686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket Review
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As the temperature starts to rise the last thing on most people’s mind is looking for a new ski or snowboard jacket. As everyone who plays in the mountains knows, the weather can change in a second and you need to be prepared for everything mother nature throws your way. Spring can be a prefect example of this. You can go from sunny t-shirt weather to a foot of freshies on the ground. The 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket can be worn as a shell for those warmer spring days or if the temperatures start to dip you can throw the 686 Smarty liner on keeping you warm and dry while out enjoying the mountains.
Initial Thoughts of the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket
Ok, I have to be honest when I was asked to review the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket all I could think about was that 686 is a snowboarding company. Being a skier I thought I was going to be reviewing a jacket that hung down past my knees. However, when the coat arrived it’s safe to say I was able to put my fears aside. Not only was the coat attractive with the bright blue color, but the jacket fit perfect the first time I slipped it on. The 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket offers breathability and great waterproofing with 686 InfiDry technology. I had a chance to test the jacket during a few spring ski days. The jacket performed well in the wet spring conditions. I kept nice and dry during a wet snowstorm and didn’t have any signs of saturation. I also was able to test the jacket during a couple mildly cold days with the temperature in the teens. I threw the 686 Smarty liner on and the PRIMALOFT insulation kept me warm the entire day.
The Outer Shell
I was skiing earlier this season in one of those very wet heavy snow storms and ended up completely soaked and wished I had a more water proof coat. The 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket would’ve been nice to have that particular day. The jacket utilizes 686 exclusive InfiDry technology, which utilizes a unique three-step waterproofing process to ensure you stay warm and dry in every condition. InfiDry ‘s microporous coating protects you from the elements while allowing moisture from your body to exit keeping you warm and dry. 686 offers five different levels of waterproofing with the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket having their highest level known as 20k. The 20k stands for 20,000mm waterproofing and 15,000gm breathability. I did wear the jacket in some heavy snow and rainy condition and the jacket easily wicked away water as it landed on the jacket with no apparent saturation of the jacket. The outer shell is made of 100% nylon 2.5-Ply with TORAY Dermizax lamination, which is just another fact name for the fabric that makes up the InfiDRY technology. The seams of the jacket are taped with TORAY material to reinforce moisture protection.
The Shell has some stretch to it making it a great material for all your outdoor activities such as skiing or climbing. To further ensure the waterproofing of the shell the jacket has YKK aquaguard zippers. One feature the outer shell has that I am not a big fan of is the internal wrist gaiters. I know a lot of coats have added them to their jackets, but I find them to be uncomfortable and rarely use them while skiing. The hood on the jacket is nice and roomy. I had no problem fitting a helmet underneath. If you do find yourself getting warm on one of those spring days the jacket has two Air-Flo underarm vents to cool you off. As far as sizing goes 686 calls this their expedition fit, which is in between a loose fit and a slim fit. According to 686 I should be a size large, but was sent a size medium to review. I am 6ft and 170lbs and fit fine in the medium. If you like a baggy fit I would say size up to a large. Look at the pictures in the review and judge for yourself. I also have rather long arms making most medium jackets not fit properly, but the 686 Serac Jacket had plenty on length in the arms for me.
Features of the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket
The 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket comes with an assortment of features to handle all your accessories during your days outside. The jacket has two large backpack compatible pockets on each side. One of the pockets has a separate phone pocket that has a clear covering allowing you to check your phone without taking it out of the jacket. I was able to fit my iPhone with a lifeproof case in the pocket. It was a little tight and would bet an iPhone 6 plus or larger galaxy wouldn’t fit, but most smartphones would. The pocket also has a headphone jack slot to route your headphones through the coat up to your helmet. The other main pocket has a slot for your keys and for additional safety clip to keep them secure in the pocket. I thought adding the pocket insert was a nice touch and keeps your keys from jingling around while you’re on the hill. The two main pockets come with two zippers for easier access, but what I found is that I would occasionally grab the wrong zipper and end up dumping things out of the pockets. Its not a huge deal you just have to pay attention and make sure you’re not unzipping the pocket. I personally like just a single zipper.
The left sleeve has a pass pocket with a clip for your convince when you’re doing laps at the resort and have to scan your pass quick. A large multipurpose mesh pocket is located on the inside of the jacket. You can fit a light base layer in the pocket or a pair of goggles. The Jacket also has a removable powder skirt for those days when the snow is really dumping. Incorporated into the powder skirt is the PJ Connect which allows you to integrate the jacket with a compatible pair of 686 ski pants. I didn’t test this feature out, but its always a nice option to have for those snowy days. One last feature that the jacket offers is one you hope you don’t have to use, but the coat is equipped with RECCO advanced rescue technology to help keep you safe if you do find yourself in danger.
The Smarty Liner
For those days when the outer shell isn’t enough to keep you warm 686 includes the Smarty Liner. The 686 Smarty Liner features a 100% nylon taffeta outer main body, which is filled with 130g PRIMALOFT sport insulation. I have a few products now that utilize PRIMALOFT insulation and I have begun to prefer the PRIMALOFT insulation over the standard goose down insulation. A few positives about PRIMALOFT insulation is the weight to warmth ratio, which means less bulk with the same warmth. PRIMALOFT also doesn’t clump when it’s wet and dries easier than goose down. The arms of the Smarty Liner are 100% polyester micro polar fleece and feature hand warmer sleeves with thumbholes for those days when you don’t quite need a pair of gloves, but need a little extra warmth on your hands. The 686 Smarty Liner fit my 6 foot 170lbs frame almost perfect. A problem that I have with jackets is the sleeve length fitting my rather long arms. The arms of the Smarty Liner were plenty long and I was able to take advantage of the hand warmer sleeve. The Smarty Liner can either be worn underneath the outer shell as any other medium layer or it can be zipped into the shell for one single jacket. I wore it as two separate jackets, because if you zip the two jackets together you can’t easily access the inner pockets or the powder skirt. The Smarty liner is an addition to the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket for those cold winter days when you need a little more insulation.
The 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket does a wonderful job keeping you warm, dry and protected from the elements. It offers a nice array of features that not only keeps your personal items safe, but also offers ample room for storage. If you’re looking for a versatile jacket that can cover you in any condition I think taking a look at the 686 Serac 2.5-Ply Jacket would be a good idea. If you’re not a snowboarder don’t be afraid of the brand, I think any skier would enjoy the look and comfort of the jacket. For more info on the Serac and other 686 gear, visit www.rei.com/686.