When one of the most respected British outdoor manufacturers decides to bring out a newly designed waterproof, insulated jacket you just have to give one a real test. What could be a more appropriate test than a three week trip that would take in the Canadian Rockies and the Alaskan gold rush towns.
Well, apart from the fact that the late season weather was a little different than expected it should have been the perfect condition to try it out.
We flew to Vancouver and then on to Calgary to collect a car for our drive through the rockies back to Vancouver. It was forest fire time and as soon as we cleared the airport the smell of woodsmoke was everywhere. Temperatures were through the ceiling. We drove to Banff where it was 30 degrees and sunny. Campfires were banned as the surrounding area was tinder dry.
After leaving Banff wedrove on to Jasper, Clearwater and Whistler with the weather staying hot and dry. We did not see rain until we drove to Horseshoe Bay and the ferry over to Vancouver Island for two days. Back to Vancouver for a few days and then onto a ship to Juneau in Alaska. Now the new Snugpak Tempest jacket would come into its own. Wrong. Alaska was at the top of a weather system that had brought warm, dry weather to the region. We sailed on to Glacier Bay where it was slightly cooler and then on to Skagway and the rode the railway up to the infamous White Pass. The weather remained pleasant!
Ketchican was my ace in the hole. It boasts a rainfall record that puts it on a list with the wettest places on the planet. No. I was wrong. We took a guided trip to the Misty Fjords and were told that we are seeing some of the geological features that are only seen every 20 years because normally the ‘Misty’ bit of the place name means you can’t see them. We had the best, driest weather they had seen for years. The insulation of the jacket got a good test as the wind chill over the water when our boat was flying along was very chilly.
Back in the UK and the jacket has been given a real test!
Unless you're a veteran adventurer who understands the technical terms and jargon used throughout the outdoor industry, then buying a new jacket can be a discouraging and often puzzling process. But Snugpak try their best to explain every stitch in their equipment - they do use technical terms, but they always explain why these things are used and why they’re effective.
So what is the Torrent Jacket?
To put it simply, the Torrent Jacket is built to battle everything nature has to throw at it - (but then you wouldn’t be reading this article if you wanted it to be put simply). We could go into detail about every single feature of what makes this Torrent one of the best jackets ever made, but we'll stick to the points that put this jacket above the rest. The Torrent Jacket’s main features are that it's waterproof, windproof, insulated and fully breathable.
What makes the Snugpak Torrent jacket fully waterproof? It’s down to arguably its best feature – the Torrent Jacket's 100% waterproof shell. The outer shell is made with exclusive Paratex Dry technical fabric which is waterproof, windproof, breathable and has a hydrostatic head - look here for more details - understanding-hydrostatic-head - of 10,000mm. To ensure not a single drop of liquid passes through the jacket's shell, Snugpak have combined this with taped seams throughout the whole of the waterproof jacket. This process consists of overlaying and then melting a unique tape material over every seam so that the seam is encased in the tape and is guaranteed to be impenetrable to any liquid. Snugpak have used specialised weatherproof YKK zips for the front and the pockets, to even keep everything in your pockets dry.
So if it’s 100% waterproof, how is it breathable?
This feature is something that can be overlooked when purchasing a new jacket but is actually one of the most important. The inner shell of the Torrent Jacket is made using Paratex Light technical fabric. While it is water repellent and windproof, it's also incredibly breathable - this fabric is capable of absorbing and releasing perspiration incredibly quickly away from the source and so allows the wearer's body to breathe. In extreme conditions when the wearer becomes exceptionally overheated, the Snugpak Torrent also has a pair of underarm ventilation zips to allow the build-up of warm air trapped in between the outer and inner shell to be released rapidly, cooling you down in seconds.
Won’t all the heat escape if it’s breathable? Will it keep me warm?
Very cleverly, the two types of materials used in the Torrent’s inner and outer shell work together to keep the wearer warm and yet still allow the body to breathe. This is because the inner Paratex Light wicks moisture away from the source and releases it towards the outer Paratex Dry shell. This outer shell then traps warm air within the jacket and allows the cold air to pass through. Because of this, the Torrent will easily keep you warm at temperatures down to -5°c. And if worn correctly with base layers, the Torrent will keep you warm in extreme conditions of -10°c. Moving on to the Torrent's next best feature: it's Softie Insulation. Made and developed in Switzerland, this insulation is exclusively used by Snugpak throughout their products and is at the leading edge of fibre insulation. Its brilliance lies in the super-fine randomised synthetic fibres which closely mimic the soft natural feel of down.
So what other features does it have?
The Torrent jacket also includes a fully adjustable and detachable hood, adjustable waist, Velcro wrist cuffs, a hidden inside chest pocket, deep handwarmer style pockets, sleek design with contoured fit and last but not least, a brushed polyester neck warmer for added comfort and warmth. As you can see the Torrent is equipped with everything to ensure that you're protected and comfortable when out on an adventure – a real Swiss army knife of jackets.
All this is good - but why should I buy the Torrent?
Well, while it’s true that some of these features will be available in other jackets and products, it’s safe to say that a lot of what’s on the market won’t compare to the performance of the Torrent (and the ones that do will be twice the price!). The Torrent Jacket is the perfect waterproof jacket for any adventure; rain or shine.
Where can I buy the Torrent?
The Torrent is available to buy directly from Snugpak’s website in three colour options - Electric Blue, Forest Green and Black. It is also available at Snugpak’s stockists, which could work in your favour as it might be cheaper to buy (however, they may not have every colour and size available). If you’re struggling to find someone who sells Snugpak gear there is a handy page on their website to help you locate Snugpak Stockists.
If you're looking for a waterproof jacket to invest in for 2018 and for many years to come, the Snugpak Torrent Jacket is the one you want.