Last year I purchased a new softshell, an Arc’teryx LEAF Drac Jacket in Urban Wolf. Because Al Gore insists on flying his personal jet all over the globe preaching against global warming, thereby hypocritically dumping untold amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and heating up the planet (sarcasm intended), I didn’t get many opportunities last fall to actually wear my new jacket. Over the winter was a different story, and I now have enough testing to complete my review.
Testing any jacket is tough here in Houston. A softshell is the heaviest jacket I ever need living here, and then only for a few months of the year.
In addition to urban testing, I have had the chance to test the Drac jacket outside of the concrete jungle and in wilderness environments, like the week I spent in the mountains of northern Montana early fall of 2012. I know, not exactly what the jacket was intended for, but it did allow me to better test the wind and water resistance capabilities.
- Moisture-resistant outer faceÂ fabric
- Versatileâ€”ideal for multi-climateÂ usage
- WindÂ resistant
- Stretchy fabric construction provides freedom ofÂ movement
- One-hand adjustableÂ drawcords
- Articulated patterning for unrestrictedÂ mobility
- ArticulatedÂ elbows
- GussetedÂ underarms
- Soft brushed-linedÂ collar
Zippers & Fly Configuration
- Pit zippers for easyÂ venting
- Full front zip with windÂ flap
- Corded zipper-pulls reduce noise and are easy toÂ grab
Cuff & Sleeves Configuration
- Laminated die-cut VelcroÂ® cuff adjusters reduce bulk, and won’t catch or tearÂ off
- Adjustable hemÂ drawcord
- Two sleeveÂ pockets
- Two hand pockets withÂ zippers
- VelcroÂ® patch on sleeves for rank identifier andÂ IFF
One of the biggest selling points of the jacket for me is the materials. The Drac Jacket is made largely from Burly double weave, which is a mix of 50% nylon, 43% polyester, and 7% spandex. Burly double weave is described as a “hard-wearing, durable, stretch woven fabric with a smooth outer face and a soft inner face that is comfortable next to the skin”, and I have to say I completely agree with that description.
After months of use my jacket still looks brand new. Granted, I haven’t been rolling around on the ground with it, but normal wear and tear hasn’t fazed it at all. Additionally, it’s probably the best stretch woven fabric I’ve felt to date. It stretches in ways you wouldn’t expect from a fabric that is only 7% spandex, and it’s also very comfortable up against your skin.
Burly double weave breathability is also very good based on my testing, which is a must for me living in a warmer climate. As you sweat, the Drac jacket does a great job of letting this moisture pass through the jacket as vapor. It also has pit zips that enhance ventilation.
You can learn more about theÂ Burly double weave material from Soldier Systems.
Wind and Water Resistance
The Drac jacket does not have a membrane, and is not designed to be completely windproof or waterproof, but that didn’t stop me from seeing how far it would go.
Living where I do, for a softshell, wind resistance is more important to me that water resistance. The reason is that in my environment I’m likely to only have a softshell and perhaps a lightweight fleece to stay warm. Winter in Houston is more like fall in the north. So I want something that will be able to resist the wind fairly well, since I usually don’t have anything else to go over my softshell. In this the Drac jacket does a pretty good job, but again, it’s not completely windproof.
To really get an idea of how windproof Burly double weave is, I wore the jacket at around ~7,000 ft elevation on several hikes in Montana with winds gusting up to 30 mph. Is the Drac jacket made for that environment? Nope, but I did it anyways. Based on that testing, I’m guessing that anything over 15 mph or so and I’m going to need more layers, or a windproof layer to go over the Drac jacket. Yeah I got pretty cold.
Water resistance is better than I expected, and is achieved through the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating on the other fabric. This coating will likely wear off over time, but it’s not made to be a dedicated rain jacket.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the jacket’s capabilities to shed water and repel wind.
I found the Drac jacket to have a more relaxed cut than other softshell jackets, particularly around the waistline. This is a good thing in my opinion, and allows you to more easily layer with the jacket. The relaxed cut also makes it easier to conceal holsters and other gear at the waistline.
I have found it to be an extremely comfortable jacket.
The Urban Wolf color from Arc’teryx is a grey color that is optimized for urban environments. Sometimes I hear people say that the Urban Wolf color helps you blend into a crowd, or go unnoticed in some sort of SHTF scenario, and on that point I have to disagree. Wearing Urban Wolf doesn’t automatically make you look like everyone else on the street, and besides, anyone who is familiar with gear that has any level of situational awareness will immediately take notice of what you’re wearing.
In my opinion this color is more about blending into urban surroundings (concrete jungles filled with buildings made of metal, concrete and glass) from aÂ camouflageÂ perspective, helping you to blend in with your background. Camouflage patterns stick out in most urban environments, and unless it’s completely dark, Urban Wolf is better at blending in than traditional black.
The jacket is also available in Crocodile, which is a flavor of Coyote brown if that’s more your thing.
I have been very impressed with my Drac jacket. While marketed to military and law enforcement, I think this jacket also serves equally well in the urban civilian world, especially for those of you who concealed carry. The only downsides that I can think of are the price and that the jacket is made in China.
If you’re looking for a softshell jacket, can deal with the price tag and the fact that it’s made overseas, you should definitely consider the Arc’teryx LEAF Drac jacket.