Jacket re­view

Matt Clark re­views the Win­ster Soft­shell jacket.

Sporting Gun - - CONTENTS - WORDS MATT CLARK

I’ve long been a fan of soft­shell. The free­dom of move­ment this stretchy, mod­ern ma­te­rial gives makes it ideal for shoot­ing. I reg­u­larly wear one to the air­gun range, but its “tac­ti­cal” look and de­sign mean it’s not suit­able for shot­gun shoot­ing. I have al­ways lamented this be­cause clay shoot­ing is a sport where free­dom of move­ment is just as vi­tal as in air­gun­ning, af­ter­all, that’s why shoot­ing vests were in­vented.

The only prob­lem with a waist­coat is that if the weather is wet or cold, you have to bun­dle your­self up with a shoot­ing jacket, which is usu­ally made of ma­te­rial and can re­strict your move­ment.

Free­dom of move­ment

An an­swer to this prob­lem has come in the form of the Win­ster Soft­shell Jacket. It will pro­tect you from the el­e­ments and give great free­dom of move­ment.

The seams are taped to en­sure that the wearer keeps com­pletely dry, even in the wettest con­di­tions. Wa­ter just beads off the ma­te­rial and even when you put the fab­ric un­der pres­sure by stretch­ing it, the fab­ric re­mained wa­ter-tight.

The two large pock­ets on each side of the jacket have drain holes, so they won’t fill with wa­ter, but they are lack­ing on the smaller outer pock­ets, mean­ing they could fill up if the rain was par­tic­u­larly heavy. How­ever, I found that when I stuffed the larger pock­ets with car­tridges the outer pocket was pulled tight and formed a wa­ter tight seal which seemed to keep light rain out. Pads on both shoul­ders mean left-han­ders are not dis­crim­i­nated against when it comes to shoul­der­ing your gun.

What I liked was the ad­justable waist, which meant you could cinch the jacket in at the waist for a more tai­lored look. And, in

my case, you could also let the waist out to ac­com­mo­date an ex­pand­ing gut.

The cuffs of the jacket were also ad­justable. Ideal for if you are shoot­ing in in­clement weather be­cause they can be drawn tight to stop rain run­ning down your arms. In dry weather I tend to leave the cuffs loose, so the sleeves of the jacket can rise up my arms and not re­strict me when I take a high shot. I should point out that the sleeves didn’t ride up my arms too far when I took high shots be­cause the jacket has been prop­erly de­signed.

Op­tional ex­tras

There isn’t a hood on this jacket. Some might think this is odd as it’s a wa­ter­proof jacket, but a hood would ob­scure the shooter’s vi­sion when shoot­ing, so in­stead a match­ing base­ball cap and gloves are avail­able, made from the same tech­ni­cal fab­ric.

The gloves would be ideal for shoot­ing in cold weather. So far I have used the jacket in late spring/early sum­mer. The wind has had an edge to it, which the Win­ster iso­lated me from well. When the sun came out it was warm and the jacket got a lit­tle sweaty. The Seetex wa­ter­proof mem­brane al­lows some breatha­bil­ity, but any fab­ric that is fully wa­ter­proof will not be fully breath­able. That said, in hot weather, you’d be more likely to wear a waist­coat.

A YKK zip and the leather trim show there has been an at­ten­tion to de­tail. Another fea­ture I liked was the loop on the chest of the jacket to hang your shoot­ing glasses on when not in use. It’s lit­tle things like that which as­sure you the Win­ster has been de­signed by some­one who shoots.

Shoot­ing

The first time I wore the jacket I put a tat­ter­sall check shirt un­der­neath and it was the shirt, not the jacket, that re­stricted my move­ment. I found it best to wear a polo shirt, or T-shirt un­der­neath. Bet­ter still, if you wear a wick­ing layer, then you get the full ben­e­fits of the breath­ablitly of the Seetex mem­brane. Re­mem­ber, this is sports wear, rather than tra­di­tional shoot­ing garb.

Although de­signed specif­i­cally for clay shoot­ing, the Win­ster jacket looks good enough to wear to the shops, or on a ca­sual walk. You could even wear it for other shoot­ing re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties such as beat­ing, or pickingup. How­ever, it’s cer­tainly not de­signed for stalk­ing be­cause the ma­te­rial does rus­tle when you move.

At £109 the Win­ster Soft­shell jacket is good value for money. It’s wa­ter­proof, gives great free­dom of move­ment, is ex­tremely com­fort­able and ver­sa­tile. What more could you ask from a shoot­ing jacket?

Leather shoul­der patches YKK zip, one of the best in the in­dus­try Fleece lined for ex­tra com­fort The su­per-flex soft shell fab­ric al­lows free­dom of move­ment Large dou­ble car­tridge pock­ets

SEETEX wa­ter­proof and breath­able mem­brane, helps the wearer to not be­come too clammy

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