When I first picked up this jacket a couple of months ago I was very excited at the prospect of putting it through its paces. However, as we were in non-walking mode at the time, I thought it might be a while before I’d get that chance so I contented myself with an initial appreciation of the product.
As you can see this is a serious garment, probably the most technical piece I have ever owned. As a “softshell” it definitely falls into the top end bracket (with a top end price tag to match), combining high levels of weather proofing with comfort and loads of nice features – so much more than simply a fleece with a DWR!
I originally bought the Fang with a view to bolstering my winter layers, particularly as a mid layer. And according to Haglöfs it is aimed primarily at winter use. However, thanks to the peculiarly wet and cold spring we seem to have been having, I found myself reaching for it to try it out. Not just once, mind, but again and again.
The first thing I noticed when putting it on was just how comfortable it is to wear. I did have to go up a size to get the right fit meaning the sleeves are a bit long, but these are easily and comfortably adjusted using the Velcro cuff tabs. The fabrics used offer plenty of stretch in all directions, and the cut and body length are just right for me too – it manages to feel quite close fitting yet roomy enough for a baselayer and thin insulating layer (such as a microfleece) to be worn underneath if needed.
At around 702g in size XL it is not the lightest jacket around, and I can hear backpackers groaning from here. But so good are the stretch, comfort, cut and fit that it feels far lighter than that when on. It also feels really durable and well built, too, and I expect it to shrug off the many years of hard work it will undoubtedly have to endure.
In use, I have nothing but praise for this jacket. It has easily resisted 75 minutes of steady rain without a hint of water ingress, kept chilly winds effortlessly at bay, and – when the temperature did bother to rise – demonstrated excellent breathability and a multitude of ventilation options to postpone the leave-it-on / take-it-off conundrum.
The hood is helmet compatible but cinches down well for a close fit with adjustment at 3 points – at the back of the head, at the nape of the neck and beside the face. Obtaining a snug fit is therefore simple enough. The stiffened peak is nice and solid too, not budging in the wind and helping to keep the rain off my glasses. I have pondered before about the inclusion of a hood on a softshell jacket, often simply adding to the weight and being no substitute for a proper hardshell hood anyway. But when a garment is as weatherproof as this I can see it makes a lot of sense – you will often need nothing other than this as your outer layer unless subjected to prolonged, heavy rain.
The two main hand-warmer pockets are raised to accommodate a rucksack hipbelt or a harness. Again, attention to detail is the byword – they feel intuitively in the right place and are plenty big enough to hold an OS map.
One point to note: the zips are excellent, too. All run freely, including the water-resistant main zip and the generally difficult to reach pit zips. This is something that often lets other types of waterproof zip down – how awkward they are to use even in the unthreatening environment of the shop, let alone on a cold, wet and windy hillside.
This jacket is beautifully made with a great attention to detail and plenty of well-thought-out but unobtrusive features. It is very comfortable to wear, with good ventilation and breathability, yet weatherproof enough to keep out the wind and repel rain in all but the worst conditions when a waterproof hardshell will be needed.
In the end, though, it comes down to this. The Fang is a very comfortable, very versatile jacket that I want to reach for again and again, and whose many features and attention to detail are unobtrusive until needed. I would have no qualms about recommending it, or buying something similar again, or looking at any of Haglöfs’ other products in future.
In short: it is hard to find fault. Top drawer.