Friday, February 05, 2021

Heart of Winter / Dead of Winter Heavy Duty Run Jacket Reviews: Maloja, Tracksmith, Ultimate Direction

 Article by Sam Winebaum

It is the heart of winter here in New Hampshire along the windy Seacoast and after balmy mid 30's for weeks things got colder and down into the mid to upper teens. As such I was able to test the Maloja Beppinm, Tracksmith NDO, and Ultimate Direction Ventro jackets in a wide range of conditions. All three were tested with identical base layers: an Icebreaker very light merino for warmer temps and a Tracksmith Off Roads Crew for the colder conditions. The Tracksmith and Maloja jackets were free samples provided for testing and review with the Ultimate Direction a personal purchase at a discount.

Maloja Beppinm  ($259, now out of stock) 

The  Beppinm from German Nordic ski and sportswear brand Maloja is a soft, stretchy and thin soft-shell jacket with its front, top of shoulder and front of sleeves incorporating Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper, a very windproof, highly breathable. lightly water resistant membrane. Infinium is far far softer, thinner and stretchier than classic Gore-Tex or Windstopper. The rest of the jacket is a stretchy Thermo Stretch Eco light jersey like fleece material made from recycled materials with some inner structure and standoff for breathability and light insulation. It is the softest, lightest, and stretchiest of the jackets here and the most like a wind shell. 

Its stretchy hood is quick to pull on and off and for most conditions so no need for at hat on most days as i tested.

it has one top chest pocket. I was sent a large instead of my usual medium and that was a good thing as at that size the more Euro snug fit has room for at least a light base layer and mid layer if needed without being overly large with less on. The styling and use is  running and nordic skiing

Tracksmith NDO Jacket ($298)

The Tracksmith NDO Jacket (RTR Review) is also a soft-shell but a heavier Schoeller DrySkin with a thin bonded inner merino lining with some stretch. It is for all intents and purposes totally windproof and the warmest and most windproof jacket overall here in cold winds with excellent breathability even in those warmer somewhat above freezing temps. 

It has a total of 7 pockets: 3 on the outside including a small zip pocket  inside one of the phone friendly drop in pockets and 4 on the inside, all drop in. It  includes cuff thumb sleeves, which are very comfortable unlike many such cuff sleeves. I was sent a medium my usual size and the fit is generous enough for a base and mid layer underneath.

It has a classic "mechanic's jacket" styling goes anywhere after the run.

Ultimate Direction Ventro Jacket ($200)

The Ultimate Direction Ventro Jacket (RTR Mini Review) has the most insulation, is the most breathable, fastest drying. with its upper chest and back the least moisture absorbing.  It was the least windproof but not by much. It's insulation is 90% recycled Clo Eco Vivo insulation which promises to increase breathability by 30% without sacrificing warmth. The insulation is across the front, upper shoulders and front of sleeves with upper chest and back "caped" for ventilation. 

The back has a very thin stretch high ventilated fabric with the sleeves a snug warm quite dense and thick material with full coverage pull out mittens. It has 2 zipper front pockets and an insulated hood. 

The more  "puffy" styling is clearly  more high mountain than the others.

Performance and Best Uses

The Maloja Beppinm  is most like a wind-shell in feel and use, although a soft shell with a luxurious soft and stretchy feel. It proved just as able as the others in all conditions. It was not quite as windproof as the Tracksmith and not as warm as either without appropriate layers although its inner fuzz even over the Infinium areas does provide a touch of insulation. It is the perfect jacket for running and nordic skiing at faster paces in winter due to its light weight and stretch.

The Tracksmith NDO proved surprisingly breathable in all conditions even with its full back very light bonded merino insulation. It is the heaviest jacket here in weight by quite a large margin. The heavier Dryskin make up  of the NDO with its Merino lining was very comfortable with no sleeve stick even with bare arms or elsewhere as the jacket stands off more from the body than clings to it.  It also proved warm and surprisingly never with a chill after runs in cold while standing around or walking. The priciest jacket her,  it becomes a better value for its use after the run as the classic styling fits in everywhere as far as I am concerned without screaming sports jacket. 

The Ventro Jacket is ideal for runs in deep cold without much wind, or at the summit after a hard climb.  You can always layer a shell over it. It was also, due to its top of the group breathability, extremely comfortable in more moderate mid 30's conditions with wind. You will not overheat in this jacket and will always feel a pleasant warmth over the chest. I have never ever run in a puffy and was shocked by the breathability and comfort. Very light and compressible, it is also an ideal companion a pack for the summit during hikes and runs,  for backpacking, and around town.

Shop for the Tracksmith NDO at Tracksmith here

Shop for the Ultimate Direction Ventro Jacket at UD here

Shop for Maloja here (as of Feb 05 many jacket styles on sale but Beppinm is sold out)

Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.

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