Wednesday 29 October 2014

Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket Review

The nights are pulling in, the days shorter, colder and the sun has faded to a warm glow at best. The wind begins howling through the night and chilly breezes begin challenging the trail runner still braving the summer shorts and t-shirt attire during the day. It is time to change the running wardrobe and bring out the winter gear! For most of us, this will include leggings, mid-layers, hats, gloves and of course, a windproof jacket. For those of you yet to get yourself protected from the wind, or anyone looking to upgrade to something better fitting, more functional and with superb breathability and features, the Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket is a fantastic choice.
Over the past few weeks I have taken every windy, wet and blustery opportunity to run in the new S-Lab Light Jacket to bring to you an honest, in-depth review of just what I think of the newly updated and improved windproof running jacket from Salomon.


Key Facts and Features
  • Ultra light, windproof and packable jacket
  • Suitable for racing and training in mild-bad windy, wet conditions
  • Weight: 100g
  • Fabric: AdvancedSkin Shield Fabric (stretchy and windproof) EL 10% PA 90%
  • Fit: Active fit MotionFit engineered technology (new revised cut)
  • Full front zip
  • Magnetic collar stays closed when front zip is opened for ventilation
  • Laser cut holes for ventilation and breathability
  • Extremely packable when not in use
  • Elasticated cuffs and bottom hem
  • Colours: white, red and black (the staple colours for any Salomon racing fan!)

So what has changed in this years Light Jacket?
At first glance you may think, "Not a lot". But you would be wrong. This autumn/winter has seen some amazing changes to the Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket. Delve a little deeper and you will find a completely re-vamped product with some amazing new features and benefits on offer to the user. Let me enlighten you to a few of the main improvements.....

It is worth mentioning at this point that, unlike most changes seen in top quality racing products, the weight of the new Light Jacket has actually increased by about 30g. I suppose this had to happen at some point, as the way things have been heading over the past few years, give it another few season changes and we would all be running practically naked from head to foot! Product changes are not always about making something lighter, but rather better. I have always stated that a decent piece of kit is determined by how well it performs its task unnoticed to the user, whether it be footwear, clothing or electronics. When it works it just works, and it is only when you start to notice an item of your running kit that you realise something about it just isn't quite right. Salomon work tirelessly with top athletes across the globe to better their products, especially in their racing S-Lab line-up. They understand that athletes need their kit to do the job it is designed to do with maximum efficiency to allow full concentration and effort to be put into the performance on race day. The same applies for training; if your kit works with you it enables the user to get the most from your time training in both performance and enjoyment. This has certainly been the case with the new revised Light Jacket. Although slightly heavier, the new features are definitely worth their weight!

Fit and materials:
I cannot separate fit and materials as the two come hand-in-hand to provide a superbly fitted, but comfortable jacket. The previous Light Jacket was a great product with room for improvement when it came to fitting. The new Autumn/Winter 2014 Jacket has incorporated Salomon's new stretchy AdvancedSkin Shield fabric and closer fitting MotionFit engineering technologies with bonded/glued seams to improve both the fit and the freedom of movement at the same time. Combining these technologies has resulted in a jacket that fits closely to the contours of the body, whilst allowing a good degree of stretch in the material and complete freedom of movement when running. You really do not notice the jacket at all whilst moving. The AdvanceSkin fabric, although stretchy, is completely windproof, very breathable and with a small degree of water resistance, although you will get wet if it rains!

Breathability and Ventilation:
The windproof yet breathable fabric completely blocks chilly blasts of wind whilst allowing your skin to breath and not get too sweaty in comparison with older windproof jacket technologies. I absolutely loathe running in waterproofs due to the lack of breathability and the fact that you get wet anyway from the inside-out, so I have always opted for a windproof jacket when the weather turns nasty. I have, however, still been slightly frustrated with the lack of breathability of windproofs, opting only to take it out of my bag in the very worst of weather. When I have run in the new Light Jacket it has been quite the opposite. I opt to start my run wearing the jacket, and only take it off in the very best of weather. How is this possible? Due to the combination of a very breathable material and the cleverly positioned laser-cut holes that improve air-flow and ventilation. It works rather like that of a racing car. Air flows through the inside of the jacket through the holes in the forearms, under the armpits, down the centre of the upper-back and around the kidney area of your lower back. Not only does this allow hot, sweaty air to escape directly out of the holes but also creates a cooling flow of air as you move forward. The resulting effect is possibly the most breathable and ventilated windproof jacket on the market. 

Magnetic collar closure:
This is possibly the most radical change in the new S-Lab Light Jacket. Three very small magnets are positioned in the collar to allow quick and easy closure and opening of the collar. The reasoning behind the idea is to allow the runner to have the zip of the jacket open to whatever length they prefer to improve ventilation in warmer, less windy moments of the run, whilst still holding the jacket in place via a closed collar. This also prevents the open jacket flapping about when unzipped and aids an easy closure when the weather turns icy again. I personally found this feature to work flawlessly over the time I have tested the jacket, although I do worry a little that in extremely windy conditions that the magnets would struggle to remain closed/stuck together, but this did not happen in testing. One great relief was to discover that due to the closely fitted MotionFit technologies, it minimalised any 'bellowing' in the wind when the magnetic collar was closed but the zip 3/4 down and the wind was blowing strong.

My thoughts on the S-Lab Light Jacket:
Simply put, the new Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket provides state of the art windproof protection, ventilation and comfort. What you end up with, is a closely fitted but extremely breathable and well ventilated windproof jacket that doesn't flap in the wind, and that allows the runner complete freedom of movement. It does, however, come with an S-Lab price tag of £130, but it can be found cheaper (see recommendations below as to where to buy). I have had many comfortable and enjoyable runs in the Light Jacket, and if I were in the market for a new windproof, I would certainly be considering this awesome piece of kit from top trail running brand, Salomon. It all comes down to comfort and performance for me, and I have found the S-Lab Light Jacket a perfect companion in bad weather conditions due to increased and improved breathability, fantastic ventilation and runner-specific fit and performance.
Where can you get hold of one?
If you, like me, would like to get hold of one to keep you protected on those cold, windy winter runs, the full size and colour range are available from Castleberg Outdoors. Many thanks Castleberg Outdoors for supplying the Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket for testing and reviewing! 

Happy Running everyone,

More pictures:

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the great review!
    I have a question thought, how would you rate the waterproof-ness of the jacket?
    I'm looking for a waterproof, windproof, breathable light-weight jacket, this seems jacket seems to tick two of those boxes...just not sure about the third..