We've been putting the new Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell through its paces, see how it performed....
If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’ll know that; a) I don’t like running in waterproof jackets and, b) the jacket that managed to change my opinion on this was the Inov-8 Raceshell 220 which has been my staple ‘go to’ jacket when the weather is bad and I really love! So when I heard that inov-8 were releasing a full clothing range including an even lighter, more breathable waterproof jacket, the Race Elite 140 Stormshell, to say I was excited and expectant was a an understatement!
When the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell arrived, my first impressions were good...really good. Having read the impressive specifications of the jacket, I was astounded that a fully waterproof, fully taped seam jacket with a wire reinforced peaked hood could be so light. "Ultralight" is often over used to describe kit and equipment but for the protection the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell offers, there really is no better description. It also packed down easily and neatly into the provided stuffsac to barely the size of your hand giving a neat carrying option.
Fit wise the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell is nicely tailored for women with an athletic fit which is close fitting without being restrictive even at full speed. It also has a slightly longer length which I am a particular fan of as it provides additional protection from mud splash and also makes it well suited to biking. The novel ‘no-ride’ hip adjustment is a great touch that ensures the jacket remains in place even when wearing a pack.
There are many other nice touches to the jacket which really show a lot of thought has gone into how the jacket will be used; slightly longer arms with lycra thumb loops, a neat, waterproof front pocket and a hood with reinforced brim and multiple adjustment points that allow you to adjust it as you wish. A hood is a love or hate thing on running jackets but is a requirement for many races and one big plus for the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell is that the hood can be secured when not in us.
The Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell is an over the head jacket, which is not to everyone’s taste but what this means is weight is saved by using a ½ zip rather than a full length zip and also there are fewer seams to reduce possible leakage and irritation points.
As you may have noticed, we have enjoyed somewhat of a summer heat wave the last couple of months and thus the need for a waterproof jacket has been somewhat limited! I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in the Austrian Alps during this time and although the weather was similar to here, the risk of rapidly changing conditions in the mountains is always high and as such I carried the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell in my pack everyday and this is where its lightness and small pack size came into its own. I had no hesitation throwing it into my pack ‘just in case’ and on one particular day I was extremely glad I had. I was well above 2000m and pretty much in the middle of no-where, heading to a cable car station closer to 3000m when the weather closed in and the rain came down unbelieveable hard. I pulled the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell out and ran the remaining distance hard to get to shelter as quickly as possible. The rain and wind protection from the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell was fantastic as the water beaded on the surface and ran off quickly. One concern of jackets that keep the rain out so well is that you still get wet because the jacket doesn’t allow the moisture from inside out, but even when I was running hard the jacket breathed excellently and I remained comfortable and dry inside.
Since returning home the weather has been less kind to us, but that has meant I have been able to put the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell through its paces a bit more! Several features have really stood when wearing the jacket in wet but warm weather. The two way front zip is a neat idea enabling air to circulate the body whilst the jacket isn’t flapping wide open from the neck down and the fleece zip guard at the chin is soft against the skin and prevents rubbing. Whilst on top of a local hill recently in wild weather the close fitting hood and high closing neck really came into its own. As the wind and rain battered me from every direction the hood remained securely in place and the slightly extended peak ensured my eyes were protected and my vision remained clear.
Finally, for such a lightweight jacket, the material and construction of feels exceptionally robust, the feel of the material to touch is heavier than it feels to wear – which in my opinion is a good thing as I would say it feels like its a jacket that is going to survive a few rock scrapes and bush snags. Next to the skin the material is soft and importantly it is also quiet...no traditional waterproof jacket rustle here!
To conclude, Inov-8 have set an impressive standard with the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell, I doubt you will find a better balance between quality, performance and value - the recommended retail price of the Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell is only £150 compared to nearly double this for many competitors brands. The Inov-8 Race Elite 140 Stormshell is a complete package and if you need a jacket that meets the requirements of events such as the UTMB, is wearable all year round and won’t break the back this is certainly worth a look.