with Lindsey J. Bertomen
2 jackets from Hi-Tec suitable for uniform wear
The Roaring River Softshell and the Pour Off Shell from Hi-Tec lack any annoying crinkly sound and have a sleek matte finish
I recently tested two jackets from Hi-Tec — the Roaring River Softshell and the Pour Off Shell — both of which are suitable for uniform wear.
I’m very big on having the right equipment for the right job. Because of my penchant for equipment, I never changed my patrol habits based on weather. That is to say, I made the same number of traffic or subject stops on a sunny day as I did in a downpour.
Every once in a while, I used to get, “I didn’t think you’d stop me in this rain...” accompanied by the shoulder shrug and the grin, after which I generally delivered a warning.
Years ago, I bought a weather-resistant, tech-fabric jacket, not designed for patrol, and sewed on patches and a name tag. Hi-Tec definitely responded to the need for all-weather tech-fabric jackets with these two models.
With less advanced materials, clothing was always noisy and had a “I’m for wet weather” sheen to it. These are made of better stuff. Both jackets lack any annoying crinkly sound and have a sleek matte finish.
The Pour Off Shell is a lightweight, unlined, 100 percent nylon shell of Dri-Tec plain weave material with flat, fully sealed seams. It is made of a lightweight waterproof/breathable fabric with a DWR finish.
Let me start with the waterproof part. I was fortunate to get a chance to use this jacket in some pretty good testing weather and in the exhilarating spray of a waterfall. There isn’t any question about the water resistance of the fabric. I know it may sound like the important part, but it isn’t. Waterproof fabric is useless unless it has a degree of breathability. Combined with the design of the garment, breathability means comfort.
The Pour Off Shell has vents with two-way zippers under the arms for ventilation. They are strategically placed to avoid ingress, even in horizontal rain. The cuffs are elastic with hook-and-loop closures, which not only prevent cool drafts and wet surprises, it prevents loose fabric when accessing safety equipment. It offers mid-length rain coverage, hanging comfortably into the jacket slot of a holster.
The reverse coil zippers on both jackets run smoothly and the Pour Off Shell has Velcro closure overlaps over the zipper. The Pour Off Shell has an integrated, non-removable hood with an elastic, cord locked collar, which keeps weather resistance close to the body.
Comfortable and Versatile
The Roaring River Softshell is a 94 percent polyester and six percent Spandex blend, which is my kind of garment. It flexes silently with any movement, offers superior breathability, and no one would guess it has such high water resistance.
Since I wore this jacket for everything, I can attest to its warmth-to-weight ratio as well as its stain resistance. Stain resistance is one of those things that one doesn’t test deliberately while running about town.
However, I spilled several different liquids on my jacket — not because I was testing, but because I can be clumsy. The fabric finish is superior and I even used a garden hose and a good shake to remedy one mess.
The Roaring River Softshell has elastic cuffs also, without the hook-and-loop closures. I didn’t like these cuffs and prefer the closures. The hem can be cinched on the bottom of the garment, and, combined with hand warming pockets, the comfort range of this jacket is fairly wide.
The strongest feature of the Roaring River Softshell is versatility. The liner material is next-to-skin comfortable and it can be worn as a liner for the Pour Off Shell in colder weather or as a layer for the really cold stuff. It’s as light as any sweatshirt but much warmer. It has more wind resistance than many tech fabric wind shirts. It looks good enough to be on the cover of those resort flyers. I spent my college years in cold country, where whole winters could stay at 20 below.
If I had this then, it would have been my “go to” jacket to compliment a parka.
The Roaring River Softshell and the Pour Off Shell both come in men’s and women’s sizes. The women’s version is called the Misty Mountain Softshell.