Last updated: 08-Feb-19
By Luke Jarmey
When picking a waterproof jacket for running we tend to opt for the lightest options possible, as after all it spends most of the blooming time in our packs! Well, for truly terrible and sustained bad weather, these featherweight numbers often won’t cut it.
Enter the Inov-8 AT/C Protec-Shell, which in their words is ‘designed for keeping mountain runners and multi-day ultra racers dry and warm in the foulest of conditions’. This was actually the jacket used by Jasmin Paris in her recent groundbreaking Spine Race win and overall course record.
With all this in mind, the sodden weather of late autumn and early winter in the French Alps sounded like the perfect testing ground…
- 3 layer waterproof breathable Petex Shield Pro fabric
- 20,000 HH and taped seams
- Product Weight – 360g / 12.7oz
- RRP: £270
Pro’s: What’s good about the Inov-8 AT/C Protec-Shell Jacket?
The first thing I noticed when getting my grubby mitts on the jacket, was the build quality. At 360g it’s about 160g heavier than my favourite lightweight option. However whilst that jacket feels like it’s made of (albeit very strong) tissue paper, the Inov-8 feels considerably more durable and protective. It really doesn’t feel much different to my 600g 3-layer Goretex Proshell alpine jacket. This certainly isn’t a jacket you have to baby like you do with a lot of the lighter pieces.
Furthermore, the fabric has a very slight stretch to it, which helps alleviate that ‘cardboard’ like feeling that hardshells can have.
Sizing wise, I’m 6ft/183cm, slim build and the size large fits me perfectly. I’m a passionate whinger when it comes to jackets which are cut short, so the Inov-8’s long torso suited me well and prevented it riding up whilst running.
The anatomical design, whilst perhaps not quite class leading, is still very good. Running around, my arms feel mobile and giving them a good windmill results in minimal shifting of the jacket and lifting of the hem.
Photo credit: Luke Jarmey
Well the above is all very delightful, but what about its ability to keep that nasty weather at bay? I’m pleased to report that its excellent in this regard. I didn’t notice any water ingress during sustained use. This is likely down to the Pertex Shield Pro fabric, durable taped seams and overall cut of the jacket, in particular the hood, which minimises the space in which rain can drip in.
Breathability seems good, not quite up there with Neoshell or some of the Event equipped jackets, but in line with most hardshells of this spec. It’s worth pointing out here that the hydrostatic head (i.e waterproofness) will generally be better on the Inov-8 than jackets with the aforementioned fabrics.
Looks are of course highly subjective, but I think it’s a classy little number, with a clean modern look and nicely sized and positioned logos. Certainly one you can happily wear in casual situations without feeling too ‘hightech’.
Safety wise, all the logos act as reflectors, giving you 360 degree visibility.
There’s some really nice design details, such as the rubberised ‘L’ shapes on the cuff. The purpose of which is to direct water flow away from your hands. Sounds a bit like wishful thinking, but it seems to work to a certain degree.
This is clearly an out-and-out jacket designed for running. And quite truthfully we’d expect nothing less from a dedicated running brand such as Inov-8. It’s been optimised for use with a hydration vest and this can be seen in the placement of the main pockets low down at the waist, far away from interference with a vest.
In terms of its packability, obviously it doesn’t scrunch down like a 150-200g piece, but it still performs well for its weight in this regard. I tended to roll it into a thin sausage shape, which slotted nicely in my pack.
Con’s: What’s not so good about the Inov-8 AT/C Protec-Shell Jacket?
Though I understand the benefit of the diagonal zipper keeping the zip away from your mouth, in practice I found it marginally annoying when not fully zipped up. You’re left with a big floppy side to the collar, which can get in the way.
There aren’t any underarm vents, presumably to cut down on weight and areas in which water can ingress. However, on balance I think the jacket would have benefited from some venting here to help prevent further sweat buildup.
The material on the inside doesn’t have a particularly nice next-to-skin feel when moist from sweat. In fairness though, most hardshell jackets suffer from this.
Colour can be highly subjective point of contention and yes I do think the black looks good… However, it would have been nice to see it offered in an additional brighter colour. If not just for style preference, but the safety aspects of higher visibility clothing in the mountains.
Photo credit: Inov8
A few minor niggles aside, this is on the whole a great jacket that clearly fulfils it’s design brief of a highly protective, durable shell for sustained use in seriously harsh weather conditions. The weight is quite reasonable for what it offers and Jasmin Paris using it whilst breaking records on arguably the UK’s toughest ultra, The Spine Race, is a rock solid testament to the design.
We all like bonuses and in the case of the Protec-Shell this is its, admittedly subjective, ability to be used as a casual jacket. High peak to pub, it’s got you covered.
Others you may want to consider:
Montane Fleet Jacket – £270.00
Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket – £320.00
About the author: Luke Jarmey – RunUltra Community Manager and Adventure Photographer.
See more of his images here:
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