidden elastic pulls, and can be zipped on or off entirely. When it’s on, it is secured by zipper and hidden velcro tabs on each side. I take it off when I want to dress up the jacket for a night out, but even with the hood on, the Avalon is very streamlined. It looks great with slacks and dresses as well as more casual clothes.
This is definitely my go-to jacket when I need to get serious about warmth and looking good. Wear it on travel days to avoid trying to stuff it in a carry-on, however! Pick one up in a gorgeous basalt heather or bright adriatic herringbone at Merrell for $249, at Altrec, or look for it on Amazon for as low as $199.