A jack(et) of all trades: Taking Westcomb's Cayoosh out on the Wales Coast Path

  • Jun 12, 2013
  • 545 words
  • 3 minutes
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Spring is one of my favourite times of year, but every year I forget exactly how variable the temperature can be! In the course of a single day’s hiking, the mercury can easily yo-yo from 5 degrees to 25. Layers are key, but once they’re off you have to carry them around all day. It can get a bit heavy. Westcomb‘s Canadian-made Cayoosh Hoodie , MSP $300, is a great addition to the closet of any woman who stubbornly goes out in all sorts of weather. It’s ideal for light walking between 5-10 degrees and for more active movement 5 degrees colder. It’s shocking how compact the Cayoosh can be made — with a stuff sack you can fit it in your pack and it takes up no more space than a pencil case. It was the perfect piece of gear for a recent five day trek I made on the coast of Wales. The weather was on the cold side, so I ended up wearing it almost all the time, even while I was sleeping in our tent. When I did pack it away, it was simple to tuck in a side pocket of my pack and added minimal weight to my load.

The down-filled, hooded Cayoosh claims to be water- and wind-proof, so put it to the test with a day of wind, cold rain and even hail at one point. It held up amazing well in all conditions. Its outer layer proved to be exceptionally tough — the coast of Wales has lots of gorse. It’s a pretty plant when it’s in bloom, but it’s got loads of nasty, spiky thorns. On the narrow Wales Coast Path, I brushed against it repeatedly, but my jacket left Wales with no tears or other damage. If only my hands and legs had been so lucky.

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Photo: Tyrone Burke

My favourite part of this jacket is the freedom of movement it provides. The sides are made of soft stretchy panels, so you have full fluid motion. Whether you are sleeping, climbing or running, you won’t feel constrained in this jacket.

I found it had 2 main flaws — where I am a bit tall (175 cm or 5’9″) and slight, the jacket sits a little shorter than would be ideal and when there is a strong cold wind it blows up the back of the jacket. This likely wouldn’t be a problem if it fits a little snugger on your build or you’re a little shorter than I am. The other problem is that while it is quite breathable, when you do overheat there are no zippers to let the heat escape so you have to open the jacket up. Not a real problem on most spring days, but it can be a little annoying in the rain.

Overall, Westcomb’s Cayoosh is a great all purpose spring jacket that is light to carry and deals well with a wide variety of conditions. It makes the variable weather of a spring hike easier to deal with and you can even pick a bright spring colour to welcome the return of the buds and flowers.


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