Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro FZ Running Jacket – Review
Inov-8 Softshell AT/C Jacket – Tested by Charlie @ NorthernRunner.com
“..I thought that the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket was designed to be sold on the continent and not intended for UK use. I was wrong! AT/C really does mean all terrain clothing.“
Whenever a running jacket is described as a ‘softshell’ my immediate questions is “will that be too warm and too heavy for us in the UK?”. Softshell jackets are popular on the continent where the temperatures are lower and the air is drier. In the UK we require a jacket to be more versatile, as it’s likely that one week you’ll be running on a clear, cold frosty day and the next through the rain where it’s 10 degrees warmer. Naturally then, I thought that the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket was designed to be sold on the continent and not intended for UK use. I was wrong! AT/C really does mean all terrain clothing.
The first thing that you notice when you put the jacket on is the cut. It is very nicely tailored. You have room to move but, there is no excess flapping from material in a high wind. The jacket is made of a mixture of Pertex Equilibrium for warmth and Pertex Quantum to aid the windproofing. Pertex Equilibrium is also stretchy, which is why the jacket can have both a close fit with plenty of movement.
It is hard to make a running jacket that offers enough protection to be warm when the temperature drops to, say -10°C yet at the same time prevent the runner feeling like a ‘boil in the bag’ when the temperature is 10°C. I personally feel the cold but do sweat a lot, so it’s difficult to find a jacket versatile enough for me.
On the cold, dry days the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket was great. I was never cold, even when I had been out for three hours. The jacket wicked moisture from my baselayer so I always felt like I was at the right temperature. The hood could be considered a bit flimsy unless you have a hat under it.. but it did offer great protection on cold, windy days and was perfect to pull over your head while you braised the wind running over the summit of a climb. When not in use the hood rolls down around the neck, making the collar feel nice and snug.
“On the cold, dry days the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket was great.”
At the end of the sleeves there are snug cuffs with thumb loops. These make the jacket feel snugger and offer a bit more wind protection for the hands. I didn’t find them warm enough to be used instead of gloves on colder days, but I definitely suffer from cold hands for a runner! If you have better circulation you may well find that you don’t need gloves.
Up to about 10°C the jacket was very comfortable and wicked very well. It also fared pretty well in the wet, considering the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket is billed at being windproof and certainly not heavily waterproof. There aren’t too many days in a typical UK winter (and summer?) when it doesn’t rain or threaten to rain and luckily the AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket can handle a bit of moisture. The potential trouble with Pertex Quantum is that it gets saturated very quickly in light rain. However, the Pertex Quantum in this jacket is only ever used on the outer of the jacket so you don’t feel this moisture. The Pertex Quantum is DWR coated, which means it doesn’t absorb any water that might seep into to the material underneath. During an hour long run in light rain I didn’t get particularly wet, probably less than I would have got from sweat in a thin waterproof jacket. I definitely felt comfortable. That said, if I was heading out onto the hills for a long run I will always carry a suitable waterproof. The AT/C Softshell isn’t designed (and marketed) to offer enough protection to get you off the hills in torrential rain if, say you ended up there long than expected with a minor injury.
“Up to about 10°C the jacket was very comfortable and wicked very well.”
The jacket is finished off with two hand warmer type pockets. Ideal for stashing your gloves, dog lead or keys. The zips were easy to use when running along – even with gloves – and are angled in such a way that nothing dropped out.
To sum; the Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro Jacket surprised me and is versatile enough to be your go to running jacket for the whole of the UK winter.