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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Stoic Welder Hi Softshell Jacket

It's a stretchy winter softshell completely coated in high loft, fuzzy lining. Need we say more?

by: Will Rochfort

Stoic Welder Hi Softshell Jacket (Courtesy Photo)
Stoic Welder Hi Softshell Jacket (Courtesy Photo)

The Specs:
$299 (although you can typically find it at backcountry.com for 30% off)
1 lb. 14 oz. (Men’s M)
Men’s S-XL
stoicgear.com
Simply put, this jacket just feels right when you put it on. The combination of fuzzy lining (a personal favorite), athletic fit, and just enough stretch to be comfortably mobile makes for a very wearable piece of fourth season gear. What surprised me, however, is the amount of warmth this jacket provided for its size. The trim fit is significantly slimmer than most winter shells I’m used to wearing, but that just helps ensure there’s no place for cold air to gather between the jacket and your body.

The winter-weight softshell is insulating in itself, but most of the heat is due to every square inch of the jacket’s lining being covered with high-loft fleece for maximum warmth. The only downside is that you want to make sure the weather’s cold enough to warrant such a heat-generating machine; even though the fabric breaths reasonably well, I would quickly become uncomfortably warm on sunny days in the lower fifties.

The outer shell is described as ‘highly water resistant,’ so I wouldn’t recommend taking this on an extended trip where precip is in the forecast (or even likely). However, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for day hikes, regardless if the weatherman is predicting a deluge of snow. Even after enduring several hours of sleet and rain in the western Sierras, my layer underneath the jacket was perfectly dry. However, the Welder wet out after a couple hours, so drying out in the lodge was crucial to using it again the next day. The technical details are well thought out. The hood easily covers a climbing helmet, but it’s a bit of a stretch for some ski/snowboard lids.

The hood also cinches down nicely while still providing a wide field of vision for winter sports sans helmet; as a bonus, the fuzzy lining kept my ears as warm as most of the beanies I own (and felt twice as nice!). The pit zips are shorter than I’m used to, but there was still enough airflow to be effective. There’s also mesh over the zips to keep out any wayward snow, should you unexpectedly find yourself face first in some fresh powder. Speaking of which, there’s no integrated powder skirt, but the tail has enough coverage to ensure the bottom of the jacket stays well below your waistline.

What really puts this jacket over the top for me, however, is the daily use I get out of it. It’s the first backpacking jacket I’ve worn in a long time that got the thumbs up from the girlfriend as suitable for urban use (although that hasn’t stopped me in the past), and consequently it has become my go-to for everyday attire. I used to just leave it on the hook by the front door, but I had to start hiding it after some of my friends discovered why I liked it so much; I had trouble getting it back after ‘someone’ borrowed it for a week to run a quick afternoon errand.

Bottom Line: Whether you need an athletic top for aerobic winter endeavors or just have a penchant for fuzzy lining, this jacket will keep you toasty. Bummer: the price is a bit steep for a jacket that’s not fully waterproof.



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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Matt
Jun 04, 2013

Jason, I don't understand your comment or where it is coming from.
I personally own a range of Stoic gear and find that it is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands. Their 100% merino gear is better than smart wool, their fleece is nearly as good as Patagonia and their soft shell is better than North Face.
I'm very demanding on my equipment living in the mountains of Colorado and have found it to hold up very well.

Jason
May 12, 2012

Stoic makes the worst outdoor apparel I have personally ever owned. You would probably have better luck shopping at walmart.

Nick
Oct 06, 2011

Just found this on Steep and cheap for $130!! Keep your eyes peeled.

Cory
Jan 24, 2011

"suitable for urban use". Makes me think of being out in Philly this past weekend in my Stoic down sweater. I like the trim fit and warm down puffiness, but I did get some strange looks and comments from people on the streets and in the food and drink establishments. Oh well, if they don't know...

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