Friday, June 15, 2012

Review: Platatac - Harry 1.2 Softshell Jacket

Winter rolled around with alarming speed this year, I felt and I am remarkably displeased with this situation. Winters in Melbourne are typically blustery, damp and cool. It rarely drops below freezing, but we do have some frosty mornings and bitter nights for sure. The time came around when just layering jumpers simply didn't cut it, to either shrug off the rain or cut the wind. I've enjoyed wearing my Microfleece Half-Zip coupled with either my kendo club vest, or any one of my salvaged jumpers but the combined wind and wet have left me unhappy. So, when the opportunity arose to upgrade my winter-time wear, I jumped at it. What I'm sporting here is the Platatac Harry 1.2 Jacket, my new best friend in winter. This is the XXL in BRO Olive, which blends nicely with my other things, and avoids "Melbourne Black" an aesthetic choice.

What can I tell you about this jacket...? Firstly that it is solid. Not heavy, because it's not all that weighty. Not stiff or bulky, because it's neither of those. It is solid. The fabric has a really "present" feel, unlike the feathery polarfleece jumper feel that I am used to.

The outer material is densely woven and has a leather-like heft. I was immediately impressed by this. My usual winter-time option is my Matrix-style floor length leather coat, so I appreciate the solid feel without the weight of all that leather.Secondly, I can tell you this about the construction: It's rugged, and tough. I don't tend to be gentle with my clothes, they get tossed, dragged, stuffed and trodden on. Tactical Baby and Triceratops Girl are always hanging off me, climbing over me and generally using me as a staging / feeding platform. Water resistance I've tested, having trudged around in the rains a few times, and been very happy with how dry I've stayed. The best part has been the wind-stopping. Putting this on, you are instantly cocooned in a double layer of that densely woven nylon and a polarfleece liner. I've had snow-jackets that haven't been as toasty. Speaking of which, it is also flash/flame resistant. Good for Flamin' Moe's, campfire mishaps and for those putting their very only body in harms way. It's also feature packed.

There are three distinct sets of pockets, each recessed under a fold of the outer layer: The first pockets are the regular "jacket-hand warmers" and are exactly what you'd expect. Zippered, deep enough to shove your hands in, wide enough to accommodate the cuff of the jacket (avoiding that "ride-up" effect) as well as having space to stow every-day items like keys, gloves or whatever. A bonus feature is that they are fully backed. No thin nylon mesh leaving a wind-penetrating hole into your cocoon of warmth!

The second set of pockets are a pair of nicely tailored bicep-pockets. Not only are these angled for ease of use by the wearer, but also angled so you don't need to keep stuffing items back in if you happen to leave them unzipped. The cavity is roughly the size of a CD, and is cut such that the lines of the pocket are obscured and blend into the lines of the jacket. A loop field at the upper edge of these pockets adds to that, whilst giving a couple of spots for adding your favorite, or needful patches. Here's one of my TAD Spartan mountaineering patches

Each arm-pit features a double sized zippered vent, which I must say, is an AWESOME addition. Being able to open up a little and vent, whilst still keeping your front zippered up is a great boon, allowing you to regulate temperature whilst keeping your core dry. It also means I get access to the contents of my holster harness whilst keeping my front zippered up. I don't know if this would be of any use to the "concealed-carry" types out there, but it means I can grab my Myki train-card without having to get a chest-full of drizzle.

You can see here that the sleeve/torso junction is well gusseted leaving plenty of mobility, without either bunching up when arms arm lowered, and not making the waistline ride up when giving a "French Salute". Having your arms free to climb ladders, scale fences, lay prone and outstretched all whilst not exposing your belly and kidneys to the elements, or exposing my under-layers to the elements is very desirable. The bottom hem of the jacket features two adjustable drawstrings to further tuck in your parts. The wrist cuffs are hook-and-loop cinch-able, to close off the elements as well.

  The detachable hood also bears some detailed discussion. The hood attaches to the body of the jacket with a solid zipper, feeding into a recessed flap on the collar. It also features two hook-and-loop tabs at each collar-corner, which sandwich into corresponding pockets on the collar, giving a more secure, and broader wind and rain-stop. The back of the hood features two separate drawstrings, one for the brow-line, the other pulls the lip of the hood back from the face. This gives a remarkable amount of customization to the fit and wear of the hood. A third more conventional drawstring at the front of the hood controls the face aperture. It also controls the built in bill, which I loved, as a glasses-wearer, I hate getting rain splatter on my specs.

Where are those third sets of pockets you ask? I didn't forget. They're hidden, concealed in the hemline of the main zipper at pectoral level. This is a great place for my iPhone, I've found, but could just as easily hold ID, passport, a billfold or a a nasty surprise item like my SAR comb,these pockets accommodate a CD case easily, to give you an idea of the dimensions and are cut such that the contents don't bulge or "hang", divulging the position of your hidden goodies. As with the bicep and hand pockets, the pocket lining is fully covered by the polarfleece internal layer of the jacket.

The main zipper line is double ended, and features a chin to hemline tongue to block wind and wet incursion, giving you plenty of ability to rug up, the double ended zipper gives you access to your beltline or regulate temperature. I have had a few issues with lining up the two zippers, but I seem to always have that when it comes to double-ended zippers, but that is really my only point of contention with this jacket as a whole. There aren't any internal pockets, but given how I layer my tops and pockets, this isn't an issue for me. I always have my Holster-Harness on, which is all the internal pockets I'll ever need. This jacket really makes winter go away. Now to do something about my legs!

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