Words by Saul Davies
Introduction: I was looking for a heavier weight but breathable softshell jacket to fill a gap in my armoury of outerwear, so when I saw the Exodus jacket on the shop floor, it immediately grabbed my attention and ticked all the boxes. Now, I can give kit a fair bit of abuse. I like to be out in all weathers, carry heavy gear on my back and get hot easily, so the fabric and construction gets tested to it’s limits. I like to be warm when I stop in the wind but need to be able to get rid of moisture quickly; (on the outside and the inside), on the move and with ease. A hard faced, durable jacket that can be used on the hills or in town would be just the ticket.
I have endeavoured to use the Exodus as much as possible; commuting to work, bike riding and walking in the hills. The weather has been generally dry and fairly cold at times with a few showers here and there, all of which it has coped with quite nicely.
Fit: The fit of the Exodus is both versatile and comfortable. It's easy to layer up underneath if you need to, but it's also fitted enough to feel brilliant with just a baselayer too. It's made using heaps of different panels with a good level of stretch, remaining comfortable even when you’ve got more layers than a wedding cake. The hem drawcord is easy to use and seals out the cold, while the elbow articulation enhances the fit and mobility, especially while climbing or out on the bike. The cut of the sleeve length and hem length is also slightly longer, designed for activities where reach and extra coverage is needed; whether that’s mountaineering or general dog walking. The cuffs are cut nicely and the velcro cinches work well, sealing nicely with gloves and without. All of this means that everything stays where it should if you have long arms like me.
Hood: As with most Rab products, the hood just works. Its generous size allows for a climbing helmet to be used underneath but doesn’t fall over your face when using it without. The adjustments work well and it rolls up easily. You can also deploy it rapidly if persistent rain materialises as the strap/clip retainer on the collar is easy to find and undo without having to take off the jacket.
Performance: In terms of breathability and sweat management, I always felt very comfortable in the Exodus. The shoulders, upper arm panels and underarm panels are of a coarse weave on the inside; this helps to absorb sweat and takes it to the finer exterior weave where it can evaporate. The pockets are of a fine mesh, which allows the extra layer to not impede the breathability of the outer fabric any more than is possible. The pit zips are also a great feature - they operate easily and are long enough to do the job of dumping heat rapidly. The rubberised storm flaps on the main zip and pit zips are also a brilliant addition, keeping all but the worst of the weather out and making sure the zip never snags on the inner fabric. On the other hand, the Exodus does a nice job of keeping the windy, wet and cold stuff out too. Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to see how it copes with heavy persistent downpours, however, in light showers, it repelled water without any problems. In dry, cold conditions it was exceptionally comfortable when used in conjunction with a base layer and a mid-weight midlayer. If there's a hint of wind or you're whizzing along on a bike in the cold, the Exodus offers a good level of wind resistance, allowing warm air to be trapped inside efficiently and cold air blocked to avoid heat dissipation. Wearing a pack was also comfortable as Rab have cleverly placed the stitch points lower than the point of contact where the shoulder straps lie.
So how can a good jacket be made better? Not much really.
1. More pockets!... A napoleon pocket for a GPS system or the usual mobile phone would be helpful. A dump pocket made out of fine breathable mesh for stowing gloves/hat would also make it all the sweeter to use.
Conclusion: My overall conclusion is that the Exodus is very good at what it is intended for. It possesses lots of features that we all take for granted such as a tough yet breathable outer fabric, vented pit zips, wind and water resistance, the ability to be stuffed into a small pack, a great good and a brilliant fit from a high quality manufacturer. It fills the gap in my repertoire of jackets nicely and I'm pleased I have one.