(Note: This item was provided to me at no cost for the purpose of this review.)
A lot of companies produce jackets which are geared towards travel, but most seasoned travelers will trend towards light weight hiking jackets instead, as they pack down much more than most travel jackets. Partly because of this, I’ve always been skeptical of any travel jackets, so it is with that bias that Clothing Arts sent me their new Cubed Travel Jacket.
This jacket uses eVent material (like GoreTex) to keep you dry, and well vented. It features a zip off hood, and a ton of secure interior pockets. But more than that, this is supposed to be the only jacket you need to take when you travel, so is it?
I tested it in the famous Seattle rain to see how it performed.
In sticking with how I usually wear clothes I only packed a sweater to wear under the jacket while I walked the streets of Seattle in the rain and wind over Thanksgiving weekend. It was cool, slightly chilly, but not cold. I was impressed with this jacket the entire weekend, and every time I have worn it since then.
One of the reasons hiking apparel is so comfortable is that they optimize for mobility — they pretend like people are going to wear their jackets to climb a mountain. Optimizing for this though often creates a less flattering look, as fashion takes a back seat. Whereas optimizing for looks, often creates a less comfortable, or less moveable jacket.
Here the Cubed does a great job — even with a bulky wool sweater on under it, I found the jacket to be very free moving. I never once felt like my arms were restricted in their movement. The entire cut and fit of the jacket was highly comfortable — even when driving, which is rather uncommon for me to find.
The jacket hits just below my waist, which is where I want it for this type of usage. The exterior of the jacket doesn’t feel slick and smooth like most rain jackets, instead feeling softer to the touch — I think this adds a bit to the comfort when your skin does come into contact with it — but it also adds a lot to the “doesn’t quite look like a waterproof jacket” nature of it.
For years my primary hiking jacket has been an eVent REI jacket and I’ve always found it to be excellent. The same holds true with the Cubed — I found it to be a bit thicker overall which lead to it feeling warmer without a sweater on under it. With the sweater on, it was warm and perfectly dry.
One nice aspect is the extra tall collar, which helps to keep your neck warm without needing a scarf. It also stopped errant drops from shooting down the back of my neck — which was welcomed. The collar comes up just past my chin, but stops below my bottom lip — I really like the extra height of the collar.
Not much else to say about performance — it stopped the water and wind and I never overheated. Thumbs up.
I don’t care for the looks of the jacket when the zip off hood is attached, however with it removed I think it is a solid looking jacket. You’re wearing it for the performance first, and the looks second. It looks like a rain jacket, but not like a hiking jacket.
(The only branding on the exterior of the jacket is on the cuff.)
I think the looks are helped greatly by the texture of the fabric itself, which gives it less of a “hey I can stop all the rain” type of feeling and more of a normal look to it. I liked it, my wife didn’t really comment one way or the other on it.
I do think the jacket fit me a little boxy, but I believe this is because I am in between sizes (between L and XL), where I think a L would be too short in the sleeves and torso, the XL was a little too wide through the gut for me. Ultimately I always need to size up in these situations, and so I can’t be sure if the boxiness I saw was because of the style, or the fit for my body type. Even still, it wasn’t nearly as boxy as you are likely now picturing.
Note on Warmth
This is a rain shell, not a jacket to keep you warm. What I mean by that is that you need to wear layers under it — enough so that if there was no wind or rain, you would be comfortable. This jacket is there to stop the wind and the rain, and in doing so it will keep you warmer.
I had no trouble wearing just this jacket over a button down in 52° weather with a light drizzle and light wind. When it dipped colder I needed to add a sweater to the mix in order to stay warm. One night I wore just it over a button down in mid to upper 40° weather, and I was a tad chilly. Layering techniques are important with a jacket like this, as this is not something you just toss on and you’ll be warm down to X degrees. You wear this to keep the wind and rain out.
Security and Storage
One of the big features of the Cubed is that it has several internal pockets which also securely close. The way they work is by clipping the zipper to a sewn attachment point which keeps the pocket from being unzipped easily.
In fact, you need two hands to zip the pocket, but only one to unzip the interior pockets if you use these security features. It’s a nice touch if you are in an area with lots of pick pocketing going on, but likely overkill for all but the most paranoid people. I mostly found that they added bulk to the the jacket — I would love an option to get the jacket without this feature.
Even still, I can appreciate why they exist and the cleverness.
These pockets also add a lot of storage. I am confident I could go for an outing without needing a backpack on a vacation if I was wearing this jacket. The external pockets easily held my X100T — and that was comfortable as long as the jacket was zipped up. Otherwise the one side felt too heavy.
If you are someone who is always looking for more pockets, you are going to love this jacket.
The Cubed is billed as a travel jacket, and at the top I mentioned how serious light weight travelers pack hiking clothing because it is light and packable. This jacket is considerably heavier and bulkier than the hiking rain jacket I normally pack. Because of this, I would only pack this jacket if I knew I would need it for most (if not all) of the trip — certainly not as a just in case jacket.
I do think, that for adventure travel, this would be a stellar option — easily moving from city exploration to forest exploration. I see this jacket performing well on a wet wooded hike, while easily being fine as an everyday jacket as well.
At $380 this won’t be a cheap purchase for most people, but that price is also on par with many hiking jackets. I don’t think it is ideal for lightweight travel, but if I was coming to the Pacific Northwest in the winter, this is the jacket I would want to pack with me.
Or to put it another way: I live in an area known for its rain. I have (off the top of my head) about 5-6 fully waterproof rain jackets. Even after I finished my testing, the Cubed is the jacket I grab when I need a rain jacket. It’s what I wear.
I don’t like hoods, they get in the way, and mess up your hair and I can completely remove the hood from the Cubed. I have all the pockets in the world to hold all the small, but world alteringly important junk my kids ask me to pack around while not needing a backpack. It looks nice, but it performs even better.
I was skeptical when I received it but now I am glad I have this jacket as an option. It’s what I recommend if you need something for wet weather.