TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer Jacket

In Colorado, we have a saying about the weather: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes. The dramatic weather shifts require a lot of layering. I’m always peeling off, adding on, and then peeling off again. The search for a midlayer that keeps me warm but is still flexible, breathable and durable led me to give the TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer jacket – a jacket that’s marketed as keeping you warm while maintaining a fashionable flair for everyday wear – a try. I put their claim to the test, wearing this jacket solo and layered up. And while I’m less concerned with fashion and more concerned with function, this jacket is “mainstream” enough to wear to the office in between outdoor use. But it’s on the trails and in the backcountry that this jacket really does its work.

I found the Saddleback to be cozy and comfortable like my favorite cotton hoodie, but it has the benefit of being moisture wicking and breathable. Breathability is hugely important for me in a midlayer. Chances are I’m going to be wearing this under a wind/rain shell in the backcountry or even a heavy ski jacket during the season and, while I hate to be cold, I hate to be suffocating even more. And for someone who sweats as much as I do (sorry, gross), the breathability of this jacket is much appreciated, especially when I wear it by itself on early morning hikes and runs – which is where I used this jacket most often.

TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer Jacket

However, when I do layer up for colder, windier days (think those blustery, horizontal winds above tree-level or in the back bowls) my two favorite features on this jacket come into play. Number one: thumb holes. There is nothing more frustrating than having to grip the opening of your sleeves in a weird, backwards fist to keep your midlayer jacket from sliding up your arm and bunching at the elbow when you throw on your outer shell. With the thumbhole-totting Saddleback, it’s a non-issue – and if you’re sliding on gloves, no issue there either. Plus, there’s just something extra comfortable about feeling all tucked in your sleeves. Which, on my long-lanky frame (I’m 6 ft. tall) are plenty long enough, thank goodness. The sleeves also have a handy wrist pouch that’s a great place for your ID, a car key or some cash. There are also some seriously deep pockets inside the jacket that are roomy enough for a pair of light gloves, your phone or even a small snack.

TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer Jacket

My second favorite feature, though it’s a close second, is the high-zip collar and hood. The hood is attached outside the collar, so when I zip it all the way up, I don’t have to be wearing the hood and things are still snug. The zipper has a great little chin guard that protects from pinched skin and cold metal zippers touching your neck. This is huge when layering or when you just want to keep out the chill without having a hood bunched up around your neck. When I do use the hood, I’m glad it’s wide enough to offer some real protection from the elements, but doesn’t fall down over my eyes and block my vision.

I’ve found that, despite getting damp from perspiration and precipitation, I don’t have to throw this jacket in the wash every time I take it out for a spin. The material airs out nicely on the drying line and seems to stay smelling fresh after about 3-5 wears. I have tossed this jacked in the washer and dryer probably 10 times by now – and NO pilling on the outside. The inner lining has lost a tiny bit of its first-wear freshness, but the outside is still as smooth as ever. This point alone may be what sets this midlayer just above my go-to, forever-favorite fleece zip-up.

A major bonus about this jacket – and all TAMAGEAR products – is their lifetime limited warranty and repair guarantee. That means, if my jacket is damaged by any failure in manufacturing, even after extended use, they will repair the product, without charge, or replace it if needed. I like a company that stands behind their products and is apt to repair when possible. This makes the $149.00 Saddleback Mid-layer a worthwhile investment and a year-round favorite.

Bottom Line:

I would definitely recommend this jacket to anyone looking for a warm, comfortable midlayer this winter.

 Tech Specs:
Date available: now taking pre-orders, expected to ship Nov. 2014
Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.tamagear.com/products/jackets/saddleback/
MSRP: US $149.000
Materials: 94% polyester, 6% spandex
Dimensions: n/a (size medium)

TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer Jacket

TAMAGEAR Saddleback Midlayer Jacket
8.8

Durability

8/10

    Fit

    10/10

      Warmth

      8/10

        Comfort

        10/10

          Usability

          8/10

            Pros

            • Thumb holes
            • Long length
            • Collar/hood combo

            Cons

            • Inside pockets don’t have zippers (items could fall out)
            • Two-way zipper sometimes sticks
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