Many good things from yesteryear still perform flawlessly in to our modern 2012's lifestyle. Canvas, leather and wool still fill the main part of my tripping kit and are only becoming more and more popular. Yes, we know there is lighter more waterproof fabrics available, but with the lighter is better mentality they are paper thin and are way less durable as the three I mention above. I was excited when asked to give Woolrich's new Declination Hoodie a shot at the outdoor experience. Part of there newer "vintage inspired" collection, Woolrich has reaching back to the 70's and has brought back poly cotton as a outdoors fabric and some fantastic styling.
The Declination is an anorak shell, but they chose to use the term hoodie for some reason to describe it. The fit is great, not to baggy, not to tight. When wearing it for my test and during the pictures I have underneath a thick wool button up shirt and a base layer and there is still a bit of room to spare. My major concern with the hoodie is the lack of side access zipper. This would have been such a great add on to the jacket. The fact that fabric has no stretch, and due to the friction between the wool and cotton, getting it on and off that day was a bit of a struggle. Manageable, but if i was wearing this out somewhere "nice" I wouldn't want to be pulling shirt up over my head looking like I was just "jersied". The actual hood was big and roomy but could be snugged down if winds really picked up, as well the nice sized pockets when filled did not make the jacket seem tighter. I might also add that being at tall (6'5"), the declination sleeves were 100% acceptable, I was pleasantly surprised I could put my arms over my head and not have the cuffs at my elbows. and same goes with the overall length, the drop back made for reassurance that the small of my back staid covered while bending over.
MaterialsAs mentioned above that the Declination shell is poly cotton, 65% cotton, and 35% nylon to be exact. The shell is a light weight tight weave that really does block all the wind. While trying it out I was faced with 90km/h winds and snow, and the Declination broke all the wind and also kept the snow off my wool shirt. The lining of the hood is a nice Woolrich plaid cotton, which is super comfortable and soft. The plaid cotton does not just cover the hood but also extends over the bust and around the shoulders. The Talon brand zippers are a heavy duty metal, brass would have been nice as one would not have to worry about rust or any corrosion, alas they are not plastic which would throw the whole heritage vibe. A lot of the tabs on the Declination are made with oiled leather. When I saw pictures of the jacket before I received it, the leather looked raw. This concerned me as treating such small pieces of leather can be difficult as you might get waxy dressing onto canvas where it can stain. When I got the declination the first thing I noticed was that all the leather was in fact oiled. Nice touch Woolrich! The anoraks front main pocket is lined with a nylon type satin and closes with a double velcro closure, snaps would be better and longer lasting for a area that will frequent open and closing. Behind the front pocket is a left and right hand pockets with zippers, which is perfect for the more valuable items you want to keep at hand and not worry about dropping. All in all the materials are good for its job, the poly cotton is a tough breathable fabric, the zippers are a known heavy duty brand, and the leather won't get brittle and crack prematurely.
PerformanceWhen I gave thought as to the use for the Declination, I thought it would make a great campfire jacket, something to throw on after I set up camp and was just lazing around a fire at the end of the day. However, testing in such extreme winter conditions my feelings about the Declination has really changed tune. This jacket is an excellent windbreaker, and general use shell. Being out in the snow, back country skiing for 4 hours one could really appreciate the ease of breath-ability of the cotton, plus the front zipper is long enough to open up for even more ventilation if needed. If I was to be wearing a gortex shell or even a soft shell I know my back would be pretty gross with sweat, but because of the poly-cotton it was completely manageable. All this "behind-the-scenes" ventilation happens while blocking out the cold gusts wind and blowing snow with ease. The huge front pouch and is big enough carry your favorite GORP, a extra hat and gloves with some room to spare and have them all at the ready. One of the other pluses I notice and was quite thought out was the cuffs. They are snap closures, but they have a gusset, so when they are unsnapped, they are huge, perfect for pulling down your sweater that was pulled up while putting it on. Some of my other coats don't have wide cuffs and it can be very frustrating. Also I should note that while its does not really provide any water resistance, it could definitely fend off a small shower and in my case wicked snow, as it would dry fairly quick.
|Skiing in snow storm 90 km/h winds.|
|The aftermath, but I was warm.|
Retailing at $134 CAD at Woolrich.com, the Declination is a solidly built "hoodie", although it is not made in the US, you can tell that Woolrich has strict standards about the quality of their garments and they want to remain true to their long history of durable outdoor goods. While skiing, I snagged it a couple times on some trees and nothing ripped, not even so much as a pulled thread. While it will be tagging along with me in the coming canoe season, I can't lie and say that I have not been enjoying the comfort and classic styling of the Declination while running around town in this transition period from Winter to Spring. Thanks Woolrich and to Michael at PME for the letting me give the Declination a run while out adventuring in the bush.