I’m a big fan of smocks. They are the simplest and most effective of garments, usually with only a small zip at the neck and a minimum of pockets, and are adaptable to a wide variety of activities. The EDZ Epic Sierra is just such a beast, and is made from Epic softshell fabric, which the manufacturers claim is rain and windproof and is three times more breathable than conventional laminated fabrics. EDZ are based in Cumbria and was a brand I had never heard of before, so I was interested to see how this fared.
It’s aimed at range of activities, including running, cycling and hiking. Just up my strasse…
Straight off I was impressed by a number of features. The fabric appears very durable, the stitching appears solid, and the overall quality of manufacture high. It fitted me well, with clean, tidy lines, and a drop back which makes it suitable for cycling. Otherwise there are no extras to add weight unnecessarily. The waist and hood are adjusted by elasticated drawcords, this can be done easily one handed. The hood itself is not wired or stiffened, but is not overly ‘flappy’ and once adjusted moves well with the head. When not in use it rolls away and secures outside the collar with a velcro flap.
The solitary pocket has a mesh liner which doubles as a stuff sack and is accessed by a very small YKK zip. This zip is pretty small, and would be difficult for cold, wet fingers to operate, and a zip-pull would be a sensible modification.
The manufacturers website states that the pocket will take a map, but I found that it was unable to comfortably take an OS map in an Ortleib map case. It may, at a push take an OS map without a case, but in this country a map without a waterproof cover soon becomes no map at all…
As it is a multi-activity jacket I put it through its paces in a combination of running, cycling and walking. Wearing a wicking t-shirt I set off for a run and within minutes was drenched in sweat. I could feel the moisture running down the inner arms and back. There are three methods of venting, loosen the waist drawcord, open the chest pocket, or unzip the neck. All three at once failed to rectify the situation, the fabric was not able to disperse moisture faster than I could produce it, a major drawback for a breathable jacket. Some jackets of this type have a light inner mesh, which traps the moisture until it can evaporate, but this of course adds to the weight. I found that when hiking or cycling wearing the same base layer the build up of moisture wasn’t an issue, so the fabric is breathable, but not as much as some other fabrics.
The Epic fabric couldn’t be faulted for water resistance, as rain beaded nicely on the surface and was gone like quicksilver. Likewise I found it to be an effective windproof layer, the effect of chilly January breezes kept to a minimum. Strangely for a jacket aimed at runners and cyclists there is no reflective trim anywhere, something which I thought odd. Likewise the grey colour doesn’t help you stand out in traffic, although on the other hand it’s a change to have an option other than dayglo.
Overall it’s let down by the small pocket, fiddly zip and breathability issue, but it’s an otherwise good multi activity outer shell, comfortable and certainly durable enough to give a good few years service.
Pros: Effective hood, Simple, no fuss design.
Cons: Small zips, Small map pocket, Breathability
Size Tested: Large
Cost: £50-£80 (dependant on retailer)