Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hi-Tec Roaring River Softshell: Light, Agile & Ready to Rumble

Along with the Northern Lights or powder exploding like freshly opened bubbly, softshell materials can be savored as one of nature’s true miracles. 

Softshells use sophisticated stretch woven fabrics with tight layered weaves and durable water repellent treatments to guard against wind, rain, and snow in all but the most severe weather conditions. 

In other words, a Softshell keeps weather out like a Hard Shell, but breathes like fleece allowing you to regulate your temperature much more effectively and remain comfortable during rigorous activity. 

Yet when searching for one of these jackets, it can seem as though finding the quality, durability and flexibility you want at an affordable price can also be one of nature’s other true miracles.
Enter the Hi-Tec® Roaring River men's softshell jacket.  Engineered to handle unforeseen conditions when the weather changes in the blink of an eye, this softshell jacket combines low-bulk design with excellent wind-and-water protection.  This three-layered laminated, four-way stretch softshell provides the warmth and weather resistance of hard shell with the lightweight coziness and comfort of your favorite hoody.

One of our favorite design elements? The reverse-coil zippers with a contoured rubberized zipper pull.   Why?  First the reverse-coil zippers provide smooth and catch-free usage.  Moreover, the durable rubberized zipper pull with tight gridlock pattern tells us one thing: when a design team puts this much thought into a simple zipper system you can be assured that the rest of the jacket has been crafted carefully and thoughtfully to provide all-around performance for any active pursuit. 
With sleek styling and a classic cut, the Roaring River is equally at home on a night out at the pub as it is on a bright day of snowshoeing in the backwoods.  Finished with a buttery soft brushed Tricot lining, our crew felt the inside of this jacket beat the ever popular North Face Apex Bionic jacket for against the skin comfort.  The clean-finished interior also slides comfortably over layers.
The two zippered hand warmer pockets are not only soft, but designed to heat frosted hands in the harsh cold.  With Cadillac-esque roominess the pockets provided plenty of room for stashing virtually all of the treasures you would need for a day out and about on the trail. 
While testing in the field our gumption crew took the jacket to an exposed ridgeline at 10,000 ft.  With gusts of wind strong enough to test the will of an eagle, our Roaring River jacket kept us warm, comfortable and well protected from mother nature’s more aggressive side.  One tug on the single-hand drawcord adjustable hem created a secure barrier between the bottom of the jacket and the elements.

Overall our testers gave high marks to the fit, finish and design of this jacket but there were a few tweaks they suggested.  While the nonbulky design allows for comfortable layering, we would like to see a more athletic fit in the midsection and our hope is that Hi-Tec introduces a series of “Tall” sized fits as well.  On the "large" sized test jacket the sleeves provided plenty of length for both our 6' and 6'4" testers, but fell a little short on the waist.  Finally, the addition of Velcro adjustable cuffs would be an ideal inclusion for future iterations.

Whether scrambling up the side of a waterfall or traversing an exposed ridgeline Hi-Tec’s Roaring River soft shell jacket moves with you serving well as a stand-alone jacket or a layer.  The Roaring River is a stellar addition to Hi-Tec's line up of apparel offering an affordable and adventure ready jacket that refuses to skimp on details.

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