'French chic meets massive venting side-zips as Salomon turns its hand to a neatly made and well-cut waterproof walking shell'
Outdoors Magic: Nice fabric, sleek fit and construction, massive core-vents and a competent hood.
Outdoors Tragic: Vent-zips would be better if they were double-ended.
Outdoors Grabbit? Slick continental chic cut, a decent hood and a pleasant-feeling stretchy fabric topped off with massive side-vents for effective cooling. It could maybe be a touch lighter, but overall it's a nice, sleek, waterproof hiking shell with added pizazz.
Lightweight, packable waterproof jacket / Advanced Skin Dry Stretch 2.5 Layer fabric / adjustable hood, cuffs and hem / side core-vents / Motion Fit cut / lightweight water-resistant zips
Full Review Below
Stretch Nebula Jacket - The Tech
Three things stand out about the Stretch Nebula. First, the fabric. It's what Salomon calls Advanced Skin Dry Stretch 2.5 Layer and it uses an internal charcoal print to protect the internal waterproof membrane.
There's a fair bit of stretch to the fabric and unlike some 2.5 layer materials, it feels reasonably dry and pleasant against the skin. Which brings us to the second feature...
... massive venting side-zips. They run from the hem, where things are secured with a press-stud, though you can open things right up for a medieval tabard sort of look if you choose, and run right up to the arm-pits. Lots of venting potential.
Finally, initially we thought the zippers weren't water resistant, but a closer look reveals that the teeth themselves have some sort of urethane-type interlocking finish, so they do appear to seal quite well. The main one has a conventional storm-flap back-up for good measure. Neat.
Otherwise stuff is pretty much standard issue: two-way adjustable hood, draw-corded hem and adjustable cuffs with Velcro-type tabs doing the business.
Stretch Nebula Jacket - Performance
Salomon's reputation is founded on footwear and trail-running kit in the UK at least, but the Stretch Nebula is more of a 'light hiking' or maybe 'fast hiking' sort of shell.
It's decently light at 320g for a medium. Packs small enough not to be a burden. And uses a pleasant-feeling, 2.5-layer fabric with a bit of built-in stretch. Some 2.5-layer stuff feels a little cold and slippy against the skin, but the Salomon take is pretty good even over a tee.
'Long enough not to feel like you're wearing the jacket equivalent of a mini-skirt.'
What we did like instantly was the sleek cut. It's trim and 'athletic' with just enough space for a lightweight mid-layer jacket underneath and long enough not to feel like you're wearing the jacket equivalent of a mini-skirt.
The fabric works and wicks okay, but the Nebula's ace in the hole are the serious side-vents that stretch from the hem right up to the arm-pit and properly open up your sides to great gobs of cooling air. They're also storm-flapped an unobtrusive when not in use.
Not So Clever
Not so clever is that the vents only open from the bottom upwards which means they sit under a pack belt, making them hard to adjust without partially removing a pack. And because the zip isn't double-ended, you can't open the vents downwards, which would work better with a pack and be more versatile all round.
Everything else works well enough. The hood doesn't give a lot of side facial protection, but the trade-off is good peripheral vision and it moves with your head. The hem gets a half cord so you can tighten up the drop-tail.
And the cuffs are classic hook and loop 'Velcro' closures. We could just about expose our forearms for cooling as well.
Finally, there are two big hand-pockets which will happily accept a map. No chest pocket inside or outside, which left us looking for somewhere to stow a phone conveniently. Your mileage may, as ever, vary, but it's an addition we'd make in an ideal world.
Stretch Nebula Jacket - Verdict
A nicely-cut, reasonably light jacket using a pleasant 2.5-layer fabric, the Stretch Nebula did a decent job of keeping us dry and comfortable in UK spring and summer conditions and the venting option means it works well if you run hot.
It wasn't all perfect though, the massive side-vents are very effective when open and make for rapid cooling, but the zip-pulls sit under a pack-belt. where it's hard to reach. A double-ended zip would make the vents more versatile and easier to use on the fly.
And the hood, while it fits well, doesn't give much facial protection in side-winds, not so much of an issue in warmer conditions, but possibly a problem once things get colder.
Overall it's a nice jacket at a reasonable price, but a few minor tweaks would make it better still.