Photo Jackets: 6 top models tested + what features to look for

    | Accessories | Reviews | 29/09/2012 15:00pm
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    Most of us take photographs because we enjoy doing so, but it’s no fun whatsoever if you’re soaking wet through and chilled to the bone in the middle of nowhere. So in this test we’ve rounded up some of the best photo jackets currently on the market to help you combat the elements on your next outdoor shoot. We’ve also included some photo vests that offer a good alternative in warmer weather.

    All the photo jackets and vests featured here have large pockets that will enable you to carry your accessories and essentials, such as memory cards, batteries and filters. In some cases the pockets are actually large enough to hold a lens or two and a flashgun so that you can even leave the camera bag behind.

    In fact, some of the vests and photo jackets here have so many pockets that it may take you a while to learn exactly where you’ve stashed your kit.

    Paramo Aspira Smock

    Paramo Aspira Smock
    Price: £290, $447

    Available in sizes from S-XL (XXL for men) and a range of stylish colours, the Aspira Smock is a warm, waterproof top layer that we found to provide very good protection against the worst weather conditions.

    There’s a long front double zip, and in cold, wet conditions the garment offers outstanding condensation control.

    Designed with the more intrepid outdoor enthusiast in mind, the smock’s design allows climbing accessories such as helmets and harnesses to be worn, with a large adjustable hood and a range of vents providing protection and temperature control.

    Stylish and practical, there are plenty of well-proportioned pockets, including two internal ‘dry’ chest compartments to stow your photographic accessories.

    Pros… Warm, comfortable with photographer-friendly pockets
    Cons… Too toasty for use in mild weather, and a little pricy
    We say… A practical, stylish choice for cold, wet conditions

    Score: 4/5

    Stealth Gear Extreme Photographers Jacket2

    Stealth Gear Extreme Photographers Jacket2
    Price: £215, $429

    This jacket features rustle-free, 100% polyester micro-suede with DuPont Teflon, a material that feels soft to the touch and allows for quick, quiet movement, while offering complete protection against the wind and rain.

    You can distribute a lot of kit between the array of pockets and compartments spread across the jacket; the colossal lower pockets on the front feature zipped sides to allow for expansion and will easily take a lens.

    Back ventilation, extra padding and an innovative ‘Sit-Anywhere-Seat’, which unzips from the back to give you a dry place to perch, are a few of the numerous touches that add up to a high-performance jacket.

    Pros… Weatherproof, comfortable and plenty of generous pockets
    Cons… It’s pretty heavy
    We say… Does everything an outdoor photographer needs

    Score: 5/5

    Billingham Photo-Vest

    Billingham Photo-Vest
    Price: £195, $299

    With classic styling this vest will appeal to a broad range of photographers, but it’s the practical advantages that this versatile garment has to offer that really piqued our interest.

    The updated version of the 10-year-old original PhotoVest benefits from the very latest fabric technology (Cordura 500), to offer improved performance and comfort.

    The result is a lightweight, comfortable vest allowing freedom of movement. The eight pocket enables you to carry a fair amount of kit, with the weight and bulk of your spare lenses and accessories spread across your body.

    Extra-large compartments are protected from moisture by flaps, with some featuring zips for added security.

    Pros… Lightweight and supple yet tough, with large pockets
    Cons… May prove too warm to use as an all-seasons garment
    We say… A well-made, practical product that performs well

    Score: 4/5

    Country Innovation Rover Jacket

    Country Innovation Rover Jacket
    Price: £325, $501

    The Rover Jacket (which is also available in a women’s version) is constructed using double-layer 100% cotton Ventile fabric, keeping it supple and lightweight as well as weatherproof and breathable.

    A moleskin-lined 
high collar on the jacket and the high front-fastening on the hood protect virtually all your face from the wind and rain.

    The jacket is cut longer for extra protection from inclement weather, while the drawstring waist and hem adjustment ensure a snug fit.

    You may balk at the hefty price-tag but, but with its careful craftsmanship and attention to detail, the Rover feels made to last. As such, it should be viewed as a long-term investment.

    Pros… Warm yet breathable, weatherproof, quiet, supple, and lightweight
    Cons… Large front pockets aren’t expandable
    We say… A sound choice

    Score: 5/5

    Matin Photographers Shooting Vest

    Matin Photographers Shooting Vest
    Price: £65, $97

    Constructed from lightweight polycotton material, this vest has a Teflon coating for water resistance and, internally, a cool mesh lining for added breathability.

    The front of the vest features two large padded pockets, three expanding pockets and a zipped pocket with an enclosed key ring holder.
    The cut is quite a bit shorter than some other vests on the market, providing a closer fit that some may favour over the longer and bulkier alternatives.

    The added benefit of this is that the weight of the larger kit is stowed around your hips, feeling well-balanced with the well-proportioned pockets fully loaded.

    Overall, this is a reasonably priced, practical and snug-fitting vest that feels extremely comfortable to wear.

    Pros… Lightweight and snug with a good range of pockets
    Cons… Velcro fastenings. No padding in large back pocket
    We saw… Reasonably priced, practical and comfortable vest

    Score: 3/5

    Domke PhoTOGS Jacket/Vest

    Domke PhoTOGS Jacket/Vest
    Price: £172, $260

    This is the lightest of the full jackets we had on test. The sleeves can be unzipped to convert it into a vest, and its lightweight nature ensures that the jacket is small when packed down. With 16 pockets in total, it offers plenty of storage capacity, whether you’re using it as a full jacket or a vest.

    Both the jacket and the lining are made from machine-washable, 100% cotton fabric, making it light, soft and breathable.

    The jacket incorporates longer-style tailoring and drawstring adjustment as well as a lightweight water-resistant nylon hood that rolls away into a zipped collar compartment when it’s no longer required. A good option for shooting in fairer weather conditions.

    Pros… Light, breathable, comfortable and versatile
    Cons… Not as weatherproof as other options. Hood feels flimsy
    We say… A good, light option for fair weather conditions

    Score: 3/5

    NEXT PAGE: 5 key features to consider when buying a photo jacket or vest

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    Posted on Saturday, September 29th, 2012 at 3:00 pm under Accessories, Reviews.

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