What Snugpak say:
Developed by Snugpak® with input from professional members of the outdoor community, professional navigators and meteorological staff, military personnel, mountain bikers and adventure racers, the new functional Snugpak® Venture AR Range creates an entire system of elemental protection and insulation to support you, whether you are working on completing couch to 10k at your local country parks, completing longer half-marathons across lowland moors, participating in longer mountain marathons, point to point racing and climbing, as well as XC and enduro mountain biking. The Adventure Racing range has been created for you, whether you are challenging yourself or racing for that elite medal.
The Snugpak® AR Softie® Vest and Smock is ideal for races with overnight camps, as well as mountain marathons and XC adventures, all year round, where the main environmental considerations are wind and inclement weather, and a smaller insulation layer is required for the central core of the body:
- Adventure Races
- Cross Country
- Point-to-Point Challenges
- Endurance Events
- Mountain Marathons
- Mountain Biking
The Snugpak® AR Softie® Vest is a tri-layer garment and uses both Paratex Micro as a face fabric, and an internal Softie® Premier fill, encapsulated with a Paratex Light lining. Designed to provide excellent thermal protection against the cold, as well as high protection against wind, the AR Softie® Vest is available in Softie® 3 weight, for the following temperature range:
The Snugpak® AR Windtop is designed to provide excellent protection against winds, as well as sunshine and light rain showers. The windtop is much lighter than a normal jacket, using water resistant YKK zips, and packing down to the size of an orange, ideal for when size and weight need to be kept to a minimum.
On review with me:
The Snugpak Adventure Racing range is designed for those on the move, by on the move I mean in to running, orienteering, cross country, endurance, mountain races and cycling. However during my time with both the vest and smock I found more uses for them elsewhere, especially the vest so they’re not just limited to the ‘Adventure Racing’ title that Snugpak has given them.
Over the past month using the two we have witnessed a wide range of conditions but mostly cold and wet. The AR Vest has Snugpak’s unique Softie fill which is rated for comfort down to 0 and extremes of -5. Having used it in February and backend of January the vest did keep me warm but not on its own, accompanied with the Impact fleece or the ML6 Smock it was an amazing combination, especially during the Beast from the East.
The vest is also great as an over jacket when things do warm up. It’s a great comfortable and lightweight vest jacket and was suitable for pre work outs in the gym or walks.
The AR Racing Windtop on the other hand isn’t made with the Softie fill. In fact it has no down or fill at all and is just the tough material you find on Snugpak’s Smocks and jackets so with this in mind and what our recent weather conditions have been like in the past month this jacket hasn’t been suited to being worn on its own. Even during some runs it was a touch on the cold side but this is why the AR range is designed to complement each other. The Windtop with the Vest was a great combination for longer durations outside whether that be hiking, navigation training or trail running.
When out running, combined with the vest was great as it really reduced the wind chill and due to its long length it was great for reducing mud up my back and would most certainly suit cyclists for this same issue. This Windtop is quick dry and incredibly easy to clean, just whipping it down with a sponge after use was enough to bring it back from mud bath to spotless.
Both the vest and smock are described to protect against the cold and against the wind which they both do very well, the Windtop especially with the added benefit of the hand warmers which wrap around your thumbs and wrist which added to further protection from the elements for moments when you forget gloves like I did when down at Durdle Door.
When it comes to waterproofing the vest lacks complete protection for obvious reasons with lack of sleeves but if you were caught in a short shower out running you would survive and would keep your torso dry to an extent. The Windtop is described to protect against light rain showers and does feature YKK zips on the chest pocket and neck and the nylon material has a water repellent finish.
Whilst out on the Jurassic Coast we had nothing but rain all weekend and I used the Windtop as my main waterproof layer on top with the vest below and I remained dry all weekend. Better yet the Windtop remained light and was very quick drying and easy to take off avoiding everything thing else getting wet.
However if you are out for longer durations it is advised to have a hard shell waterproof, it’s also worth noting both the Vest and Windtop do not have hoods.
Although the Windtop has no fill it means it is very lightweight and super compact so you can take it anywhere with you which when out running or during races which is important. Whether cycling with a small rucksack or out on trails with just your pockets you need something reliable and compact.
I managed to roll the Windtop up so it was smaller than a 500ml water bottle and it weighs less than 300grams (Large) which is incredible and gives no runner an excuse not to bring the Windtop. Even the Vest can be packed down pretty small so it can fit comfortably into a small 10l rucksack.
Both the Windtop and Vest have pockets with the Windtop featuring the chest pocket only and the vest having two deep pockets on the sides and a zipper pocket on inside of the jacket which is large enough to fit keys, wallet, phone or food and a bottle or even the Windtop.
The Windtop does lack the side pockets but the chest pocket is the same size as the larger smocks so you can fit plenty inside – Map, food, jacket, GPS etc.
When it comes to breathability both have their advantages.
The AR Vest with the lack of sleeves allows more freedom and movement of the body and generous air flow around the body but the compromise is the reduced wind and waterproofing. The Windtop offers a great deal more protection and is still surprisingly very breathable. This being down to its longer length over the body and with the option to leave it as a floating style or pull the draw strings up to close off the bottom or neck line.
The two combined is still very comfortable and in windy conditions whilst running I didn’t feel like I was sweating or overheating. Whilst hiking with rucksacks with a combination of the Impact fleece or ML6 smock again didn’t feel like I was over heating or had issues with sweat with the Vest.
In all these two are great combinations with multiple products from the Snugpak range or even other brands to mix and match. They do the basics well, protecting you from the elements and allow you to continue plus both are tough, reliable and good tops for general use. Both are retailed at £107.50 on Snugpaks website which is a reasonable cost, however both do lack features that might be found on similar brands, the obvious missing piece being the hood.
Don’t let this put you off however, if like me I actually prefer not to wear hoods whilst running or cycling and if the weather turns I do prefer to use a waterproof beanie as I find them less restrictive and gives me more visibility and just because a jacket or top has been crammed full of the latest and greatest features does not mean it's going to be better - I've used some jackets and they can't do the basics well which at the end of the day is alarming nad useless when you need to continue being outside.
Out of the two the Vest has been my personal favourite, the Vest has been more useful in the recent weather conditions and is great on its own or combined with the larger ML6 smock in wintery conditions.
Now the weather is beginning to improve the Softie fill will not be required and the lighter weight Windtop will be of more use during Spring and Summer conditions.
That said throughout February and March the Windtop has been the better option when running for similar reasons above and gives great protection from mud splashing up or to keep me outside when it is raining.