Years ago, TAD offered two ‘hoodies’, specifically two outer layer jackets, both with a measure of waterproofing or repellence to them: the Stealth Hoodie and the Stealth Hoodie LT. The former was water repellant, and had a nice fleece liner to it. Good for warm/dry with a light threat of rain, but nothing serious. The latter is waterproof, but has no fleece liner. A classic waterproof outer layer.
Today, TAD still offer two jackets in this category: The LT, and the Raptor. The Raptor features a modern hood design, conforming well to the skull of the wearer, and moving with the head, unlike the old design. In addition to the hood design, the Raptor is made out of Polartec® Neoshell® 3-Layer (at 98 g/m2), which claims it’s breathable enough to not need pit zips.
I bought the Raptor in August, but, living in the Bay Area, had been largely deprived of inclement weather to wear it in (it looked excellent in my cupboard though), with the exception of breathability.
Hiking to the top of a hill on a windy morning, I took my Raptor as a wind shell, and can attest to its breathability: the wind cuts through it, which, based on my experience with previous Schoeller and Gore shells was a surprise. Outcome: the Raptor is breathable. Sadly, this also means that it needs a liner to be effective, a liner that would probably be perfectly effective on its own.
Getting to the Alps for the first snow of the season in November, I took my Raptor with me for two days of snowshoeing.
The dry snow behaved like dry snow, and bounced off the shell, and with temperatures fluctuating between -2 and 19C the Raptor was given ample opportunity to show how it handled moisture buildup on the inside in a varying environment. I was comfortable throughout the day, without having to remove the jacket. At no point did I miss reaching under my arms to open and close pit zips.
Wet weather experience
Finally, returning to sunny CA, I took the Raptor for a day’s hiking in the coastal redwood forests of Humboldt. Helpfully, it was very damp in the forest, and with a mix of rain, drizzle falling from trees, and brushing against wet leaves and branches, the Raptor was allowed to show off its waterproofing.
The day started off wet, and continued to be wet, with temperatures fluctuating between 8 and 14C. As we were in the forest, there was very little wind, and we happily lost ourselves walking along the path, admiring the flora and fungi we saw. Losing track of time, we realised that the time to sunset and the time required to get back to the car were not in our favour, so for the last 13km we hiked at a higher pace. The higher pace resulted in the Raptor being bombarded with water both on the inside (and by water, I mean sweat) and environmental water on the outside. When I stripped the jacket off, I was delighted to find my Vortex was dry enough to be worn after.
Just because a jacket performs well on foot, doesn’t guarantee it’ll perform well on a bike. When I left for a spin, it was drizzling, and then it started raining with more enthusiasm so I stopped to layer up. Critically, the hood is streamlined enough to fit underneath my cycle helmet, and the material is thin enough so that it doesn’t unnecessarily impact my hearing. When dropping down a hill at 60km/h, the wind isn’t sufficient to push the water through the jacket. Whilst the jacket lacked the longer cut of a cycling-specific waterproof, I’ve embraced a bold new technology called a ‘mud guard’ that serves very well to keep my arse dry.
A note on Wetting Out
The greatest fear of a man swaddled in his latest, wildly expensive, piece of waterproofing gear is wetting out, or, the outer layer of the jacket saturating and water moving from the outside in (ie: in the wrong direction).
When wet, the Raptor looks like it has become victim to this problem, but so far it’s purely visual. Water sits happily on the surface without seeping in, and I have enough confidence that I keep my DxO One in one of the chest pockets without worrying about it getting wet. Foolish? Perhaps, but so far, so good. I’ll be interested to see if this is still the case in a year’s time (2017–12).
The Raptor is a lovely, minimalist weather shell, that packs up neatly in use, and shows TAD have shed some of their design decisions, and embraced the modern.
It goes well under a pack, and it’s four pockets are well-placed for access with a pack on. When not in use, it’s light, and rolls up neatly into its own hood to be tucked into a bag.
PS if anyone is hiking in the Fern Creek area, and finds an Equilibrium jacket, please let me know as mine decided to remain behind (it fell out of the bottom loops of my LiteSpeed, a lesson that if something has a loop, secure it with a clip, no matter how tightly one cinches it down).