Uniqlo Blocktech Jacket

Even during spring and summer travel, it’s good to be prepared for unpredictable weather. Among other things, that means some kind of raingear. But raincoats come with all sorts of problems. Waterproof gear is often too  bulky, making it hard to pack. Also, the usual waterproof materials mean fabric that is rough, noisey and unpleasant to the touch. Plus waterproof clothing usually doesn’t breath as well, creating tremendous build-up of heat and sweat inside the garment. This can be partly relieved by zipper vents, but a truly breathable waterproof jacket has been too much to ask for, or too expensive, up until now.

Uniqlo is a Japanese clothing manufacturer that has increased its international reach in the last few years, including a strong presence in the United States. Rather than being a boutique outfitter, Uniqlo is one of the five largest fashion retailers in Japan, has existed since 1949, and has locations in 14 different countries. So, don’t expect bespoke quality. Of course, you should not expect the correspondingly high prices either.

But when it comes to rainwear, Uniqlo has hit upon a product that, while not quite foul-weather gear you would take on a sailing expedition, will provide great protection at a much better price. 

Since Uniqlo is technically a fashion company, let’s start with the appearance of this jacket. It is clean, minimalist and understated. If you are in a foreign city, do you really want outerwear with neon stripes and gaudy logos? The cut of the jacket is tailored but subtle. There are two hand pockets and a drawstring for the hood. The zippers are hidden to promote protection from the elements.

The material itself is part of Uniqlo’s Blocktech line. What makes it so special is that, while being generally waterproof (again, not for days of pounding downpour or splashing waves) it is also soft, stretchy, light and very packable. You can roll the jacket into its hood for convenient stowage and it takes up almost no space at all. Also, the material’s stretchy quality adds to its durability. Somehow, the fact that Blocktech stretches doesn’t diminish its resistance to steady rain. Conventional wisdom says that stretchiness and water resistance are not compatible, but this product from Uniqlo seems to prove that wrong. 

At $80 dollars the jacket is a steal. It is hard to compare because more expensive brands are using material that is not as pleasant to feel and wear. For outstanding protection from rain, plus a sleek and understated design, plus the great price, Blocktech will become your trusted travel companion.