Craghoppers Vector Soft Shell Jacket

Fleece jackets are nothing new and they’ve been a major part of carp fishing clothing for many years. I myself must own about half a dozen different fleece jackets in various weight thicknesses which I use all the time; either on their own or as part of a layering system, and I use them right throughout the year.

Up until last year I’d always gone for the traditional fluffy type fleece jackets, as due to their thickness, I’d always assumed they would naturally offer the best protection from the wind and cold, though I have to say, since owning this Vector Soft Shell Jacket from Craghoppers, I’ve really had to change my opinions!

The jacket actually came as a gift last Christmas. At first glance the jacket was obviously pretty stylish, but at just 250g in weight, my first thoughts were that it would be a bit too lightweight for fishing use – that was until I actually started wearing it of course. I was amazed at how well it kept out the wind when worn as part of a layering system, and being so lightweight, gave excellent movement – so no surprise that it was soon put to good use out on the bank, and it’s performed faultlessly ever since. 

Craghoppers Vector Soft Shell JacketAfter taking a closer look into the design of flat faced fleece fabrics, it turns out they offer even greater durability over a standard fleece and the flat face outer actually improves its wind resistance qualities rather than hampering them, so it feels warmer in use despite being much thinner overall than even my lightest summer fleece jackets.

Whilst the outer is flat fleece, the inner has a lovely soft touch feel, so the jacket is really comfy to wear over a T Shirt, hoody, or whatever else. I have to say that I’m totally sold on it, and will be thinking much more carefully about my future purchases of fleece jackets.

With its reinforced shoulder panels and heavy duty zips, the jacket has repelled quite a bit of abuse during the year yet still looks as good as new, not something you’d get with a standard fleece. With the weather in Leek turning distinctly Polar last week, I dropped it on to go and take the kids to school and two people commented on how they liked my new jacket – when I told them I’d been wearing it week in week out for almost a year they were pretty impressed!

Whilst it copes admirably with any conditions out on the bank, its trendy soft shell look means it’s also great for going out too, and for those who like gadgets it’s got a dedicated pocket for a mobile or music device which has a protected internal headphone exit, which is a nice little addition – not that I use it, mind!

The jacket has reinforced shoulders, two external zipped hand pockets, one external zipped chest pocket, fully adjustable hem and elasticated cuffs. Made from polyester it offers warm and highly effective lightweight insulation. Easy cleaning and maintenance makes it a great wash and wear item, and should the worst happen and you do get caught out in the rain – as I have – it’s quick drying too!

Shop around for the best deals, the retail price is around £46.00 from outdoor retailers but I’ve seen them for as little as £26.00 on eBay, which to be honest it a total bargain.

Highly recommended. Craghoppers is a brand well worth considering.

Julian Grattidge
October 2011