Matt Clark reviews the Winster Softshell jacket.
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.
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.
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