The strongest theme at this winter's Outdoor Retailer show was undoubtedly sustainability. Numerous brands won the show's vaulted Innovation Awards not just for integrating technical precision and innovative advancement into their new products, but for doing so in a more sustainable, eco-minded way.
One stand-out in the cadre of winners: Jack Wolfskin's Tapeless Jacket.
The German producer of outdoor wares and equipment created a shell that eliminates 60 feet of seam-sealing tape and introduces a new seam construction. The Tapeless Jacket also features Jack Wolfskin's proprietary Texapore Core Fuse Stretch Ripstop, a three-layer fabric for superior weather protection and comfort, as well as waterproof zippers, an adjustable hood, hem and cuff adjustments and a chest pocket.
That's enough to make any gearhead drool, but how does the innovative jacket actually perform? I tested it to find out — and after a few weeks of wear, I found plenty of qualities I liked, but one flaw that was ultimately a deal breaker.
What's Good About Jack Wolfskin's Tapeless Jacket
The jacket is uniquely and thoughtfully designed
The Tapeless Jacket didn't win an Innovation Award at Outdoor Retailer for nothing. The brand was able to eliminate more than 60 feet of seam-sealing tape per jacket, using its new proprietary Zero Tape Technology, which creates a more breathable solution to seam tape that won't leak or fail. (According to the brand, seam tape is the weakest component used in the production of waterproof outdoor apparel.)
Engineered in Germany, the jacket is completely windproof, breathable and waterproof up to 10,000mm. (In case you're unfamiliar with how they measure rainproofing, the measurement refers to the millimeters of rain the fabric can withstand in a 24-hour period. A jacket in this range can withstand downpours and heavy snow, but will soak through if subjected to pressure — like sitting and falling — over time.) The Tapeless Jacket's design eliminates shoulder and hip seams, which helps to combat irritation when worn with a backpack. It's lightweight, at 12.6 ounces; plus, when I had it on, I was impressed by the sleek and comfortable feel of the material.
What's Not Ideal About Jack Wolfskin's Tapeless Jacket
There aren't any side pockets
I can forgive a lack of side pockets on a midlayer, but on a shell? A shell needs to be utilitarian enough to excel on its own, and the lack of side pocket storage means this is a miss for me. When I wore a pack with it, I could still fit a pocket knife, lighter and phone in my pack, along with other EDC essentials or hiking must-haves. But if I headed out sans external storage, I was S.O.L. with the Tapeless Jacket.
It's one thing if I'm in the city and don't necessarily need safety equipment or accessories; in that case, maybe I could see it working. But on the trail or otherwise out in nature, I like a little more peace of mind (and honestly, easy access) that side pockets provide.
Jack Wolfskin's Tapeless Jacket: The Verdict
If you don't rely on pockets when you're hiking, traveling or camping, then this jacket is a solid choice — and with its sustainability superiority, you can feel good wearing it. However, that advancement comes at a price, both financially (this thing isn't cheap) and functionally (those missing pockets).
If sleek and sophisticated outdoor apparel is your jam and you don't utilize pockets, this is a beautiful piece of equipment. But all in all, this jacket feels more to me like a concept car than a production model: plenty of potential, good looks, but not quite right...at least, not yet.