Jack Wolfskin Exolight Pro Women's Waterproof Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Jack Wolfskin Exolight Pro Women’s Waterproof Jacket | Review

Nicola Hardy puts the Jack Wolfskin Exolight Pro Women’s hardshell jacket to the test in some torrential Cumbrian rain

Winter is here – and that means your ultra-light, wafer-thin, minimalist summer waterproof jacket just won’t cut it anymore. Take it out into the mountains at this time of year and it’ll be a recipe for disaster: you’ll end up like a drowned rat, soaked to the bone from the inevitable British torrential downpours. The solution? Invest in a thicker, heavier, sturdier winter-ready jacket with top-notch waterproofing stats.

The hydrostatic head rating of a jacket gives you an indication of how waterproof it really is. It’s measured in lab conditions by working out how tall a column of water placed on the fabric can be without water seeping through said fabric.

A 5m column translates to a 5,000mm hydrostatic head rating; a 20m column gives you a 20,000mm rating. The higher the column of water, the more waterproof the material is. Your cheap, lightweight summery jacket might only have a 1,500mm or 3,000mm rating – just showerproof, rather than truly waterproof.

But the Jack Wolfskin Exolight Pro jacket has a 30,000mm rating, which is really impressive. It’ll keep you dry in even the gnarliest of storms, thanks to the premium materials used and high-end build. Designed in collaboration with the Alpine School Innsbruck (experts in wet, snowy and cold conditions in the Austrian Alps), Jack Wolfskin claim the jacket is perfectly suited for “long, hard days in the mountains”, whether you’re trekking, mountaineering or skiing.

So… can it live up to this billing?

Comfort

I found the Jack Wolfskin Exolight Pro more than adequate in terms of comfort. It is heavier and slightly more rigid and cumbersome than an ultralight jacket (and hence not as comfy), but that’s to be expected for a higher-grade of waterproofing. In fact, I found the jacket surprisingly supple and flexible for the superb level of waterproofing, and it fitted snugly and moved well with my body.

For me it fitted true to size. I’m usually a women’s small and the small hit the spot for my body size, with just enough room for some layering and a lightweight insulated jacket underneath (although I did find the arms slightly longer than in other jackets). Features that helped to improve the comfort included: the Velcro wrist straps, which enabled me to adequately tighten the jacket’s cuff for my preferred comfort; and the highly adjustable hood, which I could tighten and loosen easily for tailored comfort and shelter around my face.

Design Features

At £350, the Exolight Pro Jacket is at the very top-end of Jack Wolfskin’s offerings – and it consequently comes with the hefty price-tag. The Mount Emin Jacket, another hardshell waterproof – this time with a lesser 20,000mm hydrostatic head rating – costs £200, for comparison, while the Mount Isa Jacket (10,000mm HH) is £130. Ultimately, with the Exolight Pro, you’re paying for the premium standard of waterproofing. If you’re a fair weather hiker, go for something lighter and cheaper. But if you’re out in all conditions, no matter how apocalyptic, then forking out a bit extra for that improved hydrostatic head rating and improved design features is probably worth it.

What are these premium design features then? Well, let’s start with the materials used: a 100% polyamide shell with a 100% polyester lining. The shell outer does not feature the near-ubiquitous Gore-Tex and instead features Jack Wolfskin’s own, in-house waterproof membrane, which they call Texapore O2+ Hyproof. This has been treated with an additional, high quality durable water resistant coating (known as ‘Super DWR’), which Jack Wolfskin claim “sheds water, prevents the outer fabric from becoming saturated, and keeps you dry for longer”.

In terms of additional weatherproofing features, the main water-resistant zip has a reassuringly solid storm flap, as well as press stud closure at the waist to securely block out the wind and rain. There’s a neat zip garage at your chin too, providing some additional protection (and stopping the zip flapping around wildly if it’s blowing a gale). Meanwhile the helmet-compatible hood features a stiffened, wire-brimmed peak, which is excellent at keeping rain off your face. It’s also adjustable in multiple directions, ensuring a snug fit tailored to your individual head shape.

The outer fabric is not only waterproof. It is also stretchy, with an athletic cut designed to enhance mobility and encourage freedom of movement. It’s also pretty breathable, with a decent 15,000g/m²/24hr rating. This aids climate control of your body, wicking away sweat as quickly as possible and ensuring you don’t massively overheat. Two large vents under each armpit aid with this, enabling you to significantly increase ventilation when required.

Other features include two large zipped hand pockets, which are (just) big enough to take a map, a zipped pocket on the left arm (ideal for your ski pass if you’re hitting the slopes) and an internal security pocket for your keys or wallet. All of the zips have excellent, sturdy toggles which are easy to use with gloves. The waist hem is adjustable too and there are reflective bands for improved visibility in the dark. Or, in other words, all of the features you’d expect and want are present.

Performance

Jack Wolfskin describe the Exolight Pro Jacket as “stretchy, extremely waterproof, windproof and very breathable” and the ideal jacket for alpine trekking and mountaineering. I certainly found it to be high-performing. The 30,000mm hydrostatic head rating – with that epic-sounding Super DWR coating – did its job admirably. It deflected rain effectively for me during my adventures in the Lake District, even during the some rather awe-inspiringly heavy downpours, and the beading of water droplets was excellent from the outset. I wasn’t massively impressed with the breathability (the 15,000g/m²/24hr rating is more mid-range that premium), but that’s because the jacket is relatively heavy and thick. You can’t have your cake and eat it, after all – and I always much prefer to stay dry. All of the other design features were impressive too. I loved the athletic fit, which I found surprisingly flexible and freeing for a winter-ready jacket, and the adjustable hood was excellent. I felt the number and layout of the pockets was ideal and I was impressed with zip toggles too. In conclusion, I have no complaints – it is clearly a professional standard, premium jacket with a feature-rich design and excellent waterproofing.

Verdict

The price-tag is a little eye-wateringly high, but so is the impressive 30,000mm hydrostatic head rating. This is an excellent, well-built, winter-ready waterproof that’ll robustly protect you from the rain, no matter how heavy it gets – and, perhaps, it’s worth splashing the cash to stay bone dry out on your adventures.

Specifications

Texapore O2+ hyproof stretch super outer with DWR finish / 30,000mm hydrostatic head rating / 15,000 g/m²/24hr breathability rating / Helmet-compatible hood with adjustable volume / Venting zips under the arms / Two raised hand pockets, sleeve pocket and inner pocket / Water resistant zips / Reflectors / Velcro wrist cuffs / Adjustable waist hem / 100% PFC free

Get the latest price at:
jack-wolfskin.com

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