Backstory – I had a pretty kick-ass goretex jacket made by Outdoor Research. Because of a manufacturing flaw, I had to warranty the jacket. Sadly, they don’t make it anymore and I resigned myself to finding a replacement by any means necessary.
That’s when I happened across the Tonquin jacket by MEC.
A rather inexpensive but well-made 2.5L goretex, this jacket is pretty damn sweet. Comparing to other goretex shells, I found it to be on-par with OR’s Foray, albeit with a few differences that aren’t normally important enough to discuss in a review post. However, they are: the front chest pocket, the collar height, and the cuffs.
1) Crazy cheap Goretex jacket
2) Well-made for the price point
3) Fits very well, works with mid and base-layer system
1) Limited colours
2) Pit zips have limited opening
3) Made from Goretex Paclite, but doesn’t stuff into own pocket
4) Cuff hook&loop strips too narrow.
The last con being stupidly minor. I don’t really need that feature, but it’s nice to have. Keeps the clutter to a minimum and protects the jacket when stowed in your pack.
As mentioned, the key differences from the Foray are noticeable, but minor. Foray has a external chest pocket. I find these to be great for stuffing things you need inconsistently, but often. Tonquin’s chest pocket is internal and opens the user up to getting their base/mid layer wet from trying to get at items in that pocket.
The collar, I find to be superior, as it rises higher. This can be annoying for some, but it’s great to have as a stormshield in s****ier weather. Couple it with a neck gaiter and you’re golden. (In colder weather, I would insist on this.)
The cuffs, are pretty good, but the hook and loop closures are far too narrow for my liking. Nevertheless, they work and that’s all you can ask for.
All-in-all, I’m quite pleased with this jacket and would recommend it to anyone. Considering it’s price point and where it falls in MEC’s lineup, it’s a better option than the Synergy jacket, which I find too stiff.
I got mine in the Ocean Cruise colour, so there was an additional saving for me. But, were I to buy this jacket again, I’d go for the Deep Red version.
Now here’s the thing with Goretex. It’s a waterproof breathable fabric. Cool, right? Except… yeah. Cool. Goretex only works if there’s a marked temperature variance between the trapped air and the external ambient. It’s through mechanisms of heat and pressure, that goretex does it’s magic. To work, it needs to be trapping air that’s warmer than the external environment and to work really well, that variance needs to be on the cooler end of the thermometer.
Here’s where goretex starts to suck – when that variance is severe. After a certain point, the cold freezes any water vapour that would normally pass through the membrane freely. End result? The inside of a jacket slick with ice.