The features that I'm looking for are quite simple: light weight, good weather resistance and a good fit. There always has to be a compromise between these different features as reducing the weight often also reduces the weather resistance and requires using materials that don't fit as well. I'm always hoping to a jacket that is made with the choices in design that match what I want. My latest jacket which UVU sent to me seems almost perfect and it has quickly become one of my favourite pieces of gear.
|The UVU Air Lightweight Jacket.|
The first of my requirements that this jacket meets is that of fit. The cut is athletic (for a slim body), with just enough space to fit a vest-style pack underneath or a narrow waist belt. The design also works well for either of these carrying options because there is an elastic pleating that sits just below the ribs, below the bottom of where a pack and just above the top of where a hydration belt would go. The sleeves are narrow and don't billow in the wind. The hood is perhaps one of the most impressive features as it feels comfortable, yet its narrow enough that it moves with my head and I can look around rather than just seeing the inside of the hood when I look to see something on either side of me.
In addition to the slim cut of the jacket there are a few other little features that make wearing it very comfortable. There is a soft lining around the hood, waist and hands and the top of the zipper also has a "garage" to stop the zipper from rattling when running or from rubbing against my face.
|An excellent and comfortable hood.|
In terms of the other two requirements that I'm looking for, light weight and weather resistance, the jacket performs very well. It's not the lightest jacket that I own, but it does pack down well to about the size of a can of coke and once in the outer pouch of my pack I don't even notice it's there. The weather resistance is excellent. I've used this jacket in rain, snow and howling wind and it protected me from all of these leaving me feeling dry and warm post run.
A final addition to how I judge this jacket and why it's my favourite is the clever details that are added to make this a running specific jacket. There is only one pocket on the chest, which the jacket packs into, and no other pockets that add weight. I find pockets are practically difficult to use when the contents move and bounce with a running motion (I'd rather carry anything in a pack). Under the arms there are breathable panels with stretchy material that allows for good arm movement when running and good ventilation on warm, wet days. There are also no tags inside the jacket; the instructions and details are printed on the back panel on the inside. And the extra detail that I love the most is the built in mittens. When not needed the mittens stow into the sleeves and soon as it becomes too wet they're right where I need them - brilliant!
|Mittens that stow into the sleeves when not in use.|
A shell jacket like this is a great piece of gear because it's light and packable, but provides enough protection for changes in weather. In summer I can run with a t-shirt and backpack and if it starts to rain or I arrive on an exposed ridge the jacket is just enough protection to keep me happy and moving. In winter, when it's not pouring with rain or snowing heavily, this jacket is enough of a layer to keep me warm and dry with the other insulating layers I normally wear keeping the significant cold away.
|Snowy and windy? A happy runner has a jacket with mittens!|
I like to have nice gear and enjoy testing and trying different items to find something that works for me. This jacket is my current favourite and one that will almost always been ready to go in my trail running pack.