Top critical review
Ok for mild weather. Not great at anything in particular.
on November 26, 2013
As soft shell jackets go, this one is very light and thin. That means good breathability, but little protection from the elements.
In heavy rain, this jacket leave you soaked to the bone within about 5 to 10 minutes. I had the displeasure of walking to a lecture in a downpour a while back. I was soaked when I arrived, which surprised me a little, because my last soft shell (a North Face Apex - thicker) did a great job with rain. No worries, I don't mind being wet. The problem was that I then froze in the air conditioning while my jacket cooled off next to me. When it was time to leave, I put on a cold wet jacket and was positively uncomfortable.
The breathability means it doesn't actually do the greatest job cutting the wind either. The thinner panels under the arms let a lot of cold air right through. Those panels were one of the reasons I talked myself into this jacket instead of insisting on pit zips as I had promised myself. I find them to be a compromise that isn't particularly great at fulfilling the function of weatherproofing or dumping heat.
Fit: I'm 6'2" and 180(ish) pounds. I ordered a large, and would have sent it back had I not been out of the country at the time. The nice thing is that the sleeves really are long enough and the fabric and cut stretchy and roomy enough to allow for full range of motion, which is rarely the case. That is what this jacket is named for and it fits. On me, the jacket is roomy enough in the torso for layers, but not really in the sleeves. I have a hooded zip fleece that I almost always wear with it. That and a short sleeve ice breaker shirt pretty much maxes it out. If I add in a long sleeve icebreaker shirt, I can stay warm, but the sleeves feel stuffed. My arms aren't exactly huge either, just long. Torso length is right for keeping everything covered while in 85% of bending and stretching.
My Apex was my everyday 3 1/2 season jacket in Seattle, and I loved it until I wore holes in the cuffs. I'm now a student on a budget, so I have to make this purchase last. When I give up and pick my next soft shell, I will go for something thicker, maybe even a hybrid hard shell, with pit zips and probably skip the hood. Maybe if you need a hood, you need a shell.