Target Dry, an outdoor clothing company from Belfast, Northern Ireland, is not a brand I think I have come across before, so I was curious when they got in touch asking if I would be interested in trying out one of their garments. Their main product is the Mac in a Sac, which I have heard of, but, with winter drawing in, I opted for the Mens Origin Insulated Jacket. I usually have a Craighoppers Down Gilet (it was a bargain buy from a closing down sale) shoved in the bottom of my rucksack that I wear during breaks and when camping but it is not an ideal solution, so I have been looking out for a suitable replacement.
[Disclosure – The Target Dry Mens Origin Insulated Jacket was provided by Target Dry for me to keep and to give my own personal opinions on based on my outdoor activities and they have no influence on these views and no editorial control]
The Origin Insulated Jacket is available in a single colour – Liquorice (an off black with red zips and inner lining). Actually a surprisingly nice combination as I discovered when the jacket arrived (I do not look like a Rowntree fruit gum as @welshracer suggested). Having had a token look at the size guide (and comparing it to the clothing I happened to have on), I opted for a large however, whilst the jacket fitted around my chest and shoulders nicely, it was too short on my arms and body.
Target Dry’s exchange policy is that, as long as the item has not been worn (other than being tried on) and still has the original tags attached, they will exchange the item (or refund you). I sent back the large, and in a few days had an extra large. The length on the arms and body were better, but still felt slightly a touch on the short side, especially the arms (it failed the ‘sticking arms out straight’ test, although as my mother says you would never normally do that!), whereas the fit across my chest and shoulders was now slightly too loose (which presumably has an effect on heat retention). I am 6’3 and relatively slender (this side of Christmas at least) – and my frame seems to fall between Target Dry’s sizes.
The Origin Insulated Jacket has 200gsm Thermolite Plus – a hollow core fibre technology apparently inspired by polar bears (essentially it works by trapping lots of little pockets of air in synthetic fibre). I do not particularly want to get into a down vs synthetic discussion, but for my outdoor needs synthetic makes a lot of sense –
- More affordable
- Still provides insulation when wet and dries quicker (it always rains when I hike)
- Easier to care for (in theory machine washable – although see below)
- Not as long lasting (well looked after down can last years)
- Heavier and bulkier than down (not significantly enough to bother me)
Target Dry’s blog describes the jacket in their blog as ‘toasty’ and after over two months wear I would have to agree. I have worn it from a few degrees below freezing whilst camping in Shropshire (and several times waiting for buses) upwards (wearing both decent outdoor baselayers and normal every day t-shirts), and my body has always felt warm – I would certainly be happy to rely on it for warmth down to the temperatures I am likely to use it (my sleeping bag is rated for comfort down to -5 degrees centigrade – lower than that and I will be in front of a warm log fire, so I cannot comment on how the jacket performs at more extreme temperatures). It also seems to maintain a constant body temperature despite different external temperatures and it’s wind proof properties proved effective on gusty hill tops (although the size issue does mean the neck is a bit loose – so a buff is sometimes needed to block drafts unless you put the hood up).
Other than the warmth, the other thing that really impressed me with the Target Dry Origin Insulated Jacket is the comfort – it is lovely to wear! The outer shell feels soft and the jacket does not feel bulky – I have been known to wear it all day in my garden office (in fact it is probably fair to say I have worn it most of time!). The two side pockets have a soft inner lining and I found them to be in the perfect height and position for my hands (there is also a third internal pocket).
The jacket cuffs are elasticated and covered with a soft material – I find the elastication to be sufficient to trap my gloves under, but loose enough to be comfortable and unrestrictive. One cuff however does show some signs of wear where it rubs against the velcro straps of my watch (perhaps unsurprisingly!). The jacket has a drawcord on the hem, although I did not really use this much. The jacket has a water repellent coating, which performed well during the occasions it rained whilst I was out walking. I was not able to test it in heavy rain though to see how it faired, what effect it had on warmth and how quickly it dried (I will update this post accordingly when I do).
I usually tend to have a bit of a problem with jacket hoods not fitting my head comfortably (queue big head jokes), however this hood fits quite nicely without being too restrictive. At first glance the hood, which clips at the front with two poppers, seems like it might let in drafts, however it nicely overlaps the jacket providing sufficient shelter and the hood (if you so desire) can be pulled in with a drawcord (that said the only time I tried to do this, whilst writing this post, a bit of plastic on the toggle connecting it to the jacket snapped – the toggle on the hem seems to be a stronger better design though). The hood is detachable, although I tended to keep it attached most of the time – one mildly annoying thing however was that the zip gradually unzips itself over a few days.
After a few weeks of owning the jacket, I discovered that part of the inner lining had torn away from the stitching. I do not remember tearing it and, whilst it is entirely plausible that I inadvertently did, it does look as if it could also have been possible that it was a weakness caused by a manufacturing fault. In the end I did not feel convinced enough it was a manufacturing fault to return the item, but I wanted to mention it for completness (Target Dry do provide a guarantee for two years on defects)
One of the things I have not yet tried is washing the jacket – in theory you should be able to put it in the washing machine on a delicate wash. I will update this post after the first wash.
Overall I am really pleased with the Target Dry Origin Insulated Jacket – it is toasty warm, comfortable and is a fairly affordable mid/outer layer that fits well with the outdoor activities I do. Although I have some concerns on how long it might last (I am very nervous of the brambles on my regular dog walk), it has potentially usurped my Chocolate Fish Merino base layer as my favourite item of outdoor kit.
The Target Dry Mens Origin Insulated Jacket is available direct from targetdry.com for £89.99 (although the jacket is currently has a sale price at £69.99).
Definitely worth considering if you are looking for an affordable insulated jacket (especially at the sale price of £69.99), although check it fits you properly before taking the tags off.