A couple of weeks have gone by, since I’ve been asked to review Hi-Tecs Ladies SugarHill Softshell Jacket. All this time the weather has been playing some mean tricks, throwing every possible sort of challenge at me. I therefor can happily say I was able to give this jacket a proper spin in almost every condition.
Having spent many years living in Europe my outdoor clothing is mostly of European/North American origin, therefor I was a bit skeptical towards what awaited me of a South African brand and if it could keep up with the quality and standard I am used to.
From a visual aspect I received a modern, stylish looking garment with all seams and stitches in the right place with no loose ends to worry about.
But the real qualities needed to be tested hands on and in the field:
I have a rather difficult size somewhere between S and M, so I opted for M, just to be safe. I even would fit into S, but wearing a sweater or fleece with the jacket may be a little too snug. Having chosen the bigger size certainly gives enough space for extra layers and enables me to move freely. The strechty material also ads to the flexibility and plenty of room to move.
The jacket closes nicely with a front zipper all way to the top of the standing collar, which keeps the neck out of the cold. The collar is lined with a fleece like material. This makes it quite comfy around the neck, but I am not genuinely convinced it is a good idea if you use the jacket for any activities where you sweat a lot. I can imagine it can get irritating.
The zip has thermal bridges on the inside and outside, to keep the wind out and warmth in. The zipper itself is very small, so even I have a hard time pulling it up or down with my little fingers – a cord at the end would solve this problem easily. The sleeves have a perfect length ending with stretchy cuffs, which close loosely around your wrists, it would be even better if they had a loop for the thumbs to keep the sleeves in place e.g. when cycling, jogging or even just keeping the hands warm. This is definitely what the side pockets do: they are lined with a soft material almost warming up the hands instantly. And if you’re not using them you can zip them up to store your keys. Often a feature I miss in outdoor wear are chest pockets on the inside of the jackets for valuables such as a phone or wallet. To my delight this jacket has one, that I can zip up and it even has a little slit for earphone cables, so I don’t have to worry about tangled wires.
So does it do the job?
Having tested the jacket mostly when cycling and walking I can happily say it has kept me warm and out of the wind. It can even double up as short term rain protection, when you get surprised by a drizzle, but don’t expect it to keep you dry in a rain shower, but that is also not what it was made for anyway.
Overall I am very happy with the product and at a retail price of R 699 you really get good value for money on a jacket you can use on an everyday basis. Specially for those upcoming in-between days, when the weather can change from blazing hot to freezing cold once the sun has gone down or the berg wind drops in. Of course you can easily spend 4x the price for a softshell, but if you are looking for a budget-friendly alternative you need not to look any further! And in my opinion, if they’d add a few little improvements the product would be nearly perfect:
- attach cord to zip for better handling
- incorporate loops in the cuffs for thumbs to keep the sleeves in place
- longer back, to keep bum and kidneys warm or not to expose them when cycling or wearing a backpack
- Zippers under armpits for extra ventilation when needed
- Reflectors to be more visible when taking up activities in the dark
Just have a look: