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Untrakt Obsidian Shell Jacket Review

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all

So I've been after a shell jacket for a little while and as much as I would have loved an Arcteryx or Norrona shell the bank balance just wouldn't stretch that far, espeically for something that sits in my bag for most the year! I know they last years but still I started looking for alternatives.

Untrakt gear has been mentioned a few times on here, with some discussion in this thread here but there aren't many reviews and I've never seen one out in the wild. So hopefully this little write up may help others when it comes to purchasing.

Some digging around (by others) have found that Untrakt seems to be an "in house" brand of Sports Pursuit. They have there own website - Untrakt where this jacket retails for £400 which seems very expensive and puts it in the realms of other well known brands jackets such as Peak Performance, North Face etc. However on Sport Pursuitit seems to be on constant "DFS" style sale for £159.99.
This leans me to thinking that the Untrakt website and price is only really there to catch the odd sale here or there, but mainly so they can advertise their jacket on SP with a heavy discount which is more eye catching to punters.

Anyway, I took the plunge and purchased the Obsidian Shell Jacket in the petrol/teal colour combination, size large. Delivery was quick (roughly about 3 days).
Upon opening, my first impressions were positive. It's a very smart looking jacket and felt well made. Some of the features I like are the removable snow skirt, the large zip pits that can open from the bottom or top, ski pass pocket and the soft area around the top of the zip to stop it rubbing on cold days.
A couple of the initial negatives were the that the hand pockets are quite small and a bit awkward to get into. And the interior pocket doesn't have a zip.

Fit wise, I'm a touch under 6ft 1" and about 94kg so went for the large based on my other clothing/jacket sizing. Length wise is spot on for me. The fit across the chest is good and there is enough space for layers. I skied in a base layer, mid layer and fleece under the jacket on the coldest day last week and didn't feel stuffed in.
It does feel tight around the bottom where it sits across my hips. It might just be me but it there wasn't much need for the snow skirt as any snow would have had a hard job finding its way up there. It is also a tad too short in the arms I feel. I don't have the longest arms, but when I tried to use the thumb loops I felt there were really pulling and where uncomfortable. I think it's just the inside material as the actual shell did cover enough of my arms. So just a heads up if you have longer arms.

As for performance, well I've just returned from Val D'Isere where it was worn for 6 days skiing in a whole variety of weather. We had heavy wet snow, bluebird sunny days and very strong winds. The jacket performed superbly. On the hot days, I was able to dump a lot of heat build up with the impressively large pit zips. I was just wearing a thin merino wool base and a thin mid layer under the jacket and was a perfect temperature. When we got onto a longer lift that was exposed, it was easy enough for me to do my zips back up to keep the wind out.

When it was dumping quite wet snow, I was kept bone dry. Didn't really encounter any wetting out apart from where my rucksack straps where, but this is the case for any jacket. Everything else was beading off nicely. We had some very strong (and at times, freezing) winds during out week. I was able to really hunker down in the jacket and it did a great job and keeping the wind out.

All in all, I was very impressed. Difficult to comment on longevity just yet but overall happy with my purchase. I hope this little review helps others!

Pictures below for an idea of fit etc.

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I bought the Obsidian in Cherry Red, size large even though I'm 174cm 70kg. Now skied in 10 weeks and all has been good. I rather like the top opening waist pockets as small items don't fall out on a chair lift.
Chest pockets will take a 500ml soft squishy drink bottle vertically without looking too bulky.
I've bought a spare, which should now see out my skiing years. Skullie
latest report
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I've got a pair of the matching Obsidian pants. Good quality overall. Only criticism would be that at the PiPAU bash, I wore them for a day in torrential rain and got a small damp patch where water seeped in through the fly. It's a none water resistant zip (unlike every other one on them).

I've also got some of their bamboo/merino mix base layers and they're really good. Dryer and warmer than anything else I've had (of similar weight) and the antibacterial qualities are amazing; far better than just merino
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