In these days of inescapable marketing spiel, where the words waterproof, breathable and technical fabric are bandied about like our lives depend on them when we’re walking through some drizzle to Waitrose it’s easy to forget the simpler bits of gear. The ones used by gardeners, dog-walkers and commuters; those form the vast majority of people who are outside in all weathers but don’t need a £300 jacket and trouser combo.
And that’s where the Mac in a Sac comes in. It is, for want of a better word, a cagoule. Remember when that wasn’t a dirty word? It’s a single layer of coated rustly fabric which feels slightly plasticcy and sticky on your skin, but keeps off the wind and unexpected rain rather well.
Available in loads of colours, the Sac is about the size of two cups of tea on top of one another, and it weighs so little that it won’t make any real difference in your pack. The sack is drawcorded and has a webbing loop for attaching to things, but it does tend to swing around quite a lot if you attach it to a belt.
The Mac (not in the Sac) is a generic type of fit so it goes over as many underlayers as you need. It has quite long sleeves and a medium length cut (mid backside) so should keep the rain off during cycling and reaching upwards.
The packaging for the Mac in a Sac touts a couple of those confusing technical numbers as follows:
GearWeAre’s real-world explanation of what this means is:
Waterproof in heavy rain, but don’t lean on things or carry a pack because the pressure may cause leaks.
Breathable until you do serious exercise and then you’ll get wet inside, use the main zip to keep dry and cool.
One interesting note is that the Mac doesn’t have a waterproof zipper, but instead relies on an internal channel to funnel rain down and out of the bottom of the zip. This is useful to note if you do up the bungee waist cords, when your crotch gets oddly soaked.
The Mac version 2 has eschewed adjustable wrists for more simple elasticated wrists. They will let in a draught, but the flip side of that is that they vent sweat better. There’s also a big vent in the back which has a rain-flap over it. In combination with the main zipper, this is the bit that creates the breathability.
The zippered pockets are just where you need them for walking and keeping hands out of the wind, but they’re not harness friendly, so this isn’t a jacket for climbers particularly. On the subject of wind, it is windproof, but won’t keep you warm once the material sticks to your skin.
A rollaway hood completes the design, and finishes the Mac in an inoffensive and simple fashion.
At £30, the Mac in a Sac isn’t as cheap as I had presumed it would be. It’s positioned as a significant step-up from a poncho or cheap cagoule but a lesser offering than a technical jacket. It’s a difficult middle ground. It’s got a higher waterproof rating than some of it’s same-price competitors but looking at it one can’t help but think that £30 is quite a lot for a simple Mac.
SUMMARY: A rain jacket for occasional use by lesser demanding outdoors enthusiasts. It will keep rain and wind off, and allow a reasonable amount of perspiration out, but lots of activity and things pressing on it could cause wetness inside quite easily. It seems expensive as a standalone product, but comparable to competitor ‘brands’.