The Last Line of Defence – The Airflo Defender Fishing Jacket

20171031_074619.jpgIntro
Wot fishin coats r gd m8?” a text-abbreviated, five word message, nothing more, nothing less appeared in my inbox during a hectic month for me with work, family and the customary dose of manflu thrown in for added measure. How on earth do you test and write about a fishing jacket and make the article even remotely interesting? This shortly worded message certainly proved to be quite a challenge to me. A challenge which i hoped to overcome.My old Trespass coat, which I picked up a few years ago, originally promised so much but began to peter out and started to let me down like the other half in a bad relationship. Our relationship become untenable (due to water intake) and when the zip broke, it ended there. I may be known as The Naked Fly Fisher, but even i don’t enjoy being exposed to the elements!

It just so happened that I was recently able to source the new Airflo Defender three quarter jacket courtesy of the Fishtec guys (and girls). Could this be the new flame in my life? I felt like the needy person, needing something to give me what the other couldn’t. After all it had come highly recommended by Trout and Salmon magazine.

 

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Photo courtesy of Fishtec Website.

 

The Breakdown – What’s in the price?
According to Airflo:

  • Made from two layer, durable nylon Taslan 320d shell fabric
  • Reinforced rip-stop materian on shoulders and arms
  • 100% Windproof & Waterproof rated to 8000 WP
  • Highly Breathable rated 4000 MVP
  • Mesh Lining eliminates moisture Build up
  • Tailored cuts for unrestricted fishing action
  • Draw cords on waist for tailored fit.
  • Adjustable storm cuffs
  • Adjustable nylon lined hood
  • Waterproof Zips on outer pockets
  • Storm flaps on main zips
  • 2 fly box pockets

 

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Internal hidden zip pocket beside double coat zip and storm flap

 

That’s a lot to digest and take in, so what does a lot of the jargon actually mean?
Lets break it all down and start with the Nylon Taslan. What is this? It is pretty much a finely engineered nylon which can look and feel like cotton, but with wind resistant and water penetration resistant properties. I guess these alone can make it more breathable and comfortable. Doing some more digging, it appears the surface of Nylon Taslan is often finished  to make it more water repellent so it sheds water. Its properties allow it to resist sweat and damp from within, by being breathable and having the ability to dry fast. Good qualities for a fishing coat!

What about the 8000 WP score?
So Windproof & Waterproof rated to 8000 WP. How do we know if this is good or not? Again I did more digging. This is otherwise known as a Water Pressure score. The number is an indicator of how much water pressure the jacket can take before it begins to let water in. The measurement is normally in millimetres which means that this coat in particular can take around 8000mm of water pressure over 24 hours, before water leaks through. In other words, that’s about 8 metres, which is a considerable amount! I would assume this can take on a good deluge of rainfall and still keep you dry.

What about the 4000 MVP score?
I am trying to break this down into simpler terms for all of us. MVP stands for Moisture Vapour Perspiration and measures how breathable the fabric is. In other words, how much moisture the fabric allows to pass to the external layers of the jacket.  Moisture accumulating on the skin surface can cool you down, which is not ideal when you are fishing on a bad day. The MVP score this time round is in grams, meaning 4000MVP will allow 4000g or 4kg of moisture to exit through 1 square metre of coat. This sits toward the lower scale of breathability, but by all means the higher the number means the higher the rating.IMG_20171011_235749_379

To summarise everything  here, it boils down to trying to developing  and synchronising the smallest pore fabric which will allow water vapour to exit the coat while making sure the pores on the exterior are equally as small to prevent moisture entering the coat. Try get your head around that! I wouldn’t like to be designing a fishing coat, I will tell you that!

The Tests and Results
How on earth do you test a coat other than fish in it? Running it under a tap wouldn’t give a fair reflection as it would not take long to exceed 8000 mm WP given the intensity and volume of the water, which would not be a true reflection of actual rainfall. I decided to quite simply, wear it to and from work for a few weeks, since almost 4 miles of my day would be walking to and from work in morning and evening. It happened to be a rough week with a considerable amount of rain.

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Absorption of rain, but still dry inside!

The coat repelled water for almost all of the walks, however on one particular day, 40 minutes of walking in apocalyptic rainfall caused the coat to appear to absorb water on the outside, but thankfully none of it was able to penetrate the inside. It did the job. 

 

On another note, Storm Ophelia had began to develop an eye, off the West Coast of Ireland and had been upgraded to Hurricane status, bringing 60-80mph gusts and would see it’s way up North as the afternoon went on. Businesses were closing, public services were shutting down and me? Well I decided that the only way to find out how windproof this coat was, was to stand at the top of a hill by my house and see if it would do the job. After all, a windproof coat would be ideal in the case of a bad day at somewhere as exposed as Lough Fadden!

See test video below:

I very foolishly stood at the top of the hill for 5 minutes. It didn’t seem too bad, until my £800 smartphone was almost swept out of my hand and I began to lose my footing and stumble! It’s one of those moments you hear a crack and severely hope it’s your own leg! However, with only 1 layer underneath, I was very satisfied that the wind was unable to penetrate the coat and cool me down. The velcro around the adjustable storm cuffs on the jacket allowed less wind to enter the coat and the taped seams did a splendid job of making sure that the only air circulating under my coat was warm air! I was in a keen hurry to get home as I began to witness what appeared to be previously sturdy trees

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Deep Fly box pockets

being dissected by the wind.

Opinion:
For me personally, I really liked this coat. I liked the adjustable peak, the tough material which felt thick and durable and I was very impressed with how windproof it was! In fact very very impressed.  I liked the high collar which gave protection to the neck and face within the wind and rain. The storm flaps and well sewn seams really made short work of the wind.
Adding to that there were deep fly box pockets, hand warmer pockets and a concealed internal pocket which is always handy if you want to protect your wallet or phone. There was also a very discreet rear D- ring to attach a net too.

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Reinforced points at areas prone to wear

Regarding coats in general, there is something that does irritate me a bit around anglers expectations and I know a handful of anglers had previously raised some concerns to me about this and other similar branded coats being 100% waterproof. It took me to understand the science of coats, the capabilities of coats within both manufacture and sale prices and pit these against the expectations of some anglers before I could justify why I still think this is a very good coat.

Not every coat will have the waterproof properties of Goretex, and if it did, you would not be able to pick one up for around the £60-£70 mark. Try closer to the £200 mark (at least), a price well out of budget for most. I would very much rather spend that on a rod. Unless you were competition fishing, would you normally seek shelter in sustained heavy rainfall or just grin and bare it? Personally, I would do a wee bit of both then wait until the worst has passed. I understand there are people who are just that bit more stubborn than me and will take a defiant stand against mother nature and the elements. I know I stood out in a hurricane but to be realistic, I wouldn’t have if I was fishing!

20171108_112206.jpg
Rear D loop with Taslan 320d shell layer close up

These were things that crossed my mind. Yes, there are coats that have a higher WP score and MVP score, but again, you would not be able to pick one up at this price. If you want something more waterproof and more breathable, it will cost more to manufacture and therefore cost more to purchase. Therefore I think this is very decent value and potentially buying a very decent coat within an affordable price range.

At this price, you are not getting a coat that will see you through an extraordinary polar expedition, but a coat that will make sure you are still warm and dry after exposing yourself to the standard irish weather!

To summarise: A tough and durable coat, with a no nonsense approach to the wind!

Where to buy and offers: Available from Fishtec at £69.99 (They are a big fit so i’d recommend being cautious with the size). At time of publishing there is a special offer on site if you combine the Airflo Defender Trousers   at £69.99 with the coat, you get both for £119.99 and a free Airflo Defender fleece worth £39.99

Tip: I don’t know if any of you have heard about Diver Dave’s water repellent? This is something I would recommend spraying onto any coat, regardless of the brand. It basically leaves the coat (or any other item you wish to waterproof) with the same properties as Goretex. Might be something worth considering with any coat that you decide to go for and at only £8.50, is an absolute steal and fishing essential!

 

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Airflo Defender 3/4 Jacket  with the Airflo Outlander Covert backpack as featured in Tactical Genius – The Airflo Outlander Covert Vest & Backpack Review

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