More about GORE-TEX® Active Shell in this news item:
New Gore-tex Active Shell: The Most Breathable Waterproof Fabric Ever?
At 320g and packing down to the size of a grapefruit it could easily be stashed away in a day sack. It could give mountain runners a decent, lightweight jacket providing protection from the elements should they encounter bad weather. Testing it with a lightweight wicking t-shirt has shown their claim of being the most-breathable Gore-Tex yet is proving well founded. I was amazed at how dry the inside stayed, when normally I would expect to be soaked. So far, so good, but next week I'll be putting it through its paces for a week's Via Ferrata in the Dolomites.
This is an attractive jacket with great colours - bright turquoise colour and yellow trimming. Features such as velcro arms and the elastic sections on the bottom of the coat and hood give great flexibility, comfort and enable wearing this jacket in a layering system in the winter months also. The most impressive feature of this jacket would have to be the hood; it fits incredibly well and stays over the head in even the most extreme wind conditions (tested in the very recent remnants of hurricane Katia which hit Wales!). At this stage the only negative comment I could make is lack of an inside pocket.
On first impressions, the Firelite jacket does exactly what it says on the tin. It's light; it packs down impressively small, and yet manages to keep you dry and comfortable in the tough Cumbrian autumn weather. So far I have used this jacket mainly for running, and I have to say, I am genuinely impressed. I will admit that I didn't have very high expectations as to the jacket breathing as well as the adverts told me it would, but I stand corrected. This is clearly not a jacket that is going to stand up to a lot of physical abuse such as can be expected in Scottish winter but then, it is not designed for this. As a running (or cycling) jacket, it is excellent and as it packs down small and light it is great to clip to your harness for multi-pitches when the weather looks questionable. All in all, I'm very impressed so far but I'll have to wait and see what the next few weeks bring.
The Arcteryx Beta FL is a pared down hardshell, honed for constant movement in an alpine environment. The real stand out feature of this jacket (and there aren't many features) is the fabric, which is impressively light and thin, but also super tough. Nothing reasonable I try seems to scuff or mark the face fabric at all, and certainly doesn't affect the waterproofing - the black that mine came in gave the distinct impression this was some super fabric from batman's wardrobe (and no, it doesnt fly). The new Active Shell is certainly very breathable, noticeably more so than Pro Shell, and holds up against abrasion better than Gore's Paclite. As for the other features, you get two cavernous well placed chest pockets, a semi waterproof front zip, and a hood, which will just about fit a small helmet (Petzl Elios etc).
Opening the package when it arrived, I was happy with the bright green jacket that emerged. This is a nice lightweight jacket – soft to the touch without feeling flimsy and like it might rip at any moment. I have mostly used the jacket for running so far, and like the fact that it never feels clammy as laminated fabrics often do. Despite running uphill in warm, humid conditions, the inside of the jacket has stayed virtually dry – a testament to the breathability. The fit is good, with ample adjustment for different activities and seasons. More details to follow in my full review.
The jacket that landed on my doorstep has impressed so far. The hood swallows a helmet with ease, the big wizard-style sleeves allow excellent freedom of movement and the cut is typically athletic. The new Active Shell fabric is lightweight but it feels substantial and has reinforcement in high-wear areas. The litre-sized stuff sack is a bonus, as are the reflective markings. That boil-in-the-bag feeling of wearing a hardshell hasn't yet surfaced, despite wearing it while running and climbing. We'll have to see how it fares when introduced to Mr 'I-Eat-Lightweight-Hardshells' Gritstone.
Long, slim fit. Light, packable, easy to move in and definitely windproof. Amazing hood, with or without a helmet. In winds that force the rain upward at Fair Head it stuck in when everyone else's hood didn't stand a chance.
The bag. Why doesn't it pack into the pocket? I also couldn't attach it to my harness as the loop is too small for my krabs.
Is it waterproof? So far only tested in wind driven drizzle so we shall see. Is it breathable? It seemed to be on a short run; a longer run is needed to really test it but after more sustained bits of climbing it was necessary to open the vents.