Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gear Closet: Eddie Bauer Cloud Cap Flex Rain Jacket Review

Over the past few years there has been a very noticeable trend in outdoor apparel. Most of the big name manufacturers have begun offering products that are less "technical" in appearance in favor of a more natural look that blends in nicely when not on a trail. This clothing offers the same high level of performance and comfort, but it doesn't look like traditional outdoor gear, extending its appeal beyond the traditional outdoor market. When I received the new Eddie Bauer Cap Flex Rain Jacket, my first thought was that it looked like something I would wear around town or while traveling, rather than on a tough hike on the trail. But, as it turns out, those looks were a bit deceiving. While this jacket does indeed give off the appearance of being designed for city slickers, it is actually a solid solution for use in the backcountry too.

Made from 100% nylon, and sporting an athletic cut, the Cap Flex fits snugly without being restrictive. The jacket comes with an adjustable hood, waterproof zippers, secure hand pockets, adjustable hem and cuffs, and pit zips for venting excess heat. Individually, each of those features isn't especially groundbreaking in any way, but together they add up to a nicely equipped jacket designed for use in the rain when temperatures aren't especially hot or cold.

While putting this jacket to the test, I've worn it as a rain jacket while running errands around town, hiking trails, and even running. In most cases, it worked exceptionally well, keeping moisture at bay with its sealed seams and DWR coating. In fact, despite getting caught in some serious downpours, the interior of the jacket stayed exceptionally dry and comfortable, which is a good testament to how well it performs.


The one exception to this was when I wore it on a run in a big rainstorm. The Cap Flex did a great job at keeping the water out, but it unfortunately didn't breathe as well as I would have liked, resulting in a warm and sweaty interior. The pit zips helped to mitigate this somewhat, but if you're searching for a jacket to wear during high-intensity aerobic workouts, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.

Tipping the scales at a mere 11 ounces, the Cap Flex won't bring a lot of undue weight to your backpack. That's definitely a plus in its favor, as is the ability to compress it down into one of its pockets for storage. That's a feature that I love in my travel gear in particular, and I was happy to see it implemented here. Despite the fact that it is a bantamweight, this jacket remains highly durable. I've worn it numerous times, with and without a pack, and it shows no signs of scuffs, rips, or abrasions. That bodes well for its longterm survival.

I'm also a big fan of the Cap Flex's adjustable cuffs, which use velcro to dial in just the right fit. Most cuffs have this feature these days, but I found the ones found here were especially good, and remained comfortable even when cinched up tight. On similar jackets I've struggled to find the exact right dimensions for it to fit my arms without being too restrictive, but on this jacket it was a simple affair to set and forget the cuff fittings, even while on the run.

Perhaps the best feature of the Cap Flex is its price. With an MSRP of $129, this is a rain jacket that performs well without putting too much of a crimp on your wallet. Sure, there are others out there that breathe better or can hold up to more abuse. Some are better suited for use in colder conditions, and others are more versatile and offer higher technical ratings. But all of those are going to come at a higher price point, and in most cases a much higher price. In terms of what this jacket brings to the table it is a real bargain, making it a no-brainer for anyone who is looking for rain jacket that can be used in a variety of settings.

With the Cap Flex, Eddie Bauer has hit on a winner that balances style, performance, and cost very nicely. Find out more at EddieBauer.com.

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