Opinionated World


Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket – A Thermostat For The Body

It’s nearly T-Shirt weather! Summer is just around the corner and we’ve been gradually transitioning from our thick winter jackets to light rainproofs and hopefully within a few weeks we should ditching them all together. T-Shirts and shirts will become our top layers and fleeces our main point of warmth as the sun sets.

With that in mind, let’s review one of the many available fleeces that’ll keep you warm when you most need it this summer – the Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket.

If we were to think about the best properties for a decent fleece, what would they be? I’d go for a well fitted, lightweight, flexible top that not only keeps the heat out but keeps it in when things get chilly. The Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket caters to all of those, coming in at just 250 grams while combining their NANUK Athletic Q.M.C technology. That technology is designed to very quickly direct moisture away from the body, leaving the fleece drier and the person wearing it, warmer.

The Performance Jacket comes in four colours – Classic Blue, Parrot Green, Black and Dark Steel. Aside from the almost fluorescent Parrot Green, all seem quite appealing and I found the blue version I was sent went pretty nicely with casual clothes too. The jacket fits really nicely, taking cues from the other models in the range. It comes up at a nice, waist length and the arms are cut nicely for an athletic fit. Around the bottom is a flexible hem courtesy of two toggle adjusters, though I found no use for these due to the already snug design. The toggle is neatly sewn into the hem and there’s enough room for you to tuck any loose elastic post adjustment back underneath itself and hide it completely from view.

Well fitted with slightly longer sleeves.

Well fitted with slightly longer sleeves.

Two fairly spacious zipped pockets adorn the bottom half of the jacket and are bordered by the accent colour of the jacket. Inside is a soft, polyester interior that’s sewn onto the jacket itself, making loose items not quite so prone to flying around when you’re moving quickly. All three zip pullers are identical to those used on both the Impulse and the Composite Action jackets – a soft touch plastic with an embossed paw print attached to a medium thickness string and the pull tab itself. The zip components feel of a nice quality, using a metal bottom stop and insertion pin along with a nylon teeth.

The sleeves are cut to the base of your hand and are longer than most. I usually like to have my watch exposed so I can keep up with distances and easily use the compass but the sleeve covers it. When I’m moving and it’s warm, I usually roll the sleeves up and when it’s cold and wet, an outer layer covers the watch anyway so I didn’t find this too much of an issue.

The Performance Jacket keeps you cool when it's hot and warm when it's cool.

The Performance Jacket keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cool.

After using the jacket in both warm and cold, windy conditions it’s safe to say it lives up to expectations. Despite the ultra thin material, I was warm despite a chilling breeze and under warm sun, I never felt too hot. The inside of the jacket stayed dry and didn’t seem to absorb any sweat like a couple of fleeces I’ve tried.

Let’s talk about the price because it could be one that turns you away if you’re in the market for a well-priced fleece. Offerings from Craghoppers come in at £30 in their standard range or £35 for the Bear Grylls models, while Salomon are selling something similar at £45. The North Face have a comparable product at £50. The Performance Jacket from Jack Wolfskin retails at £60, which is…more.

A good fit means you don't get stuck on things!

A good fit means you don’t get stuck on things!

Hide the hem adjusted elastic from view.

Hide the hem adjusted elastic from view.

It’s another one of those cases where you get what you pay for and while I think the Jack Wolfskin model is slightly over-priced in comparison to other top brands like the North Face, I do feel the quality is substantially better than models which are half the price. Quality should extend throughout a product, not just in the area that’s instantly visible. It’s like buying a sandwich oozing with filling, only to find it’s been pushed to the inside to make me buy it.

In line with my view on this, Jack Wolfskin take as much care on the inside as they do on the outside. Pockets are stitched nicely and the inside isn’t just the back of the main material used. It’s fully finished, like you’d expect from a premium product. You certainly won’t find loose threads, even where they could be hidden away. Compare that to the £30 jacket I’ve used as an example. The interior is the un-finished back side of polyester. Pockets are sewn with an untidy finish and they’re not stitched to the jacket itself either – merely held ‘in place’ with an extra tab of material.

Inside of the Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket

Inside of the Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket

The Craghoppers Mission Fleece. Threads and 'bits' everywhere.

The Craghoppers Mission Fleece. Threads and ‘bits’ everywhere.

That is the difference between alright and great. It’s also the difference between £30 and £60.

So if you’re in the market for a high quality, well fitting, performance fleece that’ll keep you cool when the sun’s out and warm when it sets, you should definitely consider the Jack Wolfskin Performance Jacket. Just not in lurid green.

This fleece was kindly supplied by Black Leaf. They’re selling this model at £58 at the moment and you can head over there if you’d like to purchase it.

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