|Keela Quantum Softshell. Not crab-like at all.|
Softshells. Brilliant for Autumnal English weather, but rubbish if you’re a crab being chased by an octopus.
First, I should probably explain what a Softshell is, and for that I want you to think of yourself as snuggly wrapped in a sleeping bag inside an old tent.
The outer layer of a softshell is like a tent’s flysheet. It’s densely woven and coated in a waterproof chemical, so that wind and rain won’t easily get through.
The middle layer of a softshell is like the inner-tent, keeping any drips that gets through the flysheet off, but allowing your moisture to escape.
And finally, the inner layer of the softshell is like a sleeping bag. It keeps you insulated, and your skin away from the edge of the tent when you accidentally brush up against it.
(for a more technical explanation, click here)
OK, so analogy over. What a Softshell does in real life is keep some rain, and most wind off you. It’s designed to be a light-weight, comfortable apparel which is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.
The Keela Quantum jacket has been used and abused by me for a little over 4 months now, and it’s a great bit of kit. It’s got a nicely fitted design (trim, but not too snug) which means it’s easy to walk, scramble and cycle in, and it features a set of ‘just-right’ details:
Large chest pocket with light, but fairly large (and thus easy to use with gloves) zipper pull;
Large side pockets (for cold hands);
Simple velcro closures on each wrist (they work, are unobtrusive and are comfy);
Bungee drawstring at the waist (never used it, but I imagine it would be good in a high wind);
Zippered side vents (best way to cool off when you get warm);
and a roll-away hood which does what it says on the tin.
The inside of the jacket (AirXtream Advanced) is a touchy-feely soft towelling-like material, which feels good next to the skin and never gets sticky even when I’ve been really sweaty.
The zippers used are nice and chunky (no small ones which break easily).
I’ve had to think about criticisms of the Quantum, and I’ve got a couple of minor ones. It’s fairly noisy. Which is to say that the waterproof membrane (middle layer) is a bit crinkly so you can often hear it when you’re in a quiet area. And the only other criticism is that the waterproofing of the OUTER layer wore off fairly quickly. What that means in real terms is that whilst the jacket soaks up rain, I stay dry for about 30-40 minutes of drizzle/fine rain. After that I start to get damp around the shoulders and arms.
The picture here shows the jacket absorbing water rather than it running off.
This is an easily solved problem, and a forthcoming review will show this jacket after it’s been treated with Storm Waterproofing treatment.
SUMMARY: The Quantum is a light, comfortable, well tailored softshell, which I’ve enjoyed wearing for hiking, cycling and everyday wear. It will hold off a light rain shower and steady wind, and is designed well to incorporate good pockets and vents. Aside from being a little crunchy sounding it has no real flaws and it’s one of my favourite jackets.
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