Review: Clothing Arts Cubed Travel Jacket

Clothing Arts, of Brooklyn, New York, has created what they believe is the solution to all your weatherproof and travel needs.  The Cubed Travel Jacket has been designed to be the Alfa and Omega of waterproof hard shells: to be at home on the trail as it is at the office, and to be honest, it certain looks like it.  I have been trying to up my travel game for some time, so I was excited to see a piece as refined at this one that utilized a good membrane.

I took this jacket out on day length adventures into woods and up into the mountains to give the eVent fabric a decent run for its money.  If this jacket would wet out—it would probably happen in the rainy forests of Washington.  I also used the jacket over the holidays as my travel piece, a role this jacket handles with ease, as Clothing Arts specifically designed this piece (and all of their products) for adventure travel.

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Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail making sure the Cubed Travel Jacket’s DVstorm membrane feels good in the slop. It does. Photo: Monica Lauw
How does this improve my experience?
Frequent flyers and folks who find themselves transitioning from work to play regularly, this is a jacket that can and will keep up with you. If you’re in the market for a waterproof hard shell that you can proudly wear to the office and pull double duty on the weekends—this is it.  Not only is the styling city ready, but the fabric is more than able to handle the elements.

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The DWR on this jacket won’t quit.  Photo: Monica Lauw

What’s good?

Specs:
Material: eVent DVstorm with Custom 90Dx120D canvas weave nylon face fabric, 20D tricot backer
Weight: Medium weighs ~27oz
Zippers: PU coated with custom YKK zipper pulls
Features:8 pockets, adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem
Sizing: I’m 6’1” 175 pounds and a medium is short in the sleeve and large through the torso.

The Face Fabric
When I first got the jacket, I zoned out briefly thumb stoking the fabric in my hands—whoops.  Adam Rapp, the mad scientist behind Clothing Arts, told us that they took nearly two years selecting the perfect fabric for this jacket.  It’s a custom ordered 90D x 120D canvas weave with a brushed finish that makes it softer and quieter than other waterproof breathable offerings.  It’s also durable because it’s a 90×120 weave.  I was pleasantly surprised after rolling around on a river bank in some adverse conditions trying to get my stove to ignite; it’s a good looking jacket, but you don’t need to baby it. It also uses a more eco-conscious short strain C6 DWR treatment.  C6 is still fluorocarbon based, but it’s by products breakdown faster in the environment and have less potential toxicity.

eVent DVstorm
The eVent DVstorm membrane is very good for this application. Typically, you’re seeing DVstorm membranes in way more traditionally technical pieces like in Rab’s Muztag jacket and in Montane’s Featherlite Shell (past season product).  The use of this membrane, for me at least, is everything.  When you pair such subtly good looks with a high performance waterproof/breathable membrane, you achieve a level of flexibility unmatched anywhere else on the market.  Pretty rad that this could actually be your only waterproof hardshell.

“My benchmarks were 20,000 MM/24HR waterproof & 20,000 G/M2/24HR breathable rating. This would be the sweet spot in my opinion between breathability and wet-out… Using eVent’s DVstorm membrane and our own Nylon canvas face fabric…we were able to achieve a three layer shell material that surpassed my expectations.” –Adam Rapp, Clothing Arts

Interestingly, the DVstorm membrane is rated at 30,000 G/M2/24HR breathability, but by utilizing their heavier, more durable custom face fabric and an 80/20 C6 DWR coating, Clothing Arts was able to squeeze a more weather protection out of their 3L fabric at the expense of a little breathability to the jacket’s current 20k/20k rating.  More on DWR coatings from REI here.

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Rest on the riverbank. Note how well the DWR coating is holding up.  Photo: Will Kammin
Pockets
As a true travel jacket, this thing is loaded with pockets. It boasts 2 exterior hand pockets, 2 pass-through style chest pockets, and 4 internal secured zipper pockets.  Getting through TSA has never been easier or more stylish.  I stashed my phone, keys, wallet, small notebook and pen, wool cap, and even larger items like my Bellroy All Conditions Essentials Pocket, and a 20oz insulated Kleen Kanteen in the jacket without issue and passed through security like an absolute boss.  EDC so hard.

Attention to Detail 
Everything about this jacket screams quality. You can tell that each decision was really well considered by a design team that cared.  All too often I see soft goods and apparel  make it to production with features and design elements that just don’t make sense.  When you put this jacket on, it makes sense.

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Recessed PU coated zippers and custom YKK zipper pulls.  This jacket screams quality. Photo: Monica Lauw

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Cubed embroidery on the adjustable cuff. Photo: Will Kammin

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Recessed velcro rather than simply stitching it to the outside of the cuff.

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Detail of the pocket layout with secure closure system with SR style buckles. It is symmetrical on the non-exposed side. Image courtesy of Clothing Arts

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Detail of the hood
Customer Service
I had issues with the hood when I first got the jacket. One email to Clothing Arts later and I was sent a new hood over night.  Short. Sweet. Exceptional.


What’s not so good?

The Fit
For everything that I like about this jacket, I can’t get it to fit me the way I need to.  I’m 6’1’’ and 175 pounds with an athletic build.  In a medium, there’s a ton of room in the torso and the sleeves are about an inch too short.  I feel like a large may have fit me in the sleeve, but would certainly be too big through the torso.  Even with a puffy underneath absorbing some of the layering space, the jacket fit me awkwardly.

For everything that I like about this jacket, I can’t get it to fit me the way I need to.

Nit picking
The hood is too complicated.  The way the bungie cord is route is a little overkill: there’s two different cinch systems to pull the hood back off your head and then there’s the two cinch cords to pull the brim of the hood down.  All the bungie cords dangle in a manner that could get caught in weird scenarios.  I’d just like to see it clean up a bit. On the bright side the hood is removable, and the jacket looks great with or without it.

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I don’t think both of the cinch cords in the back of the hood are necessary.  Lot’s of dangling pieces just adds a little too much clutter. Photo: Monica Lauw
Trail Vibes:
Aside from the fit, this jacket is a winner.  This is a go to piece for me in Seattle and it’s built in a way and out of materials that have allowed me to trust it.  That’s high praise for me. Knowing that I can count on this piece to keep me dry, organized, and looking good is all I can ask of a jacket.

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