'The lightweight Croz 3L has the features you need for all-round mountain use, but weighs in at just 330 grammes making it eminently packable too'
Outdoors Magic: Quiet, stretchy fabric, decent breathability, big pockets and pit-zips, okay hood, sustainable credentials. Decently light and packable.
Outdoors Tragic: Pockets could be deeper, hood offers limited facial protection, not as durable as heavier jackets.
Outdoors Grabbit? If you're looking for a good mix of lightness and functionality, the Croz 3L does a good job. It's fully featured with a helmet hood, pit-zips and handy, harness-friendly pockets yet packs away neatly. We'd prefer more facial protection for really gnarly Scottish winter days and heavier jackets will be more durable, but overall it's a good compromise. Vaude's eco-credentials are a valuable added bonus.
Lightweight waterproof mountain jacket / 3-layer stretch Ceplex fabric / main water-resistant zip with storm-flap / two front pockets with water-resistant zips / adjustable hem and cuffs / attached, adjustable helmet-compatible hood / pit-zips
Full Review Below
VauDe Croz 3L Jacket - The Tech
At juts 330g for a medium, the Croz is one of the lightest full-on mountain jackets out there and quite a lot of that is down to the 3-layer - that's the 3L in the name - Ceplex waterproof fabric.
It uses a PU membrane sandwiched between a tough, but light Polyamide / Nylon on the outside and a super lightweight polyester on the inside. It's stretchy too.
Just as importantly, it's 100% PTFE-free and is produced according to VauDe's Green Shape programme with the use of sustainable fabrics and resource-conserving and fair manufacturing processes.
Otherwise the feature list is a pretty standard one, but the jacket does have an intriguing singe-pull adjustable hood where a single cord controls both the top tension and face-opening adjustment in one action. Interesting... no front cords.
VauDe Croz 3L Jacket - Performance
The Croz is an interesting mix of light weight, function and, we reckon, just about enough toughness for all-round, year-round use. The Ceplex 3-layer fabric is soft, light and with a little stretch to it to. It's also decently quiet when your hood's up and the wind's buffeting you.
'The caveat is that it's more of an 'alpine' than a 'Scottish winter' hood. The face is quite exposed above chin-level and from the side, which gives good peripheral vision, but poor side protection.'
The outer fabric is a Nylon or 'Polyamide' if you speak tech, for toughness, but an educated guess is that it won't be as durable under real abuse as a heavier fabric.
The pay-off for that is you can stuff it into your pack with less of a space and weight penalty making it an ideal shell on days when you're wearing, say, a softshell as your main protection.
That's not to say it's minimalist though. You get a longish, reasonably roomy cut, 'regular' says the spec, which allows for some added winter insulation. Also present and correct are two big, harness and pack-friendly chest come hand-pockets.
As with the women's version of the jacket, those pockets don't have much of a bag to them, so if you forget to zip them up, stuff can fall out. How careless are you feeling?
The fabric is reasonably breathable too. Not quite up with the top fabrics on the market, but competitive and, if you do start to overheat, handy pit-zips mean you can vent either the core or your arms.
Hoods You Win?
The other part compromise is the hood. It's an interesting single-pull design that fits surprisingly well, albeit a little tightly over the chin. Because one cord adjusts both the crown and face opening, it's hard to micro-adjust, but it actually works pretty well.
The caveat is that it's more of an alpine than a Scottish winter hood. The face is quite exposed above chin-level and from the side, which gives good peripheral vision, but poor side protection. It also has a wired peak, though not a particularly large one.
A balaclava or face mask should sort that out, but if you're after full face protection from your hood alone for UK conditions, you'll need to look elsewhere. It will take a helmet too, but again face protection stops at the chin and we found is also restricted head movement slightly.
Finally although the hood is easy to tighten with gloves on, releasing tension on the cord-grip with gloved hands was fiddly. None of this is a deal-breaker, but for British winter or regular helmet use, we'd want a more UK-friendly hood. Pit-zips and pockets work fine with gloves by the way, as do the hem adjusters.
VauDe Croz 3L Jacket - Verdict
A nice balance between lightness and packability and capable performance. The regular cut gives some welcome crotch protection and there's enough space to layer over insulation layers in winter conditions. The fabric's nice and quiet too, though we suspect it won't ultimately be as durable as heavier fabrics.
The single-pull hood is a neat idea and easy to use, but doesn't give quite as much facial protection as more UK-friendly jackets. It's also a little tight on the OM test chin, we'd suggest trying before buying if possible.
Finally the brand's strong eco-credentials mean you're doing your bit for sustainability if you choose VauDe.