Patagonia Super Guide Jacket
I'm pretty sure this is the jacket that I have (it…
Price Paid: Sale
I'm pretty sure this is the jacket that I have (it doesn't say inside what it is) and I'm also pretty sure they no longer make it. But it is a very stretchy, non-insulated soft shell type of material.
However, I wasn't really familiar with this type of garment when I first purchased it, having only used pile/pertex type jackets. In hindsight I would say this: NEVER BUY A SOFT SHELL JACKET WITHOUT A HOOD. It will just drive you crazy when you top a mountain and the cold wind starts freezing the side of your face. It doesn't lose half a point for that however, as that is the buyer's responsibility, as is the need to ignore the sales pitch about a 'shell' not having a hood yet being functional in winter.
The good points are: it breathes well because Patagonia don't put membranes in their 'soft shell' line up of jackets; it is durable; it sheds precipitation well; it can be worn longer (in winter) than a simple pertex windproof on its own because it's warmer; being a stiff material, the pockets open and close one handed easily; it fits great (but see below); the collar draw cord is good.
The only downside (apart from not having a hood if you see it that way) is the lack of elastic or velcro opening in the sleeves so that you can vent your arms; it can get a bit clammy there but nothing as bad as a membrane would.
The jacket can feel a bit tight under the arms and across the chest, I find (once wearing a pack however, this problem disappears and the close fit comes into its own). I think that a close fitting soft shell with a hood makes sense with minimal pockets, perhaps a single large chest pocket, and no or very little insulation (sounds like the original micro-pile/pertex, doesn't it?). If more pockets are added and the cut is longer, it starts to function as a hard shell more and more, so the cut needs to allow a thin layer underneath. Therefore, this jacket falls somewhat in between two ideals, as I see it: lots of pockets but no hood and not long enough and narrow cuffs and so on.
Put a hood on it, open up the sleeves, leave only one or two technical pockets, give it more room in the torso and it may be the (above zero) soft shell to rule them all. For below zero, see the wonderful Winter Guide Jacket!
This is a very nice, basic soft shell jacket. It is…
Fabric: stretch-woven nylon/polyester with DWR water repellant
Price Paid: $90
This is a very nice, basic soft shell jacket.
It is un-insulated. It is made from a stretchy polyester fabric. It protects you well from winds. Yet, it breathes very well. It repels water very well, but is not 100% waterproof. The workmanship is excellent. It has a basic set of pockets, zips and pull adjustments, but nothing outlandish.
The fabric in this jacket is a slightly thicker, heavier (8.9 oz), stiffer, soft-shell fabric than some others. This makes it a bit more wind-proof and burly than, say, a jacket made from Schoeller Dryskin (a competing softshell fabric). But, it has no laminate barrier, so it is more breathable than a jacket made from, say, Schoeller WB-400, Powershield, or Gore Windstopper Softshell.
It is uninsulated. But I find it a bit warm for summer. I prefer it for Fall, Winter, Spring with varying amounts of insulation layers underneath for the temp of the day.
The cut of the jacket is just right so that I can wear medium weight fleece or a thin primaloft sweater under it for colder days, or thinner fleece or long underwear for warmer days.
The arms are articulated, and the whole jacket won't ride up if you reach up over your head (ice climbing, for example)...
It has no hood. But I don't miss that. It has two basic hand pockets and a third 'napoleon' vertical pocket on the left chest. It has pull tabs to adjust the waist and neck seals. It has standard velcro tabs to adjust the wrists. The inside of the neck area is designed so that the cold zipper doesn't hit your chin. Pretty basic really. Basic, but well-executed.
If these features meet your requirements, you can't go wrong with this jacket.
In winter of 2008/9 stores seem to be offering this jacket on sale. It may be being discontinued.