My favorite jacket for years has been my REI Mistral. It has served me well, and still does, so I haven’t really bothered to look for a new one. Recently, I have been wanting a slightly more burly softshell for colder condition, so I went on the hunt. Everyone knows you need a jacket for every five degree temperature range from absolute zero to Sahara hot. I had a hole in my wardrobe that needed to be filled.
Thanks to my job, I have hands on access to pretty much every high-end outdoor brand known to man. None of the softshells have really impressed me, or they were out of my price range, even at discount [cough Arc’Teryx cough]. Enter the REI One Jacket. Thanks to the recent super clearance, I got it at a ridiculously low price. Now that I own one, I would gladly pay at least $5 more, maybe even $10.
Okay, I kid. It is a really nice jacket, even at full retail. I have worn it several times over the last week or so, in varying temperatures and weather conditions. It adapts to changing weather very well, and will shed light rain. It is not seam sealed, of course, so a hard shell should be used in combination if a heavy downpour is expected.
A few features stand out. First and foremost to me are the pitzips. I know that softshell fabrics are super breathable and blah blah blah, but are they as breathable as air? No? Okay, so give me pitzips. I am a sweaty little monkey and need airflow.
After putting it on, the fit stood out against many other manufacturers’ fits. The fabric in the waist area did not billow out like it was made for a pregnant woman. I am by no means in perfect shape, but the amount of room most jackets have is ridiculous. Having one that fit close to my body while still allowing for layering and comfortable movement, was very nice. I see so many companies going to one extreme or the other on fit. Kudos to REI for striking the right balance.
The other part of the jacket that completed the trifecta for me was the fabric. I am a big fan of Schoeller fabrics, but their softshells definitely have problems with pilling. I have several jackets and pants in Schoeller that have threads poking out all over them, just from normal wear. I do not roll around on gravel roads, so seeing pilling is always disappointing. The Polartec Power Shield on the One is a welcome break, since it is comfortable, breathes well, and is very durable for a softshell.
The jacket has other features, such as DWR, four-way stretch, drawcords, zippered pockets, etc., but you can find most of those on pretty much every jacket on the market. Still, they are all nice to have, and are just bonuses on top of the pitzips, fit, and fabric. I give a big thumbs up to the One.