Decathlon Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Decathlon Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 | Review

Benefitting from Decathlon’s incredibly affordable pricing, the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 is a warm, wind-resistant and fully-featured layer for mountain adventures.

Since its inception in 1976, the Decathlon brand has grown into a global phenomenon, operating in 70 countries, employing almost 105,000 people and achieving a turnover of 15.4 billion Euros in 2022. That’s stratospheric stuff.

Last March, we were invited to visit two of the brand’s alpine design centres – the Mountain Store in Passy and the Simond centre in Chamonix – to find out more about the secret to the French company’s success. At the foot of mighty Mont Blanc, we heard about Decathlon’s eco innovations, design processes, collaborations with athletes, rigorous gear testing in the Alps, and how the company’s motto is “to move people through the wonders of sport”.

But, on top of all of this, it was obvious that affordability is a huge part of Decathlon’s success. Due to its unique position as both a retailer (it has about 1,750 stores worldwide) and a product designer/manufacturer, as well as a global brand with amazing cost efficiencies, it can offer its extensive ranges to consumers at incredible prices. In the outdoor sector that’s a godsend, as it can so often feel like you need to re-mortgage the house to kit yourself out. But not so with Decathlon – its products are always sensibly-priced, offering big savings to hikers, runners and campers alike.

Decathlon’s Forclaz range, in particular, is difficult to beat when it comes to value for money – it offers solid-performing (but not spectacular) products at remarkably affordable prices.  And, at just £54.99, the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 is a good case in point. It’s warm, wind-resistant and well-designed, with loads of features. Naturally it’s not as premium-quality, lightweight or high-tech as more expensive softshells, but it certainly still punches above its price point.

Fabrics & Stretch

This windbreaker is made from a relatively thick, hefty and tightly-woven soft shell material, which is 95% polyester and 5% elastane. It feels sturdy and tough, and should last a long time. The outer of the fabric is instantly recognisable as a classic or traditional softshell material, with high levels of protection and weather-resistance. Yet the inner is slightly softer with a smooth, fleece-like material delivering a cosy and warm sensation next-to-the-skin. This fleece is described as “brushed” by Decathlon, which means the fabric is loosened to created a nap (raised surface) with a soft, plush feel.

Related: Best Softshell Jackets For 2024

With a 5% elastane content, you also get lots of stretch and flex with the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500. This enhances comfort levels and ensures the jacket moves well with the body.

Slightly different fabrics are used throughout the jacket to ensure the correct balance of weight, robustness, stretch and breathability are delivered to the right parts of the body. The main fabric is 95% polyester and 5% elastane. Both the outer fabric and the hem are 93% polyester and 7% elastane, while the pockets are 100% polyester and the super-stretchy wrist cuffs are 80% polyamide and 20% elastane.

The construction technique in this jacket is a 3-layer assembly, featuring a breathable and windproof micro-porous membrane sandwiched between the water-repellent outer and the fleecy inner face.

Wind-Resistance & Water-Resistance

Decathlon states you will “stay warm and well-protected when trekking the mountains in this stylish yet practical men’s softshell windproof jacket, [which is] made to be breathable when trekking yet keep the wind out.” Or, in other words, this jacket does everything you’d expect from a softshell – it can cope with a light shower, will cut out the effects of a blustery wind and will deliver good levels of all-round protection from the elements.

It’s finished with a 100% polyurethane coating, ensuring it can cope well with light precipitation. Although, as with all softshells, we certainly wouldn’t wear it as an outer-layer in more persistent, heavier rain, when a hard shell jacket should be thrown over it.

Decathlon is transparent and detailed on this issue. It specifically states the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 will protect you from “a short downpour (about 30 minutes) of light rain or snow”, but for anything longer a hard shell waterproof jacket should be worn. It also describes the jacket as water-resistant, not waterproof, explaining that it can “make water run off its surface without absorbing it”, but the water-repellency properties “may deteriorate with use”. Decathlon says “the water-repellent property can be reactivated by putting the jacket in the tumble dryer for 10 minutes on low heat”, or by using a re-proofing cleaning product such as Nikwax.

The wind-resistance of the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT5 is pretty good, cutting out the worst of a wind’s chilling effect. This comes courtesy of the built-in windproof membrane, which helps to keep your core warm and is “extremely effective at reducing heat loss by creating a barrier against the wind”, as Decathlon puts it.

Fit, Comfort & Weight

The Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 fits true to size. It has a slighty athletic and sporty cut, and definitely isn’t baggy or overly roomy. It moves pretty well with the body and comfort levels are pretty high. On our scales, it weighs in at 550g for a men’s small. That’s slightly on the heavier end of the spectrum for a softshell, but it’s certainly not excessive. For comparison, the ultra-modern and high-tech Rab Vapour-Rise Summit (323g) and Mountain Equipment Aerotherm Jacket (279g) are far lighter, but the Keela Hydron (527g) and Alpkit Resolute (535g) are a comparable weight.

Ultralight hikers may find the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 a tad stiff, thick and boxy, as well as too heavy. But, for many, it will strike a nice balance between lightness, comfort, durability and weather protection.

Features: Pockets, Hood & Ventilation

For the price, the Forclaz Windbreaker Softshell Jacket MT500 is fully-featured. You get super-stretchy, wrist cuffs with integrated thumb loops (although you don’t get Velcro strips for tightening the fit around the wrist). The waist hem is adjustable – you can cinch it in via two drawcord toggles, one on each side.

In terms of pockets, you get two zippered handwarmer pockets, a zippered pocket on the left chest, and an internal zippered pocket for valuables on the left chest. All of the pockets are mesh-lined.

The central zipper works absolutely fine. It has an internal stormflap to help seal out the cold and wind, as well as a “zipper garage” at the top. It is not a two-way zip, however, so you can’t unzip from the bottom and leave the jacket half-flapping open for added ventilation on warmer days. However this is less necessary because the jacket has two integrated air vents, one of each side of the torso. These help you to dump heat when required. It works ok, although it would be fair to say that this softshell isn’t the most breathable. It is quite warm and hefty, and therefore it is quite easy to overheat in this jacket.

You also get a well-fitting hood, with a slightly stiffened peak. But the hood isn’t adjustable and, therefore, it either fits well or it doesn’t.

Who Is It For?

This jacket is suitable for hillwalkers, mountaineers, climbers and long-distance trekkers, who need a robust, weatherproof, versatile jacket for changeable weather and tough environments. It’s not the lightest or most high-tech option on the market, but in terms of value for money it is excellent.

Price: £54.99
Weight: 550g (men’s small)
Men’s sizes: S-XXXL
Women’s sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: Main fabric 95% polyester, 5% elastane

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