Outdoor Research has brought us the Enchainment soft-shell jacket. It was designed with the idea of high-exertion alpine activities. Built from a polyester double weave fabric body and polyester double weave Schoeller® fabric with Nanosphere® technology under arms, the Enchainment jacket contains all the needed components to be functional in the environment without adding unneeded bells and whistles.

Enchainment 1 The use of Schoeller NanoSphere® and the stretch fabric under the arms provides a high level of water repellency as well as superb wind protection. As promised by Schoeller, water did shed off and the jacket.

Schoeller boasts the NanoSphere technology is highly abrasion resistant. I’d say it passed the test of normal wear, pressing through trail branches, rubbing against rock while climbing,  laying on the ground while resting (and the requisite gear testing rolling on the ground), and no visible wear from backpack straps. The underarm stretch fabric is very pleasing to have while climbing or any other activity that takes one’s arms above the shoulders. It makes the Enchainment jacket more comfortable and a bit quieter. This is not to say that the waist didn’t raise up when I lifted my arms, it did but not nearly as much as a jacket without the stretch material.

Any good shell layer needs to be able to seal up at all the openings. Outdoor Research uses DWR YKK zippers, Velcro wrist cuffs, and elastic draw cords at the waist and on the hood. The extension lines on the zippers were easy to use with heavy gloves on. There was not any perceptible water leakage at any of the zippers. The Velcro cuffs sealed up well.

Enchainment 5The elastic drawcord around the waist and the hood were useful. However, I found them difficult to access while wearing thicker gloves. The waist has two points of adjustment, one on either side of the hips. The waist draw cord is small as is the release. This made them difficult to access with thinker gloves on. Happily, the plastic draw locks are lower than where my backpack waist belt sits.

The hood has an internal wire brim, helping maintain a functional bill shape to block rain, which I enjoyed very much. There are two cinch points on the hood which offer a variety of shapes to suit one’s needs. What I did not like was that to close the opening, the draw strings are located on the inside of the chin flap. Which means one must slightly unzip the hood to reach them in order to shrink the face opening. The release is located on the outside which makes opening the draw easy. There is a horizontal draw cord that helps to reduce the internal volume of the hood. Again this was useful but not so easy to reach. The draw point is on the back of the head which is where the release is also located. I found it not easy to access with thicker gloves on. Overall the adjustment was not overly difficult but certainly well worth noting.

The Enchainment jacket has four pockets. Two large-volume waist pockets, a Napoleon pocket and an internal breast pocket. All of the pockets on the inside of the jacket are made from a light mesh material. They are well placed and functional. I did have some concern that putting anything sharp or abrasive, such as keys or other metal items, would poke holes in the pocket lining. The material choice does keep the weight down and holds well, whatever is stowed. The internal breast pocket has a cutout for ear-buds.

Enchainment 4The general construction of the jacket is first rate. All of the critical seams are sealed. The jacket can even be machine washed. The fit is loose while still maintaining a trim fit. There is room for a variety of layering options. The length goes just below the waist. I have rather long arms, often I have to look around for a jacket that has long enough sleeves. The Enchainment jacket comes down to my wrist and I do not think it would be too long on those that wear a large but have shorter arms. It comes in four colors. Mine is a lime green that I was quite fond of. Sure asthetics are an individual choice but we all have seen that “color” that just pushes us to buy the black one.

Pros

  • Stretch fabric underarms
  • Excellent Water and Wind Repellency
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Machine Washable

Cons

  • Hood draw cord on the inside
  • Difficult to grasp draw cords
  • Pocket lining durability in question
Tech Specs
  • 100% polyester double weave fabric body,
  • 100% polyester double weave Schoeller® fabric with Nanosphere® technology under arms\
  • Weight: (oz./g):18.4oz / 523g (L)
  • Colors available:  Glacier (blue), Leaf (green), Hydro (light blue), Black (black)
  • Price: $219
  • Internal Front-Zip Storm-flat
  • Water Resistant
  • Breathable
  • DWR Coated Zippers
  • Movement-Mirroring Stretch=
  • Hook/Loop Cuff Closures
  • Elastic Cuffs
  • Single-Separating Full Center-Front Zipper
  • Fully Adjustable Hood with Stretch Fabric Panels
  • Adjustable Wire-Brimmed Hood
  • Wind Resistant
  • Welded Critical Seams
 
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