I picked up this jacket after reading and doing research on some of the new fabrics like OutDry, DryQ Elite, NeoShell and some others that are said to be Gore-killers.... I also wanted a soft-shell. I like the way they fit and the soft feel. Nothing wrong with Gore-pro shell and such but I like that soft feel. The problem wit most softies is that the h20-proof ones tend not to be a true softshell. they are more like a hybrid feel and not that sft, smooth fabric
The kepler is a soft-shell jacket that is cut at 29" (below hips), has two hand pockets, a chest pocket and an internal pocket on the opposite side of the external chest pocket (so you can use both pockets). No powder skirt, and a fantastic helmet hood. Pit zips, waterproof zips.
The fit is more towards the athletic cut but not uber thin. I wear a Large and it fits perfectly. I am 6' 172, 31" waist, 42" shoulders. not a big guy.The material has a soft hand and quiet, very substantial feel with a thin micro fleece backing. The sleeves are cut just right on this jacket. I saw some complaints about short sleeves but I don't agree and I have rather long arms. The cut around the hand is nice, its an asymmetrical cut with a bit more length on the top of the hand. Its a very light jacket as well.
the fabric is DryQ Elite material which was new last season. Read here about it. http://www.rei.com/product/video/817993?IxY2F2MjplrZ8l5Q8h3JRcI5rE38ucSp#ooid=IxY2F2MjplrZ8l5Q8h3JRcI5rE38ucSp
Basically, its 100% water and windproof and about 5x more breathable than gore-tex. Plus it doesn't have to heat up to begin transporting moisture like other materials.
The pockets are well placed however a pack with a hip belt will cover the pockets. No big deal for thin strapped packs. They are large and roomy and the internal fabric is mesh allowing even more ventilation. Fit and finish is top-notch. All seams are neat and spot-on. Zippers work smoothly. Hood has a one-hand feature that works very well and is cut so that when pulled up over my Vantage helmet, I had complete peripheral vision. Something most helmets restrict. This is huge on a blower day or cold lift rides.
I actually got a chance to try the jacket out this weekend during our snow storm. Every 3 hours I went out to clear the slushy snow off my trees. It was snowing heavily and the snow was very wet. The jacket came through with flying colors. It not only stayed dry but the fabric didn't get even the slightest bit wet. It also breathed extremely well. i was swinging around a 8 foot wrought iron pole on the trees for about a 1/2 at a time certainly working up a sweat. Not that I was perfectly dry inside but I didn't have that overheated, wet feeling clammy feel I have had with other jackets. It also moved well while swinging around the pole
So far, i am extremely impressed, a jacket that retails for $340 full MSRP worked as well if not better than any 500 shell....
Edited by Finndog - 10/31/11 at 10:25am