Jack Wolfskin Brooks Range Flex Hardshell Waterproof Jacket for Men
Product Review & Walking Gear Test
Brooks Range Flex Hardshell Waterproof Jacket for Men
Jack Wolfskin says:"A trusty all-weather companion on longer treks and hikes: The Brooks Range Flex is our longer style, waterproof, windproof and breathable shell jacket. It can even cope with continual rain. The stretch inserts on the upper back deliver excellent freedom of movement. And the underarm zips allow you to add a blast of fresh air when required - for even more comfort. Because we have equipped the Brooks Range with our Regular System Zip, it can be teamed up with a zip-in fleece jacket and upgraded for autumn or winter wear. So you can enjoy the benefits of this jacket all year round."
Features to Note:
- Outer Fabric: Texapore 2L- water column rating: 10,000 mm, MVTR: > 6000 g/mē/24h)
- stretch insert on the back
- venting zips under the arms
- zip-in compatibility with an inner jacket
- detachable hood with adjustable volume and field of vision
- 2 hip pockets, chest pocket, secret pocket
The Jack Wolfskin Brooks Range Flex Hardshell Waterproof Walking Jacket is designed for all weather longer hikes and treks so we have been testing it on long walks in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales & The North Pennines.
The jacket fitted me well (I'm 5ft 10 and XL) and offered plenty of room for a base layer and mid-layer beneath the hard shell. The sleeves are a little long but I rather like this since I can keep my hands out of the wind without having to put gloves on. ( I 'run hot' and find that I cannot wear gloves for very long unless the outside air temperature is really cold). The cuffs have effective velcro closers around the wrists. The jacket is also nice and long to below my crotch and bottom. I had full freedom of movement, both when stretching above my head or bending to get under a fallen tree trunk courtesy of Storm Desmond.
There are two outer hand warming pockets with robust zips that close from bottom to top. These pockets are large enough to take a fully gloved hand but not large enough for a standard folded OS Map. Sadly these pockets are located at waist height so that they were always trapped under the straps of my daypack or rucksack.
Further up there is an outer zipped chest pocket on the left and a 'not quite in or out' zipped chest pocket on the right. This right-hand pocket can be accessed when the front zip is closed but not when the front zip baffles are poppered & velcro'd shut (see below). Again while the zips are robust enough, neither pocket is big enough to accommodate a standard folded OS Map.
All the outer pockets have baffles to keep out the worst of the weather and the zips have toggles that can be grabbed and operated by fully gloved hands. All the zips are colour coordinated and are robust and chunky and ran smoothly.
As is common with these types of waterproof jackets, the front zip is a double slider open ended zip - i.e. one that can be unzipped from the bottom or the top as required. When zipped-up the zip is protected from the elements by a double outer baffle that is secured with lengths of velcro and a popper top and bottom. Surprisingly though, the front zip does not have a toggle and was difficult to operate with glove hands but did zip all the way up to close the jacket snugly under my chin.
The peaked hood is moderately large and roomy enough to take a woolly hat, fleecy hood or baseball hat comfortably - and a bike or scrambling helmet at a push - but not very comfortably. An elasticated toggle at the back of the hood allows for reducing the hood volume by tightening it around the crown and elasticated toggles on either side allowed me to draw the hood tight around my face to keep out the worst of the weather.
To aid with breathability, there are double slider open ended pit zips underneath the arms. These zips have weather baffles and are toggled so they can be operated with gloved hands. Both zips ran very smoothly and were easy to operate in all conditions.
However, I thought that the overall breathability of the jacket left something to be desired. While the outer shell is waterproof and did a good job repelling some particularly heavy rain in the North Pennines, I was left rather clammy when working hard up a grassy slope with the jacket fully zipped up. Opening the pit zips helped somewhat but my arms still stuck to the inside of the jacket making me feel quite uncomfortable.
The price, the location of the hand warming pockets and the (in my opinion) poor breathability of Jack Wolfskin's Brooks Range Flex Hardshell jacket suggests that this is more of a casual hill-walking/rambling type waterproof jacket rather than something you should take up the nearest Munro. It is nice and waterproof and the components used are firm and robust. The look and the overall build quality is very good too so you won't be disappointed - just don't expect it to breath too well when you embark on some serious uphill stuff.
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