Living in the UK requires a certain degree of weather protection at any time of year but non more so than winter time. I’d previously relied on fully waterproof hard shells to keep me dry when biking or running but having grown tired of quickly becoming a sweaty mess, I thought I’d give the soft shell concept a try.
Enter the Trespass Manaslu http://www.trespass.co.uk/mens-manaslu-01931 soft shell which I picked up for £40 in the Trespass winter sale. The jacket features a 8000mm hydro static head waterproof rating, is breathable, windproof and comes with a fixed hood.
First impressions in the shop were that the fit was excellent, fitting snuggly but with enough room to move and also fit on over a microfleece (hardly likely to be needed for running or biking but ideal for winter bivvying!).
On its first proper outdoor test, a 30+ mile mountain bike ride, I was extremly impressed with both the breathability (never really overheating and sweating despite some difficult hill climbs) and the windproof properties, the jacket keeping me toasty on a number of long and fast downhills during the ride.
On the bike the jacket was comfortable and although the cut is quite short and not bike specific, this didn’t seem to matter, the jacket moving well with my body through the twists and turns of the trail.
I like the fact it has four pockets (two waist, one chest & one internal) meaning you have plenty of storage space to store snacks or other small items that you might need to access whilst on the move. My only criticism would be that the chest pocket is quite small but its not unusable.
For what seemed like the first time this year it didn’t actually rain during my ride so I’m not yet able to comment on the waterproof properties but I’m sure it won’t be long before an opportunity arises!
From this first test I’d say that for fast and light travel (mtb, running etc) where breathability is more important than keeping dry, a good case could be made for swapping the hard shell for this great bit of kit although a lot will depend on its ability to shed rain. For longer hikes you’d probably still want the security of a dedicated waterproof but for now this jacket looks like a winner.