Review: PDW Defiant Hoodie

Join me as I take a detailed first look at the new soft-shell by Prometheus Design Werx, and begin testing it against the changeable weather of the UK.

The Defiant Hoodie

I’ve been eagerly waiting for Prometheus Design Werx to release this garment since I first caught wind of it, so I was stoked when they agreed to send me a sample to test out in our British winter.

Unlike a lot of places round the globe, our seasons don’t follow a fixed weather pattern, and frequently what is forecast is not what’s over our heads. I have a 35 minute walk to and from work everyday, so choosing the right layer for the conditions is both a challenge and essential for starting and finishing the day well.

The Defiant Hoodie uses Schoeller’s C-Change fabric which makes it stand out right away. Schoeller use the example of a pine cone, that stays tight in the cold, but opens up in warmer temperatures.

The Defiant works in the same way. When standing still or mooching about camp the fabric is “closed”, keeping you snug and warm. The wind resistance and waterproofing works well to maintain a comfortable temperature too.

When you get moving again the shell membrane opens up in response to excess heat and moisture development. This helps you keep cool and dry.

This sounds fantastic – a perfectly adaptable fabric for outdoor activities – but does it work in practise? Well, yes! More on that in a moment…

For this first look review I wanted to focus on the features that stand out to me as good reasons to invest in this truly versatile jacket.

I obviously won’t be commenting on how it performs over time, although the materials used will go some way towards hinting at that.

What must remain top of the list of ‘makes it worth it’ features is the fabric performance. A quick Google of “C-Change Jacket” showed me that PDW’s offering is well priced, with most alternatives (interestingly cycling focused) coming in between £500 and £700, so that’s an immediate plus.

Google also led me to some interesting debates comparing the fabric to Goretex. I’ve personally found myself doubting the performance of waterproof items as I’ve arrived at my destination absolutely soaking. Then I wear them to keep out the cold, rather than rain, and the same things happens.

Of course, the answer is that the waterproof seal has not let any of my sweat out and no amount of pit vents can help me avoid turning up somewhere with wet arms!

The clever combination of Schoeller 3XDRY®, c_change® and Cold Black® technology used by PDW is truly the ideal package for adventure. You can read all about them on their product page (or the tags when you buy one!)

After hiking off the beaten path for some time – over, under and even through dense woodland – I was able to stop and set up camp, take photos and have a break, all without changing my layering. For me, as someone who usual runs hot, that is almost unheard of.

The Defiant Hoodie remained breathable throughout my physical activity and adapted to be insulating when I stopped. That kind of performance really reduces the hassle of in the field layer transitions.

In the few short weeks I’ve worn this Hoodie the British weather has delivered. From warm enough conditions to make me sweat on the way home and DWR testing downpours, through to steadily decreasing temperatures (down to 2ºC so far); the Defiant has kept me both dry and warm.

In addition to an admirable fabric choice, as with their SHADO pack, this soft-shell boasts some cool details that will keep me wearing it for years…

One feature that is new to me is the built in hardware. Usually you’d find some kind of cord-locking toggles for cinching the jacket to fit snugly. These often hang at the bottom of the waist hem, as well as at various points on the hood.

On the Defiant they take the form of a circular device that is embedded right into the garment. There is a subtle, tactile icon on the outside facing side to indicate where they are.

The inside of the device has a simple push button that can be squeezed to release the lock, and from the bottom of this is a bright orange, elastic adjustment loop, which of course has a pull tab that you err… pull to tighten the elastic.

In addition to a streamlined look, these allow for adjustments using only one finger and your palm. This method is significantly easier than getting two fingers on the underside of a garment to squeeze both sides of a traditional toggle.

Subsequently this leads to smoother adjustments while wearing gloves. I have a circulation condition that affects my fingers, which means I wear gloves for perhaps more of the year than others, so this is a big benefit for me.

I’m not 100 per cent sold on the hood adjustment pull cords being located on the inside, as it means you need to open the main zipper a bit to access these. I may just need to get used to it, plus there is the benefit of them not getting caught on things and the less cluttered look.

 

The hoodie is cleverly designed to create a good peak over your eyes, even when cinched down, which helps keep the weather off your face.

I have to mention the cuffs – I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I did! It may be my jacket choices over the years, but I’ve never experienced anything other than a square-cut cuff.

Shown above is a great view of the tapered cuffs, plus an amazingly failed attempt at covert remote usage!

What PDW have done is actually put some thought into two of the four most important holes in a jacket. Rather than finishing them at the same length, it tapers so that the palm edge is shorter, while the part over the top of your hand is longer.

This gives a little extra protection for the wrists, while allowing space for your hands to work and not be hindered by your cuffs. Another added bonus is that this angled finish allows gloves to almost effortlessly tuck underneath.

The two outer chest pockets are higher than standard hip pockets, which ensures good access while using a pack waist belt.

They’re also not as high as other chest pockets I’ve experienced that have sometimes awkwardly ended up under my packs main straps, not to mention the slightly unnatural feeling of having my hands resting halfway up my body when I’m using the pockets to warm up.

They’re also massive, covering the whole width of the front panel and finishing only a couple of inches below my collar bone. I’m not sure how I’d use all that space, but it is great to not be limited.

PDW have found the sweet spot with these pockets.

They also have corded loops in the bottom corners for gear retention. Personally with a zippered pocket I don’t see the need to have a retention loop in there, but I’m sure others will appreciate them.

They’ve included bicep pockets that also have the gear loop holders stitched to the inside top. These sometimes have a visible profile from the outside, which breaks the Defiant’s intentionally streamlined look. If I was really bothered by this (which I’m not!) I could always remove them with a simple snip.

In the past I’ve found these pockets useful for a hank of paracord, a firelight kit and spare patches in case I want to change my morale!

But that brings me onto the lack of loop panels over these pockets. Initially as a patch maker I was a bit disappointed. I love having conversations about patches and my mindset has been changed by seeing a patch and remembering what it’s about – of course wearing them is required.

On quizzing the designer about this, Patrick told me that for this garment they were aiming for a clean and uncluttered look, as well as something they could pitch to a wider market. I definitely think they’ll achieve that, as without them it has a slight lean away from the tactical look, while maintaining the functional utility.

I’ve also found that loop panels can take longer to dry than the fabric of a coat, so perhaps they can be a bit counter productive.

One might argue that having zero visible branding on the outside (a bold move you rarely see these days) might hinder the brand being sufficiently recognised for all the hard work they have put in.

However I’ve found, time and time again, that no* branding provokes people to ask who the makers are. That then allows the wearer to give a personal recommendation – something that makes a bigger difference than an obvious logo.

The final pocket is on the inside, front left-hand panel. This features the All Terrain artwork, their latin motto and a media port for running your headphones out of if you are using this pocket for your phone. I’m sure many these days have switched to wireless, however it’s nice to see some backwards compatibility too.


* There is still a logo on the inside by the hanging hook, which is also very effective.

Of course there’s the 4-way stretch material, YKK Aqua Guard Zippers (including a super helpful two-way main zipper), robust Hypalon cuff tabs, fully seam taped construction, 2-way pit zippers in a strap friendly location and bluesign® approval; but to be honest this is the standard level of features I’ve come to expect from PDW, who deliver the highest quality every time.

The Defiant Hoodie by Prometheus Design Werx can transition from wild adventures to everyday wear, effortlessly. It does this through finding a perfect blend of attributes that shouldn’t really go together – streamlined look and feature rich, waterproof and breathable.

In my preliminary testing it has proven to be a soft-shell with nothing soft about it. Boasting tough construction and the best technical materials, it has been built to last. I will be wearing it for years to come, confident of it’s defiance in the face of any weather I put it through.

The product(s) being tested and reviewed here were exchanged for the service of producing this review.

Editor: For the reason I've intentionally not stated this product as having been received for free please read my Review Process comments on our About page. All of our contributors write without the pressure to review favourably, regardless of how they've been obtained. Most often we like to write about products or brands we already love but I always make every effort to make sure our reviews are honest.

By Nat Wagstaff

Editor-In-Chief, more posts.

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