The Red Fox Vinson Storm Jacket, a stormproof shell for mountaineering and climbing, is waterproof, breathable, and built to move. It touts a high-reach underarm gusset with pit vents, pre-shaped sleeves with articulated elbows, single-hand hem adjustment, and raised hand pockets (so you can still get into them while wearing a harness). In addition, the hood has three adjustment points, a laminated brim, a chin guard, and is big enough to fit a helmet. The jacket is made of Dry Factor, a three-layer, abrasion resistant, waterproof, breathable, fabric with PU-coated zippers on the chest, hand pockets, and pit zips to help keep water out.
The Vinson jacket looks good. It has a nice cut, is a consistent color with only two small logos, and the exterior seams blend well with the fabric. The jacket I tested is the Sky Blue, and it’s a bright yet matte version of that brilliant blue you get in the sky on a beautiful clear day in the snowy alpine.
Putting it on
When you put the Vinson on you get a moment where it feels like it might not fit well, as the articulated sleeves and shoulders don’t sit right until you have them in the right place. As soon as I got both arms in and down, the jacket hung comfortably with the cuffs over the bottom of my hands.
The three-layer fabric gives the Vinson a nice weight so it holds its shape, stays in place, and, according to the catalog, is abrasion resistant. I couldn’t bring myself to intentionally abrade a brand new jacket and I haven’t climbed in it enough yet to have done it by accident, but I will say the fabric feels stronger than many rain jackets I’ve used. It’s not a lightweight piece, but it feels like a tough piece.
Full body zip, two front pockets, two pit zips, left side interior chest pocket. The zippers are small and plastic with a metal pull and metal end caps, hooded tops, and a stiff pu-coated cover on each to seal water out. They seem to be high quality and start easy and run cleanly. Pit zips are nearly 14” long and have two zipper pulls so you can open it however much and wherever you like. All the exterior pulls have molded plastic tabs to make them usable with gloves. The interior zipper has a flat, rubbery strip as the pull tab. It is soft and unobtrusive (which it should be, as it’s inside the piece) and a very good idea because it gives you enough friction to grab it even with gloves or wet hands.
Exterior fabric is folded over 1” inside the cuff, then sewn and bonded to the interior layer for a very clean finish. Long Velcro strip for tightening. Easy to adjust and comfortable.
The hood is one of my favorite parts of this jacket. When you zip the jacket all the way up the collar comes up over your chin and a soft chin guard covers the back of the zipper. If you are wearing a helmet it’ll fit, and if not you can tighten it down however much you like.
There are three separate adjustment areas for the hood—the standard back-of-the-head that pulls back the side of the hood at the bottom of the visor, one at the back of the neck that connects to the back-of-the-head, one to pull the hood/visor back away from your face, and two on either side of your chin that pull a little flap down over your forehead. This last adjustment area works much like a sleeping bag neck skirt in that it creates another seal between you and the elements. The interior skirt, we’ll call it the forehead skirt, is the length of the visor and set back from the lip enough to give you a drip buffer and help you avoid the dreaded water-inside-your-hood issue that so many jackets have when the weather is really coming down. The visor is laminated but not stiff, and it moves and bends quite a bit when all the adjustment tabs are pulled. I haven’t had any problem with water in my face thus far, and the bending around my face makes me feel even more cozy when the jacket is all tightened up. Also, all the adjustment cords are set up so they won’t be in your face or in your way at all—the front ones come out at the top of your chest and the back of the neck one lays flat.
The hem is laced with tightening elastic as well and there is a leashed one-hand flat pull on each side for tightening. These do work well with one hand once you’ve got them started, and the jacket can be nicely tightened in around your hips.
There are two reasonable sized exterior body pockets, one on each chest panel. Pockets start high so you can get into them with a harness on. The left one has a mirror interior pocket. It may be a problem to load both sides of this pocket as it is flat on both sides and shares an interior wall, so there is nowhere to move bulky items out of the way. The good news is you shouldn’t have bulky items in these pockets anyway if you are doing any serious activity in them.
The biggest issue I have with most coats is that when you raise your arms the jacket goes up at the bottom and exposes your hips or slides out of your harness. The Vinson is constructed to avoid this, with a three panel shoulder/arm connection that has a gusseted underside. Unfortunately for me, the jacket still moves up when I raise my arms (because I have a very long torso). The cuffs stay at my wrist (yay!) but the bottom of the jacket comes up—not too far, but enough to be annoying. If I were wearing a harness, it’d start the cycle of pulling back and forth to keep the jacket tucked under my waistbelt and not bulging out above it. I’m not sure how it’ll work, but I’m still waiting to find a fitted rain jacket that doesn’t do this. I should note that with a high-waisted alpine pant, which Red Fox also makes, this rise would not be a big issue.
The Vinson jacket is a nice looking, nice fitting piece. It is obviously well made and well thought out. The whole jacket has beautiful trim, with flat bonded seams throughout the inside to prevent leaks and give a clean finish. The fabric is a nice weight, light for three layers and comfortable, nearly stretchy, yet it feels tough enough that I wouldn’t feel bad crashing through thick bushes or climbing in it.
It’s been a nice summer here in Colorado, and I haven’t been caught in any terrible storms since I’ve had the jacket. I did want to test out the Dry Factor waterproofing, so we got creative. If the Dry Factor didn’t work, I was going to be in a bit of a predicament. Enjoy the video below, or visit our YouTube page to watch it.