Jack Wolfskin Onyx Jacket

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They Say - Versatility is the key attribute of our new waterproof hiking jacket the ONYX. The weatherproof shell fabric is very breathable and supple yet tough enough to withstand chafing caused by a rucksack and thus suitable both for single day walks and multi-day hikes with a light pack. It can also be worn year-round by using the system zip to add an inner jacket, making the ONYX a waterproof and warm winter jacket. And last but not least, the jacket is also ideal for both leisurely and high-octane activities since you can regulate the ventilation using the pit zips.

You can see the jacket online here; http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/apparel/men/all-jackets/texapore-jackets/texapore-hiking-jackets/1103491-onyx-jacket-men.aspx

We Say - The first time I used this jacket wasn’t actually for walking but for canoeing. It was a windy cold day and having just got the jacket I thought I’d see how it coped when it had to work well on a number of levels. It had to be windproof and waterproof, naturally, but also roomy enough to wear a fleece and base layer underneath, not so bulky so I couldn’t get my BCD over the top of it and comfy enough to let me do all I have to do in the canoe – paddle, take photos, pull the canoe up the mudbanks… Ok, that’s a tall order for any piece of clothing, but that’s how it has to be with me, as it is with many an outdoor enthusiast. I like to participate in many sports but can’t afford to buy different sets of clothes to suit each one, so anything I do get has to work across the board. Canoeing, hiking, travelling or climbing, it has to cope with it all.

The jacket coped well with that first day’s demands. It handled all I mentioned above, plus it was easy to clean afterwards, which is pretty essential with all that mud I encounter on the river.

The second time I wore it was on a hiking trip to the coast on a very windy, rainy day. I learnt then what a decent hood and chin protection system the Onyx has. The main jacket zip fastens all the way up to the mouth and once it’s there, the hood isn’t going to blow off, no matter what the wind does (and on that day, the wind was around 40mph). The hood has a sturdy band around the front of it, it’s thicker material than the rest of the hood, so that it stays near rigid in the face of gales. There are toggles at the side of the hood to make it tighter and these seem to work well but I never need to use them in reality, the hood is tight enough for me simply by doing the zip up to the top. On subsequent outings, on colder days, the sort where the wind hurts your teeth, I’ve really appreciated the extra protection the high zip affords the lower face. You can just lower your head, with no fear that the hood will blow off, and bury your chin into the jacket (the fleecy lining around this part of the jacket means it feels very snug as well).

Temperature regulation is extra easy thanks to those pit zips. Under each arm is a zip that can be used to expose the under-arm and upper-side of the body completely. Once you learn to recognise that moment when you’re still a comfortable temperature but about to get too hot you can use these to really good effect. On colder days I never used this feature until I was approaching a hill, when I’d unzip both and keep them like that until I was 5 minutes beyond the top of the hill. Works well. On warmer days I’d keep them a little bit open, just to have the air circulating.

Regarding the Onyx Jackets’ ability to keep you dry in a rain storm, well, it does that nicely. There have been a fair few of them this month, snow too, but there has been no leaking or wet undergarments to contend with. There are handy inside pockets of differing sizes; the smaller is zippered and good for storing my phone, the larger is all mesh and perfect for a map.

The outer pockets are well placed, low on the jacket; when I was wearing my BCD (pictured below) or my pack with the waist strap done up I could still use them easily without having to stop paddling or walking. My pack is a modern Jansport one, it sits high on my hips, with the lower edge of the belt strap touching the top of my hip bone (as opposed to my old 1980′s Berghaus pack which was made to sit very low). If your packs sits high as mine does, then you’ll have no issues with getting to your pockets when you’re on the move in this jacket.

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Warmth wise, I have been wearing the jacket over a seperate fleece and I’ve felt warm enough down to around -2 degrees (I’m factoring in windchill with this temperature). Luckily the temperature hasn’t dropped below that this month. There are also zips on the inside to which you can attach a specially made fleece.

Finally, the colour. I’m not a fan of bright colours on the mountainside. Some say that it helps you to be located if you are in need of rescue. I’d say that you should always carry a silver space blanket in your day pack to do this job (and to keep your warmer if you need that), there’s no need to pollute the mountain view with your bright red or orange clothes. So I’m not that much of a fan of this colour as a hiking jacket (I know this jacket also comes in a rather more conservative blue though, which is more my style).

The red colour is however really good when I’m using the Onyx as a canoeing jacket as making sure you’re being seen whilst on the estuary is a completely difference kettle of fish. You really don’t want to blend in when you share your environment with ocean going container ships…

Jack Wolfskin’s Ethical Policy

Where is the product made?

The product is made in Bangladesh

How do you ensure good emplyment practice in the workplace where it is made?

Jack Wolfskin is member of Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) – an independent, non-profit organisation that works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for garment workers. The FWF is broadly accepted even from critical NGOs.

Jack Wolfskin has a very strict Code of Conduct which is available in the languages of the production countries. All of the production sites have been audited. A detailed information about our social compliance program is provided in our supplier social report which we publish every year. All these information are available on our website: http://www.jack-wolfskin.com/tabid-8982/tabid-8988/tabid-8989.aspx 

Where do the products’ materials come from?

Our products come mainly from highly developed countries in Asia.

How do you ensure the materials are responsibly sourced?

Jack Wolfskin nominates most of the materials to ensure a very high level of quality which is very important for technical products. Due to the fact that Jack Wolfskin is member of FWF, we have to provide regularly information about our sourcing procedures to the organization who evaluates our behavior independently. Every year a report is published to inform the public if Jack Wolfskin acts in accordance with the Fair Wear standards. This can be seen on the FWF website:

http://www.fairwear.org/ul/cms/fck-uploaded/documents/PerformanceChecks/2012/jackwolfskinperformancecheckmay2012.pdf

In Summary - This Onyx Jacket is super, 5 out of 5! I can’t score it lower because of its colour as that’s a purely personal thing, and everything else about it is spot on. I love the rigid hood, the cosy internal collar fleece and chin protection and the general robustness of the material, which has stood up to day pack use, as Jack Wolfskin says it can, but also to the demands of canoeing on a wild estuary, where if I’m not in the canoe I’m clambering around on muddy islands or sharp edged wrecks. I’m very impressed, and I thoroughly recommend.

To find out more about Jack Wolfskin and to see their full range of clothing please check their website out

http://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk

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