The 2012 version of adidas’s Terrex GTX Active Shell Jacket is, as you’ve probably guessed, a lightweight, waterproof alpine shell made from Gore’s new Gore-Tex Active Shell fabric. We’ve seen the basic jacket before – we had a brief visit from a 2011 version in a large size – but this is the first one we’ve had that’s wearable for us.
From what we can see, the main difference is that the newer, 2012 manifestation, loses the subtly colour-keyed three stripes on the torso, but the rest of it stays the same with the signature stripes – still colour coded – moving to the outsides of the arms.
Active Shell’s our favourite Gore fabric so far. It’s light and, thanks to a different manufacturing process using less glue, impressively breathable in real life use. Gore has designed it to be used for lightweight, minimal fast-moving activities like running and biking, but also for light mountain jackets like this one.
The other key to Active Shell’s breathability is that manufacturers are only allowed minimal areas of double fabric, so, for example, the jacket’s twin pockets are mesh lined rather than using waterproof fabric for the inner.
Performance So Far
Adidas may not have the apparent heritage of more traditional outdoor brands, but the company has brought in specialist outdoor designers to work on their outdoor range and it shows. The detailing and design of the jacket are both very neat.
Cut is just about right for us to layer a fleece underneath for colder conditions and a mid-length. Sleeves are long enough too and the Formotion cut means they don’t pull up when reaching out or up. You can roll them up too for extra venting if necessary, though generally we’ve found Active Shell very breathable.
One detail we’ll be keeping an eye on is the non-adjustable elasticated hem. It’s just about right on the perfectly medium OM test body, but those with disproportionately large or slim hips may not fit it and we’re also wondering if it’ll stay in place, rather than riding up, in extended use.
The other really big plus of the Terrex, is the helmet-swallowing, wired peak, fully adjustable hood. It’s a new school helmet hood, rather like the Berghaus Raptor or ME’s latest version, which means it’ll happily swallow even tall helmets without compromising movement of the head or facial protection – if you need to hunker down in a climbing lid, this is just the sort of hood you need. And it fits fine without a helmet too with the stealth adjusters taking up the slack effectively.
There are two pockets, both mesh lined which, like the storm-flapped main-zip use water-resistant zippers. These can leak slightly with flexing in really damp conditions, but 99% of the time it’s not a problem, so we wouldn’t write the jacket off because of that and, again, it gives you a further venting option. They sit neatly above pack-belt and harness level too.
At 340g for a medium, it’s light for a full-on alpine jacket too, right in the ball-park for Active Shell. That does mean you need to be realistic about how much abuse it’ll take – it’s not going to swallow heavy pack use and rock abrasion like a full-on workhorse Pro Shell mountain jacket, but that’s the price for its lightness and improved breathability.
If you do want something tougher, Arc’teryx has a hybrid Active Shell / Pro Shell jacket out this spring, but it won’t be cheap.
The latest adidas outdoor kit has generally impressed us and the Terrex Active Shell is up there with other top brands. It’s nicely cut and thoughtfully designed, the hood is excellent if you intend to use it with a helmet and the fabric does the usual impressive light and breathable Active Shell gig. A promising start and we’re looking forward to seeing how it performs longer term.