It might be 'just' a soft shell, but this one's nigh on waterproof thanks to some clever design.
Haglöfs Roca Jacket - Tested
Weight: 400 grammes
Lightweight Gore-Tex Windstopper Soft Shell jacket with
external taped seam technology, minimalist pattern cut for
reduced seam numbers, abrasion resistant face fabric, smooth
inside flannel for added warmth, laminated, perforated
shoulder panel reinforcements, single-handed adjustable and
laminated collar with brushed polyester lining, full front
water resistant zipper with wind flap and chin guard, two
laminated torso pockets, pit-zips, articulated elbows,
die-cut Velcro cuff adjustment, laminated hem. Also
availalable as women's-specific Roca Q.
What's It For?
The Roca - together with its matching trousers - is intended as
lightweight, highly weather-resistant shell-layer clothing. Because
Windstopper itself is effectively waterproof and in this case is
externally taped along the seams, the Roca should be nigh on
waterproof except in really heavy rain.
In other words, it's a fit and forget top for walking, climbing,
scrambling and biking with a small dose of thermal insulation from
the brushed lining.
The Techy Bits
The Roca uses Gore's Windstopper Softshell fabric which is
windproof and effectively waterproof except for the seam areas, but
Haglöfs has used external taping to cover those weak points which
should make the jacket close to waterproof, but still with the
improved breathability of Windstopper compared to a waterproof
Haglöfs has also used the minimal two-panel design they debuted on
the Oz Pullover to reduce the number of seams further and has
reinforced the shoulder area with laminated, perforated shoulder
patches to improve durability when used with a pack.
How It Performs
Generally we're not big fans of Windstopper in most UK conditions
- it simply doesn't breathe well enough - but we've found that the
most effective Windsopper garments we've tried have been thin so the
membrane is close to your body and have added ventilation options to
help cool sweaty brows when the going gets glowing...
Happily the Roca ticks both boxes. The fabric is nice and light
giving an overall weight of just 400 grammes and not only do the
pockets vent, you can also roll the sleeves up easily to expose
heat-radiating forearms, and there are discreet pit-zips in the
side-seams. Embarassingly we didn't even notice the side-zips - below
- at first, they really are unobtrusive.
Cut is lovely, slim and neat without being tight, and with
easy-to-use adjusters at hem, collar and cuffs. And of course it's
all beautifully put together with the main seams neatly overtaped and
the perforations in the shoulder reinforcements cut into little
Haglöfs logo shapes. The bright orange zips are a matter of taste,
but they grew on us and helped mark the Roca out from the all-black
So does it work? Yes, we found despite out doubts about the
fabric, it actually works very well. Because all the seams bar those
down the insides of the sleeves and at the sides of the torso have
external taping, the jacket's effectively waterproof unless it really
is bucketing down so on most days you can simply fit and forget. And
of course it's completely windproof.
The thinnness of the fabric does seem to help breathability and
the brushed liner is thin enough that it adds more comfort than
thermal efficiency. And when things do get warm, which they will if
you're working hard, a combination of rolled-up sleeves and side zips
plus a bit of main-zip action is usually enough to keep things
bearable and cool you down.
There is a fairly big but - there's no hood, which means you'll
need to resort to a hooded jacket or some sort of headgear for added
protection when things get gnarly. That arguably makes the jacket
best suited to fast movers.
Haglöfs say the jacket has an abrasion-resistant face, but we did
manage to scuff it up a little, probably in a bike crash, but
possibly on brambles, though the damage is hardly noticeable. Last
and least, the zipper garages at the top of the pocket zip are a bit
of a tight fit.
Definitely one of the best all-round Windstopper tops we've
used with Haglöfs choice of fabrics and design features maximising
its effectiveness. The external taping of the seams means that it's
all but waterproof until things get really wet making it ideal for
those changeable British hill days, while the venting options give
you a thermal bail-out clause when things do start to get hot. At
just 400 grammes, it's also respectably light.
At a suggested retail price of £200 though, it's a tad
spendy. You can square that a little if you regard it as a very nice
feeling, very nice looking soft-handled waterproof, but against that,
you need to factor in the lack of hood, which does limit its
versatility a little. We found it excellent as a cold and wet
conditions running and biking option though with the brushed lining
giving a little extra insulation for frosty starts.
Neat design, nigh on waterproof and good venting
No hood and you can still overwhelm the breathability when
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