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Tested In the Field: Inov-8 Softshell Pro Windproof Jacket

Like a second skin, a jacket that helps you battle the elements and won’t hold you back. If you’ve been searching for a protective, warm and great-looking top layer for trail, fell or mountain running, I can highly recommend the new Inov-8 Softshell Pro. Inov-8 says,

“Stay warm and protected when running in cold, windy conditions with this men’s windproof running jacket. The AT/C SOFTSHELL PRO FZ is constructed with Pertex Equilibrium for warmth and zoned Pertex Quantum for protection to vital body organs.”

I can’t speak for my vital body organs – I suppose they are doing alright, because they’ve not yet given out on me while wearing it – but the rest of that statement is as accurate as it gets.

Perfect for longer sessions in the hills in very cold, windy and unpredictable weather, the Softshell Pro stood up to everything I’ve given it, over at least 3 months of hard wear. This includes a couple of very exposed runs in the Peak District, where the winter weather has been a mix of gale-force winds, lashing rain, the occasional flurry of snow and some unseasonable mildness. In the latter, I’d suggest this jacket is a bit too protective; the softshell is light, a perfect balance of weather-proofing and running-specific breathability, but above 10c when running hard I found it can get a little warm. However, if you run a bit cold, then this will be welcome.

As a coach, I spend hours outdoors, with groups and individuals, and the Softshell Pro excels in these mixed pace off-road conditions. It’s my go-to jacket for coaching, headtorch runs, and even on long runs when the weather is colder. Slimmer fitting than my windproof – the medium is perfect for the more athletic scale of medium fit – the garment moves with the body, so you hardly know it’s there.

Coaching in the Softshell at Shirebrook Valley Nature Reserve, Wednesdays at 9.45am

There were only a couple of minor quibbles: the hood fasteners are a bit fiddly (a kind of hook and loop system for stowing the hood is a bit tricky to operate in the cold with gloves on), the full zip could maybe benefit from a chest button so it doesn’t flap when open (obviously not an issue when wearing a pack though), and the pockets are if anything too big, so small items like keys or a compass tend to bounce around (but they are great for bundling in things like gloves, hats or maps while on the move).

Back to the benefits though, and the Softshell Pro has one of the best DWR treatments I’ve experienced. Whether that’s because of the zoned Pertex, which provides sheer, waterproof-like fabric sections where you need them, like on the shoulders and chest, or because of the chemical treatment, I don’t know. But I do know it stood up to a torrential rain storm on a headtorch run around the Derwent Edges on a cold December night, beading the rain off like a hard shell jacket. I was drier inside than if I had been wearing a waterproof, because it’s so breathable and adjustable to the elements. That should give you an idea of its versatility and level of protection.

So, when it gets really cold and wet and the weather looks too foreboding for an adventure, tag on the thumb loops, batten down the hood, zip up, cinch in the elastic waist cord, and feel like anything can be overcome. Plus, it looks as good down the local as it does up on the top of a mountain.

Available instore at Accelerate now.

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