Salomon Bonatti WP Review
Cons: Uncomfortable inner lining, poor reflectivity, becomes a sauna in warm conditions
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Salomon Bonatti WP
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$119.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Inexpensive for a fully waterproof jacket, good phone pocket, solid build quality, thoughtful design details||Lightweight, good breathability, packs into pocket||Comfortable and stretchy material, good weather protection, breathable||Even temperature regulation, comfortable||Very light, soft and comfortable material|
|Cons||Uncomfortable inner lining, poor reflectivity, becomes a sauna in warm conditions||Not the most weather resistant, fit is hit-or-miss for larger frames||Hood is not adjustable, almost no reflectivity||Not very water resistant, low wind resistance||No pockets, limited weather resistance|
|Bottom Line||A serious piece of kit aimed at runners who want to keep the weight down and stay dry while going fast||Our favorite model, this lightweight, breathable running jacket is ideal for all occasions||A comfortable jacket with just the right balance of weather protection, breathability, and weight, with a lower sticker price than the higher-end models||A highly breathable and comfortable soft shell that makes aerobic activity in the cold much more comfortable||A comfortable, lightweight performance top that blurs the line between a shirt and jacket|
|Rating Categories||Salomon Bonatti WP||Arc'teryx Incendo H...||Brooks Canopy||Salomon RS Softshell||Patagonia Airshed P...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort And Mobility (20%)|
|Features And Visibility (15%)|
|Specs||Salomon Bonatti WP||Arc'teryx Incendo H...||Brooks Canopy||Salomon RS Softshell||Patagonia Airshed P...|
|Measured Weight||6.6 oz (Size S)||4.4 oz (Size S)||5.4 oz (Size S)||11.6 oz (Size L)||4.5 oz (Size M)|
|Number of pockets||1||1||3||2||0|
|Main Material||Polyamide||Lumin 100% nylon 20D Ripstop fabric||DriLayer Seal 100% ripstop polyester||Polyester||100% nylon|
|Unique Features||Packs into chest pocket, waterproof||Media pocket||Elastic cuffs, packs into pocket||3-layer softshell with DWR coating||Integrated stuff sack, double zipper|
|Vent Type||Back vents||Mesh panels under arm||Chest zip vent||Stretch jersey backing||Front zip vent|
|Reflective material?||Yes||Logo and blazes||Blazes||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Salomon Bonatti WP has been kicking around the trail running scene for years. Salomon's ultralight waterproof offerings were some of the early favorites among extreme weather runners for their lightweight, stripped-down design and flashy looks. The Bonatti follows the Salomon tradition with a wide range of colorways, a minimalist feature set, and a simple, sleek design philosophy that benefits from Salomon's long experience in the sport. But in the many years that it has been around, huge advances have come about both in waterproof fabric technology and jacket design. Waterproof jackets in the last few years are lighter, more breathable, and more comfortable than ever.
Sadly, the Bonatti has remained largely unchanged. In many ways, it feels like the grandfather it is. One of the best jackets on the market a decade ago is now a serviceable but unspectacular mid-pack performer.
Breathability can be a fraught concept with waterproof jackets. They need to keep the water out, but they also need to let air in and out. Non-waterproof jackets do this by just opening up vents and adding mesh patches. Waterproof jackets can't be so cavalier.
Instead, they have to solve the airflow problem with breathable waterproof fabrics and rain-protected vents. The Bonatti has a line of vents tucked away in the middle of the back but no underarm or zippered vents. This is a shame since the actual fabric of the Bonatti isn't very breathable. Our testers found that in uptempo running, the jacket quickly gathered moisture on the inside and soon became a sweatsuit.
The Bonatti does have one very welcome breathability feature in the form of a snap in the center of the chest that allows you to unzip the zipper without the jacket flapping in the wind. Still, our reviewers reported that this didn't help with the underarms or arms, which still felt sauna-like even with the front open.
The Bonatti wetted out so quickly we thought it was a little suspicious. Some product research turned up the reason: the breathability rating of the Bonatti fabric is extremely low. Without getting into the math, other industry-standard waterproof fabrics, including those in our test lineup, are many times more air-permeable. We found figures claiming airflow 7.5 times better in one of our models. We're normally deeply skeptical of laboratory-derived numbers for breathability, but in this particular case, the figures match the experience in the field.
Comfort and Mobility
The stuffy feeling of the Bonatti is enhanced by the limited comfort of le the inside surface of the jacket. The three-layer waterproofing used on heavier jackets consists of an outer protective layer, a waterproof membrane, and a liner material to protect the waterproof membrane on the inside and give the jacket a good next-to-skin feel. The Bonatti has a more streamlined 2.5-layer design, in which the inside layer is replaced with a coating sprayed or otherwise attached to the inside of the waterproof membrane.
This fits with the seeming design ethos of the Bonatti, which trades comfort for performance in almost every turn. Sadly, like many 2.5 layer designs, the result is a jacket that sticks to your skin and feels clammy even when dry. This made it hard to get off once sweaty but also made it feel overly tight and warm where it touched skin.
In our reviewers' past experience, this stickiness with most 2.5 layer jackets does die down over time. However, it only does so as the inner coating begins to break down and the garment loses its waterproofing. By the time it fits like an old t-shirt, it may have the water-resistance of one, too.
In even heavy rain, the Bonatti performed admirably. Like almost all ultralight waterproof jackets, it kept rain out to a point, after which it couldn't realistically be expected that anything but a poncho would keep you totally dry. It also did a fantastic job of keeping stiff winds out. Less substantial jackets we tested (and even some much heavier jackets) would stay warm until challenged by anything stronger than a breeze. Not the Bonatti, which stayed cozy even when the wind picked up.
We would even say that we'd trust the Bonatti in a lot of places where we just wouldn't trust other, often better jackets. Many jackets we've tested have better breathability, better waterproofing, better design, or more comfort. But there are few we'd trust as completely as the Bonatti if you had to choose just one jacket to keep you moving on a mountainside. What it lacks in many creature comforts, it makes up in pure utility. It's light, and it protects you from more and more diverse weather than most other jackets. If you want more, look elsewhere.
The Bonatti is light, but mostly by the standards of high-tech jackets of ten years ago. It weighs exactly 50% more than our lightest tested waterproof jacket, but overall it's right in line with most ultralight waterproof jackets in its price point.
The feature set of the Bonatti may be minimal, but the details show the kind of thought and care that reflect the time the product has had to mature. The zippers are all chunky and well-made, it has elastic in strategic places to keep it form-fitting but not restrictive, and the rear venting runs nearly the entire width of the back.
Probably the single most positive feature of the jacket is the amazing hood. Hoods were the failure point of so many running jackets we tested, including those from companies who are famous for their hoods. At the ultralight running level, where so many of the pull cords, drawstrings, and stays that keep a hood in place have to be removed to save weight, many running jackets just don't have other ways to keep the hood from flying off without having the jacket zipped to the chin.
The Bonatti solves this problem with a soft piece of elastic-lined jersey under the brim of the hood. This can be tucked up when not needed, but in inclement weather or when you really need to keep the hood in place, it can be pulled down across the forehead. When paired with the small piece of elastic on the back of the hood, the combination keeps the hood solidly in place, even with the jacket entirely unzipped. It's the most stable hood of those we tested and was really a pleasure to wear.
Running jackets can be nose-bleedingly expensive, and waterproofing can add that extra little bit that takes the price into the stratosphere. This jacket fell firmly in the middle range, both of the waterproof jackets we tested and of the market in general. And because of the age of the jacket and the relatively poor performance of its material, it's likely that less expensive options would have similar or sometimes even better materials. What they wouldn't have is the thoughtfulness and solid design of the Bonatti. The material may have all the charm and next-to-skin feel of a rain slicker, but the features go a long way toward justifying the price. And at half the cost of the newest, hottest performers on the market, you could definitely do worse for value.
Though it might not seem it from the overall score alone, the Bonatti is an able jacket. Surprisingly warm for its weight (for better and worse), this jacket makes a great emergency rain jacket to be stowed away in a backpack in case of emergency. It's light enough that you'll probably never know it's there, but it's sturdy enough to be worn under that same backpack without having to worry about fabric damage.It suffers from a lot of the problems that jackets ten years ago did: it's not very comfortable or breathable, and its 2.5 layer design means that you'll need to treat it well if you want to keep it around for years. Still, its combination of warmth and better weather protection than lighter offerings means we can think of few jackets in our review that we'd trust as much as the Bonatti as an only form of protection in truly ugly weather. If you're looking for a solid waterproof jacket with a great range of motion for running and dependable performance without breaking the bank, this might just be the jacket for you.
— Walt Handloser
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