Westcomb’s Tango Hoody is a formidable layer for a variety of conditions, with a lot to love in a simple, straightforward package. Having received this jacket in the late fall, a bit past prime time alpine climbing season, I chose to test this jacket in a similar environ – the backcountry and nordic trails in and amongst the mountains surrounding my home in Crested Butte, Colorado to see how it would perform.
Review by Al Smith III, co-founder of The Climbing Zine
Designed for active pursuits, the Polartec Alpha insulation embodying the inner folds and curving lengths of this jackets foots the bill with minimal weight and bulk, while maintaining active warmth [read: minimal heat loss during easy to moderate exertion] and packability when space is tight in the backcountry pack. Coming in around 17 ounces, including a DWR finish on the outside, and stretch-and-give movement in the fabric and seams, this jacket earned high marks despite being quite basic. With just two external zippered pockets, roughly big enough to fit gloved hands, the jacket is, again basic, yet totally about function, and not so much gadgetry.
When I first previewed the jacket, I remarked mentally, to myself, that upon first look the zipper was basic (as in, no fancy water-shield zippy-dippy-do-da protection), the pockets – basic, the look – basic; and, with such low expectations, the resulting joy of using this jacket, anything but basic.
As the early winter has been turning into winter winter, I’ve gone to this jacket on an almost-daily basis, using it equal parts around town, and out on the nordic skate track, or backcountry skin track. I’ve found it to be too warm-blooded for high exertion activities such as higher angle skinning, or day time nordic skate skiing, and ideal for lower angle terrain and chilly nights on the nordic trails, where exertion levels tend to be more moderate. Compared with other jackets in similar categories, I’ve found this jacket to be on its own sublevel: not fully a softshell, not fully a water/wind shell, but a hybrid active/tech shell. I’ve used other jackets with more insulation, I’ve used jackets with less insulation, and the performance of this jacket across the varieties of outdoor terrain is impressive to me. Recently, while out backcountry touring, I donned this jacket after leaving the basking rays of the sun for a northern facing aspect that was dark and chilling. With just a baselayer on under the Tango Hoody, and the insulated hood covering my head, I found the chill to be at bay, and the rolling boil of warmth in my core returning as we ascended the slope. Upon reaching the top of our climb, our vertical destination for the day, I left the hoody fully in place as we transitioned for our long, downward course back eventually to town. In this instance, the DWR coating came in quite useful, shielding me from outside moisture penetration, as I fought to stay upright across sun-crusted snow that leaped in consistency from powder to hardpack, and back again.
My biggest pros: lightweight, respectable, budget-friendly warmth-to-weight ratio, packable and light water resistance.
My biggest cons: pockets are borderline harness and hipbelt incompatible, no internal zippered pocket (where to put keys, cards, etc.?), and the hood-tightening pull cords that like to become stuck or all up in your business when trying to zip the last few inches of the jacket up.
Overall, for $200 retail, this jacket is worth the consideration if you are looking for a jacket that has intentional use across multiple seasons and disciplines, and an easy, about-town style to boot.
In the vertical world, quality gear is as important as good weather or the right partner. At the Climbing Zine, we review gear that we put to the test in our personal climbing pursuits, over months of use. If we like it we’ll tell you, and if we don’t we’ll tell you. That’s our policy…If you have gear for us to consider for a review please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle. You can now subscribe to The Climbing Zine as well!