Westcomb Switch LT ReviewJuly 10, 2012
- Impressive breathability.
- Versatile, four season weight.
- Never shows skin at wrists or back.
- No pockets to put your hands in.
If you live with your hands in your pockets, this jacket might bug you. For everyone else, this highly breathable, waterproof shell is built with attention to quality and detail. The stretchy Neoshell is a pleasure to wear, surpassing most other membranes in breathability and durability.
The lightest Polartec Neoshell jacket on the market. Designed for ski touring, climbing and cycling, the two pockets sit high on the chest out of the way of harnesses and hip belts.
By designing and manufacturing everything in Vancouver, Canada, a hot bed for high quality sewing, Westcomb can focus on innovative design, fabric choice and production. It shows in the Switch LT. Westcomb worked with Polartec to find the lightest treatment for the new Neoshell membrane and then sewed it up with a focus on clean design and durability—in building it, Westcomb says they doubled the industry standard for stitch count. After more than a year using Neoshell, we’re pretty impressed. Like most waterproof-breathables, it’s made of a microscopic lattice of fibers; the holes are big enough to allow vaporized water (sweat) to escape, but too small to allow water droplets to enter.
This airy structure also allows a small amount of air permeability. In other words the membrane is 98 percent windproof; the two percent getting through helps move moisture out of the jacket. The combo works. It’s not shockingly better than other membranes; it’s on par and in some conditions better than Gore Tex Active Shell and eVent in terms of breathability. Add in two easy to open (and close) pit zips and we were rarely sweaty. As for being weatherproof, it stood up to the worst a Vancouver Island winter could throw at it: rain, sleet and wind for days on end without a leak.
In those conditions, the large hood certainly came in handy. It takes two hands to adjust, but fit over a helmet with no problem. The toggles are easy to find, though a little hard to manipulate with gloves on. The cut is just below the hip line and baffled to prevent riding up. The complaint is with the two main pockets, sitting at Napoleon height on the chest. They’re generous in size, but the positioning—facing the center zip—doesn’t work for warming hands. There’s also a small pocket on each bicep with just enough room for an energy bar. We also liked the handy media pocket inside.