Has Bex Hopkins found the holy-grail of softshells in the Howies Outback jacket?
Softshells are the most comfortable outer layer we ride in, they’re stretchy and very versatile - unless it’s completely pouring down like a monsoon, they keep you dry and warm without causing you to get hot and sweaty. They work in almost any weather conditions and look fab off the bike too.
The Howies Outback is a new take on the softshell, and dare we say it, as near damn perfect a softshell as we’ve ever come across. In the search for the holy-grail we’ve accumulated over 17 and yes, it is our guilty pleasure!
The Schoeller 3XDry outer fabric does a mighty fine job of deflecting rain and chilly winds and bonded with Merino fleece fabric on the inside it’s lovely and soft next to the skin. Worn over a vest the Merino fleece works like a baselayer and is perfect for the rather damp UK weather. The Outback’s wicking properties are, as we’ve come to expect from Merino fabrics, excellent and as Howies say “it keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and dries in a flash." We don’t disagree, and it washes brilliantly too.
It seems odd to talk about taking the Outback off at this point, especially as we’ve just raved about how much we love it, but it’s such a rare feat to pack away a softshell so neatly and compactly. It rolls up to a remarkable little package that we managed to shove into a jersey pocket!
Unlike most jackets designed for bikers, the Outback doesn’t have any rear pockets, instead there are two pockets large enough for a map or useful stuff and to our delight a zipped chest pocket with headphone port! We’re not sure why other clothing designers think women don’t want a handy pocket on the front of their chest, but we love them and always have our eyes peeled for women’s jackets with such features. They’re particularly useful for phones and MP3 players where you need easy access to items you want to keep safe in the event of a crash.
The Outback fits great and is designed for the female form. On the bike the arms are lengthy enough to avoid any exposure at the wrists and the collar is snug without being at all bulky, we love being able to tuck our chin inside on a brisk morning commute. Hurray for a neat yet long zipper pull, simple to work even with thick winter gloves.
The fabric is super stretchy and lightweight, so is in no way restrictive whatever sport you choose; so far it’s been running, hill walking, mountain biking and ridden to the pub - we can’t wait to take it back country skiing! On a more sedate note the slim fitting style is casual enough to work with a pair of jeans, perfect for a cool summer’s day picnic or as we’ve enjoyed this chilly springtime as an extra lightweight layer around the house. See, we said the Outback was versatile and if we could only have one softshell the Outback would be it!
Wow, this jacket is to die for, unfortunately so is the price-tag. But, as they say ‘buy cheap – buy twice’, so rest assured you won’t need to buy another softshell in the next decade or even longer! Both the levels of fabric and construction take the term quality to a whole new level here!
- Generous pockets, including chest pocket
- Fabulous fabric and construction
- Water resistant
Weight: 372g (size small)
More information: Howies
UK Supplier: Howies
What Howies say about the Women’s Outback Jacket
We've set out to design something that feels and performs like a Merino_wool base layer, but at the same time is wind and water-resistant.
So we've taken the same soft, itch free, anti-microbial Merino wool we use in our base layers and bonded it with a Schoeller 3XDRY softshell outer fabric. The Merino fleece wicks moisture away from your body, transporting it to the outer shell, which in turn lets it evaporate without letting any moisture in.
The result is a performance weatherproof jacket that keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and dries in a flash.
Perfect for sport, the outdoors and those days when the weather just can't make up it's mind.
- Schoeller 3XDRY Softshell outer
- Merino wool inner fleece lining
- Water resistant, windproof & highly breathable
- Dirt resistant finish
- Fast drying
- 2 Map-sized zip hand pockets
- Zip chest pocket with headphone port
- Contoured paneling with stretch
- Active fit, perfect for sport and the outdoors
- Shell: 74% Polyamide, 20% Wool, 6% Spandex
- Mesh: 100% Polyester
- Made in Portugal