The Vault Regulars

Thursday, September 27, 2012

B&C X-Lite Softshell jacket from Polo-Shirts UK

 I received a kind request asking me if i would be interested in testing a jacket for a local company based in Manchester. Polo-shirts UK
 Now this company was new to me and so it was even more interesting that i had been asked to carry out this review as the majority of the catalogue is not what we would class as designated hardcore outdoor gear, it’s more in the line of fashionable, high street gear with a plus sign.
 However, i contacted the company and i emphasised that my gear reviews are fair and show both the good and bad points of the particular item being tested.
Apart from integrity on my part, i explained that this was because of the harsh environment that gear could or would be used in. They fully agreed, it was not a problem.

 So with the next post i received a softshell jacket from the company and on the label it said B& C. Not a label i was familiar with i admit to say.

 Removing the packaging, it is certainly a smart looking jacket and feels quite different to my previous Rab soft shell garment.
 It also felt quite light. My usual first test, i check out the weight.
This jacket weighs 558 grams and that is a size M.
In comparison, my Rab Cioch softshell, which is windproof but definitely not waterproof weighs 660grams also size M. So a positive first sign.

 The B & C jacket is a waterproof softshell, specified as 8,000 mm or 5,000MVP.

 This jacket is manufactured in 3 layers. The outer layer is 94% PES woven with 6% Elastane. It doesn’t say in the specification but this must have been treated with a DWR because in my first test on a very wet day it beaded the rain very well indeed.
PES or Polyethersulphone is not renown for beading rain in it’s normal guise so i was impressed with the result.

 Bonded between the outer and the PES mesh inner is the waterproof and breathable middle layer or membrane. I have found this to be adequate. Now i say adequate because there are so many factors to take into consideration with the “breathability” issue. I have had walks where there has been no condensation whatsoever. On other occasions, like yesterday (26.09.2012) when it was quite a humid day and when i was purposely pushing the pace there was some condensation. I was wearing a rucksack and to be honest the weather didn’t actually justify me wearing a jacket at all. But i needed to see how it performed.
 Now it doesn’t matter what jacket you wear, if you have a rucksack against your back you are going to get clammy in that area. No two ways about that.
 So i did get clammy, but at an acceptable level. I was quite surprised just how quickly it dried after removing the jacket. Within the hour.

  The internal armpit seams are also taped sealed and the elbows are articulated giving good freedom of movement.
Jacket turned inside out showing the armpit and shoulder seam sealing tapes and also the inner pockets. You can also see that there is no drop tail.

 The main central zip, both hand warmer zips and chest pocket zip are manufactured by YCC and are nylon and smooth operating.
The main zip has a top garage or chin guard and also an internal rain flap.
None of the zips are water resistant although when i have used it in the rain, i havn’t suffered from any water ingress so far.

 The bottom hem has a shock cord with locks on each side for adjustment against the elements. The jacket does not have a drop tail, although the description on the web site says otherwise.
The sleeve ends have rubber hook and loop tensioners and they work very well.

 The jacket has 2 zipped hand  pockets and are a good size and shape. There is an outer zipped chest pocket that is a little disappointing. Size wise it will  take an MP3  player or a small  phone. There are entry slits on the inside for the headset, however the pocket is not big enough to take a GPS or a pair of glasses.
 You don’t want to put your glasses or GPS into the side hand warmer pockets as these would be covered when wearing a rucksack by the hip belt. On the other hand it isn’t detrimental as pockets on the rucksack hip belt itself could be used. I just think a larger pocket would have been a better option.

 On the inside of the jacket there are 2 excellent, very large pockets which will easily take a map or a pair of over trousers for that matter. (See photo above). Disappointingly  there is no security fastening to either pocket.
 I found that my map was gradually being forced upwards by my hip belt whilst walking. This was a real shame and i would have to add some form of security here, maybe a self adhesive velcro strip, so that i didn't loose the map or anything else.

 The collar was the only disappointment, a little uncomfortable and it is just far too open for this type of jacket. One thing you need when it’s windy or raining is to be able to zip up the jacket and have a protective snug fit around the neck. Keeping out those cold elements as best as possible for as long as possible. (I’m a size 16 collar).

 There are also 2 cord loops in the collar to hold your Mp3 headset wires but sadly no central hanging loop.


Its a good looking jacket, very comfy, nice feel inside and out.
Excellent warmth to weight.
Small chest pocket,
Good sized side pockets and excellent internal pockets
Waterproof, adequate breathability and windproof.
Loose fitting collar.
Weight, size Medium 558gr.
No drop tail but good hem closure.
Hook and loop rubberised sleeve closures.
Good abrasion resistance.
Small pack size for a soft shell.
MP3 compatible.
Quick drying.
Competitively priced.

The jacket is available in navy, green, black and white. Sizes S - XXXL and also in ladies version.
Cost is variable depending on quantity but a one off is a decent £42.58 plus VAT.


  1. I like the idea of sourcing local products, Alan, and I'll be interested to examine this softshell when I next see you. The standard of your review sets a high bar BTW.

  2. Me too Martin. Thanks for your kind comment.
    It’s a nice jacket. If you want to borrow it and give it a try, feel free.

  3. We could do a swap - you'll see what I mean later!

  4. Alan, just received this in the post for testing, so I will see how it compares to your review. You have given me some pointers to think about.

    1. That's good Mark. It will be interesting to see how you get on with it.


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