A highly waterproof, protective and eco-conscious jacket for hiking in cool conditions
Finally, an environmentally conscious waterproof jacket that not only delivers in terms of protection against the elements, but also doesn’t look like it belongs on the Starship. The Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket has landed! Constructed with a waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric this exceptionally well-made and high quality jacket keeps you dry and warm when the weather sets in. But does it deal with year-round use? Read on to find out.
Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket: The stats
|Weight:||485g (size L)|
|Waterproof?:||Yes, 20,000+mm HH|
|Best use:||Hiking and adventures in wet, windy and cool conditions|
|Eco info:||Fabric is 100% recycled from post-industrial waste|
Features of the Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket
FabricThe jacket is constructed with Dermizax®EV, a 3-layered fabric that is waterproof (20,000+mm HH), windproof and breathable. It’s the Cortazau equivalent of Gore-tex but with better breathability. The stretchy fabric is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating and boasts taped seams on the inside.
The helmet compatible hood has a wire brim to help keep the rain out of your face. It’s also easily adjustable to fit your head when you’re not wearing a helmet. A toggle cinches in the hood at the back whilst a two internal press toggles ensure that the collar fits snugly around the face and chin.
There’s a good sized zipper pull attached to the one way zip that is plenty big enough for use with gloves. The zip is also waterproof with an internal storm flap to help keep out the wind as well as the rain. Plus, there’s a welcome soft patch of fabric at the chin to prevent rubbing and chaffing.
The little bit of extra length at the rear provides a little extra protection and draft exclusion. Or you can cinch in the elasticated drawcord at the hem via internal push buttons. These tighten and release the elastic easily.
There’s nothing fancy about the cuffs. They are simple, fit nicely and can be pulled in and secured to your desired fit using Velcro tabs.
There are three internal pockets: a zippered phone pocket with a headphone port, a small zippered pocket for small change / credit card and a medium sized stuff-it mesh pocket for larger items such as a glove or a wallet.
The hand pockets are high up and harness compatible with waterproof zippers. Inside each pocket is a key attachment clip that’s removable. One has a sunglasses/goggle wiper attached to it. There’s also a small zippered arm pocket to store a ski pass or credit card.
Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket review
Is the Cortazu Hard Shell a coat for all seasons like it’s name suggests? Can a single jacket truly fulfill your torso protection needs year round?
Before I tell you if I think the Cortazu succeeds, let’s backtrack a little and begin with the thing all hard shells are designed to protect you from: precipitation… or to give it it’s more common name, bloody rain…. buckets and buckets of the stuff.
Despite human skin being amazingly waterproof it’s also incredibly ineffectual at keeping our clothes dry, and when our clothes aren’t dry we tend to be miserable buggers. Which is why the gear boffins are constantly researching and developing new materials to aid our fight against inclemency.
One such technical fabric is Dermizax, developed in Japan to not only be completely waterproof and windproof, but also highly breathable and stretchy too. This science is all very well in principle, but to truly test out this jacket I was going to have to get thoroughly soaked. So I headed to the rainiest place I know: Wales.
The first thing I noticed about the jacket was it’s surprising warmth. I’ve been wearing a 3-layer Gore-tex shell (Norrona Falketind) for a number of years and compared to that the Cortazu feels more substantial. The fabric is slightly thicker and yet it doesn’t feel stiff and crunchy like some hard shells can.
The Cortazu Hard Shell uses a 3-layer version of Dermizax, where the waterproof membrane has been laminated between a durable outer layer and a softer, moisture wicking lining. It has a pleasant feel to it, softer and less plasticy than Gore-Tex often feels. Coupled with the stretchiness of the fabric, the jacket feels surprisingly supple and completely non-restrictive when it comes to higher energy activities.
I opted for size large, which is spot on. The size guide on the website is super useful to get the right fit for you. I was between sizes on the guide so went for the size up to ensure there was enough length to keep my gangly arms tucked away. Despite this slight upsizing, I don’t feel that the jacket is too roomy or looks too baggy. And as it is, it’s spacious enough to fit a slim puffy jacket underneath without feeling like the Michelen Man!
The overall good fit of the jacket is also down to the adjustability of the hood, hem and cuffs. The cuffs are simple: a Velcro tab that works perfectly well at keeping the draft out and keeping your hands in place. The hem cinches in to whatever tightness you desire to keep it from riding up, flapping in the wind or letting the breeze in. There’s also extra length at the rear to help with this.
And then there’s the hood. Often, hoods that are designed to be compatible to wear over helmets are all very well and good until you’re not wearing a helmet. Then they can become big and flappy and just plain annoying. Cortazu-style adjustments, however, turn that potential wind tunnel of a hood into a veritable cocoon. Yes, the multiple toggles took a bit of figuring out initially. But once you’ve cinched them in in all the right ways, there ain’t no way that hood is letting in the wind, let alone the rain.
There is a small downside to the hood design, but only noticable when running and when the hood is down. The excess fabric (needed for helmet wear) makes the hood flappy and annoying around the whole of the neck area, unless the zipper is done all the way up. As such, and despite its good breathability, there are certainly better designed jackets out there for running in the rain.
As mentioned, the Cortazu is warmer than I first anticipated. The windproofness is exceptional, but the waterproofness, so far, is winning in terms of weather protection. It’s not just the clever fabric that ensures the driving rain fails at its attempts to give me and my mid layers a soaking, the fit and adjustability also contribute to this. I am starting to question the longevity of the DWR coating. Although I suppose the Welsh rain is heavier and more relentless than your average rainfall?!
What I love the most about the Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket
After a few months wear, the waterproofing is still excellent and the adjustments on the hood and hem allow you to fashion the perfect fit to keep the elements out. I feel totally bomb proof in this jacket and I’m confident it’ll handle whatever nature throws at it.
What I don’t love so much about the Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket
My biggest gripe is the lack of pit vents. Their inclusion would have allowed much better temperature regulation and made the Cortazu a stellar all year round jacket. As it is, it only excels as a cool weather shell, lacking the versatility needed to make it the only rain jacket you need.
Though lacking the ventilation of a true year-round jacket, the excellent breathability and weather protection provided by the highly technical fabric ensures that, in cooler conditions, this jacket is ideal. With lots of pockets, a superbly well-fitting hood and a super-stretchy feel, the Cortazu Hard Shell All Season Jacket is up there with top end offerings from leading brands in the industry. Plus, the fabric is 100% recycled from post-industrial waste.
If you’re between sizes then it is probably worth sizing up for the best fit.
Two big thumbs up from me!
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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.