Westcomb has been on a roll lately with several innovative designs and a dedication to manufacturing all their products in their Vancouver-based facility. The Tango Hoody is one of the first jackets to use the new Polartec Alpha insulation. It’s a unique piece so lets dive in.
Westcomb Tango Hoody Features:
- Athletic hood
- Adjustable waist system
- Polartec® Alpha® insulating layer
- Pertex® Equilibrium® shell
- 2 hand pockets
- Laminated internal media pocket
- Available in Black, Grass, Imperial Blue, Pavement
- MSRP: $200
Dancing With the Westcomb Tango
In the last year there have been a myriad of new insulation materials. From waterproof down to synthetic down to a mixture of both. Now Polartec has introduced Polartec Alpha. As with much of the latest technologies in outerwear, Polartec Alpha originated with the US Special Forces. While hard-core outdoor enthusiasts demand high-performance materials, the lives of our Special Forces depend on them.
Over the years, I’ve tested the full spectrum of insulating materials. No question, down is the warmest and most packable. Waterproof down takes that a step further but still lacks true breathability. Most synthetic puffy materials are warm and down-like, but again lack the breathability of the best fleece-type materials. So, for most aerobic cold-weather activities, some variety of fleece still reigns supreme — with my current favorites being the Patagonia R1 or the Piton Hybrid.
The new Westcomb Tango comes in with the warmth and comfort of the best synthetic down combined with the breathability of the best fleece — all wrapped in a weather-proof barrier. I’ve had an early sample in the hopper for much of the winter and overall, I’m a fan.
Undoubtedly, the star of the show is the Polartec Alpha. The combination of the soft, compressible insulation with the superior wicking of a fleece-like lining makes for instant comfort. Just pulling the Tango on is an experience — unmatched by anything else I’ve worn of late. As mentioned, the lining is always warm next-to-skin and really provides unique comfort as an outer or mid layer.
Under a variety of activities — from trail running to skiing — this jacket is impressive. While I still prefer the best fleece for high-output activities, this jacket breathes nearly as well with even better weather resistance when the weather starts beating down. And, it maintains its warmth when saturated by sweat. It’s truly amazing how much heat is maintained wearing the Tango.
So, the bottom line on the Polartec Alpha and Pertex Equilibrium combination is that it is a winner. The rest of the jacket does need some refinement. That said, I’m sure my sample was a pre-production model and one size too large. I’m a solid medium in Westcomb and the large sample was a tad oversized in the body with some extra length in the sleeves. For reference, I’m 5’11” – 170 lbs.
This is my list of remaining gripes: The drawcords for the hood are really, really long and stick out from under your chin when zipped up, the front zipper is not weatherproof and lets a ton of wind in and the simple rope zipper pull on the main zipper needs to be pitched and pulls must be added to the pocket zippers for use while wearing gloves. The Pertex fabric is pilling in high-wear spots as well.
Since the Tango can be used as either a mid-layer or as an outer layer, it has to cover both bases (not always an easy task). Some of the shortfalls of this jacket are not shortfalls if it is just used as a mid-layer only — thinking the zipper pulls and breezy front zipper specifically. While I’ve been a bit critical of the jacket, I still use it a lot because Polartec Alpha is just so awesome.
- Soft, stretchy comfort
- Breathability rivals best fleece but with better protection
- Pertex Equilibrium fabric is soft
- Very packable
- Simple design works well as outer or mid layer
- Extra length sleeves for added coverage
- In-routed hood drawcords are difficult to adjust while in use and require two hands
- Zippers lack pulls and are impossible to grab with gloves
- Structure-free collar means it provides little coverage when not wearing the hood
- Front zipper is mighty drafty — not sure why it’s not a waterproof zipper or at least backed
- A chest pocket would be nice
- The Pertex fabric balled up slightly in high-abrasion areas
The Bottom Line
The fabric and insulation of the Tango hoody is fantastic. It combines the warmth of synthetic insulation with the breathability of fleece — all in a weatherproof package. Round out some of the rough edges and this jacket will have a huge fan base.
Buy Now: Available at Westcomb.com