i'm not a great fan of hoods.
it's probably one of those childhood things; as i recall, i had a blue jacket when at primary school that featured a hood, and my mother would always insist that i pull it on if there was even the slightest hint of rain. quite why i found that so iniquitous, i really couldn't say, but bother me it still does to this day. yet the hood seems to have become one of those unnecessary accessories applied to garments that really have no need. if you need a for instance, consider perhaps, the sweatshirt.
here's a garment beloved of american colleges and universities that served a purpose under its alternative description as a sloppy joe. not only could the sweatshirt screenprintedly display the student's collegiate affiliation, but it could be worn for basketball or football practice, worn to college dances and more generally for lazing around when likely supposed to be studying feverishly. and then someone decided to add a hood.
i cannot claim total innocence, however, since my distant past also included a hooded sweatshirt. however, the pointlessness of the exercise was admirably illustrated when i plucked up the courage to pull on the hood. it could not be adequately worn without pulling both shoulders skywards, making me look even sillier than normal. this was prior to the days when phrases such as 'boyz in da hood' were misconstrued to be referring to those who stood in gangs on street corners, with one leg against the wall, and a well-scuffed skateboard at foot.
my morning walk, taken prior to spending the day sat in front of an imac, passes a building site upon which twenty local authority houses are in the latter stages of construction. the younger members of the workforce almost to a man, are dressed in hooded sweatshirts which, under the circumstances, are presumably not being worn for sartorial or fashion purposes. it turns out that there is a pragmatic reason behind this choice of apparel. construction site helmets, somewhat generic in their sizing and form factor, are apparently prone to inflicting discomfort upon the head when worn for the majority of the working day. these youngsters pull the hoods up and place the helmets on top to alleviate such tribulations.
this is similar to the function played by the hood on vulpine's latest waterproof jacket, one that is sized with care to allow pulling on under a helmet. in this instance, however, discomfort plays little or no part in the equation. and in one of those 'strange to relate' moments that you probably didn't see coming, it can be pulled up over a winter cap when a sudden hailshower stings one side of my face.
all of a sudden, i have an odd liking for hoods. or perhaps just one in particular.
in the now customary climatic conundrum, the arrival of a waterproof jacket at washingmachinepost croft led to a sudden abatement of the winter precipitation season and an outburst of sunny weather. less than ideal conditions for examining the veracity of a garment described by vulpine as the most waterproof jacket they've ever offered the cycling public. however, the west of scotland is not the west of scotland for nothing, eager and willing to dump a bucketful of rain upon the unsuspecting velocipedinist at the least amount of prompting. thus, on one of those spur of the moment rides on the taurus corinto, heading inevitably towards a bruichladdich coffee, several unremitting downpours of both rain and hail from a clear blue sky, tried wistfully to catch the new gill jacket unawares.
that hood saved the day at the time, but if my dislike of the appendage ever resurfaces, 'tis but a simple matter of unzipping and stuffing in one of the plentiful pockets peppered about its person.
the jacket is aimed, i should think, more at the commuting cyclist rather than those for whom performance is king. the fit is commendably relaxed, allowing the wearing of a shirt, tie and more formal jacket underneath. though its taped seams help fend of any ingress of water, there are mesh protected flaps (from which the gill takes its name) that will strenuously defend your right to remain perspiration free even in the heat of a drag race from the traffic lights. (i'd like to take this opportunity to point out that islay is not only devoid of the latter, but also of roundabouts and road crossings).
referring back to those pockets, there are two waterproof zipped hand-pockets just where you'd expect to see hand-pockets, while the inside offers yet two more sizeable alternatives without zips. and just for good measure, there's a zipped internal chest pocket accessed by unzipping the top section of the full-length waterproof front zip. i have to confess, i'd rather favour a full-width zipped pocket at the rear, should i choose to wear the gill jacket on one of my bicycles with more sporting pretensions. but to be quite honest, that would likely fail the sartorial test when worn during civilian, non-velocipedinal activities. i happily defer to vulpine's greater experience in such matters.
given its perfect applicability to weather protection when walking to and from work, it helped fend off some seriously galeforce assisted rain on a few mornings last week, yet fooled the office administrative staff. who would have guessed that, away from the bicycle and vulpine website, the jacket assumes a mantle of respectability (my late father would have been proud)? this can be posteriorily undermined by dropping the magnetically fastened and removable drop-tail, designed specifically to shield your bum from back wheel spray when riding fenderless. i would, however, advise that you check when dismounting with this in the 'down' position at the coffee shop, for it has a tendency to lead to undesired pointing and sniggering from behind the counter.
try as i might, i have been unable to subject myself to a thorough and lengthy drenching, and though my location is renowned for doing just that, the forecast only promises sufficient rain at a point when i will be otherwise engaged. however, i have been caught in enough of a wide variety of inclement weather to attest to not only the gill jacket's waterproofing qualities, but a comparably proficient level of breathability. the latter of course, depends greatly on what is being worn beneath, but i have attempted to vary this in order not to provide the gill with an easy ride. yes, there have been light perspirational moments, but waterproofing and breathability in a cycle jacket has always been a bit of trade-off, during which one will undoubtedly triumph. on current experience, the waterproofing is highly unlikely to lose.
the gill is well-designed, well-constructed and according to those in the office (including yours truly), well-liked. perhaps surprisingly for such a finely tuned garment, it's perfectly possible to scrunch it up and stuff it in a back pocket, though i can't deny some of its sartorial elegance had suffered when extricated later that same bike ride. if i might quote from the vulpine website "...we believe that our Waterproof Gill Jacket, designed from the ground up has created a new way of thinking in harsh weather apparel, combining style with a new level of real-world performance."
i figure that statement is more than justified.
the vulpine gill jacket is available in acqua, charcoal or lanes green (as reviewed), in sizes ranging from small to xxl at a retail cost of £229
saturday 28 march 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................