Woolrich Oakway Polartec Jacket
Price Paid: $29
As this Woolrich jacket is discontinued, I will mostly focus on the Polartec fabric and some general pros and cons to consider when buying a fleece jacket relative to this jacket's design.
The Polartec High Loft fabric in this fleece jacket is tightly woven and DWR treated on the outside, with slight 4-way stretch. The inside surface of the fleece is about 3/8-7/16" long furry fleece. The durable nylon patches on the shoulders and forearms are tough and also DWR treated. The nylon does not stretch, and is stitched over the fleece.
I do want to say that this jacket is well constructed, and I give a kudos to Woolrich for that. The durable, oversized YKK zipper is a 2-way design, and I have used it several times to release excess heat while trekking or backpacking in cold weather without unbuckling my sternum strap.
The dropped rear hem serves well underneath a pack for weather protection, but doesn't make for the most stylish looking cut (not a big deal for me, but that technical feature is more balanced toward function than form). The panels of nylon are perfectly placed to protect both me and the fleece fabric. The forearms have protected me well in some bushwacking, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking.
While Thermal Pro High Loft is not windproof, it does block wind better than my standard 200 weight Columbia fleece. The High Loft does insulate very well, but not as well in this jacket because of the cut. The cut is loose on this jacket, somewhat counter-intuitive to the technical features of the rest of the design. Looser lets more air circulate between the jacket material and my base or mid-layers, which requires more judicious use of the drawcord on the hem to keep updrafts out. The rubberized cuff linings keep things in place as much as possible, but on this jacket the cuffs are oversized.
A word of caution on fleeces equipped with nylon abrasion patches: if the nylon doesn't stretch and overlays the fleece (as on this jacket), the arms, unless they are gussetted at the elbows (this jacket isn't), will not move with you on reaching and the cuffs will ride up past your wrists.
The High Loft fleece wicks moisture fairly well also. The DWR finish is superb at beading water on the fine-pile woven face. It has held up well, thanks in part to always laundering with Atsko Sport Wash.
Overall I give the fleece material a 5 star rating for its warmth-to-weight ratio, finish, durability, wicking capabilities, wind-resistance, breathability, and DWR treatment.
I give the design of this jacket a 3. The cut is oversized in the gut and lower torso area, while being excessively tight in its shoulder areas, especially for a Large.
I am not a broad-shouldered man by any stretch, but this jacket's cut, along with the unstretchable nylon sections on the shoulders, keeps this piece in my closet if I'm doing any activities that require me to reach up overhead. I have managed to use muscle to stretch out the shoulder sections and facilitate more freedom of movement, but it is only a partial improvement.