The Westcomb Soho Jacket takes the best of Westcomb’s backcountry experience, applies some urban touches and delivers a well-rounded jacket that’s suitable for city life this winter with enough chutzpah to tackle impromptu adventures.
Westcomb Soho Features
- 3-layer wool Schoeller fabric with c_change waterproof/windproof membrane
- Fabric features 2-way stretch
- Laminated cuff and hem
- Adjustable waist system
- High collar with velour-lined chin-guard
- Low profile moulded cuff tabs
- Laminated internal media pocket
- 1 Napoleon pocket
- YKK AquaGuard® VISLON
- 2 Hand pockets
- Colors: Black (tested), Grey
- Made in Canada
- MSRP: $500
Backcountry Tech Meets Soho Style
Manhattan’s trendy SoHo District is home to trendsetters, artists, upscale lofts and galleries. As with much of Manhattan, style is king, but with nasty East Coast winters, warmth and weather protection is also a huge priority. Having lived in Manhattan, I know very well just how cold and wet it can get. Westcomb’s new Soho Jacket gives a nod to urban style with a solid smattering of backcountry function for a weather shield that can pass the sniff test among those with discerning tastes.
The construction of the Soho is unique in that it uses Schoeller’s c_change membrane with a wool outer shell (59% wool/27% polyurethane/12% polyester/2% elastic). This membrane purports to react better to changing temperatures in the same way a pine cone opens up and closes based on the weather. Micro pores react to raising or lowering temperatures and moisture levels to protect from the elements or expel moisture when you’re running to catch the next train. The infusion of wool into the outer fabric offers a soft hand and quieter movement than traditional nylon shells.
Something interesting about the c_change membrane is that it is visually porous. As I sit here writing this review, I can hold the fabric in front of the monitor in a 72-degree room and the light shines through the micro pores of the membrane — like stars in the night sky. As a test, I placed the Soho outside in the 11-degree night thinking it might be less porous after chilling in the mountain air. Upon bringing it inside, I couldn’t tell any difference as the same amount of light shone through the pores, so I’m not quite sure how accurate the pine cone analogy is, but likely it happens on a micro level that can’t be seen.
Compared to competitive fabrics (eVent, Polartec NeoShell, Gore-Tex Active), Schoeller c_change wool looks like a seive. So, it almost goes without saying that it breathes supremely well. Working hard shoveling snow this week has further proved the breathability with nothing beading up on the main fabric — only on the taped seams. On the weatherproof side, every wet-weather test I’ve thrown its way (extended rain, snow and complete submersion) resulted in complete impermeability — pretty cool.
While Westcomb is best-known for their backcountry apparel, the Soho does leverage those core competencies while smoothing out the edges for a urban-friendly design. Aside from the Schoeller c_change wool fabric, the Soho features some elegant touches. One of those are the simple, one-button cuffs. Instead of the standard Velcro sleeve cuffs, the simple button cinches down the cuffs for added protection. The soft, velour-lined collar is cut with a wider diameter than you’d find on a backcountry jacket. I found the diameter to work perfectly in concert with my Rab Microlight Vest as its collar filled the void perfectly for a cozy fit. This large diameter also allows for the use of a scarf — something that is essential for cold urban environs — and allows you to tuck your chin inside the collar for extra warmth.
More on the sleeve cuffs… Most often, I kept the cuffs open. There is a 1/2″ gather where the fabric is joined at the cuff, which provides just a slight amount of taper from the elbow. At that diameter, it can still barely fit over my Swany X-Claim Gloves (it does with a little wiggling). Lighter-weight gloves, like the Sugoi Firewall LT, worked equally well with both unbottoned and buttoned cuffs. The hem is easily adjusted with the single-pull drawstring and all pockets are easily-accessed with the superb triangular zipper pulls (the same as found on the Westcomb Focus LT Jacket).
While I did not use the jacket for skiing, specifically, I can see this jacket working as a crossover from urban jungle to your local resort. The weatherproof protection is superb and with proper layering, it should work well. The only question is getting the right gloves to interface with the button cuffs.
The size large jacket was perhaps just a tad big on my 5’11” 170 lb frame without a midweight layer underneath. It’s not a bad fit when wearing just a long-sleeve shirt, but it does fit better when worn with a midweight down jacket, like the Rab Continuum Jacket. So, perhaps you’ll have to consider the thickness of the mid layers you’ll use with the Soho as you’re sizing yourself up.
- Schoeller c_change fabric breathes extremely well
- Offers excellent water and wind protection
- Nice little touches for urban adventures
- Works well when layered
- Zipper pulls are easily grabbed and pulled
- Quiet fabric with a soft hand
- North American made with high-quality craftsmanship
- Tucking your chin into the cozy collar offers added comfort and warmth
- Comes at quite a high price
- Cuffs, though elegant, reduce glove compatibility
- Taped seams don’t breathe as well as main fabric panels
The Bottom Line
The wool-covered Schoeller c_change laminate delivers an astouding level of weather protection with excellent breathability. It’s quite a unique blend and Westcomb has done well with the Soho for navigating the urban jungle.
Buy Now: Available at REI.com
Down to about what ambient temperature would you wear this around town and still consider yourself comfortable? I’m not going to put on a mid-layer to walk around at an outdoor mall, but don’t want to end up shivering if I have to walk 10 blocks on a 10F day.
What would you be wearing underneath? Just a long-sleeve shirt or something like that? I didn’t specifically test the performance without a mid-layer when things got cold. I’ll do some tests later tonight and let you know. It offers a bit more warmth than your typical shells, but you’re going to want a mid-layer if you’re going to be out awhile. Stay tuned.
I would typically be wearing the cubicle workers uniform: button down long sleeve shirt with a cotton tee underneath. On really crappy days, perhaps a sweater over that.
Ha. I think you would be fine for short stints. I was out in the low 20’s with just a tee shirt underneath and it got a bit chilly. A long-sleeve shirt and potentially a sweater should provide a bit more insulation.
If you don’t plan on layering up much underneath, you could size down as well since the jacket is a standard cut.
Are you able to try one on or would you just buy it online?
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Do you have still have this Jacket? How do you clean it? Is it dry clean only?
Sorry, I don’t have the coat around anymore. Are there no washing instructions in the jacket?