Available direct from Country Innovation
from Guest Reviewer Ashley Beolens – this review also appears on the Views from an Urban Lake website.
When wildlife watching or out photographing nature I like to be comfortable, it’s not unusual I guess, and this often means having a range of different types of jacket, after all in the UK the weather isn’t always that predictable. When I was offered the opportunity to try out the Country Innovations Raptor Smock, I jumped at the chance.
Described on the Country Innovations website as “Designed to be thrown over the top of a base or mid layer to give you a great protective outer.” it seems like an ideal jacket for spring/autumn, that time of year where sometimes you want an extra layer but nothing too heavy, when temperatures might drop below those of T-shirt conditions but are too warm for a thick coat.
Fabric – Rip-Tec
* Tough and Durable
* Large Front Kangaroo Pocket
* Side Entry Zippered Handwarmer Pockets
* Side Zips – for easy on/off
* Articulated Arms – for ease of movement
* High Collar
* Zippered Neck Opening with Placket – for protection
* Generous Fit – for comfort
* Long Length and Scalloped Back – for comfort
* Press Stud Adjustable Cuffs
Aftercare – Machines Washable
The first thing that stood out to me, on my first time wearing the jacket, was the windproof nature of the fabric. While not that warm on my first walk, the temperature was low and an icy wind whipped across the open waters of the lakes whose shores I walked, the wind was kept out and I would have found myself much colder without that protection, a longer sleeved under layer and I would have been warm enough.
Since that first walk, I’ve had a few more walks and days out in the jacket and put it through its paces more, so to speak, and while it is indeed great for keeping wind out, it is the hard-wearing fabric that makes the Country Innovation Raptor Smock stand out.
I have found that the material is indeed tough, over recent forays I have found myself pushing through spiky thorns and not worried too much about them ripping the fabric. Of course the real test will come over the next month or so as nettles spring up and the brambles become more tangled in their growth, but so far I’ve been impressed.
There are two large pockets on the smock, one a ‘through’ pocket great for keeping hands warm or in my case holding my smaller landscape camera safe, the second a zip up “kangaroo” pocket, ideal for holding notepads, spare batteries or memory cards.
It’s comfortable and also looks good, I think, I’m a fan of the high zip up collar, and think I will manage to keep looking stylish as I wander the nature reserve paths or crawl through the undergrowth photographing nature over the coming years.
There are a couple of small issues firstly I look stupid when I take it off! This isn’t a fault of the jacket, in fact it has been designed with two long zips at the sides to make getting it on and off easier, and they do help, no, this is a fault with me, the user, I have yet to find a way to make removing the jacket over my head look cool.
Secondly there is the price! Currently on the Country Innovations website at £145 (April 2017) it is not cheap, and costs more than many winter coats. Sometimes though quality costs, and if this lasts as well as other items I have had from Country innovations (over 10 years), then the cost doesn’t seem as bad.
A hard wearing, light, and stylish smock type jacket, that is great for walking and even better for protection when clambering through the undergrowth, the Country Innovation Raptor Smock would look good on any outdoors enthusiast. But it is in the practical applications that the jacket excels. It is expensive, but sometimes quality pays for itself over the years.