Thursday, 7 March 2013

Jack Wolfskin Broad Peak XT Jacket

Most people have heard of this German based outdoor gear company, Jack Wolfskin. Their reputation, in my experience, is for solid clothing normally at the premium end of the cost bracket. I hadn't had a lot of hands on with their products until Tiso in Glasgow opened a dedicated section of the store to the brand. As a self-confessed gear geek I attended the opening of the shops committed floor to the Deutsch equipment. I was surprised of the extent of the range. Tiso are keeping the stock directed at the occasional trekker or high street wanderer but after flicking through the 183 page catalogue the technical kit on offer is vast. Anyone who doesn't know JW is quite partial to a 3-in-1 jacket. There is just about every variation of inner(softshell, fleece etc) available which will zip in and out of the various types of shell in the Texapore(JW's waterproof material) family.
I have been using the Broad Peak XT jacket, a Texapore air O 3+ shell with a down inner through the winter. This is directed at the alpine/winter climber. I expected this jacket to be just the jacket for me due to some of the freezing weather we've been having in the past couple of months but normally when I've been out its been too warm to have it all zipped and clipped together. Up until very recently I used the jackets separately, which I suppose is the point of having this type of set up.
The outer is a technical specced climbing jacket, it has two big chest pockets with long waterproof zips raised so not to be affected by harnesses or hip belts. The zips, when closed, park themselves under a little hood for added protection from water run-off. Little things like that make me happy, I know I'm sad!
There is also an arm pocket with a waterproof zip which is a good size for phones etc. There isn't anything inside the jacket, presumably as it should contain the inner jacket but the inner doesn't have an inside pocket either. As I have used the outer jacket outer on its own predominantly I don't think an inside pocket would be out of place, for me anyway.
There are pit zips where you would expect them and they are of a monstrous length, definitely a positive for me. The hood is more than big enough to take a helmet but has a volume reducing velcro tab to be able to use it without a skid lid.
I do prefer a cinch cord but it works fine when used with the draw cords around the face. Once the draw cords are pulled a little the elastic starts to create a loop, it has nowhere to stored or pulled away too. This is the same with the waist draw cord and an issue that I have come across is the excess loop gets caught around the main zip, slightly tedious but once you are aware of it, it can be worked around.
As I said, I have used the shell on its own normally, I have the large and when it’s not beefed out with the down inner it feels a bit baggy but the inner is well fitted so a smaller size probably isn’t an option. It’s not uncomfortably big, so isn’t a major issue.
The down inner has 90/10 700 fill white duck down, the fabric is JW’s Airgrid 20D. From experience it is shower proof and very warm on its own. It fits me well, it’s neat which I like. It is not a bulky jacket at all as down jackets go. The 2 side pockets have a cozy fleece lining and there is a handy chest pocket. There is an elastic stretch panel in the armpit, which double as venting, and the elastic cuffs have a thumb loop.

When I used it recently climbing I used the outer for the walk in and when I was prepping for climbing I zipped the inner in to use as a sort of belay jacket. The walk in was warm so I worked up a bit of a sweat, when I took the jacket off I found that the arms had built up a bit of a moisture residue on the inside. I did have the pit zips closed and there wasn’t much wind about to help the permeability of the material. I was a bit worried about the down being dampened by the moisture but there wasn’t a lot I could do at this stage. I only zipped the inner in as to do the clips at the rear of the neck and inside of the cuffs would have been a bit of a faff. It didn’t cause me any issues. The waist band of my harness sat nicely around the hem of the jacket, it was a bit of a larger circumference due to the inner. The pictures should hopefully show it’s not too bulky. When fully insulated I didn’t feel my core being cold at all, even when stationary for a while tucked in shaded snow filled gully. Even when I was moving I wasn’t overheating. I was surprised; I thought I would have roasted in the remarkably warm cocoon of the Broad Peak. Dexterity was good as well, there was no feeling of the jacket riding up, even when overreaching during climbing.
On other occasions when wearing the outer I have found the Texapore to cope extremely well with heavy extended downpours and, until the recent day out, haven’t had any issue with moisture building up. The JW handbook spec states that a bit of wind will help keep down the sweat build up in this 3 layer material.

I am concerned with the long term use of down as the insulated inner for a jacked to be used in high intensity activities. I would have thought synthetic would have been a better choice when encapsulated in a waterproof shell. Just a thought!
Overall the Broad Peak XT covers a lot of eventualities and with its extensive list of features and versatility it would make a good choice for the Alpine/Winter adventurer.

Weight (combined) – 1075 grams (Large)