'Light, bright, tough and sustainable mountain shell jacket with a sleek cut and a tough, stretchy fabric'
Outdoors Magic: Light, tough, stretchy fabric, huge pit-zips for venting, decent helmet-friendly hood and green credentials.
Outdoors Tragic: Disappointing pockets, sleek, slim fit didn't suit everyone.
Outdoors Grabbit? Sleekly cut from a tough-feeling, but lightweight eco-friendly fabric and with a very competent hood, the Croz is a cracking all-round lightweight mountain shell, however the pockets are insecure and wider hips are not welcome...
Women's-specific lightweight mountain jacket / 3-layer Ceplex membrane fabric / 2 front pockets with water resistant zips / water resistant 2-way front zip with back-flap / adjustable hem and cuffs / adjustable helmet hood / pit-zips / bluesign textiles
Full Review Below
Croz Jacket - The Tech
VauDe is one of the most eco-friendly outdoor brands around and has focussed on sustainable production and eco-friendly components. In the case of the Croz, that means the 3-layer Ceplex PU membrane-based fabric is not only tough with some useful stretch, it's also bluesign approved and 100% PTFE-free.
The face and liner are Polyamide (Nylon) so should be decently durable. And the water repellent treatment doesn't use fluoro-chemicals, which have been criticised by Greenpeace.
'The pockets would be a real deal-breaker for me' - Lynne
That's not all, the company's offices are run along sustainable lines and it's a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, which works to improve conditions in garment factories. VauDe's 'Green Shape' logo denotes products that meet its environmentally-friendly standards.
Otherwise, there's adjustability all round and water-resistant main-zip and pocket-zips. The latter are set high-ish to clear harnesses and waist-belts.
For more background on VauDe's sustainability culture, check out the video below.
Croz Jacket - Performance
There's lots of good stuff about the Croz. For starters, that fabric feels light and tough as well as being comfortable against the skin. Technically, in lab tests, it's not as outright waterproof as, say, Gore-Tex, but in real life use, we've had no issues with water repellency.
The huge, easy-to-open, pit-zip vents give plenty of additional cooling when needed, which is handy and generally the jacket has a nice balance of comfort, lightness and a nice protective feel.
The hood's decent too. It only has a single adjuster at the back, which doesn't always bode well, but in this case it not only swallowed a climbing helmet without a single metaphorical burp, it also adjusted nicely to sit on a bare head.
'Nice fabric! It's comfortable to wear, but still feels like it would be quite tough if you did, say, drag over rocks when climbing'
It has a wired peak for extra protection too and generally our testers all got on well with it. What they didn't like so much was the sleek cut. Three of the four women who used it, found that the jacket was tight over the hips and bum and, as a result, rode up irritatingly with use.
The fourth, Emmy, who wore the jacket for our photos, actually preferred it to the other shells precisely because it was cut more closely. One to try before buying we'd suggest.
The other issue we had was with the pockets. The openings are vertical and go right down to the bottom of the pocket bag. That means, with the zips open, stuff can fall out rather too easily. To be fair, you can compensate by not fully lowering the zip, but for at least one of our testers, it was a proper deal-breaker. They do, however, happily accommodate a map.
How important are pockets to you? It's very much personal preference, but if you're an inveterate squirreller of gloves, bars and other debris, the design is potentially irksome.
Croz Jacket - Verdict
There's a lot of good stuff going on with the Croz. It's light and small-packing enough to sling in your pack just in case. It'll do double duty as a lightweight mountaineering jacket and a packable, hill and mountain all-rounder.
And the fabric is a really nice blend of mildly stretchy toughness and lightness. Add in VauDe's impressive green credentials, and a reasonable price and it looks like a deal. Particularly when you consider that the hood works decently with and without a helmet, which isn't generally the case.
The only flies in the ointment are the slim cut, which doesn't work well for the curvier of hip - and we're not talking fat here, just curvy - and those insecure pockets. That aside, if it fits you, the Croz is a cracking lightweight mountain jacket.