Champion Pinnacle Soft-Shell Men's Jacket
Good for low-exertion activity
I had a Champion soft-shell jacket purchased several years ago that finally wore out. It worked really well against wind and general cold, with a thin bit of fleece bonded inside of the shell material. Mostly breatheable, I would use it when mountain biking in 60 to 30 degree weather, with layers underneath when really cold. Sweat did build up a little, but it was not too bad and I never felt chilled, even when wearing the jacket with only a polyester jersey underneath. The cut was such that the rear tail portion was long enough to cover when I was bent over in riding position and the front was short enough it really did not bunch up when bent in the same position.
I spotted the Champion Pinnacle Soft-Shell at Champion's Outlet Store located in the Premium Outlets in Gilroy California. An employee there said they had just received them. I was intrigued as it was the first time I had seen something from Champion in softshell since my original jacket. I chose the black, even though the fabric in that color really reminded me of those black satin disco jackets from the 70's, as it was a lot more shiny than the usual softshell fabric utilized by other manufacturers. I liked the chest pocket and the thumb-holes. When trying it on in the store it appeared to leave plenty of room for layering underneath, including a 100-200 weight fleece layer if needed. The arms were plenty long, so I knew they would not ride up when cycling, even without using the thumb-holes. The rear was long enough to cover when bent over in riding position, but the front looked a bit longer than the older jacket. The build of the jacket was light-weight. I was a bit concerned for the warming characteristics as there was no fleece, even a thin layer, bonded to the outer fabric. There was a mesh lining, so I figured it might be more breatheable at the cost of insulation.
I have now had several rides with the jacket as well as using it on walks around my neighborhood. The rides were in temps from 50 to 60 degrees, with some breeze causing a bit of wind-chill to factor in. I tried the jacket with only a long sleeve polyester jersey underneath. This combination left me chilled halfway through the ride. The jacket did not breathe that well at all. The wind was blocked relatively well, but since there is a lack of any insulation at all, even the thin layer like my old jacket, I was left with a clammy wet feeling inside the jacket. The wind might not have penetrated the jacket, but where the wind hit it cooled down the material enough it chilled the sweat building up inside the jacket.
I then added a merino wool baselayer underneath the jersey and jacket. Usually the wool will keep me warm even if wet from sweat or precipitation, but in this case it did not. I still felt clammy about half way through the ride.
Used on a lower exertion exercise, such as walking, the jacket performed admirably. It retained my body heat and blocked the wind just right with only a long sleeve Champion Double Dry technical shirt underneath. I daresay if I picked up the pace to a run I would probably experience the same thing as I did on the mountain bike once I started to perspire.
I have not used the loop and cord slot intended to run headphones from an MP3 player in the chest pocket, but I like that those are there. The zipper garage at the top of the neck works really well, leaving my neck comfortable. The zippers are easy to use, even while wearing thin gloves. I do miss having a drawstring adjustable bottom or waist on this jacket, as my old jacket had one. A adjustable waist really works well to regulate temperatures and eliminate drafts. I have not employed the thumb-holes yet, but when I use heavier gloves this winter I will use the thumb-holes to keep the sleeves inside the gloves.
This is a great jacket for exercise that will not produce too much sweat. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a jacket that will block the wind during walks, or for those who intend to layer with additional materials who are not worried about sweat buildup.
November 14, 2012