I love outdoors kit you can boast about. “Dude, you think your jacket is light? Mine weighs half as much as piece of paper. Yeah, PAPER.”
So I greatly enjoyed testing out my new Flyweight Softshell jacket from Jack Wolfskin (£80) whilst mountain biking around in the Negev Desert in Israel last week. It was hot.
Product description: “Our lightest softshell! The main fabric weighs just 58 gm/m², half as much as a sheet of paper, but retains all the classic softshell properties: kinetic stretch comfort, wind and water resistance and extreme breathability. The very fine loop structure of the reverse side of the fabric side provides excellent wear comfort and a basic level of insulation.”
Mountain biking: It’s so SMALL. It’s so LIGHT. Surely it can’t be much more use as a jacket than, say, a real piece of paper? Somehow and in a slightly Harry Potter style magical way, Jack Wolfskin’s flyweight does a rather stellar job of cutting wind and keeping you warm in chilly conditions without overheating in sunny weather. I wore it for a dawn mountain biking session and it kept me snug against the desert wind, and by the afternoon it protected my skin from the harsh sunlight without overheating.
Trail running: The Flyweight fits super slim by avoiding hip pockets (there’s a zipped chest pocket instead), so there’s no bagginess when you run. It’s also super sleek on, which is useful because we all like to pretend in our heads that we look as streamlined as Usain Bolt, right? Designed specifically for trail running, the flyweight feels loose, light and cottony on. It’s water-resistant, rather than repellant, though, so it’s only really suited for lighter showers.
Verdict: The Flyweight isn’t something you could chuck on in winter for a walk, as it’s definitely not aiming to keep you warm at rest – the whole purpose of it is to act as a shell layer that won’t make you sweat during serious exercise. Its coup d’etat, and the reason it’s worth a hefty £80, is how miniscule it is – you can scrunch it up into the palm of your hand and it’ll fit into its own chest pocket, making it ideal for endurance sports that won’t allow hefty backpacks, such as road and mountain biking, trail running and hiking. Plus all the paper-weight bragging rights, of course.