A soft shell is the most versatile jacket in your arsenal.
It will transition from skin track to dirt path; urban park to high alpine. So when Canada Goose unveiled a new line of soft shells for Spring 2015, we jumped at the chance to test one.
There are three levels of soft shell in Canada Goose’s spring lineup. The Trenton Soft Shell Jacket is the most technical of the trio, hence it was our pick to review. How how does it hold up to the elements?
The Trenton—as with the other two models in the line—is constructed from a proprietary waterproof three-layer fabric with fleece backing. It’s tough. It’s stretchy. It’s breathable. Thanks to the lofty fleece, it keeps the chill off. Mobility is further enhanced with hard-shell stretch panels on the underarms, centre-back and at the rear of the helmet-compatible hood. (These panels are sans fleece, so they dump excess heat too.) The jacket is hip-cut, slightly longer at the back, and the waist drawstring is cleverly adjustable from within the front pockets. And if this shell isn’t quite breathable enough for your athletic pursuits, mesh-lined chest pockets double as vents when you’re really huffing-and-puffing.
Lycra stretch cuffs with thumbholes are a defining characteristic of this coat; they add all the warmth and comfort of holding hands with your lover. However, when the sun came out I was often left with sweaty wrists—but I’d still rather have them than not.
Cyclists and nightwalkers will appreciate reflective striping on the forearms and hood. For cruising with tunes, an internal media port holds an iPhone—we liked the headphone loop too, which keeps the cord nicely in place.
Canada Goose excels at crafting stylish gear. Although the Trenton is the most technical of their soft shell line, the slim cut and clean lines make it wearable in most situations this side of a blazer. Our unit was classic black—if you’re hoping to add flair, colour-blocking options are on the rack too. However, if casual wear is your primary concern, yet you’d still like the same rugged construction, look to the Bracebridge and save yourself $130.
Unlike Canada Goose’s hard shells, these soft shells are not seam-sealed. So while the fabric itself is waterproof, it’s a semantic grey-area whether or not the jacket can be classified as such. When I was introduced to these shells at a trade show in Utah last year, Canada Goose’s VP of Design & Merchandising, Spencer Orr, acknowledged that company policy requires waterproof-rated gear to be seam-sealed. Brandishing a sample soft shell, he then mentioned, offhand, “I’d like to see you try to get water through these seams.” Challenge accepted!
Our test unit arrived during a West Coast rainstorm; I tossed it on and headed into the belly of the beast. An hour later, the Trenton was still shedding H20 and I was bone dry beneath. A few days later, I shoved a shoulder-seam under running water for more than a minute. Nothing penetrated. Unless you’re planning to wear it on an Alaskan crab fishing boat, I'd say this soft shell is effectively waterproof.
Wind-proofing can be just as vital. Unfortunately, during our test period, Vancouver's unusually gentle springtime seemed incapable of producing anything more than a moderate breeze (which the shell easily deflected). So, I did as any devoted tester would do. I tossed on the Trenton, straddled my motorcycle and dialled it up to 80 km/h. Wind-proof, it is.
Soft shells rule with their versatility. Explore’s Field Editor, Ryan Stuart, once expounded on his preference for soft shells over hard shells in almost every situation. I tend to agree—though I prefer a longer-cut for alpine skiing—and the Trenton lives up to this ideal.
Worn with a merino wool base layer, it is perfect for Nordic skiing/ski-touring and snowshoeing—owing to its warmth, extreme breathability and unencumbered movement. I’ll pack it on all my early-spring and late-fall hikes—along with the all-weather protection, the tough fabric can bash through bush that might shred a puffy. Cycle commuters in search of cool-weather protection should also look to the Trenton; it’s so much nicer to wear into the office than those flap-bottom bike jackets. And if the Polar Vortex ever returns, pair it with a lightweight puffy to keep toasty deep into the minus-double-digits.
As with all Canada Goose, the Trenton is designed, manufactured and tested right here in Canada. And, like all Canada Goose, it expects an investment from its owners—at $525, it’s priced to compete at the high-end of the soft-shell spectrum.
We give the Trenton a strong recommendation as an extremely useful, premium soft shell. It has already become my most-worn jacket, both on the trail and the sidewalk; an investment that pays its dividends in good times and good looks. (canadagoose.com)