Jackets For Windy, Rainy Days

April 29, 2016

in Travel Gear

  • SumoMe

Unlike British aristocrats, I don’t have a coat of arms with a motto emblazoned on it.

Coat of Arms

(Lucas Flickr Photo)

But I do have a lot of coats in my closet, especially those I’ve purchased for travel and outdoor activities.

 

Global Travel Windbreaker

And since my “coat motto” is “One Can Never Own Too Many Coats,” I jumped at the chance when offered a free Men’s Windbreaker Travel Jacket by Global Travel Company.

 Sizing It Up

When you shop for a coat in a “bricks-and-mortar” store it’s easy to determine what size to buy: Just try on two or three different sizes to see which fits your “body mass” best.

Global Travel Company makes getting the right fit “out of the box” easier by providing you with this detailed “Size Guide.”

Global Travel Size Guide

And the company advises buyers to check the size carefully, especially if the plan to buy the optional zip-in Polar Fleece Liner ($49) or wear sweaters under the jacket.

Using the chart, and comparing the dimensions of the Global Travel windbreaker to similar coats I own, I decided that “Large” was the size I should order.

Once I received the jacket that proved to be the right move; it fits fine over the fleece vest, REI Revelcloud Jacket [https://www.rei.com/product/891439/rei-revelcloud-jacket-mens], or sweaters that I already owned.

A Pocketful of Pockets

What caught my imagination, and convinced me to ask the company to give me a jacket to wear, keep, and review, were the intriguing number of special pockets, which you can see in this “Superman x-ray vision” photo.

Global Travel Windbreaker Jacket Xray Photo with Pockets

Here’s a list of those pockets and other jacket features:

iPad/Book Pockets (2) Water Bottle Straps (2)
Hidden Pockets (2) Built in Luggage Strap
Earphone Holders Detachable Hood
Microfiber Cloth Built in Eye Mask
Waist Adjuster Cuff Adjuster

iPad/Book Pockets

My iPad (4th generation with Retina display) does indeed fit into the big inside bottom pocket, even if I have it inside of an Apple case, or attached to a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard and inside a neoprene slip-in case. But doing so makes the jacket ungodly heavy and bulky, so I wouldn’t carry the iPad on my body, so to speak, unless I absolutely had to do so.

iPad Air or iPad Mini owners may have a different experience, and Global Travel says “a large iPad will comfortably fit into the largest pocket, except for in a size S jacket. Size S will fit an iPad Mini or a Kindle.”

For me, the pocket would work better for holding a book, map, or maybe a printed out hotel, flight, or car rental reservation confirmation.

Water Bottle Straps

Each of the big inside bottom pockets has a Velcro strap that should securely hold a bottle of water in-place. However, I found that the 23.7 ounce “Ethos Water” plastic bottle of water I purchased at Starbucks was almost too large to fit through the strap, and definitely too heavy for the coat to be comfortably worn. A smaller plastic bottle of water might work fine; if you have your own refillable water bottle, you’ll have to see how it fits.

Hidden Pockets

Each side of the windbreaker has a pocket with a vertically aligned zipper.

The “x-ray” shows a pen, smartphone, and money (perhaps in a money clip) tucked neatly into the left breast “hidden pocket.” While I found I could easy stow those items in the pocket, there was no way to keep them arranged as shown.

Likewise, you can put a passport and sunglasses into the right breast “hidden pocket,” but how they would fit depends on the design of your sunglasses (and mine have too large of a “bow” to fit comfortably).

Left Arm Pocket

There is a funny little zippered pocket on the outside of the jacket’s left arm. I couldn’t quite figure out what to put in it, but I gather it’s designed to hold something small, like lipstick or lip balm.

Earphone Holders

If you want to listen to music or podcasts on a smartphone, you can snake an earbud cable through a loop at the bottom of the jacket’s collar, and then down through a fabric slot to reach your device stowed in one of the “hidden” breast pockets, and maybe even down into the bigger, bottom pockets if you are using an iPad.

Microfiber Cloth

Right-handers will find the microfiber cloth sewn into the top of the left-hand big, bottom pocket handy for giving sunglasses or a smartphone camera lens a quick wipe. (Left-handers will wish that the company had sewn another such cloth into the pocket on the other side of the jacket.)

Outside Pockets

The outside bottom pockets are large enough, although I found the zippered openings to be a bit smaller than I would have preferred.

Drawstrings on each side of bottom, inside edge of the jacket let you adjust the fit, as do the Velcro straps on the sleeves.

Detachable Hood

A windbreaker is fine as a “fair weather” or even a windy day jacket, but without a hood, isn’t very useful in the rain. Global Travel Company’s Windbreaker Travel Jacket can be worn with or without the easily removable hood attached.

But the hood didn’t fit my head that well and it formed a sort of “cone” at the top, presumably caused by the mysterious built-in “eye shade” (which could be useful if you want to sleep in a well-lighted place, like a plane, airport, train station, or above the Arctic Circle in summer).

And the hood lacks a draw string so I found that if I was facing into the wind, it would tend to blow off my head.

Suitcase Straps

If you’re like me, when you take off for the airport in the morning, a light jacket is often enough to keep you warm. But once you get to the airport, and later on the plane, you don’t need to wear a coat.

But where and how to stow it?

A diagram that came with the Windbreaker Travel Jacket shows two straps attached to the hood. According to that diagram, if you fold up the jacket, those straps will hold it loosely onto the handle of your rolling bag.

GTC Windbreaker DiagramBut finding where those straps are hidden in the hood wasn’t easy. Finally, after pondering the jacket and the diagram for several minutes, my wife discovered them stuffed tightly into the bottom of the hood and managed, with some effort to extricate them.

If you are going to carry your suitcase onto the plane, you’ll have to remove your jacket from the handle before stowing the bag in the overhead bin. Then again, if you fill up the windbreaker pockets with everything you want handy during flight and wear it to the gate, you won’t be using the suitcase straps to attach it to your bag.

At first blush, it appeared that you could also use the straps to secure the hood around your neck while wearing the jacket in windy conditions. Unfortunately, the straps so long that they can’t hold the hood tightly against your noggin.

Overall Workmanship

Except for the hood with its puzzling eye shade (which I would remove from the hood if I could) and hard-to-find suitcase straps, Global Travel Company’s Windbreaker Travel Jacket seems to made about as well as one could expect. I did find the main zipper a bit fussy to operate at times, but I’ve had the same problem with other jackets I own.

“Weather Report”

The Windbreaker Travel Jacket shed water fine in very light rain, but I wasn’t able to test it on a heavy rain day. It’s a short jacket, so don’t expect it to keep your pants dry. For that, you’ll need either a longer rain parka or a full-length raincoat.

The jacket is made of nylon, so it doesn’t “breathe” like Gortex. In humid conditions or rainy conditions, you made find yourself perspiring a bit more than you’d like, especially if you are running or hiking. But that’s the case with many windbreakers you’ll find being sold these days.

Global Travel Company also sells “Softshell” and “Sweatshirt” jackets that are designed to be worn in cooler temperatures than the Windbreaker Travel Jacket.

Visualize This

Having trouble figuring out how to “operate” this jacket?

Just watch this promotional video from Global Travel Company.

Sticker Shock

Global Travel Company shipped me the Windbreaker Travel Jacket in early March. The retail price was $139, although I was given it free.

But when I checked the Website the day before posting this review, I was surprised to see that the price had increased markedly to $179.

Comparison Shopping

So how does this windbreaker stack up to the other, similar jackets I’ve got in my closet?

Side-by-side comparisons aren’t easy to make since those coats were purchased over a span of several years and not all are currently being sold.

However, the Marmot Men’s Precip Jacket which I’ve been using for the past few years is, style-wise, although not “pocket wise,” a pretty close match to the Global Travel Company Windbreaker Travel Jacket, is half the weight, and costs far less ($100 direct from the seller , somewhat less or more from Amazon, $99 from REI)). The hood isn’t removable, but it rolls up against the jacket’s collar when not in use, and has drawstrings to keep it tucked tightly around the head. The fabric isn’t Gore-Tex, but claims to be “breathable.” Zippered vents allow you to “let off steam” if you’re working up a sweat.

The REI rain jacket that I own may have been replaced with a newer model, but it is made with the “Elements” brand waterproof/breathable technology. It is a heavier than the two jackets mentioned above, has one inside pocket, two lower outside pockets, and an outside breast pocket that neither of the others has and which I find is best for stowing sunglasses on those days when the sun keeps moving in and out behind clouds. The hood has a drawstring and tucks inside a zippered compartment on the outside of the collar when not in use. Full retail price for various REI jackets in this style run from $139-$249.

Likewise, a Columbia rain jacket I purchased a year or so ago seems to no longer be sold, although the company offers a large selection of outwear of this style in the $60-$240 price range. Mine has an attached, non-stowable hood with drawstring, two large outside pockets on each side of the coat, a zippered outside breast pocket, and three small inside pockets. A drawstring on the bottom inside edge lets you draw the jacket tightly around your body. This is my “go-to in the rain” hiking jacket.

And the Oscars Goes To

I’m not giving out jacket awards, but if I was, of the coats I own, Global Travel Company’s Windbreaker Travel Jacket would win the ones for “Most Pockets” and “Most Unusual Pockets.”

But then, I’m not really a “Pocket Kind of Guy.” However, if you are suffering from “J-POD” (“Jacket-Obsessive Pocket Disorder”) you probably should check out what’s available from ScotteVest which seems to make jackets with more pockets than I have things to carry around with me.

Global Travel Company’s Windbreaker Travel Jacket works fine as a windbreaker, but there is one feature that keeps me from recommending it: The hood which won’t stay attached to your head in even a moderate breeze, and its weird, eye shade, which I found to be more nuisance than useful.

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