July 15, 2022
By Ross Purnell
Here’s the thing about rain jackets. You don’t wear them all that much. A shell jacket is an insurance policy that you pack around with you on hot summer afternoons, and when all hell breaks loose during an afternoon thunderstorm, you want something that really works. No one likes an insurance policy that doesn’t come through when you decide to use it.
Skwala’s Carbon Jacket ($399, skwalafishing.com) is built for this type of use. It’s light and super packable so when you stuff it in a dry bag, storage compartment, backpack, vest pocket, or your luggage, you don’t have to suffer by lugging around a bulky, heavy jacket.
The Carbon Jacket doesn’t weigh you down, but when things get snotty, it’s a performance piece that will keep you fishing comfortably. And by “comfortable” I mean both dry, and also comfortable in that unrestrictive and soft feel that you get from your favorite T-shirt or pair of jeans.
The jacket is built from Toray Primeflex, a soft, full-stretch fabric that follows your every movement whether you are casting, reaching to scoop a trout, rowing, or pulling the anchor rope. Where you go, the jacket stretches. The added waterproof/breathable laminate keeps you dry even in the worst precipitation, and an interior knit backer gives you that soft next-to-skin feel.
I first tried this shell on an international trip to Patagonia where luggage space was at a premium. It saved me on a few rainy days where we were trying (and failing) to outrun storms. It proved so comfortable and fit me so well, I’ve hiked with it along railroad tracks for late-night Sulphur hatches, stashed it in my raft for summer smallmouths, and carried it as a plan B for a three-day tarpon trip to Key West.
It’s got an integrated storm hood with a single pull tab to cinch up around your hat, a single oversized outside chest pocket with a diagonal zipper, two zippered hand pockets, and adjustable Velcro cuffs with a hydrophobic liner that acts like a gasket to prevent water from leaching up your sleeves. It comes in four sizes M-L-XL-XXL, that are designed for warm weather without insulation underneath. If you plan on wearing in it cold weather, you should buy a larger-than-usual size to allow for extra layers.