My first reaction on being handed this to test by the nice folks at GWA was “Errrr I don’t sail might be best if you give it to someone else to put it through it’s paces”.
Well bless them they managed to keep a reasonably straight face and explained that it’s not a boating jacket and just a funky coloured waterproof coat and that it’ll be great for me when taking the dog out in the April showers. [Editor’s note: The Scorpion is a Man’s Jacket, but fitted Jodie very well so we asked her to review it for us]
I’ve been testing the coat now for over a month and I still can’t quite shake the nautical feelings about it. I think that is largely due to the bright cyan blue of my test version (are other colours available?) but also it’s got some design features that I’ve just not seen on other waterproof coats and jackets I’ve worn.
The most noticeable element is the hood – its been seriously designed and has a two-way adjustable peaked hood that’s got wire reinforcing to keep it in shape and importantly the rain out of your face (& it actually works!); it’s got a toggle adjustable at the back of the hood and two at the sides so that it fits well when up and if that wasn’t enough it’s got poppers and Velcro to tuck it away when not needed.
There is part of me that wants to be a bit snide and say well its very nice and swanky but all a bit unnecessary surely? Well I would be wrong! Yes I have managed just fine with the style of jacket that has a hood that unfurls from a collar but wearing this coat in a recent hailstorm made me realize how much more pleasant the outdoors can be even during Mother Natures moody moments when you’ve got some decent gear protecting your face!
Long and protective on the butt
The inside of the collar area is lined in a grey soft fleece which you really notice when the jacket is zipped fully up as the collar comes up high to protect the lower part of your face and the fleece makes this quite a snuggly experience rather than the claustrophobic one that I was expecting.
When the jacket is fully zipped you are very cocooned and it does make hearing a bit of challenge – more so when the rain/wind are really going for it and I also found that the hood doesn’t really turn with me so when turning to talk to a companion you only really get a good look at the inside of your hood! It’s sized to fit a climbing helmet.
I like to listen to music when on longer hikes with the hound and I found this cocoon to be great in protecting my earphones and it certainly made a difference to the sound quality during bad weather. There is also a handy sized inner pocket to the jacket which is the perfect slot for my ipod, or even a map as Sprayway sell it.
Externally there are a further 4 pockets. Two are lined with the same fleece as the collar and make for snuggly hand warmers and the other two which are positioned on top of those are webbing lined – these are certainly big enough to carry a map in and it would be protected whilst tucked away. The pockets are high on the jacket and shouldn’t interfere with a harness or waistpack.
The stacked style of the pocket positioning can make for a bit of an interesting search for your keys/wallet/phone etc. One of the additional design features that this jacket has is a carabiner hook sewn in to one of the fleece pockets which I guess the designer intended as a sensible store for your keys.
Pit zips and pockets galore!
Another feature that I haven’t used is the under arm zips that aid in wafting some cool air around your pits during a strenuous climb – being a ‘lady’ I guess I just don’t sweat enough! Howeve,r they are not intrusive visually and nor do they irritate or get in the way during day to day wear so I guess they count as a handy to have feature.
All the zips are weatherproofed either with ruberised zips or by having fabric that fold over them to protect them. The main zip also has Velcro and a popper on the folded fabric for added protection. This zipper and the arm vent ones have two way zippers which is useful when wanting to access clothing underneath or anything stored in the inside pocket as you don’t have to undo the whole jacket.
For added snugliness the bottom of the jacket has more toggles which can be adjusted to stop the wind from whistling up your back and the sleeves have Velcro adjustable straps allowing the cuff to be tightened if required.
On the fit front ; it is a longer jacket which being a bit taller [Jodie is 5ft11] with a stupidly long body I really like and appreciate. Length-wise it falls just short of the bottom of my bum and would be a couple of inches longer (i.e. just below the bum) on most people, which I personally think is a good length for walking. Despite it being cut to fit a man’s shape, there are some additional toggles at the waist which you can synch in if you like a bit more shape – plus they also help with any drafts.
There are a few reflective flashes, including the logos, for those of you who like to walk on dark roads without a torch.
The jacket is made with a Gore-Tex Performance Shell. Gore, in our house when I was growing up, was always the watch-word of waterproof quality and in the aforementioned hailstorm it more than lived-up to its revered status with the water just sitting on the surface as pretty little beads and no uncomfortable sweaty build-up when I was walking hard. It’s been great in the wind and recent early morning cold snaps, and on a walk just now where it was perhaps just a bit too hot it’s not too heavy to carry at just over 900g.
£200 is a steep initial outlay but if you factor in that the UK only has about 125 days of sunshine a year when realistically you wouldn’t want this coat – for the remaining 200 odd days then this coat works out approximately £1 a day and that is good value. I just probably wouldn’t buy the blue version though…
SUMMARY: The price did rather make me gasp. But, it’s billed on Sprayway’s website as their top of the range jacket and it has been so well thought out and put together that I can’t think of when I might need a different coat. It’s very weatherproof indeed, and comfortable to wear for long periods. The Gore Performance Shell works as it should and design features which have been well thought-out make this a top-notch all-weather jacket. You COULD use it for sailing!
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