The thunderstorms rumbling over Bristol made me all happy as I got to stomp about in puddles in my new Jack Wolfskin Vapor Trail XT jacket (£140). It’s now with me on a monsoon-y adventure in the Thai jungle, dealing with storms, sweat and having Chang beer spilled down it on a daily basis.
Product description: “Whether you are in the mountains or the flat lands, on two wheels or two legs, this is one lightweight piece of kit (255 gm) you can always have with you. The jacket stows neatly and compactly in its own chest pocket, so you’ll find room for it in the smallest pack – and even in your belt pouch or hip bag.”
Backpacking in Thailand: The Vapor Trail is a step up in size from my super tiny weeny itsy bitsy Jack Wolfskin flyweight, and whilst it doesn’t scrunch up as small as an orange, it squeezes into available space in a rucksack easily. It’s completely waterproof – I wore it on a scooter in a tropical downpour and emerged pristine, and it’s been wrapped around my precious camera on waterfall treks. The hood’s toggles make adjusting the fit the work of seconds to keep your face dry. The only irksome bit is a lack of hip pockets, but there’s one on the chest that will keep money dry, and the coat is a lot more streamlined without them. You’d struggle to fit a fleece or a jumper underneath in really cold conditions, though.
Mountain biking: The Vapor Trail was made for sports and is hugely breathable, stopping you from overheating effortlessly. The reflective strips and detailing mean you’re easy to spot down dark dirt roads, and for such a lightweight jacket, it cuts wind out well. The excitingly scientific Texapore 02 Taslite DT 2.5L (try saying that with your mouth full) that it’s coated with is clearly a bit genius.
Verdict: Super simple and slim fitting in design, the Vapor Trail looks great and delivers on all its promises, defying wind and rain without adding weight. Whether you can shell out £140 for the pleasure of wearing it is another question – if you’re a Nordic hiking, global travelling, all-weather biking nut, it’s a sensible investment that will happily go around the world or up a mountain with you. If you just want to keep dry on a nice walk in the Brecon Beacons, buy a Mac in a Sac.