Regular UKC gear reviewer Viv Scott tests out the Patagonia Adze Softshell jacket in the Scottish Highlands...
Patagonia were among the pioneers of the ‘softshell’ concept – windproof, showerproof outer layers that breath much better, are tougher and have a softer and more comfortable drape than their fully waterproof ‘hardshell’ counterparts. Softshells are now standard fair-weather mountain wear with many climbers and walkers using them as their principal outer layer in the hills.
The Adze jacket is Patagonia’s “all mountain” softshell jacket – available with a hood (“Adze Hoody”), and without (“Adze Jacket”). The Polartec Windbloc fabric has a smooth, impressively tough woven outer layer, a polyurethane membrane to cut out the wind, and a fine grid fleece lining, with the whole lot having a bit of stretch.
The use of a membrane inevitably makes the fabric less breathable than a fabric without a membrane, but makes the garment overall more weatherproof – in use effectively completely windproof, and not far off waterproof. The drape isn’t the softest, but the fabric is comfortably supple and doesn’t crinkle.
Even sweating uphill with a pack the Windbloc fabric breathed impressively well, likely due to the wicking by the fleece grid lining helping to stop the clammy feeling associated with waterproof fabrics. The water repellent outer coating is effective, with snow sliding off and light rain beading and not soaking in.
Features-wise, the Adze is pleasingly simple. On the outside are a couple of generous zipped hand pockets, set high enough to be above a rucksack belt though not quite clear of a harness. Inside, a single small zipped pocket gives a secure place for a mobile, car key, or lift pass. The main zip is a good chunky design, the collar is lined with soft microfleece, and Velcro cuff tabs and an elastic hem drawcord complete the package. On the hoody version, the hood is a neat design with a slightly reinforced brim and side and rear drawcord adjustment. Lower-volume helmets just about fit underneath.
The Adze uses Patagonia’s ‘regular’ fit. This is a reasonably generous cut, but not with excessive room on the skinnier mountaineer – the extra chest room proved very useful for keeping ski skins warm while touring. Sleeve length is good, and there’s minimal hem lift when raising arms above the head scrambling or climbing.
The jacket in action: In use, the Adze jacket has proven a reliable companion over the blustery winter – light enough in insulation to be worn in the valley with its completely windproof fabric giving much needed protection on blowy summits. On the non-hooded version the collar could do with a snugger fit (or drawcord) to better seal the neck, but otherwise there’s little to fault.
At £120, there are certainly cheaper options, but the Adze seems reasonable for Patagonia’s superb build quality, neat design and progressive manufacturing ethos.
Overall, the Adze is pretty much as Patagonia describe it. A solid all-round softshell jacket giving plenty of protection from the elements in all but heavy rain in a tough, simple package.
MORE INFORMATION: Patagonia Website
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