Apricoat – The review.

This is my first review of a piece of clothing, and I have limited experience outdoors. Also, English is not my mother tongue.

The first sensations were great. Great feeling, not as plastic-y as most Goretex (and similar) jackets. The inner fleece layer was a pretty good idea. The L size I chose is roomy enough for me to wear a second layer when required. Lots of pockets. Very inconspicuous on the outside, very easy to spot on the inside. The zippers work very well.

Perfect timing to receive the jacket: temperature in Stockholm was -13 ºC and the chill effect would make -23; the next day I went to the mountain part of Dalarna, by the Norwegian border. There we had those -13 at noon, under a wonderful sun, but around -20 at 21h, and down to -30 at 5AM.

The perfect environment to try out my flamboyant Apricoat.

The first evening went on a night walk with a dog, uphill. Walking uphill on the ski tracks at -20 is where you put your gear in the right spot for a test, I’d say.

First screech of brakes: when you need to look for anything inside the jacket you must open it wide, because the zip cannot be opened from the lower end up. This is really annoying. This is not a wool sweater! Sometimes you need to open the lower end of the jacket to dig into your pockets (in the jacket itself, the second layer, your trousers… to pee, if you are male… you name it). This decision looks like made in the 70’s.

But it’s ok. I keep going uphill to the top of the ski station. I can feel the real cold coming in my face, but I am sweating in the body. Then I find out I can open any lateral ventilation under the armpits, something pretty much any outdoors shell or breathable waterproof jacket I own (and I own a few) has. That is an interesting design decision, but maybe the breathable capabilities are so good they are not even necessary, I think while the sides of my purple wool hat look white with my frozen transpiration.

Snow starts falling. Small snowflakes falling strong, a density that makes difficult to see 50m even under the big moon we enjoy. I wear the hood and I can see how it lacks any solid internal component to make a decent shape around the head. It is like the hood of a sweater, but (hopefully) waterproof. The upper part falls totally flat over my forehead, so my glasses are fully covered in snow in seconds. The 80kg dog I am walking pulls my arm downhill, and I don’t have a clue of where is he going to, and me after him. Excellent news.

I have to say I didn’t bring with me the pillow that makes the hood inflatable, so maybe that is why the hood performed so bad. Anyway, I just tried to install the pillow inside the hood when I was back home, and desisted. I just couldn’t figure it out. I am not even sure the pillow you sent is the right pillow for the hood. If that ‘pillow inside the hood’ is really the best solution you could come up with.

A possible solution for that hat would be to wear a baseball hat so it stays in place and protects the glasses I need at all times. Far from optimal. And I almost never wear baseball hats.

The hood of winter shell jackets is an amazing piece of engineering. It should be very configurable, cover only the right parts of the head, and stick to it when moving. I guess somebody didn’t put enough time on how others before them dealt with the problem of a hood.

When I removed the jacket after the night walk I felt wet the inside the arms. I touched then the rest of the inside of the jacket, and the back was wet too.

That is definitely what you don’t need at -20ºC, let me tell you that.

I tried the jacket for a couple of long walks more (walking with the dogs on and off tracks, some snowshoeing, always below 10, with and without chilly wind) and finally had to move back to my Haglöfs shell jacket, because I don’t think the Apricoat was the right tool for the job. I wasn’t even cross country skiing, running, or going specially hard. I was just walking on the tracks most of the time, and snowshoeing for the first time in my life, and stopping all the time to take pictures.

Back in town, is seems to be a great urban jacket to walk around if it is not colder than -5ºC. But fast walker as I am, the risk of condensation will be there all the time.

In short:

I like: how it feels, it seems light enough, it is warm (if it is not too cold), the zippers work very well (except the thing about the main zipper, of course). Looks casual enough not to fall into the ‘base camp fashion’ category, which might come very handy.

I don’t like: don’t go on adventures with this jacket if it is going to be cold (under -15ºC) or you expect any sweat during those adventures 🙂 I was expecting a lot more about the hood. Inflatability should be a plus, not the reason why the hood is so non-functional.

Good for windy, cold and dry moments. Obviously I am thinking about my circumstances in this review, and the Stockholm area of Sweden is not the best to find those conditions, but it happens sometimes.

I am very surprised that this issues I have found in one week wasn’t addressed after the extensive test all over the world you claim you did before deciding how the final model would be, produce it, and ship it to the backers.

Conclusion: Good jacket for the tag price? Yes. A jacket that will become my main one for winter adventures or even city roaming? No way.

I will keep an eye on you if you decide to keep going and fix all this issues in a second version. Nobody learns without making mistakes.

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