Still a bit groggy from waking up, I walk outside to find that it's still dark, and more importantly, about 20 degrees. I'm riding a Vespa to work today, not the most brilliant idea I've ever had, but I'm not worried—I'm wearing the latest Stealth Hoodie LT from Triple Aught Design.
I tend to practice quite a bit of mechanical sympathy, so after starting the large (for a Vespa at least) 250cc liquid-cooled engine so it could warm up, I headed back inside to finish getting ready for the relatively short, but cold ride. It was about this point when I realized my gloves were sitting on my desk. At work. On the other side of town. Luckily for our readers, my now-sadistic ride to work has a distinct benefit, as nothing tests the wind-proof claims of a jacket like riding a scooter at 65 mph in sub-freezing temperatures.
My frozen hands, warmed only by my seemingly nuclear-warm man-bits, provided an excellent contrast to how warm the rest of my body was in comparison. Paired with only an Outdoor Research Transcendent Sweater as an insulating layer, the Stealth Hoodie LT thoroughly impressed me with the distinct absence of any wind or cold air passing through the fully seam-taped jacket. Normally, hooded jackets become a problem while you're on a motorcycle, forcing air down inside the jacket, this has been resolved with the inclusion of their distinct aero hood, which lays flat and out of the way when not in use, and can be rolled and stowed with a velcro strap if desired.
When developing the Stealth Hoodie LT, (the non-insulated version of their Stealth jacket) Triple Aught Design reached out to the land of cheese, chocolate, and secret underground hideaways (Switzerland) where Schoeller makes their c_change® fabric, a wind and waterproof bionic climate membrane. Depending on the situation, the 4 way stretch fabric can react in the same way a pine cone does in nature, expanding or contracting depending on the temperature. This means a breathable fabric when you're in a warm climate, and a fabric with excellent heat-retention in the cold. Combine this with 3XDRY®, a treatment that helps to even further repel water, dirt and stains while wicking away moisture; and coldblack® a treatment that reflects UV rays and prevents fading, and you have yourself an incredibly technical softshell. A very durable softshell that pairs the advantages one gets from a hardshell without that annoying newspaper-crunching sound that comes with wearing one. I've worn this jacket working underneath cars on concrete floors that would have shredded lesser jackets to bits. I've had it in the dirt and rocks laying down to get the perfect photograph. I've had it in freezing rain and snow. I've (accidentally) left it on the floor at a bar, I've even consequently fallen onto blacktop in this jacket after leaving said bar—no rips, no tears, nothing. I've even had a close friend spray me with a garden hose (not on accident) and I'm happy to report that my shirt didn't get wet...my jeans on the other hand didn't fare so well.
If I can't ruin this jacket in the three months that I've been wearing it, no one can.
Travelers need to get the most function and versatility out of everything they bring with them. Triple Aught Design is known for blending the best materials available with purposeful and stylish to the benefit of those who demand a quality product. Water-resistant, Italian-made RiRi zippers are used throughout the jacket, including on the two large vents on the sides of the jacket that are useful to control your body temperature. Several pockets are well-placed throughout the jacket, including two on the left arm, one on the right, and a large hunters pocket on the rear which is perfect for storing an additional layer, maps, or other large the relatively thin objects. Cinch cords around the hood and waist allow you to further dial in the Stealth LT to your specific needs.
Construction quality is good on the Stealth LT, although it isn't entirely without fault. Over the course of testing the jacket, several zipper pulls mysteriously vanished—the simple rope pulls quickly become untied and fall off, it's a minor detail, but you think a more permanent solution would be fitted to a $475 jacket. I'm also glad to see the option of a patch less jacket for those of us who don't have a need to affix patches to our jackets.
Amongst friends, it's no secret that I'm a bit of a jacket enthusiast. I have technical jackets from some of the best in the business, but the Triple Aught Design Stealth Hoodie LT has become my favorite jacket, hands-down. It's an essential part of my travel kit, simply add or subtract an insulation layer (I've been eyeing the Ranger) and you have a single jacket that is wearable year round.
Available from XS-XXXL in ME Green, UE Grey, and Black. With our without patches.
Images Courtesy of Triple Aught Design