Friday, 23 March 2018 08:31

Inov8 AT/C Protec-Shell Waterproof Jacket Tested and Reviewed Featured

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As runners we are increasingly looking to head into more inhospitable environments or experience the worst the weather can throw at us. While kit manufacturers have spent years trying to make gear that is lighter and lighter, we are increasingly seeing new items that combine the lightness of running kit, with some of the robustness you traditionally see in mountaineering clothing.

Inov-8 are the latest to join this area of the market with the release of the AT/C Protec-Shell as their flagship waterproof jacket in their range. As a huge fan of their footwear, I was keen to see how their jackets stood up against some of the more established brands in this area of the market.

Protek 4

What the manufacturers say:

The PROTEC-SHELL is our most protective men's running waterproof jacket ever. This jacket is designed for keeping mountain runners and multi-day ultra racers dry and warm in the foulest of conditions, this is one seriously tough piece of kit. Packed with technical features, including a front zip that curves away from the face for increased comfort and streamline technology on the cuffs that divert water away from the hands. Shaped cuffs with adjustable hook and loop tabs for easy use with gloves. Pertex Shield Pro, 3 layer waterproof fabric with 20,000 HH and taped seams keeps the runner dry and protected in even the wildest of storms. 360° reflectivity.

Features:

  • Pertex Shield Pro Membrane - Delivers exceptional comfort and performance.
  • Ergonomic Hood And Extended Peak - Provides greater protection for the head and improved vision.
  • Synthetic
  • Streamline Technology - Diverts water away from the hands and force it to drip off the bottom of the cuff.
  • Full Length Zip - Curves away from the face to rule out any irritation.
  • Deep Cross Over Hand Pockets - Allows easy access to convenient storage space.
  • Weight -360g

Inov8 AT/C Protec-Shell Waterproof Jacket on test:

Okay, so what is the AT/C Protec Shell actually like to wear?

For background, I had a men’s size medium and I would say the fit was pretty near perfect for me at 185cm tall, 100cm chest and weighing 80kg.

Protek 2

The jacket is made from tougher fabric than its lighter and cheaper siblings but the cut still gives a nice athletic fit, with a drop tail to provide added protection for your glutes. I have worn it with just a running top underneath and also with considerably more layers and never felt either overly constrained or like there was acres of spare fabric flapping around me.

If I could sum it up with one word, it would be comfortable. It is the kind of jacket that you put on and just forget its there, whether you are running or just walking around town. This may sound like a simple thing but I have had many jackets over the years where I have ended up constantly adjusting toggles or shifting zips as I ran, to get the fit just right.

The sleeves are amazing and while its tricky to confirm Inov-8’s claims that the cuffs have been designed to direct water away from the hands, they provide superb coverage of the wrist, with a tapered cut to the outside.

If I had one criticism here, it would be that the wrists are a pretty close fit and despite not having the largest wrists around, I never felt the need to tighten them up. This also meant that there was limited opportunity for ventilation through the wrists, something that I have been able to do with other jackets and can be useful, if you get a little steamed up. It also meant it was tricky to pull the sleeves up along my forearms to gain extra ventilation. If this is something you like to do, then I would encourage you to try one on for size first.

Protek sleeve

The tighter cuffs also meant that there was a number of occasions when lifting my sleeve to check my watch, one of the buttons would end up being accidentally pressed. Once I was aware of this I could easily avoid it but it is just another example of how it would have been nice to see a little more space in this area of the jacket.

Protek cuffs

The hood is a great fit, with a integrated peak and also a toggle on the back of the head to adjust the volume. This can also be used with a loop inside the jacket, to fold the hood away if you didn’t need it.

Protek hood

There is also plenty of volume in the neck, so once the hood is on you have great visibility as you turn your head, a must in a running jacket in my book.

The main zip is waterproof, with a storm flap behind it to protect you from leaks. The zip is however quite narrow and has a small zip pull, which in practice I found a little fiddly to open and close, especially when in a hurry or wearing gloves. The top of the zip is quite unusual, in that it curves away from your chin towards the right hand side of your face. There is a soft piece of fabric inside the jacket on the left hand side, which is a nice touch and makes it extremely comfortable to wear against your chin with the zip fully done up.

This leads me to another negative, in that the additional fabric on the left hand side would repeatedly slap me in the face or chin, if I ran with the zip partially open. The soft fabric inside it, meant this was annoying rather than uncomfortable and could easily be stopped by stuffing the excess fabric down into the jacket. That said, I am not convinced that the positives outweighs the negatives here and whether the curved zip as a feature was entirely worth it.

Fabric

This is the first jacket I have tried with the Pertex Shield Pro membrane. Pertex has always had a great reputation for breathability and as someone who runs quite hot and generates quite a bit of moisture inside jackets as a result, I have found it a great fabric in the past.

My first impressions of the fabric were that it was robust and reminded me a lot of mountaineering jackets I have used in the past. Its a three layer fabric, so no need for any internal mesh liners here and despite the robustness, it felt comfortable to wear, even next to the skin.

The jacket was extremely water repellant and it would keep me dry in the strongest of downpours and also protect me from the icy winds we have been experiencing of late here in the UK.

Protek 3

When running, the fabric was nice and quiet, with none of the annoying rustling you sometimes get on other jackets. It also moved with me, which made it pleasant to wear and didn’t make me feel like I was encased in a Pertex box.

I did find that it would get a little damp on the inside when running, although as I’ve already mentioned, this is not usual for me. There was no pooling of water into my elbows, which I have seen with other jackets in the past though, so overall I would say the breathability was really good.

While black may not be every ones preferred choice and yes that is the only colour its available in, this did mean that you could happily extend the use of the jacket beyond running. Over the last few months I have even found myself wearing it around town and also over the top of business wear on occasion. Its a small thing but when you are spending a few hundred pounds to buy a jacket, its good to know you can get your monies worth.

Features

We’ve already touched on a couple of the unique features of this jacket, namely the innovative sleeves to direct water away from the hands and the curved zip at the neck.

One other standout feature of this jacket are the crossover pocketsa. These are positioned across your abdomen but accessed using the opposite hand, through zips close to your central line, so in the opposite direction to pockets typically positioned here.

Protek pocket

I have to say this approach was a real revelation and made it much easier to access items on the run, whilst also keeping them clear of straps on backpacks or running vests.

The pockets themselves were a good size and while they may not accommodate a full size map without folding, you could fit a far amount into them and were great for stuffing things like gloves, nutrition or even a small headtorch, which you might need readily to hand. They also have a mesh inner to them, so they could be used for additional venting if required.

A small internal chest pocket with headphone routing was also a welcome addition, to securely hold smaller items such as your phone or MP3 player.

My verdict

So in summary, what we have here is an excellent and robust jacket from Inov-8. It has a superb fit, which supports a wide range of clothing combinations under it, and offers exceptional waterproof protection with good breathability too.

The only criticism I have is that I wish the cuffs had a little more space to aid ventilation and that the curved zip at the neck can be annoying when running with it undone.

That aside, the jacket is still extremely good and when faced with tough weather conditions, it will definitely be one of the first garments I reach for, before heading out the door.

Last modified on Friday, 23 March 2018 11:05

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