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christos nicolaou

Huner Bierce
PSIA Ski Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PSIA Ski Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.

PRODUCT REVIEW

Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell

Recent years have seen the emergence of a category of lightweight, flexible rain shells and windbreakers. These specialty outer layers pack down to palm-sized bundles, and can reasonably be depended upon to block out light wind and rain while on the go.

The JWP Shell is a bit of a niche offering in this regard, straddling both fashion and technical markets, while really lessening the environmental impact of its production.

Though it shares aspects and qualities with an ultralight windbreaker, it’s reimagined for hopping between urban centers via rail rather than traversing ridgelines on climber’s trails. That’s not to say you should leave it at home for your next hike- impressively waterproof and notably packable, this shell can double as a tough, travelable trail tog in a pinch.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.4

Reasons to buy

  • Fully recycled materials in a weatherproof shell
  • Impressively waterproof and breathable
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Stretchy and completely recycled hardshell fabric
  • Expansive color palette
  • Pocket doubles as a stuff sack for the whole jacket
  • Minimized environmental footprint

Reasons NOT to buy

  • On the pricey side for something so simple
  • It’s nearly a pound, and there are much lighter options if that’s what matters to you
  • Light on features

Overview

Jack Wolfskin is a brand that loves to toe the line between technical outdoor equipment and urban outdoor chique. Meaning that their products have the look and feel of something that you’d bring along for your next big hike or bike, but from a feature and design standpoint end up being more suitable for brewery hopping or day hikes.

This is essentially right where the JWP shell falls into place- it very strongly emulates the burgeoning category of ultralight windbreaker popular with climbers and trailrunners, but isn’t technically sound enough to best them in most senses aside from aesthetically. The JWP isn’t trying to be.

Instead it’s a boutique-y urban travel layer, more intended for people who want a jacket they can leave in the bottom of a travel bag or to keep dry dashing between museums and cafes in unexplored cities. In cases where the heavens open up, it’s resistance to rain proved more than impressive.

Jack Wolfskin Men Sideview Black

Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell: Key Specifications

  • Low weight of 400g (14.1oz)
  • Adjustable hood
  • Two pockets with integrated stow pouch
  • Adjustable waist hem
  • Texacore Recycled Polyester

Where to Buy:

Weatherproofing

Jack Wolfskin has a habit of using pretty wordy technical terms in their copy to describe their products- in this case they list these proprietary materials as one “Texapore Ecosphere Stretch”, in nontechnical terms this translates to recycled polyester.

Polyester is a lot of things, breathable and stretchy, it’s a great material to make outdoor textiles out of barring use of a DRW coating. Despite the shortcomings of standalone polyester, Jack Wolfskin’s proprietary take on this material holds up even under intense precipitation while foregoing ecologically damaging PFCs traditionally employed.

In fact, based purely on factory ratings, the JWP Shell is nearly twice as water resistant as the minimum standard you would want from an ultralight rain jacket, probably owing this increased resistance to being at the upper end of the ultralight spectrum. And in the laboratory of real-life, it kept torrential rains from soaking through.

Where water gets in is at the shoulders when wearing a backpack. But this is under exceptionally torrential conditions. The seamed YKK zipper holds both water out and probably will also hold up well against time.

The only place I’d say the jacket falls short of a more technical alternative is wind resistance, particularly if the weather is cold. Generally speaking you’d probably want to opt for something with more insulative properties if you were anticipating cold weather anyways, but getting caught on top of an exposed ridge or a narrow wind-tunnel Chicago alley might leave you wishing you had opted for your heavy shell.

Jack Wolfskin Men Close Up Side View

Comfort and Breathability

Given the lightweight and practical nature of the shell, it’s not something you’d want to wear by itself and is built with minimal layering in mind. The material of the shell itself is appreciably flexible and allows for use well outside of the intended Eurotour city hopper concept the jacket is marketed around. This motile freedom works in tandem with a “screen door” level of breathability, opening up the possibility for aerobic applications.

Again considering factory ratings, the JWP Shell ranks well above most generalized outdoor gear in regard to standard breathability. While it would be nice to see some additional ventilation through some under armed zips or side panels, this would probably add considerable weight. Ultimately the jacket will be more than suitable for most high-output activities, though you might find it a little muggy in warm and wet conditions.

Jack Wolfskin Men Inner Part Close Up

Features

Given the JWP Shell is already nearing the upper ends of what the industry considers an ultralight shell (particularly in larger sizes), it is necessarily light on extraneous features and any material that will add bulk. This isn’t entirely uncommon for jackets in this category, but it makes one wonder again about its intended purpose- I’d think that outer layers intended for urban travel would have a pretty dialed pocket or storage system. Regardless, there are a few things worth taking a look at.

A cinch-adjustable hood is an essential accessory for anything that claims to be a rain jacket. Nothing to write home about here, but one slight criticism, for something geared towards urban travel, the hood isn’t big enough to accommodate a bike helmet.

In a similar fashion, while the adjustable waistline is nice for sealing out the occasional gust, it would be difficult to fit a small travel pack in there with you.

Aside from these considerations, there are two standard pockets that suffer from the same setback as many of the urban/outdoor hybrid pieces from Jack Wolfskin that we’ve reviewed. The pockets are totally incompatible with hip belts and harnesses of any kind. It’s another major consideration even within the urban travel demographic.

I often opt for a backpack when I travel and having to forego the use of pockets is something to weigh heavily.

As a final note on the pockets–and something quite redeeming–the mesh liner of one of them doubles as a stuff sack and carry pouch for the jacket when flipped inside out. This mesh pouch has an external loop you can use to clip the whole package to a backpack for quick access.Jack Wolfskin Men Hood Back View

Environmental and Social Responsibility

As far as in-house copy goes, Jack Wolfskin has far more to say about the environmental considerations that go into the making of their jacket than they do the jacket itself. Taking a closer look at the details, they certainly don’t deserve any reproach for this.

The shell itself is made up entirely of recycled materials, both remnants left over from their manufacturing process and from reclaimed polyurethane water bottles. The lining materials are also sourced from the same process, excluding only things like the cinch elastic and zippers.

The shell’s waterproof coating is also totally free of perfluorocarbons (PFCs). These chemicals are commonly released into the environment during outdoor textile waterproofing via wastewater runoff, and escape into the atmosphere to act as a greenhouse gas. Jackwolfskin has opted to use alternative means of waterproofing their jacket, making the push for a non-PFC DWR.

Finally, 90% of the textiles and 30% of accessory materials are sourced from bluesign certified pathways, an external accountability organization that guarantees safe working conditions.

Jack Wolfskin Men Frontview Black

Other Models

While the JWP Shell is primarily intended for urban adventuring, you’d be selling it short if you didn’t acknowledge it’s high degree of water resistance and further degree of applicability in an outdoor setting.

That acknowledged, there are a ton of options out there specifically curtailed towards the backcountry. If you like the urban-mindedness of the JWP Shell, Black Diamond’s Stormline is a good alternative. Packable and practical, stretchy and stylish- the Stormline has everything we like about the JWP’s pared down charm with a little more room in the hood for your helmet and better pocket placement.

If you’ve decided that the low weight of the JWP appeals to you, and want to push the lower limits of how much a jacket can weigh while being anything more than spectral, the Outdoor Research Helium weighs in at a laudable 6.3oz at the Men’s Large size. With a full feature kit including an adjustable hood and chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, it takes everything practical about the JWP and slims it down into an impressively compact package.

Finally, on the heavier side of things, the Outdoor Research Foray Rain Jacket is a more fully-realized take on the lightweight rain shell. It’s the closest thing we’ve touched on to an actual technical shell that you can use for hiking, skiing, and other high-output specialized pursuits. But it’s both more technical and almost $100 more.

While keeping some of the packability and low-bulk we’ve discussed, the Foray rounds out the package with zippered underarm ventilation, 3 total pockets, and a couple layers of Gore-Tex.

Bottom Line

The JWP Shell is marketed as a highly engineered layer for urban explorers, modeled after technical lightweight rain shells making a boom in the recreational world. If anything, it seems like it’s targeted towards people doing the classic “fast and loose” Eurorail backpacking trip who need a light layer to keep them sheltered from the occasional rainstorm.

A closer look reveals that it’s incredibly waterproof and reasonably lightweight, while also being one of the more environmentally and socially conscious products we’ve ever taken a look at. While there are some optimization issues from both an outdoor rec and an urban commuter standpoint, the JWP Shell is ultimately a pretty practical jacket, suitable for hopping around cities as well as the occasional trail.

It also makes a decent emergency rain jacket that won’t add too much space or weight at the bottom of your hiking pack.

For more of our favorite ways to stay warm and dry while out and about, be sure to take a look at our best of waterproof jackets, and best of windbreakers pages.

See the complete list of the best Water Shoes here!

Jack Wolfskin Men Backview

What We Like

  • Fully recycled materials in a weatherproof shell
  • Impressively waterproof and breathable
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Stretchy and completely recycled hardshell fabric
  • Expansive color palette
  • Pocket doubles as a stuff sack for the whole jacket
  • Minimized environmental footprint

What We Don’t Like

  • On the pricey side for something so simple
  • It’s nearly a pound, and there are much lighter options if that’s what matters to you
  • Light on features

Where to Buy:

Where to Buy:

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about Zhuanglin Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    Is Jack Wolfskin a good company?

    Jack Wolfskin is a German manufacturer of highly functional urban wear that often does double duty outdoors. They’ve also more than earned their mettle as a manufacturer of technical equipment more at home in the woods than between blocks. For a closer look at our favorites of their offerings, take a look at our reviews of their Go Hike Softshell and Expedition Trunk. They also make duffel bags, shoes, jackets and backpacks.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What is the point of an ultralight shell?

    Packable, ultralight shells can take the place of a cumbersome rain jacket for light and fast adventures, as well as sit in the bottom of your pack in the event of an unexpected storm cell. Wind and waterproof, these compact layers can keep you warm and dry in most temperate weather.

    To see the best lightweight rain shells and how they stack up against our favorite waterproof jackets as a whole, take a look at our best of page for side by side comparisons.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What are the best ultralight shells?

    Ultralight windbreakers and rain shells make great emergency layers as well as a way to stay warm in light showers or persistent winds. While there are plenty of great options out there, here are a few of our favorites.

    • North Face Venture Jacket
    • Marmot Preclip Jacket
    • Black Diamond Stormline Jacket
    • Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell

    For more of our favorites in the lightweight warm and dry categories, take a look at our best of waterproof jackets page, as well as our top windbreakers for side by side comparisons of the most competitive options out there.

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