Opinionated World

Clothing

Craghoppers Terrain Lite Shell Jacket – A Split Personality

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been putting the Craghoppers Terrain Lite Shell Jacket through its paces. It’s been thoroughly rained on, used on a number of long hikes and it also worked very well with everyday clothing. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

I’ve been putting all my notes together (in my head of course, writing them down would be far too organised!) and have been aiming them at a review stating that this jacket really isn’t very good. I’ve come across a couple of problems which I felt rendered this supposedly waterproof jacket, not as waterproof as it should be.

To summarise, I have both colourways of this jacket; Jet Blue and Black. The latter of which I’ve worn extensively and the former, not so much. The black model works fantastically well with casual dress and so, even putting hiking and adventures aside, it’s been worn a lot. The jacket is lightweight at 495 grams, it has two cavernous hand pockets and an OS map pocket inside. The hood fits brilliantly with the jacket done all the way up and it serves well half-way undone too.

AquaDry Membrane.

AquaDry Membrane.

The cuffs are adjustable with a velcro tab, which, while being a relatively cheap alternative to a harder, more ‘designed’ rubber adjuster, has simplicity on its side which means it performs well and actually stays in place a lot longer than its more expensive counterpart. Half of the cuff is stretchy and elasticated which I’m not really a fan of – I’d rather have a thinner, tapered sleeve; but for what it is, it works well.

The outer of the jacket is made from the ever popular AquaDry membrane which serves to keep you dry both from the rain and from your own sweat. Craghoppers say it’s “designed for moderate to heavy downpours without trapping uncomfortable body moisture”. Sometimes I found claims such as these, by any company, to not stand up in real world use and I’ve noticed myself getting just as warm wearing a high quality, expensive fabric than something cheap. I found that this did stack up with the Terrain Lite Shell Jacket and despite a couple of intense long hikes, I didn’t overheat.

The jacket fits very well – quite short in the body, as I like, but not saggy at the back. The arms are a little wider than I would like, but not to the point where I would complain of a poor fit. There’s no real excess here, which is a great thing – who likes baggy clothing? Sleeve length was spot on and movability was also fine.

Now for the crux.

On three separate occasions, wearing the black version of the jacket, it rained moderately hard. The outcome was something I certainly wasn’t expecting. The first thing I noticed was that the material ‘absorbed’ the rain. This is a tough one to describe because I never got wet, but the water didn’t run off either. Shaking your arms to repel any water had absolutely no effect at all and the jacket was wet to the touch and required a lot of drying out time once you were inside.

A minimalist jacket.

A minimalist jacket.

The second thing was actually the biggest problem; the hood leaks. Not immediately and not so you are soaking wet – in-fact, I never got more than a damp head. Rain got through the stitching on the peak of the hood and then absorbed into the mesh lining inside, gradually working its way backwards and also down the sides. The result of this was feeling the damp mesh against my face which isn’t an enormous problem, but the jacket is intended to be totally waterproof and this issue will only get worse the longer you’re out in the rain.

Finally, the bottom hem of the jacket seemed to get very wet. I believe this is because water didn’t simply run off, but instead clung to it. This meant that the inside mesh at the bottom of the jacket also began to get wet – although it did take significantly longer than with the hood.

The leaking hood.

The leaking hood.

Hood velcro adjuster.

Hood velcro adjuster.

Water beading off as it should.

Water beading off as it should.

However, it does appear Craghoppers have already noticed this problem and have rectified it. I wanted to conduct a controlled test (using a shower) with both the Jet Blue and Black versions. Was it just a one-off, or does the blue one leak too?

I ran water, imitating a heavy shower over the very top of the hood, the sides and all over the back of the jackets for just about three minutes. I also aimed directly where I believed the weak points to be. As expected, water did not bead off the black version and the mesh became wet very quickly inside the hood.

The good news for Craghoppers is that the blue version doesn’t leak but as I mentioned in the opening paragraph; there’s more to it than that.

The blue model I have, is identical in terms of features, cost and everything else at first glance – it’s the same jacket in a different colour. The difference however is that water immediately beads off this jacket, never allowing it to get wet – shaking it repels water instantly. It’s literally a world apart in terms of performance. The hood also never leaked and I think this is down to it being designed slightly differently (yes, this is the sole difference in construction). Instead of the hoods drawcord being stitched directly into the peak and through onto the outer surface – which is presumably the weak point – this has grey piping which is stitched directly into the inner mesh, giving water no way through. The only other difference I could find between colourways was the black using a ‘100% polyester and PU laminate’ outer, whereas the blue simply states ‘100% polyester’.

Old stitched and new piping.

Old stitched and new piping.

I am waiting to hear back from Craghoppers on this matter, but I’m pretty much certain that they recognised this problem and fixed it. Which means the black jacket I own is a pre-revision model, with the blue being post-revision. Indeed, the black jacket is no longer on sale on the Craghoppers website – it’s been replaced with ‘Olive Drab’. What makes me even more sure is the new Olive Drab version has the updated hood piping on the website. I assume they’re still using an old picture for the Jet Blue, since it’s shown without.

Old design and the revision.

Old design and the revision.

Water clinging and looking/feeling wet on with the black model and beading off with the blue.

Water clinging and looking/feeling wet on with the black model and beading off with the blue.

I felt it necessary to mention these problems, which should (with clarification from Craghoppers) put to bed any potentially negative reviews about the jacket. If I’d been wearing the blue version none-stop, I’d never have been aware of any problems and would’ve been raving about a fairly in-expensive jacket being very good.

In summary, I would still recommend this jacket based on the Jet Blue version performing as I would have expected. My advice to you is to check upon receiving your jacket for the piping in the hood; if it’s there, the jacket is good and if it’s not – send it back.

Update

We’ve heard back from Craghoppers who have investigated the situation and they have confirmed that the black jacket is an old model which was updated. Only the new versions are on sale now.

Hi Ste,
Our buying and design teams have been looking into your recent review regarding the two Terrain Lite Shell Jackets. The verdict is that the black version of Terrain Lite Shell Jacket , is an old style from a number of years ago, which has since been modified. The blue version of the Terrain jacket, which has also been reviewed, is the latest version in the range. Thank you for your feedback and please keep the reviews coming.


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